Cubs trade Feldman, Clevenger to Orioles for Arrieta, Strop, and international bonus money

29 Comments

Trading season is officially upon us, as Keith Law of ESPN.com reports that the Cubs have traded right-hander Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to the Orioles for right-hander Pedro Strop, right-hander Jake Arrieta, and about $400,000 in international signing bonus slot amount.

It’s tough to have a good feel for how valuable the international bonus money tranfer is because there’s no real history of it to analyze, but for a rebuilding team like the Cubs anything that allows them to bring in more young talent certainly makes sense.

Feldman pitched well for Chicago, starting 15 games with a 3.46 ERA, and Baltimore was clearly in the market for veteran rotation help. It’s also worth noting that the Cubs signed Feldman to a one-year, $7 million deal as a free agent back in November, so they turned a modest short-term investment into what they hope will be some long-term value.

Arrieta was once a top prospect, but he’s been terrible in various big-league stints with a 5.46 ERA in 358 innings and is now 27 years old. Any notion of him developing into a top-of-the-rotation arm is probably long gone, but he may still be a useful starter or an interesting bullpen project. Strop figures to step into the Cubs’ bullpen in a middle relief role, where he’ll probably continue to struggle with control while flashing occasionally dominant raw stuff.

It’s an interesting trade, as the Cubs signed Feldman on the cheap and then flipped him for a former top prospect and a hard-throwing reliever, plus the ability to spend more on international prospects. Meanwhile, for the Orioles they obviously gave up on Arrieta ever living up to his potential and Strop was pretty expendable in the grand scheme of things, so they added a decent starter in Feldman for the second half without having to dip into their farm system.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

Getty Images
6 Comments

The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.