Cubs trade Fox, Miles for A's Gray
Righty reliever comes to Chicago with two prospects
CHICAGO -- Aaron Miles will get a fresh start, Jake Fox may finally get a chance to play more regularly and the Cubs added a power arm to the bullpen in a deal Thursday with the Oakland Athletics.
The Cubs acquired pitchers Jeff Gray and Ronny Morla and highly touted prospect Matt Spencer from the A's for Miles, Fox and cash.
"It's a real good trade for everyone," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "Jake will help the A's, hopefully Aaron will get back on track. It gives us three good young players and a power arm with a chance to make the club in Gray."
The move also clears some room on the Cubs' payroll. They will save $1.7 million owed Miles.
"We've been given a very fair budget the last few years," Hendry said. "[Cubs chairman] Tom Ricketts is going to be an outstanding owner. He's made no bones about how he wants to be here for a long time and build for the future and keep developing our players. We're in a year where if our budget is approximately the same area it's been in the last 12 months, then we have to maximize the opportunities and be creative and make some trades, and that's what we feel like we're doing."
Miles, who turns 33 on Dec. 15, signed a two-year contract with the Cubs on Dec. 31, 2008, but had an injury-plagued '09 season, batting a career-low .185. The Cubs have some depth at middle infield with Jeff Baker, Mike Fontenot, Andres Blanco and Ryan Theriot, and Hendry said he felt Miles might be better served going somewhere else.
Fox, 27, was leading the Pacific Coast League in the Triple Crown categories when called up to the big league team. He batted .259 in 82 games with the Cubs with 11 homers and 44 RBIs.
|"We feel good about the two or three things we've done since the season ended."|
|-- Cubs GM Jim Hendry|
"I think we're giving [Fox] the opportunity to play more on a regular basis in the American League," Hendry said. "He's too young in his career to be just a bat off the bench, so it's one of the things we like to do. We feel we maximize his value in the trade, but we're giving Jake the opportunity to be an everyday player in the American League as a first baseman, [designated hitter], and corner position that we don't have available with Derrek [Lee] and [Aramis Ramirez] and [Alfonso] Soriano."
Fox played catcher, third base, first base and outfield for the Cubs. He was currently playing for Licey in the Dominican Winter League and is expected to finish the season there.
Gray, 28, posted a 3.76 ERA in 24 relief appearances with the Athletics, walking four and striking out 19 in 26 1/3 innings. He did not give up an earned run in 15 of his first 19 outings.
Hendry said Gray will be in the mix for a relief spot next year.
"He's a power arm type of guy who gets it up to 95, 97 [mph] on a regular basis," Hendry said of Gray. "We felt he could come in and compete for a job in the bullpen. He does have an option. We'll put him in the mix with a lot of young people."
Gray, who was added to the Cubs' 40-man roster, split time between the A's and Triple-A Sacramento in 2009.
"He certainly doesn't have a lot of experience pitching in the eighth or ninth [innings] yet," Hendry said. "His arm strength is very good. He's not old by any means as far as bullpen guys. He's got the stuff to be able to pitch in any area of the bullpen, if he's able to harness it a little bit better. He throws very hard and throws strikes. Our scouts felt his arm strength was a lot like [Angel] Guzman's."
The Cubs head into the Winter Meetings still looking to tweak the bullpen. Right now, John Grabow is the most experienced arm.
"We'll continue to look," Hendry said. "We'd still like to pursue some bullpen possibilities. I think the market is going to dictate how long that goes and who's left. There's also other trade possibilities that we feel might be possible for us to do."
Spencer, 23, was a very important part of the deal, Hendry said. Originally selected by Philadelphia in the third round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, Spencer was acquired by Oakland in the 2008 trade that sent pitcher Joe Blanton to the Phillies. A left-handed hitter, he combined to hit .289 between Class A Stockton and Double-A Midland last season, with 19 homers and 91 RBIs. He sported an .833 OPS across the two levels.
Morla, 21, pitched last season for Class A Vancouver and went 1-7 with a 4.86 ERA in 17 games (12 starts).
The Cubs have gotten a good head start heading into the Winter Meetings. They signed Grabow to a two-year contract, traded Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks and did not offer arbitration to free agents Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, Reed Johnson and Chad Fox.
"We feel good about the two or three things we've done since the season ended," Hendry said. "We felt this was a good trade for us to clear the deck before we got [to Indianapolis]."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.