When last night passed without word of a new player coming to the Chicago Cubs, you knew that the “or cash” part of a “player to be named later or cash” transaction was on the table.
Sure enough, Mark Gonzales reports this morning in the Tribune that the Cubs did, in fact, receive cash from the Oakland A’s to complete the July trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Dan Straily.
I’d imagine that the instinct for some of you will be frustration or annoyance, given that this PTBNL transaction is paired, in time, with the PTBNL transaction last night, which had the Cubs giving up a decent middle infield prospect in Marco Hernandez. I hope it won’t take too much persuasion from me to convince you that, despite the timing, the two deals obviously have nothing to do with one another.
We may never know for sure which players were on the Cubs’ PTBNL list from the A’s – maybe it was a very short list, and none of the players looked worth picking up after the season – or whether the PTBNL was put in place to compensate the Cubs if Addison Russell’s hamstring didn’t recover well or if Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel were lights out. We’re just not going to know those things for sure. (Though this kind of structure would explains why some early reports indicated that the PTBNL was going to be a “significant” player, while other reports suggested it would not be a guy you’d care too much about.)
What we do know for sure – if you’re really honest with yourself – is that the PTBNL was always going to be total gravy in this trade. Getting Russell, now a clear top five prospect in all of baseball, for Samardzija and Hammel was a great deal. Having McKinney, now a clear top eight prospect in the best system in baseball, included in the deal was a coup. And if the Cubs get anything out of Dan Straily going forward, then it’s an embarrassment of riches.
That is all to say, if we’re evaluating the deal as it played out, the Cubs didn’t really lose anything by not receiving a PTBNL (which would have been a guy the A’s didn’t think was worth rostering in advance of the Rule 5 Draft – and their system isn’t nearly as deep as the Cubs’). It probably wasn’t much cash that they received, either, but who cares? The trade was a great one. It stinks that there’s no new prospect to discuss today, but that’s the only part that bums me out.