It was only a matter of time before the Chicago Cubs started selling off assets, and with the trade deadline still a few weeks away, the word was that they were going to get started very early. It turns out, those whispers were true, as the Cubs and the Baltimore Orioles agreed to a pretty significant trade on Tuesday afternoon.
The Cubs will send Scott Feldman to the Orioles, along with Steve Clevenger, in exchange for a pair of pitchers, Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, along with international pool money. It's an interesting trade on a couple of different levels. Let's look at the team actually in a playoff race first.
Baltimore gets Feldman, who is obviously the centerpiece of the deal. The Cubs signed him to a one-year deal with the obvious intention of hoping he performed well in the first half and flipping him at the deadline. That plan could not have worked out any better, as Feldman has been dynamite in the Cubs' rotation, for the most part. He posted a 3.46 ERA, the best of his career, along with a 1.14 WHIP.
The Cubs also send third string catcher Steve Clevenger to Baltimore in the deal. He had been working his way back from an early season injury and earlier this week, had his bag packs to leave Iowa, but no real indication of where he was going. He's got a little pop at the plate and is capable of playing on the corners, as well as behind the plate.
It's a little more up in the air, as far as what the Cubs are getting. Arrieta and Strop both have upside, but neither has been able to reign it in to any consistent success. Arrieta is a former top prospect of the O's that has had trouble putting it together at the Major League level. He still has good stuff, though, and a change of scenery could prove beneficial for him.
Strop actually put together some pretty nice numbers out of the pen for the Orioles last year, with a 2.44 ERA, but a decline of some sort was expected this year, especially after he walked five hitters per nine last year. That decline has led to an ERA over seven this season. It'll be interesting to see what the Cubs have in the plans for these two, but the fact that Arrieta isn't a free agent until 2017 and Strop isn't until 2018 adds a little more intrigue to this.
As far as that extra cash for the international signing pool, we know how heavy the Cubs are in on that market. Speculation right now is that they wanted that extra dough to try and pursue outfielder, and top international player, Eloy Jimenez.
Overall, it's a fair trade on both ends right now. The Orioles get a solid, consistent starter and some catching depth, while the Cubs get a couple of those buy-low candidates that they crave with the organization in the state that it's in. We'll see how it plays out with those two on the North Side, and with that extra international cash, before a true judgment can be made.
UPDATE NO. 1: This is just the first deal of the day the Cubs have made, as their trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers is close to being finalized. The Cubs will acquire veteran reliever Matt Guerrier in the deal, save about $1 million on Marmol's contract, and get more international signing money in the deal. It's a brilliant move by the Cubs, as they actually find someone foolish enough to take on Marmol in a trade.
UPDATE NO. 2: In a deal of smaller significance, the Cubs sent minor league infield Ronald Torreys, who has a nice bit of upside, to the Houston Astros for even more international cash.