Chicago Cubs second baseman Aaron Miles turns to throw to first to nab White Sox shortstop Gordon Beckham during a Cubs-White Sox game earlier this year..
Brian Hill | Staff Photographer
The Cubs felt they accomplished several things with Thursday's trade with the Oakland Athletics.
General manager Jim Hendry sent disappointing infielder Aaron Miles and infielder-outfielder Jake Fox to the A's for right-handed reliever Jeff Gray, pitcher Ronny Morla and infield-outfield prospect Matt Spencer.
The Cubs also sent $1 million to the A's, saving about $1.7 million on the last year of Miles' two-year contract. In return, the Cubs felt they picked up a reliever who can compete for a job out of spring training.
"We feel it's a good, positive trade for just about everybody involved before we get to the winter meetings," Hendry said. "We're very happy to have Gray in the fold, power arm, the type of guy who gets it up to 97 (mph) on a regular basis. We felt he can come in and compete for a job out of the bullpen. He does have an option (minor-league option). We'll put him in the mix with a lot of other young people."
Gray, 28, went 0-1 with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP (walks plus hits per 1 inning pitched) for the A's as he split time between Oakland and Class AAA Sacramento.
Miles, whom Hendry signed to a two-year, $4.9 million free-agent contract last winter, may have been the most unproductive position player in the major leagues this year. He batted .185 with an on-base percentage of .224 and 5 RBI.
Fox, whom the Cubs drafted as a catcher in 2003, may find life as a DH in the AL. He hit 11 homers and drove in 44 in 82 games with the Cubs this year.
"I think we're giving him a real good 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. It's one of the things that we like to do. We certainly felt like we maximized his value in a trade, that we're giving Jake the opportunity to be an everyday player in the American League as a first-baseman-DH and corner positions that we don't have available with Derrek (first baseman Lee) and Rami (third baseman Aramis Ramirez) and (left fielder Alfonso) Soriano."
Morla, 21, pitched this year for Class A Vancouver and went 1-7 with a 4.86 ERA in 17 appearances, 12 as a starter. Spencer, 23, was selected by Philadelphia in the third round of the 2007 draft and acquired by Oakland in the 2008 trade that sent pitcher Joe Blanton to the Phillies. The left-handed batter combined to hit .289 with 19 home runs and 91 RBI between Stockton (A) and Midland (AA) this season.