If you’re a contender looking over the Chicago Cubs’ roster, there’s probably one player that jumps out at you above all others that you’d love to acquire: Jeff Samardzija. Not only has he pitched like a borderline ace over the last year and a half, but he’s got a young arm, is 28, and is under team control through 2015.
Of course you’d want Jeff Samardzija.
And so it is with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to Ken Rosenthal’s sources. They tell him that the Diamondbacks aren’t interested in a two-month rental pitcher, and instead would want to acquire a longer term piece like Yovani Gallardo or Samardzija. Rosenthal says the Cubs and Diamondbacks have not spoken, but he was told that it would take an “overwhelming” package to land Samardzija. Folks around baseball know that the price would be so extreme that one source told Rosenthal that the Cubs haven’t even received any “hits” on Samardzija.
The price cannot be understated. The Chicago Cubs need Jeff Samardzija as much as – or more than – virtually every other team in baseball. The organization likely would prefer to be not terrible in 2014 if at all possible, and Samardzija is the best starting pitcher the Cubs have under contract for the next two years. There are no studly arms waiting in the wings to replace him, and his departure could wreck the rotation.
So, yes, the Cubs would have to be overwhelmed to consider moving Samardzija. That is not to say they wouldn’t consider it, as they would consider trading anyone. Moving Samardzija could be a franchise-changing move, adding multiple elite talents – from the Diamondbacks, you’d want the conversation to start with top tier pitching prospects like Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs, each of whom have the potential to be Samardzijas in their own right – all in one move. The Cubs could actually improve in 2014 (and beyond) by dealing Samardzija.
… if they hit on the prospects they acquire. That’s obviously the persistent risk with trading someone like Samardzija, who is young enough and under control enough to help the Cubs when they actually expect to be good. In that way, dealing Samardzija stands in stark contrast to trading an expiring contract for a player that might not be willing to re-sign at a reasonable rate (which, for example, is possibly the case with Matt Garza). It is a huge risk that the Cubs will consider, but that I have trouble seeing them pulling the trigger on.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that if the Cubs did decide to shop Samardzija, they wouldn’t be speaking only to the Diamondbacks. There would be something of a serious bidding war.