The blockbuster deal between the Athletics and Cubs has been officially announced. Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are headed to Oakland while Chicago will receive prospects Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, Dan Straily, and a player to be named later or cash considerations.
With the trade, the A’s have strongly positioned themselves for another run in October, but they looked at other trade scenarios before finding a match with the Cubs. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, one involved a possible deal for the Rays’ David Price:
They considered, for example, David Price. Once they steeled themselves to trading Addison Russell, the precocious 20-year-old who was going to be their shortstop for the next seven years starting in 2015, the A’s knew anyone was in play, including Price. They talked with the Rays. Permutations of a deal went back and forth. It never materialized.
It’s unclear how talks stalled or if they ever got serious. Like Samardzija, Price is under team control for next season, so perhaps A’s general manager Billy Beane wanted two pitchers for his rotation, which the Rays couldn’t offer. From the Rays’ perspective, they likely wanted some different pieces or possibly something more significant to part with Price. For instance, they might not have had a need for someone like Dan Straily. Ultimately, the needs of both clubs didn’t match up like they did in the deal involving Samardzija and Hammel. We might never know the answers here, but it’s an interesting what-if scenario to consider.
World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.
And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.
Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.
Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.