Friday's blockbuster trade could have turned out a whole lot differently.
According to a report by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Yankees made a push for Jeff Samardzija but came up short, finishing second in the sweepstakes for the former Cubs right-hander. As Heyman noted, left-hander CC Sabathia is out for the year and the Yanks were looking for someone to replace the man who was expected to lead their rotation this season.
The swing-and-a-miss by the Yankees is understandable in this case because they simply didn't have a prospect of the same caliber as Addison Russell, who went to the Cubs in the Samardzija deal. The former A's shortstop prospect is MLB.com's 11th-ranked prospect overall, and he could form one of the best middle infield combos in the majors along with Javier Baez in a few years.
Even with their failed ploy, however, the Yankees aren't completely out of luck. Top left-handers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are still on the market, and though it seems like the Yanks have been linked with Lee each July for the past decade, this could be the year during which they actually make that move. Given his major play for Samardzija, it's clear that general manager Brian Cashman wants to drastically improve his rotation, and with money to burn, Lee could be his next target in line.
Interestingly, Russell also nearly found himself with the Tampa Bay Rays, but the deal "never materialized," according to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan. According to Passan's report, the A's knew "anyone was in play" once they decided on their willingness to deal Russell, and they talked with the Rays about a potential swap involving Russell and left-hander David Price.
Either way, if it wasn't apparent beforehand, the Cubs now undoubtedly have the best hitting farm system in baseball. Aside from Russell and Baez (MLB.com's sixth-ranked prospect), the Cubs have eighth-ranked prospect Kris Bryant, a third baseman who went second overall in the 2013 draft and has an eye-popping 1.222 OBP at Triple-A this year, fifteenth-ranked Albert Almora, and Jorge Soler, who is hitting .362 in 47 MiLB at-bats this year. That's in addition to big league standouts Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, who will likely still be around when that talented crop of hitters makes it to the majors—assuming Castro doesn't get dealt.
The A's might be the odds-on favorites to win the World Series this year in light of Friday's deal, but the Cubs are set up to have a scary offense in the coming seasons.