OAKLAND -- In trading for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, A's general manager Billy Beane says he was looking only at the final three months of the regular season, not October and the postseason.
"It would be arrogant and presumptuous to talk about October in July," Beane said Saturday after his blockbuster trade with the Chicago Cubs became official.
To acquire Samardzija and Hammel, two major league starting pitchers, the A's sent the Cubs two former first-round picks, Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, and Triple-A starting pitcher Dan Straily. Oakland will also give up a player to be named or cash.
Samardzija wasn't surprised to be traded but was surprised about coming to Oakland, saying he was "ecstatic" when he heard of the A's interest.
"I'm right where I need to be, man. I'm excited," he said. "I've been begging for this for a while, not teamwise but situationwise, being in a situation where you come in excited to win games with the guys you're playing with, being more worried about that game than who's going to be here in the future. I can't wait to get out there and pitch."
Not everybody was buying Beane's claim that the move was made only to stay ahead of the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners in the A.L. West.
"They made that trade because of us," Detroit Tigers pitching ace Justin Verlander told the Detroit Free Press.
To which Beane says: "We've got a tremendous amount of respect for the talent that the Angels and the Mariners have. Our priority is to try to win the division first, and then worry about the postseason.
"(Starting pitching) is an area where we felt a couple of weeks ago that we absolutely had to address. We felt we needed one guy, then we felt we needed two."
A's first baseman Brandon Moss found Verlander getting ahead of himself regarding the Tigers' making the postseason.
"It's not like they've got a 10-game lead, either. ... I wouldn't be thinking too far ahead," Moss said.
Oakland's starting rotation is the best in the majors, in terms of ERA (3.30). But, in looking ahead, the A's can't trust that converted reliever Jesse Chavez would be able to put together another 100 innings like his first 100, and Brad Mills, who has done well enough in three starts, doesn't have the pedigree.
Samardzija does. He is only 2-7 in 17 starts with the Cubs, but he's considered a top-of the line pitcher, which is reflected in his 2.83 ERA. This is a guy who was winless in his first 10 starts this season despite having a 1.46 ERA.
"Not only is he a good arm, from what I understand he's quite the competitor, has that football mentality and takes it out to the mound," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Anytime you have that kind of presence on the mound on top of the stuff that he brings, guys feel good about it. Hammel is basically the same way."
A's fans will see Samardzija on Sunday, when he gets the start.
"I'm champing at the bit to get out there," he said. "I don't think there's any better way to get acclimated with your teammates than get out there and do it on the mound."
To get Samardzija on the 25-man roster, the A's sent left-hander Tommy Milone to Triple-A Sacramento. That move was a bit of a surprise, as Milone is perhaps the A's most effective starter in the last six weeks, going 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA in his last 11 starts. It wasn't easy for Melvin to break the news to Milone, who had an option remaining.
"It really took quite awhile trying to figure out what I would say to him, but really nothing came to mind," Melvin said. "He was a little bit shocked and understandably so, but you haven't seen the last of Tommy Milone here."
Trade talks with the Cubs started a month ago, although the deal in its final form came together relatively quickly in the last few days. It is not a light investment. Beane said it hurt in particular to give up Russell, Oakland's top draft pick in 2012. A shortstop ranked from the fifth- to 15th-best prospect in the game, Russell, 20, was hitting .333 for Double-A Midland.
"We traded him; we did not give up on him," Beane said. "He's a great kid. He's a great prospect. And he will be a great player."
McKinney, 19, was the club's top pick last year. The outfielder was hitting .241 with 10 home runs and 12 doubles in 75 games for Single-A Stockton.
Hammel will be a free agent after this season, but Samardzija, considered the key pickup, is under A's control this year and next.
"Jeff has been a bit of a workhorse," Beane said of the former star receiver at Notre Dame. "He has gotten better and better each year. There is a certain amount of self-confidence in him to take the career path that he did. It will be a good ballpark for him to pitch in, and good defense behind him.
"This should be an injection of adrenaline for him."
And for the A's. Reliever Sean Doolittle sees it that way.
"It seems like they (front office) are saying, 'Hey, you guys are right there, we're going to give you a little bit extra to put you over the hump and see if we can't make a run at this thing,' " Doolittle said. "It's just very encouraging to have the front office kind of send you that message, that they'll do anything and everything to help us out."
Staff writer Carl Steward contributed to this report.
Blockbuster deal proof the future is now for the A's. Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami.