OAKLAND, Calif. – This is the new economy for the Cubs.
Scott Feldman understood the possibility of getting traded when he signed here: If the season went south, the front office would flip short-term assets.
The Cubs are dealing now, with Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger shipped to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday for right-handers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop and two international signing bonus slots (No. 3 and No. 4).
The Cubs maneuvered to add $963,000 to their pool space. They gave up one slot in the Carlos Marmol trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but also traded Double-A Tennessee infielder Ronald Torreyes (who was a piece in the Sean Marshall deal) to the Houston Astros for their No. 2 and No. 3 international signing bonus slots.
“We really like some of the impact talent in this year’s (class),” general manager Jed Hoyer said, “and the addition of dollars can help us be aggressive in this international market.
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“We feel like there’s both depth and premium guys and we’re hopeful that we can add a number of those guys.”
The Cubs had been assigned $4.6 million, which was the second-biggest total in baseball, for a signing period that began on Tuesday. They’ve already been linked to Venezuelan shortstop Gleyber Torres ($1.7 million), Dominican right-hander Jefferson Mejia ($850,000) and Colombian right-hander Erling Moreno ($800,000), according to Baseball America.
The financials worked with Feldman (7-6, 3.46 ERA), who lived up to his end of a one-year, $6 million contract that contained $1 million in incentives and the unspoken understanding he could be a three-month rental.
Hoyer said the Cubs discussed multi-year deals or a one-year contract with an option last November, but Feldman wanted the platform to prove that he can still be a legitimate big-league starter after bouncing in and out of the rotation with the Texas Rangers.
“We were willing to promise him a spot in the rotation,” Hoyer said. “He was really focused on a one-year deal, because he felt like if he got to the right place, he would really take off.
“He made a big bet on himself (and) I give him a lot of credit. He believed in himself. (The) fact he had a contender in the American League actively seeking him showed he made the right bet.”
The Cubs continue collecting second-chance pitchers, hoping they can succeed in a new environment, the way Feldman rebooted his career and Travis Wood blossomed into a potential All-Star.
Arrieta, 27, will be assigned to Triple-A Iowa and could be a replacement whenever Matt Garza gets traded this month. The Orioles once had high hopes for Arrieta, drafting him out of Texas Christian University in the fifth round of the 2007 draft and watching him develop into one of the organization’s top prospects.
But Arrieta couldn’t put it all together, going 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA in 69 games in the majors while working almost exclusively as a starter. He was 5-3 with a 4.41 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk this season.
“We see a lot of potential in him,” Hoyer said. “We’ve had some luck with a guy like Travis Wood, who was coming off a little bit of a down year. Feldman, frankly, was coming off a little bit of a down year. (By) getting (Arrieta) out of the American League East and getting him into our environment, we’re hopeful we’ll help him turn the corner.
“This (guy was) an Opening Day starter for the Orioles in 2012 and we hope to get him back to that level of performance.”
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The Cubs are again banking on the change-of-scenery idea.
“I think that is really the best way to look at it,” Arrieta told The Baltimore Sun. “This is something that is going to do me a lot of good, to go to the Cubs and just start over really. I have lots of experiences and have pitched through different situations and have been part of a lot of different Orioles teams.
“I know what it takes to pitch at a high level now and what it takes to win in a highly competitive division. I look forward to starting over, but also bringing my past experiences of everything I’ve done and the ways I have grown as a player and a person. And I plan on bringing that to Chicago in a positive way.”