nate schierholtz cubsThe Arizona Diamondbacks fancy themselves quite the trading partner this offseason.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told Nick Piecoro. “I think we’re kind of an attractive trade partner. Our depth is in the middle of the infield and in center field, and there’s a lot of need at those particular spots, as well. We tend to match up well with most ballclubs.”

Towers told Piecoro he believes the D-Backs match up well with four or five teams this offseason, and discussions have already started with those teams about possible trades. Piecoro immediately speculates – wisely, I’d think – that the Chicago Cubs are among those four or five teams, given the Diamondbacks’ desire to add a starting pitcher, and the presence of Jeff Samardzija. Rumors connecting the Diamondbacks and Cubs on a Jeff Samardzija deal date back to July, and have popped back up again in recent weeks.

Piecoro adds, however, that Samardzija might not be the only Cub interesting Arizona. Given the need for a corner outfield bat, Piecoro wonders if Nate Schierholtz could come up.

Schierholtz would certainly be an attractive trade target for teams, coming of a 107 OPS+ season in which he hit 21 homers in 463 at bats. He’s set to get an increase in arbitration for the 2014 season (he made $2.25 million in 2013), but he’ll be paid well under his market value. Of course, that all makes him equally attractive to the Cubs, who don’t presently have a right fielder available to replace Schierholtz (unless, of course, they’re ready to go with a Lake-Sweeney-Bogusevic outfield, seeking to challenge the Astros for the top pick in 2015).

The Diamondbacks, right now, have four starting-ish outfielders in Adam Eaton, Gerardo Parra, A.J. Pollock, and Cody Ross. The first three are best suited, offensively, to center field, and there’s not much thump to speak of. (Though they do have Tony Campana standing at the ready.) Neither Eaton (24) nor Pollock (25) quite broke through last year as the Diamondbacks had hoped, and it would be interesting to see whether they’d consider moving one of them at a reduced price. From the Cubs’ perspective, given the lack of immediate impact depth at the upper levels of the minors in the outfield, maybe a guy like Eaton is worth taking a chance on.

As for the Diamondbacks’ depth in the middle infield, that probably isn’t of much interest to the Cubs, given that they’ve got a fair bit of depth there, themselves. The D-Backs are well-stocked with young pitching and pitching prospects, though, so that’s where your eye would wander while putting together a hypothetical deal. There are the elite arms like Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs, but also decent arms like David Holmberg, Zeke Spruill, Andrew Chafin, and more.

While I’m not sold on the Cubs dealing either Samardzija or Schierholtz this offseason (especially when the Cubs could keep them, take an organizational temperature in June, and then deal them – if necessary – in July), a package of the two could probably bring a substantial return.

  • trust me

    Or trade jeff and baez for bradly skaggs and maybe another pitching prospect. Makes sense.

    • rich

      Makes NO sense

  • Matt

    Kyle, as a senior member of this board, can you lobby Bret to have all posts suggesting Bradley as a possible return for Shark filtered out? Thanks in advance. I don’t have any credibility/seniority here, otherwise I’d ask.

    • mjhurdle

      Ya, Bradley for Shark is as crazy as someone trading Zach Wheeler for 167 ABs of Carlos Beltran. Just plain would never happen…

      • cub2014

        Bradley a AA pitcher for Shark 200 innings
        tops in the league in strikeouts. Bradley is
        no sure thing. That being said if you could
        get Bradley and and a couple quality prospects
        for Shark and Schierholtz lets do it.

        Bradley numbers very similiar to Edwards this
        year. Thinking outloud wasnt Edwards minor
        league pitcher of the year in all of MILB?

        • mjhurdle

          my post was sarcastic because the SF Giants did in fact trade Zach Wheeler for 167 ABs of Beltran.

          • cub2014

            mj, I agree with you. My point is
            teams thinking are ready to contend
            trade top prospects for average big
            leaguers quite often. But if I were the
            Cubs I would do that deal.

      • Kyle

        At the time, Beltran was a better player than Samardzija has ever been, and Wheeler was not as good of a prospect (at the time) as Bradley is.

        • Blublud

          2 months of Beltran was no where near as valuable as 2 years of Shark, plus at a minimun, a draft pick if he walks. Shark may be the 2nd or 3rd most valuable trade chip available in all of baseball right now.

          • Kyle

            I’m not sure Samardzija is in the top 5 speculated trade chips around MLB this offseason

            • Kramden

              “Trade Chips” are relative to the needs of different teams. Ranking a potential trade candidate is pointless.

              That being stated, signing Tanaka enables a Shark trade and opens up a whole new range of options that don’t necessarily exist now.

        • caryatid62

          At the time of the deal, Wheeler was barely a top 30 pitching prospect, and not in the top 50 prospects in baseball. Bradley is likely the #1 or #2 pitching prospect in the game right now. That’s a massive difference.

          • mjhurdle

            At the time of the deal, Baseball America had him as the 35th best prospect in baseball (2011 Mid-Season rankings).
            After the trade, Jim Callis ranked him as the Giants #1 prospect, over Matt Harvey.
            So not as big of a difference as you think. Is Bradley higher ranked? yes, but 2 years of Shark could also be more valuable then 167 ABs of Carlos Beltran.
            The point is not that it is a slam dunk trade, or that the DBacks would do it. The point is that, if a team feels they are close enough and need a piece badly enough, they might trade away a star prospect, even if message board posters don’t think it makes sense.

    • ssckelley

      If the Diamondbacks are serious about trading for Samardzija the deals starts with Bradley. Bradley is not a sure thing, he is a 20 year old pitcher that has so far looked good in the minor leagues. Samardzija is a solid middle of the rotation pitcher with a TOR abilities, if the Diamondbacks are not interested in trading Bradley+ for him then the Cubs should be perfectly content in keeping him.

      • Blublud

        Sckelley, I agree with this 100%. Look at what 2 months of Garza returned. 2 years of Shark should double that return.

      • Kyle

        The Cubs aren’t content in keeping him, though, and they seem pretty intent on trading him and they’ll get something less than Bradley.

      • Norm

        Why should the Cubs keep him if he won’t sign an extension?

        • ssckelley

          Because better deals will come.

          • Kevin B

            Better Deals do not necessarily come as the years of control dwindle. Sharks value is tied to 2 years of control now. Next year with one year of control his market goes down, unless of course he pitches like an Ace, which he has not done and pitching like and Ace is different then having TOR capabilities.

    • Kyle

      I have no pull with Brett whatsoever. I’m basically comic relief.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Much like the Cubs bullpen, then!

        • Tony_S

          Ugh, aww, aw man that hurt…

  • Matt

    We aren’t getting Bradley in a Shark deal. He’s probably the best SP prospect in the game. That’s why a deal with ARI doesn’t make much sense: they won’t give us Bradley & secondary pieces aren’t that attractive.

    • Blublud

      Another guy who overvalues prospects. 2 years of Shark is worth much more then just Bradley.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        The issue is, do Towers et al. overvalue Bradley? The DBacks seem much too susceptible to using “character” as an issue. If Bradley is grunting the favored syllables, then they might very well value him more than his stats (which are good!) merit. On the other hand, if Bradley shows the free will of a fruit fly, then they might deem him expendable.

        (I’ve never read anything about Bradley as an individual, so I’ve no idea where he fits into their “philosophy.”)

    • Kevin B

      No Bradley for the Cubs then no Shark for the Diamondbacks. Jed and Theo made that clear last year when AZ called. Maybe AZ will not do it, so what, if they say no, we say no. Big deal.

      By the way, what in the world do you think Bradley is worth. He is a great PROSPECT, in AA, I think he will be good but that is no sure thing but you seem to think a AA prospect is better then SHARK who is showing great stuff in the Majors?

      How do you think Shark would do if he was in the AA rotation? Come on, get real.

  • Matt

    Not trying to be an instigator but I think you’re way off on this one. Shark is a #3 who is getting into the expensive portion of his team-control yrs. Bradley is a likely #1-2 with 6yrs of cost control in store for the owner of his rights. I wish I were wrong but I’m pretty sure that I’m not, in this case.

  • Kyle

    I know it’s not all the same fans, but I enjoy seeing the “Maybe we can get Price without giving up one of the top 4” and “What do you mean Samardzija isn’t enough for Bradley?!?!?!” in the same place.

    • Brains

      Milton Bradley?

    • Blublud

      Kyle, I very rarely disagree with you. Look at the Wheeler trade and the Myers trade. Bradley should be the starting point of a Shark. It doesn’t mean that a deal can’t get done without Bradley, but Shark alone is worth much much more then Bradley at this very moment.

      • Kyle

        Jamie Shields and Carlos Beltran were both better than Jeff Samarzdija is.

        • Kevin B

          That is not really relevant, Beltran may be a better player – has had a better career but 2 months of Beltran are not worth 2 years of Shark. The value is not 100% contingent upon the player, its a business and its the contract and years of control.

    • ari gold

      One of the funnier posts I’ve read on here in a while Kyle.

    • ssckelley

      I am sure the Rays would want Baez+ in a deal for Price. If Price was all the Cubs needed to be a contender next year I would be all for it.

  • praying the cubs get ready to win

    I think Shark and Sheirholz for Bradley and one of AZ CF with the most upside is a trade the Cubs should trade. If we need too, we can add some international pool money.Then see who wants AJAX, with the savings, we will have we can get a couple more strategic FA to really fit in with our core values. Unfortunately without a couple minor league break throughs we are a 2015 team at best, so lets make these moves, lets pick up some SP with some potential, a reliever and lets gamble on Baez and Bryant and we have a small shot in 2014, but 2015 looks promising.

    • cubes

      so trade the other 40% of our rotation that is left over from last years trade deadline…
      Sign players who love jesus and are firmly against condoms and abortion…
      Throw our top prospects on the field asap…

      1 in a million
      so your saying I got a shot!

  • Jason P

    Top 3 pitching prospects via BA by year, followed by how many, with the benefit of hindsight, I would trade Samardzija for:
    ’03: Jesse Foppert, Jose Contreras, Gavin Floyd
    ’04: Edwin Jackson, Greg Miller, Scott Kazmir
    ’05: Felix Hernandez, Scott Kazmir, Matt Cain
    ’06: Francisco Liriano, Chad Billingsley, Justin Verlander
    ’07: Diasuke Matsuzaka, Phil Hughes, Homer Bailey
    ’08: Joba Chamberlin, Clay Buchholz, Clayton Kershaw
    ’09: David Price, Tommy Hanson, Brett Anderson
    ’10: Stephen Strasburg, Brian Matusz, Neftali Feliz

    Of those guys, 6 of 24 (25%) became significantly better than Samardzija
    8 of 24 (33%) became about Samardzija-good
    10 of 24 (42%) became worse than Samardzija

    The reason I’m posting this is because I think it has to be Archie Bradley or no deal with Arizona for Samardzija.

    Even with Bradley the Cubs would be trading Samardzija, who’s a contributor in the bigs right now, for a 25% chance they get something better than Samardzija down the road, a 33% chance they get performance resembling Samardzija, and 41.6% chance they get something worse than Shark.

    The extra years of control and upside of a guy like Bradley make the deal worth it from the Cubs perspective, but only if it’s Bradley, not Skaggs. For Skaggs, the risk is much greater and the upside is probably cut in half.

    • Jason P

      “followed by how many, with the benefit of hindsight, I would trade Samardzija for:” — disregard that part, I deleted it.

      • Tony_S

        Great perspective, +1

    • Kyle

      Your definition of “about Samardzija good” seems awfully generous to Samardzija.

      • Tony_S

        Kilgore, Washington Post:
        “Samardzija is coming off a down year in which he went 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA, but those numbers may be deceiving. His 3.77 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and 3.45 xFIP suggest he pitched better than his ERA shows. He struck out 9.0 batters per nine innings, which ranked 12th in the majors. He also fits into the big, hard-throwing mold Rizzo likes in his pitchers: 6-foot-5 with a 94.5 mile-per-hour fastball on average, sixth in the majors last year.”

        Sounds pretty good to me. Just sayin.

        • Kyle

          Samardzija is pretty good. But he’s not as good as some of the pitchers who fell under the “about the same” categorization.

          • Tony_S

            I just tried to count, and I think I’ve easily got the top 6 (although you could argue for adding Liriano), but that said, I think he falls right in with the next tier, and I think you could argue even more fall into the ‘not as good’ tier

            • Tony_S

              Caveat, we’re keeping this largely subjective at this point

              • Tony_S

                And I actually missed homer bailey until just now. Whoops

      • Jason P

        Maybe slightly, but here’s my justifications:

        Buchholz, when healthy, is clearly better than Samardzija, but he’s not always healthy. In his 5 full big league seasons, he’s missed at least half the season 3 times. So I bumped him down.

        Kazmir had a few good seasons, but then fell off the map and only now has started to reemerge.

        Bailey’s xFIP was only about 0.11 off of Samardzija’s, and he took 5 years of development after his major league debut to get there.

        Francisco Liriano’s career ERA is 4.18.

        Billingsley and Feliz were the other 2, and I don’t think they require justification.

    • Soda Popinski

      Hmmm… this definitely puts top prospects in perspective. I have a tendency to think that all of our top guys will make it despite the evidence to the contrary.

  • Tony_S

    I’m fascinated with the Shark for Bradley discussion. I think the problem is there’s not a concrete answer, primarily due to not knowing the conversations behind the curtain, and also just how high Shark’s ceiling is.

    My biggest concern is, if you trade a 29 y/o SP, who still ostensibly has upside (and already strikes dudes out), and is the longest tenured player on the team… What exactly are you trading him FOR? At some point, the future is now. That’s the problem with The Plan, when viewed in small bits, in isolation… It could go on in perpetuity (I’m looking at you, Pittsburgh), or at least beyond the point it ceases to make sense, and appears to simply be an exercise in flipping established players for prospects with NO intent of EVER winning at the ML level.

    In my mind, Shark is the guy we need to keep and build around, more than Castro (if Castro was ever the guy, although it really like RR’s quotes about him), and I think it’s worth it to pay him damn near whatever he and his agent think is fair. Because if we don’t, someone else will.

    Now, can the extension wait til next offseason? Yes, it can, as long as Shark doesn’t let the persistent chatter drag him down (which Hoyer has said publicly he doesn’t think it will).

    Whether or not you agree on keeping Shark, there’s a grata article about him today in the Washington Post :

    (Apologies if someone already linked it)


    • Tony_S

      *although I really like RR’s quotes…


  • Blackhawks1963

    Samardzija and Schierholtz for Bradley, Skaggs and Eaton. With the Cubs taking on the rest of Bell’s bad contract as the sweetner.

    • Edwin

      As of Midseason 2013, Baseball American has Bradley as the #6 overall prospect in baseball, Skaggs as the #14, and Adam Eaton as the #48.

      So, the Diamondbacks would be trading 2 or 3 top 50 prospects for a solid starter, and a platoon outfielder in Schierholtz, who was worth 1.4 WAR last season. And the Cubs pick up Bell and his remaining $9 Million for 2014.

      I think Arizona would want more. I know if the Cubs were going to trade Baez and Soler, I’d want more.

  • cub2014

    I like the trade blackhawk we would have to add
    some minor league pitching to complete the

  • cub2014

    Lets see: we have traded for Brown, Bradley, Bell
    and Skaggs. We have signed Choo (we wont need
    Granderson) Tanaka, & Kazmir.

    We have only added 30m in payroll. We have lost
    Shark,Barney,Schierholtz & Bogusevic and a couple
    lower level prospects and added Bradley & Skaggs.

    We should be the GM’s. This is the most fun time
    of the year hopefully soon we will be able to say
    October will be best time of the year.

  • Rebuilding

    Adam Eaton is exactly what this organization needs. He had a terrible arm injury early in the year and struggled right when he returned but still put up a 360 OBP. Prior to last year he never had an OBP under 400 as a professional (his minor league career is 451). I would do Samardzija for Eaton, Holmberg and Strahan in a minute

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