If you missed it overnight, the A's and Cubs have pulled off a stunning trade. The A's get the Cubs' number 1 and 3 starters (Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, ERA's of 2.83 and 2.98 respectively) while the Cubs get the A's number 1 and 2 prospects (SS Addison Russell and OF Billy McKinney), plus thus-far disappointing in 2104 SP Dan Straily (career ML ERA - 4.11, 2014 ERA 4.93).
My take is... Wow. The A's have ridden a high-octane offence to the best run-differential in the majors, but their starters have been a little disappointing (a combined 6.2 WAR thus far in 2014). They have three starters that have thrown well (Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez, each worth 1.6 WAR or above), and a host of others performing well below that level, including Tommy Milone and Drew Pomeranz as the best of the rest.
This move offers protection in case Kazmir gets injured, or Chavez turns back into a waiver-wire pumpkin. Thus far in 2014, Samardzija and Hammel have been worth 4.2 WAR between them, so this likely represents a significant upgrade. Especially given that the two Cubs starters will bounce the problematic numbers four and five from having to throw every five days.
Excellent trade for both teams, with perhaps the only negative from the Cubs' perspective being that Russell adds to the glut of middle infield prospects. Trade season is underway!