jeff samardzija beardIf 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.

  • Griff

    jeff, castro, rizzo, wood, castillo. These are the guys were building around and none of them will be moved. If they are then Theo and company don’t expect us to compete within a year or even two IMO. This trade deadline should give us a good idea of what front office is expecting

  • socalicubsfan

    Justin… agreed!
    Skaags, Bradley, and Jake Barrett, please.

  • Dale Jr

    Pull the trigger before u trade garza

  • OregonCubsFan

    Some thoughts on trading Shark:
    – I think Arizona is probably just fishing. Dangling the bait to see if Jed and Theo will bite. But I don’t think they’ll even get a nibble. Jed won’t even call them. He’s not interested in shopping Shark. The bait has to be an intriguing offer, at least close to the many suggested above, that would make the Cubs take notice.
    – If talks did get serious, the Cubs would indeed probably let it leak so that there would be a feeding frenzy (ok – bad shark tie in, sorry). But they would want the talks to be known so that the bidding wars could commence.
    – Question as a fan: Are we ready to say good bye to Shark and all the emotional loss that would include? Though Shark and Garza, when they are both healthy, are essentially the same pitcher, and both have the potential to have a Cy Young year or two, it seems to me the one that means most to the organization is Shark. Not because of his age or ability, but because he is a home grown talent. There always seems to be something special about someone that has come up a Cub. Even more special about one who was drafted and fully developed by the Cubs. That is one of the key reasons we loved Kerry Wood so much. That is why we loved Maddox so much and were thrilled to see him come back. That is why it was particularly tough when Theriot dogged us while playing for St. Louis. I was sad when the Cubs traded Derek Lee, but not as upset when they traded Mark Grace, even though it is tough to argue that Grace was more productive than Lee. That’s not to say don’t trade Shark. But my preference would be to lock him up so that his most productive years, which have a super high ceiling and, barring injury, is a ceiling I think he’ll reach, are with the Cubs. Let’s not have a Maddox all over again (though admittedly the key difference is that he went free agency and did not bring a return).
    Just some thoughts…

    • RoughRiider

      I agree with all that you wrote, except Grace wasn’t traded, he was not offered a contract and was signed as a free agent by the Diamondbacks. Small thing now but not then.

  • AD

    Look what trading Teixeira did for the Rangers. That move was crucial to the development of their core and has taken them to two world series. If you can get three or four impact talents for Shark then you have to think about moving him. Having said that, this is nothing more than a rumor from… Ken Rosenthal.

    • YourResidentJag

      I’ll take rumors from Rosenthal over Mr Bowdens any day.

    • nkniacc13

      True but didn’t Texas have a prospect ready to play at the MLB level to replace Tex? The Cubs don’t have a good replacement for shark

      • AD

        I don’t recall. The deal netted the Rangers Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, and Neftali Feliz. Obviously hypothetical, but would you trade Shark for that return?

  • Seth N.

    they can ask, of course. Like hitting on a model way out of your league. You can ASK

  • Seth N.

    especially if they think there might be signability issues w/ Jeff. I wonder about that.

    • Rooster

      If there is ANY Cub that deserves top $$ it’s Sam/Shark. I for one would like to see one of our own get some bigtime $$ instead of Edwin Jackson.

  • Kramden

    I say trade him just so I don’t have to try to spell his name anymore.

  • Thom

    Doesn’t Shark have a no trade clause of some kind as well? I suspect the lure of going to a contender could entice him to accept the trade however if Soriano, Dempster, Ramirez, Lee have taught us anything, you never know with these guys…

    • Bric

      I believe he does. It was part of his initial 5 year contract from Hendry.

      • dabynsky

        It was part of the initial contract, but that ran out at the end of 2011. I don’t believe he was given any such protection by this regime when he went to arbitration.

        • YourResidentJag

          Good to know.

  • Rooster

    Sam-J is an ace without the hefty contract. ND>CHI>LIFETIME CUB! If the Cubs plan on winning a WS in the next 5 years I’d like him as my frontman. Attitude, stuff, and he was developed from within. Homegrown is priceless.

    Skaggs has gotten rocked in his recent promotion. I don’t buy the hype with those kids. Skaggs was a HS pitcher who never got the proper seasoning. I don’t see Sam-J in any of them. I more Marmol in Bradley (HS) than Sam. A near 6 era in the minors. He should’ve went to college and refined his stuff. I can’t stand those kids. College pitchers are so much safer…like Sam-J, Lander, Stras, ect.

  • Rich H

    The only way the trading of Shark makes sense is if we clean their clock on the the trade. You guys are mentioning Bradley and Skaggs and I contend that should not even move the needle.

    We are talking about a young pitcher that has team control for 2 more years and is only getting better as he is transitioning from thrower to pitcher. He is moving his pitches better this year and is really beginning to get some polish on his game.

    I keep seeing this as a Curt Schilling situation with the Phillies. In that regard do you want our version to go from being a stud pitcher to a superstar in someone else rotation?

    That all being said we do not want to be the Mariners where we have so much tied into our star player that we have to count on kids everywhere else just to compete. I don’t know whether we should trade Shark or not but if we do it needs to gut the system of whoever it is we are trading with.

    • AD

      Like the Teixeira trade for the Rangers.

      • Rich H

        There have been a few deals like that over the years but the Tex trade is a good one to point out.

        I just think that if we give up on Shark then we need to do a one stop shop with it. 5 or 6 high end prospects including multiple top 5’s of that organization. Not saying it is going to happen just that is what we need to be aiming for.

  • justinjabs

    Yo Dbags, get the heck outta here and away from Samardzija!!

  • Rebuilding

    It’s interesting to see this rumor floated. Is Rosenthal just pulling this out of his ass? It seems a little random for that to be true. The Diamondbacks have no incentive to leak it because it brings in other bidders. So you have to think the Cubs leaked this on purpose – smart if they are at least considering it. Bring in the Red Sox farm system to the bidding and things could get interesting.

    • Rich H

      If it was Gammons, Stark or Onley I would definitely agree that it sounds like Theo is doing a work here. I think Rosenthal asked a what if question and then ran with it.

      “Since you have said you do not want a rental what pitchers would you be interested in if available?” Just your typical follow up question to a blanket statement that Rosenthal then went into conjecture about. It is what good insider type journalists seem to do a lot. And like him or not Rosenthal is very good at what he does.

  • Jason Powers

    If the Cubs are truly committed (as we undoubtedly believe they are) to this rebuild, no option is beyond the pale. Using the D-backs for a base:

    Finding the right team to provide the value they seek for Shark and/or Garza which if you lost, and the starting bid for Shark is: 1 MLB close SP guy still in minors, another SP high up side, and a 3rd pitcher. Bradley, Shipley and Holmberg (2 lefties) Garza: another SP (or two) and C say from San Diego or Boston. Blake Swihart in Beantown or Hedges in SD.

    Ask the moon, maybe they will cave in. Point is to: get enough prospects in the hopper than no one prospect or two tanking will have an effect on the plan, though, it always does have an effect. If the Cubs land 3-4 SP for a 2015 run, a catcher, and speedy 2B/OF that can field avg., hit for .280/.350/.430 like split, that builds the team. All the rest of their prospects will fill in (we hope) the rest.

    The Cubs are not going to just win by saying, “oh Shark is homegrown. No way.” Negotiate for the price you want, plus extra. See whose willing to bet on present value of their farm system for an ace pitcher.

    Can I say I would give Shark up for 3 starting pitchers? Nope. But that’s the starting bid. I want the guys jewels – so his fan base gets pissed off for 3-6 months. Since its a gamble anyway on any pitcher(s)…health.

    Could or would the Cubs be wanton of a 20 million dollar pitcher? Would Shark do a discount? (Has there ever been a rumor to an extension or renegotiation for him?)

    • Chad

      As you say, it depends on the reward. If the cubs do decide that Shark is available, it won’t be just the Dbacks calling that is for sure. If it was the Dbacks I like your thought on type of pitchers, but Bradley and Holmberg aren’t that close. Skaggs needs to be the guy that fills that void. I don’t know who Shipley is so I can’t comment there. But you start by asking for Skaggs and Bradley, and maybe even Davidson.

      • Jason Powers

        That’s fair to say. I am not a D-back minors expert, so I just played, for instance. And hopefully, a feeding frenzy stirs around even the rumor. Hey, if we are, quote, “open for business” why is our best entree not on the menu.

        Fans fall in love with players. I did, like so many. Loved Ryno, Maddux, et. al, but given the history of the team, while I enjoy rooting for whomever is my flavor of the pre-free agency, I assume the FO wants to get this baby right. Cutting loose Marmol should have happened earlier, but… move on. Time to truly rebuild, develop talent, and figure out what’s the cost-effective way to do so.

        I honestly think now, with all the monetary hiccups (remodel, former ownership dealings) that the Ricketts are going small-market. So, spend on the infrastructure, load up on available talent, try to get mid-range FAs that can fill a role, once carved out.

        I almost like the platoon system in place – just want a bit more from those talents.

  • Rebuilding

    One thing to consider with Samardzija is the fact that they have presumably been quietly negotiating or at least feeling out what he would want for an extension and it seems that has gone nowhere. Samardzija is different than most guys signing their first big contract as he is already a very wealthy guy and is probably more inclined to take the injury risk and go to free agency. If that is the Cubs feeling and he is looking for Top 5-10 pitcher money so $20 mil + per year that might be why we are hearing these rumblings

    • Gcheezpuff

      I don’t know about Shark and free agancy. He is a home town kid. I think he just wants to make sure the Cubs pay him as a top of the rotation starter and he probably wants more years then the Cubs were willing to give him before he proved himself. The last 2 seasons, he has established himself, I could see the extension happening once the season concludes. He is exactly what the Cubs are hoping to find and develop on the trade market. Eventually they have start building around players not just flipping everyone. I can’t see them actually trying to move him and my understanding is that Shark wants to be a Cub. I am leaning towards, no way Shark gets traded.

      • Rebuilding

        I agree with a lot of that. But just looking at timing…if everything goes according to plan you probably have Almora, Baez, Soler, Bryant all arriving after the Super 2 deadline in 2015. That’s the last year of his current deal. We are going to be bad next year and most likely in 2015 as well, but on the upswing. I know we all laugh about the trade a guy and then re-sign him, but I think in Samardzija’s case it’s not impossible. Why wouldn’t he want to go somewhere the next couple of years and try to win a World Series and then come back in 2016 as the returning hero just as we are ready to really compete.

        • Gcheezpuff

          Honestly hadn’t even considered that.. possible I guess. Cubs would still have to be absolutley floored in any deal to make a move though. Possible, but likelyhood of a Shark return after a trade would still be slim too. I think he wants to win a world series at the top of the Cubs rotation. You’re a Cubs fan… wasn’t that your dream as a kid?

          • Rebuilding

            Definitely. And I think he would have his chance if that scenerio played out. But what good does he really do us through the rest of his deal? He just gets us a worse draft pick the next two years. I really think he will explore free agency when this one is done. And considering almost our entire roster will be cost controlled at that point we would have as much money as anyone and a need for a #1. The downside is losing the fan base entirely

      • Jason Powers

        Its all in the financials and time frame for a competing (umm 90+ win) team. Think: 2016. A ways a way.

        The Shark will command 20 mil money. He knows this. If he’s a committed to the Cubs guy, he may take a 18-mil, 5 year deal. (That the limit for me on pitchers…but inflation just makes me sick.)

        He’s one guy. Remember: Soriano. Came off a near 40/40 bid in Washington. Was 31, but that was the old regime.

        Sharks much younger, but he’s a pitcher…arm trouble never far reality. And ONE guy – whose pay and health will be always a concern.

        The prospect angle works if 3 bites at the apple is probablisitically better for getting more value in the same time frame you expect out of Shark, but at a much lower cost. (What if we hit pay dirt, 2 SPs for cheap, pre-arb, then afterwards, until 2020?)

        It’s a gamble. MUST pick the right prospects from the right team.

        Crap, might need a 3-way deal to get what you want.

  • Jason Powers

    And, as we know, the earlier you trade a top tier guy (at the reasonable cost rate), the more you can ask (and receive) in return.

    The Cubs (irony) have too much pitching for a crappy record having team. Which presents its own dilemma as Brett mentions always with Garza and Feldman. Here’s to a tight race throughout July!

  • Mr. Gonzo

    IMO – any offer short of sending Cheerios shooting violently out of Theo’s nose isn’t landing Shark.

  • X the Cubs Fan

    If we get lucky enough to get a top 50 pitching prospect for Garza and then we get Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs in a Samardzija trade, we could have the best farm system in baseball in 2014. We could also be close enough to contention to be able to bring up, say Archie Bradley, Tyler Skaggs, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantra and maybe Vizcaino to pair up with the core players we have, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Travis Wood, James Russell and Wellington Castillo. Then to start 2015 we could have Bryant, Almora, Pierce Johnson, Matt Sczur and some of the college pitchers we drafted this year.

    • Jason Powers

      IF that ALL fell into place, that’s how DYNASTIES are built.

      1970s A’s were built in via the draft and acquisition:
      1965 Rick Monday* OF Arizona State University
      1965 Sal Bando 3B Arizona State University
      1965 Gene Tenace SS Valley HS (Lucasville,OH)
      1966 Reggie Jackson OF Arizona State University
      1967 Vida Blue P DeSoto HS (Mansfield, LA)
      1967 Darrell Evans 3B Pasadena City College
      1968 George Hendrick OF Fremont HS (Los Angeles, CA)
      1969 Jim Sundberg C Galesburg HS (IL)

      Others of note acquired prior to 1965 Draft: 2B Bert Campaneris, closer Rollie Fingers, SP Catfish Hunter, and SP Blue Moon Odom contributed mightily to Finley’s A’s. CF Rick Monday garnered SP Ken Holtzman in a blockbuster trade that set this dynasty, pitching wise.

      BUT, we all want a Merry XMAS!

      AND: that was a different era by leaps and bounds. The Yankees probably are a more realistic model – some draft, lots of trade.

  • Rebuilding

    I have always been in agreement with Kyle that we should try to compete while rebuilding. But that really hasn’t been the tack they have taken since the free agent class two offseasons ago. I’ve now come around to let’s just fully do it. If they pull it off then by the last half of 2015 you will have an exciting young player at almost every position and all pre-arb. If we are going all in then dealing Shark for two HIGH upside arms + makes sense.

    • Kyle

      I mean, we can re-argue 2012 as many times as we want (and you all know I can go for days non-stop on the subject), but it’s over and this is the path we are taking. $140m payrolls are not walking through that door.

      • Jason Powers

        There are small island nations that would actually kill for $140mil to land yearly on their shores. The land of plenty…

      • X the Cubs Fan

        If Kershaw hits the market after next season I’m 100% sure they will be all in. Theo signed Carl Crawford to a Seven year $142 million dollar contract. Seven years $200 million isn’t so bad.

        • Kyle

          Maybe. But even if we do decide we can afford a big contract like that, we aren’t the only team out there. Going to be hard to outbid the LAs and NYs of the world.

          • Rebuilding

            Would be hard to imagine a team with the money of the Dodgers letting him hit FA. But if he does, given our payroll at that point, the only limit to what we could offer him is common sense.

            • DarthHater

              For Kershaw, there would be teams that would bid way above common sense.

              • Rebuilding


  • Big Joe

    I really like Jeff, so don’t misunderstand me. I think he’s a talented pitcher, and a great teammate. I live near Notre Dame, and I saw him both on the football field, and the baseball diamond. I am older the him, so I didn’t play high school baseball against him, here in Indiana.
    With all of that said…
    I don’t believe Jeff is anyone’s ace. I think he tops out at a solid #2, and is a very good #3 on his average day. Those are not negatives, either. Jeff has a lot of talent. I believe it just goes to show how hard it is to be that good in MLB.
    I believe that a lot of people are overestimating his abilities. I don’t, although, believe you and overestimate his VALUE to the Cubs. As stated in the article, he’s youngish, cost effective, and under team control. If those are the reasons why he’s not traded, I’m fine with that. But, if he’s not traded because the FO believes he’s got a couple or three CY awards in him, they are very mistaken.
    I don’t think he should be traded, for the reasons stated above. I just don’t see him as “off limits”. Never have.

    • Big Joe

      * can overestimate

  • eternal pessimist

    I would prefer to hang onto Shark for now. You could always trade mid-season 2014 if it was time for the white flag to come out again, but the cubs need some type of talent to bring fans to the game. Of course, a busload of talent for Shark would change my calculation too.

  • nkniacc13

    If you look at trading Shark I wouldn’t be surprised if it required a 3 team deal to make it work simply because im not sure the cubs would get what they want just out of 1 team and with some of their own minor leaguers may have to be moved for roster space.

  • Rich H

    Remember that we are talking about Potential with Smardzija not a finished product. So a 20 million per year extension is really stretching it. If you want to take a look at where he compare right now and base an extension off of that look no further than Cahill for Arizona and that was only 50 million. But the one I consider the safest bet is basing it on Jared Weavers contract from last year which is 5 years 85 million with a 20 million dollar pay out at the end of it. That would take care of all of his Arb years and the first 3 years of FA. We can always give him an out clause at some point after 2016 if the finances change and he is underpaid. that should keep both sides happy.

    • eternal pessimist

      Giving him an out clause takes away the value of the deal and puts the Cubs on the hook for too much risk with little reward. 2016 is realistically the only year where the Cubs should be expected to be very good before he would have the right to opt out and the Cubs would need to rebid for his services. The Cubs gave away too much value with those kind of deals under Hendry. I hope we don’t repeat the same mistakes!

  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I think Jeff wants to hit free agency. He wants a big payday. He doesn’t have many innings logged on his arm like other pitchers, so that makes him attractive to any front office. I’m sure he wants to stick around when we’re “competing”, but it may come at his cost.

    If the Diamondbacks offer their top 3 prospects (and whatever our front office likes), I think we should pull the trigger. Skaggs and Bradley have a great chance in surpassing Samardzija’s numbers/talent. We need catching depth, which Arizona does not have, but if we can get two potential aces and a solid starter, that’s a fair return.

    We got a solid starter, a 4th OF type, and a legit 2B prospect for the best left-handed reliever in the league (Sean Marshall). We should expect a better return for Samardzija.

  • Rebuilding

    Since Arizona is unlikely to part with Skaggs and Bradley at the same time I would ask about Adam Eaton. One of my favorites and a true Theo/Moneyball type of player. With the breakout of Parra this year it might be possible. I would want somethink like Skaggs, Eaton, Trahan and Holmberg. Two guys that can play immediately (Eaton is rehabbing), a very high upside C prospect and a high upside arm.

    • X the Cubs Fan

      Ill just take Skaggs and Bradley and nothing else if that’s what it takes.

      • Rebuilding

        Well sure, but getting 2 of the Top 10 pitching prospects in the game just seems a little unrealistic. Not because that’s not what Samardzija could be worth but because it depletes their system of pitching. Mixing a position player with similar to somewhat less value to Bradley might make it more palatable. Also Trahan has one of those bats that will play at any position. If he can stick at C then you’ve really got something

        • Rebuilding

          Slightly lesser value to Bradley – was talking about Eaton who if still a prospect is in the 40-60 range but undervalued, to me, because of his size

  • fromthemitten

    Skaggs, Bradley, and Eaton and maybe I’d consider it.

  • David

    Skaggs, Bradley, and Barrett – future closer. I’d do it. To get those guys, I’d throw in Sweeney. This would be just an awesome deal for the organization. I’d be willing to wait another year of $hitty baseball to have a minor league system like this. Maybe we can get that stud in college in next year’s draft, as well.

    • David

      Barrett looks like a beast. 6′ 3″ & 230lbs. 37ks in 27 innings.

    • X the Cubs Fan

      I think you mean Rondon and we would have to have the #1 pick for him. But Tyler Beede is pretty good to either way are minor league pitching could be ridiculously good with Skaggs, Bradley, Beede or Rondon, Vizcaino, Pierce Johnson, Dillon Maples, Duane Underwood, Kyle Hendricks, Panigua, Ryan McNeil, the list goes on and on.

      • David

        Combine that with our minor league hit crew… Tough to beat. .500 in 2015, world Series in 2016. Make it happen, Theo.

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  • jt

    “I don’t recall assuming any of those things, or even touching vaguely on the subjects.”
    your base stated principle is that The Cubs should be fielding the best possible team playing at max possible efficiency for that game during the entire rebuild period.
    For example, Rizzo had a long strike out swing early in the season. He then shortened the swing and with great success but less power hit the ball to LF. Since he has been trying to pull the ball with the same swing but with much less success. Use of your principle would have him still poking the ball to LF. But is that the best long term use of Rizzo?
    Your principle would have Castro revert to same arm swing that the league has leaned to defense. Is that the best long term use of Castro?
    Your principle would have had Valbuena used as a late inning defensive replacement last year. He would never have developed into what we have seen this year. Would that have been the best use of Valbuena?
    Your principle would have Castillo spending more time improving his hitting. That would have taken away learning time spent on the defensive aspect of catching. Would that have been the best long term use of Castillo?
    Your principle would continue to give all the LF PA’s to Soriano when they could be evaluating potential long term replacements. Would that be the best long term use of those PA’s?
    And on and on and on……
    The unintended consequence is actually the result of the not completely thought out “untouched upon” parts of an implemented principle.

  • farmerjon

    Wood+Barney+Gregg/Russell for Bundy?