addison russell smokiesNew York Yankees GM Brian Cashman gave a very illuminating interview with WFAN yesterday about, among other things, the trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland A’s for top prospect Addison Russell, outfield prospect Billy McKinney, pitcher Dan Straily, and a PTBNL.

The Yankees, being desperate for starting pitching, were involved in talks with the Cubs about Samardzija or Hammel right up until the end (thus, they acquired Brandon McCarthy the very next day).

“I think we were certainly in the arena,” Cashman told WFAN’s Mike Francesa. “The fact that Theo was engaging me as much as he was, I know he likes our players. I know there’s packages that had interested him for one or both combined that could have worked, but he always measured every conversation with me with ‘there’s a headliner player that if I can get, and I think I might be able to do so, it trumps every deal I could do in this game.'”

That headline player, of course, was Russell. You can listen to Cashman’s entire interview at that link, where he adds that he didn’t think the Cubs could possibly do any better than they did.

So, straight from a GM involved in the talks: based on everything the Cubs gathered, in terms of trade information, over the process of dangling Samardzija and Hammel told them that the absolute best they could do was a trade with Russell in the deal. And getting Russell included completely ended the Cubs’ talks with any other team.

That’s how much the Cubs liked Russell, apparently. Does that entirely change the “future shortstop of the Cubs” conversation? No, not entirely. But it certainly does put an interesting and additional gloss on how we perceive the trade. Sure, the Cubs were always just trying to get the best overall value they could get – pitchers, hitters, whatever – but it sounds like when Russell entered the conversation, that is specifically the guy they wanted.

I already like Russell. I like him more now.

(Thanks to BN’er Josh for the picture of Russell.)

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