The first significant domino of the trade season dropped a couple days ago, as the Cubs dealt Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A's for top shortstop prospect, Addison Russell, RHP Dan Straily, and 2013 first round pick, OF Billy McKinney. It's a massive haul for Theo Epstein and Chicago, though it makes sense for Oakland given where they are this year on the win curve. Samardzija not only strengthens their World Series chances in 2014, but he's under contract for 2015 as well.
With that said, as a Ranger fan I'm thrilled about this trade. Keith Law writes that Russell is a top-five prospect in the game, indicating that the A's shipped away a sizeable portion of their future infield to go all-in this year and next. Being that Texas isn't going to compete in 2014 anyway, it spares them the prospect of having to face Addison Russell in Oakland longterm. Brian McKinney is someone I'm less familiar with, but Law suggests he's a future big league corner outfielder, and he's better at knowing these types of things than I am.
Jamey Newberg tweeted that the deal, for Oakland, "Widens the now window but accelerates its shutting," and that's probably the best way of putting it. The Athletics, damn them, are on the verge of doing something even the Rangers didn't accomplish during their dominant 2010-'14 stretch: win three consecutive American League West titles. Like the Rangers in 2010 when they unloaded their top prospect at the time, Justin Smoak, along with former first round pick Blake Beaven and a couple of throw-ins -- one who happens to be a rapist -- to get Cliff Lee, the A's have sold out for the now. Russell and McKinney were Oakland's two-best prospects in a farm system ranked 26th of 30 MLB teams heading into 2014, per Keith Law.
In the short-term, over the next two years the A's should could have a top-5 MLB rotation, teaming two potential front-of-the-rotation starters (Samardzija, Sonny Gray) with a revitalized Scott Kazmir and a healthy Jarrod Parker at some point next season.
It's a good value trade for the Cubs, and if Oakland makes it to a World Series over the next two years I don't think they'll regret Addison Russell. It has the feel of the Cliff Lee trade all over again, and I don't think any of us would take back that World Series appearance to have Justin Smoak as our first baseman.