In the run-up to the Trade Deadline, one of the most prominently featured Chicago Cubs names in trade rumors belonged to Jeff Samardzija. The prominence of that name had a bit more to do with his stature as a potential front-of-the-rotation arm than with the depth of the rumors, but the Cubs did legitimately seem to at least be listening.
The team most connected to Samardzija in those rumors? The Arizona Diamondbacks, from the whom the Cubs reportedly requested top pitching prospects Archie Bradley (who might be the top pitching prospect in the game) and Tyler Skaggs. As you’d expect, the talks died from there.
Fast-forward to this evening, and Buster Olney revives the rumors as literally as possible:
There is an expectation that the Jeff Samardzija/Arizona trade talks will continue. Cubs reaching point where they need a decision on him.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 4, 2013
Samardzija’s value has likely declined a bit since those original talks, not solely because of his lackluster second half performance (his advanced stats remain strong), but also because he now comes with another half season less of control. He also comes with the knowledge that his hometown-ish team – which has publicly stated it would like to keep him with an extension – was unable to work out such an extension because of his demands. A buying team may have to accept that it is buying only two seasons of Samardzija.
That said, I’m sticking by my long-held position on trading Samardzija: two seasons is a long time, and anything can happen over those two years. That is especially true if you have breakout candidates like Samardzija on the team. So, against that backdrop, and peripherals/stuff/scouting/velocity/etc. that tell me Samardzija could be truly special, I don’t see any reason for the Cubs to part with Samardzija for anything short of top dollar. If it’s the Diamondbacks, that means Bradley-plus. An outrageous demand? Maybe. But it’s not like the Cubs would be dealing from a position of strength, and they’d have no reason to make the move short of picking up tip-top pitching prospect(s) in return. If the Diamondbacks wanted to try and overwhelm with Skaggs-Delgado-plus-plus, you listen. But Bradley is the steak.
We’ll have to keep a close eye on Samardzija trade rumors this offseason, because, if an extension isn’t coming, this front office will always consider converting shorter-term value to longer-term. I’d just want to see them get enough for this particular shorter-term value. Because he’s a very good one.