Cubs Send Jake Fox To A’s In Five-Player Deal

The Deal
The Athletics acquired second baseman Aaron Miles and heavy-hitting Jake Fox, a 27-year-old Cubs rookie this year, in a trade that sends three second-tier prospects to Chicago. Oakland kicked in $1 million to offset Miles’ contract and facilitate the deal. Headed to the Cubs are 28-year-old righthanded reliever Jeff Gray, Double-A corner outfielder Matt Spencer and Ronny Morla, a tall Dominican righty who has struck out 9.7 batters per nine innings in his two seasons in the short-season Northwest League.

Fox played a lot of third base and left field for the Cubs in 2009 as Chicago tried to find a way to get his bat in the lineup. But the righthanded hitter has played mostly catcher and first base in the minors while hitting a robust .293/.357/.528 and slugging 122 home runs in more than 2,600 plate appearances. A third-round pick from Michigan in ’03, Fox has concentrated his best work at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, batting .298/.362/.558 in 350 games while showing an improved batting eye. He’s got a track record of performance and he’s in his prime. In other words, the time is now.

 
Cubs Acquire
Jeff Gray, rhp
Age: 28.
Born: Nov. 19, 1981 in Texas City, Texas.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Southwest Missouri State.
Career Transactions: Selected by Athletics in 32nd round of 2004 draft; signed June 16, 2004.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Sacramento (PCL) AAA 2 2 1.54 37 0 16 41 30 8 7 2 6 22 0.88
Oakland (AL) MAJ 0 1 3.76 24 0 0 26 30 12 11 3 4 19 1.29

With mid-90s heat and hard mid-80s slider, Gray gives the Cubs a power arm for their bullpen. He’s spent most of the last three seasons pitching at Triple-A Sacramento. After a difficult 2008 season in which he posted a 4.39 ERA in 54 appearances out of the River Cats bullpen, Gray bounced back this year, going 16-for-17 in saves and not allowing a single run over his last 12 appearances. Gray had some success after earning a promotion to Oakland in August, although big league lefthanded hitters hit .300 against him in 50 at-bats.

 
Ronny Morla, rhp
Age: 21.
Born: May 19, 1988 in Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Athletics, Feb. 10, 2006.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Vancouver (NWL) SS 1 7 4.86 17 12 0 63 70 42 34 4 24 73 1.49

Morla’s size and loose arm action could translate into an increase on his present 91-92 mph velocity. His changeup would seem to have a bit more potential than his slider, but if he commands at least one of them he could find success as a reliever. The A’s had not exhausted his starter possibilities, despite an ugly 4.87 ERA over the course of 139 short-season innings.

 
Matt Spencer, of
Age: 23. Position: LF (54 G), RF (28 G), 1B (23 G), DH (22 G).
Born: Jan. 27, 1986 in Morristown, Tenn.
Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 230. Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: Arizona State.
Career Transactions: Selected by Phillies in third round of 2007 draft; signed July 8, 2007 … Traded by Phillies with 2B Adrian Cardenas and LHP Josh Outman to Athletics for RHP Joe Blanton, July 17, 2008.

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Stockton (CAL) HiA .274 30 117 20 32 5 0 10 29 12 15 3 .338 .573
Midland (TL) AA .294 93 371 59 109 29 3 9 62 26 75 2 .347 .461
Total .289 123 488 79 141 34 3 19 91 38 90 5 .345 .488

Spencer joins his third pro organization after splitting his college career between North Carolina and Arizona State. He started his collegiate career at UNC in 2005 and had two inconsistent seasons in Chapel Hill before transferring to ASU for the 2007 season. Spencer hit .369 with nine home runs for the Sun Devils, elevating himself to the third round of the draft. Spencer is a fly ball hitter with above-average power potential, though that power is derived more from strength than from bat speed. He has an upward swing plane and can get long to the ball at times. Defensively, Spencer can handle first base or left field. He has a pretty good arm and is an average runner.

 
Athletics Acquire
Jake Fox, 3b/lf
Age: 27. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: 5 years remain before free agency.
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Chicago (NL) 2007 .143 7 14 3 2 2 0 0 1 1 2 0 .200 .286
Chicago (NL) 2009 .259 82 216 23 56 12 0 11 44 14 47 0 .311 .468
2-Year Totals .252 89 256 26 58 14 0 11 45 15 49 0 .305 .457
 
Aaron Miles, 2b
Age: 32. Bats: B. Remaining Commitment: 1 year, $2.7 million.
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
St. Louis (NL) 2007 .290 133 414 55 120 16 1 2 32 25 40 2 .328 .348
St. Louis (NL) 2008 .317 134 379 49 120 15 2 4 31 23 37 3 .355 .398
Chicago (NL) 2009 .185 74 157 17 29 7 1 0 5 8 21 3 .224 .242
3-Year Totals .283 341 950 121 269 38 4 6 68 56 98 8 .322 .351

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