jeff samardzija gatorade showerTo be certain, we still don’t know whether the Chicago Cubs are ready to give up the ghost on signing Jeff Samardzija to a long-term extension, but, based on widely circulating rumors, there are a ton of teams interested in the big righty if the Cubs do decide to shop him.

One of those teams is the Toronto Blue Jays, and Bruce Levine reports that, beyond just checking in, the Blue Jays are now trying to put together a package of young players to actually pull the deal off.

If the Blue Jays really want to make a deal happen, they have the ammo. Their top pitching prospect, Aaron Sanchez, is a top 25 overall prospect (depending on whether his stock fell this year), and just dominated the Arizona Fall League after a mixed debut in the Florida State League (High-A – he put up a 3.34 ERA, but mostly on the back of not giving up any hits or homers (something that lesser arms can do in the FSL); he walked 4.2 per 9, and struck out just 7.8). Sanchez is 21, and wouldn’t be seeing the bigs for another couple years, likely, but he’s the top arm to target. The Blue Jays feature a number of other interesting arms, including Marcus Stroman, Daniel Norris, Sean Nolin, Roberto Osuna, John Stilson, Matt Smoral … I could go on. It’s a pitching-rich system, though it may be more quality depth than super-high impact. They’ve also got Tommy John recoverees Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek …

You can see MLB.com’s top 20 Blue Jays prospects here, and start to dream up a package that would land Samardzija.

On the big league roster, the Blue Jays also have young center fielder Anthony Gose, who could be expendable with an outfield that already features Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus and Melky Cabrera (though the latter two are free agents after the season). Gose is just 23, and is considered an exceptional defensive player, but questions about his bat have persisted throughout his career.

So, should we be bracing for a deal? I wouldn’t quite go that far. Teams know that the Cubs are interested in extending Samardzija, and would consider dealing him if they can’t. Those extension talks haven’t yet led to a deal, so it’s natural that teams – in a pitching-thin, increasingly-pricey market – would inquire. And some, like the Blue Jays may be doing, would probably even try to entice the Cubs with a specific offer. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Cubs are involved beyond listening.

And if the Cubs are merely listening, as opposed to actively trying to find a deal for Samardzija, they’ll probably need to be wowed to make a move right now. Remember, Samardzija is under control for two more years, and is coming off a second straight season where the peripherals and advanced statistics say he was a whole lot better than the ERA. That means he’s a good bet to pitch very effectively in the first half of 2014, and the Cubs could find the market for him just as attractive at the Trade Deadline as it is now.

As I often say to folks, consider what the Cubs got for just a couple months of Matt Garza: a top 50 overall prospect (C.J. Edwards, who obviously climbed after the deal, but the Rangers knew what they had); a guy who was a top 30 overall type the year before but had a down year (Mike Olt); a guy who was a top 6 organizational prospect (in a top system) until he was thrust a year early into a starting role in the bigs (Justin Grimm); and a guy who was a borderline top 10 organizational prospect (Neil Ramirez). Samardzija is, in my mind, a superior pitcher to Garza. And he’s coming with¬†two years¬†of control, not two months. How much better would the package have to be? Well, that’s your starting point, and then increase it considerably.

  • Kramden

    If they trade Shark the Cubs would free up the funds to sign Tanaka PLUS they’d be adding a top of the rotation arm or two… Which they don’t have now.

    Lose one good arm, gain 2 or 3 good arms in return.

    Strategically it makes all the sense in the world for them to trade Shark now.

  • Brains

    a few concluding thoughts:

    1) i think Brett is very fair minded, and i see that being critical of the FO is bad for his business. it’s a tough situation to be a runner for a cubs fan site. i found arguing with other fans who had no idea what they were talking about fun, but i’m going to conclude my posts.

    2) there’s literally no way the cubs will be ‘operational’ until 2018. people still have the assumption that a minor leaguer can just magically be a star because he’s in the system and he’s ranked. this rarely happens. so in the end i still think that something is deeply amiss inside the organization itself.

    3) as the cubs plan to strip all of their historical characteristics under new ownership for a suburban-mall like persona, and as we devalue players and communities for profit margins and administrator worship, it’s not clear at all how this is the same team of our grandparents. i do see this as a deep existential problem for the team. winning will be cathartic, but i don’t see how these other things are related. they’re not.

    that’s all – crossing my fingers for a cubs future, one that doesn’t view purposefully losing as a strategy for winning, and one that pays players what they’re worth and is *proud* to treat their players well. and one that will finally give wrigleyville what it has sought for 100 years. not rosemont.

  • Voice of Reason

    Shark is a superior pitcher to Garza?

    Even with last years arm trouble I’m taking Garza over shark without question. Its not even close.

    Its not even a question of salary. I know shark is cheap, but if I’m looking to win games its crazy to say you would take shark over Garza.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Shark has better stuff, more velocity, better peripherals, more upside, and is younger. Not sure what the debate is.

      • Voice of Reason

        You have also said that Jackson performed to a “b” average in 2013 and that valbuenna should receive major consideration as the starting third baseman in 2014.

        We won’t agree on everything.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Both of those are misleading without context, but, as usual, I backed them up with data.

      • MikeW

        Better results?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Doesn’t matter in this context, when the debate is future performance. Results, especially for pitchers, can be misleading.

          • YourResidentJag

            So, if that’s the case should we be debating Sanchez’s future performance (because I see some detractors on here) vs Shark’s at an older age?

  • jt

    Garza, who is 14 months older than Samaradzija, had a lower BB/9, a higher K/BB, a lower BAbip and a lower HR/FB (although a higher FB frequency) in 2013. He also had a lower pitches/IP.
    Does the command of Shark = that of Garza?

  • Voice of Reason

    I’ve seen stats and I’ll still take Garza over shark, valbuenna should never, ever be considered as a starter and if Jackson was pitching on a contending team last year he would have been removed from the rotation.

  • Voice of Reason

    We won’t agree on everything. That’s the beauty of message boards.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Agreement is not required (or even always desirable). But some facts/data to back up assertions tends to make for a more enjoyable discussion. I’m open to being wrong.

  • Bill

    I don’t get the Samardzija love.Yea he has good stuff but he Doesn’t have the mentality or poise to be an ace.if we can trade him for top pitching prospects than you do it in a heart beat before he is found out and loses value.

    • Chris

      I think we should trade Samardzija if it means we get more top prospects that will all come up and have similar contract control. I do, however, think that Samardzija does have the ability to be a front line, “Ace” type of stuff…mentally he seems tough as nails. He always wants the ball, doesn’t want to come out of games, believes in himself, works hard, prepares well…and he has the stuff to be an ace too. I think there is as good of a chance that he takes another step forward as there is that he stays the same or loses value….maybe my opinion is not shared — but that’s how I see it.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I’d want Aaron Sanchez, Sean Nolin, Sergio Santos (because we missed out on Joe Smith) and Kyle Drabek if we were dealing Samardzija and somehow, I don’t think that’s enough.

    • YourResidentJag

      Depends on how you feel Shark projects. Future #1 or like me, middle of the rotation guy. If he’s a #3 starter, that’s enough of a return.

  • Senor Cub

    I can go both ways on this and have(for the record). Shark is under control for two more years and Brett put it quite nicely for us with the Garza haul that the Cubs received for two months of service. The FO obviously thinks quite highly of Shark otherwise they would not be trying to sign-him long term. Let’s assume that Shark has a great year and a half and commands a contract that the Cubs can do without. His value will probably be just as strong then if not stronger. You can still get a good haul for him then. So I guess what I am asking is, what’s the hurry in trading him unless you are absolutely overwhelmed by the package. Getting rid of pitching for pitching does not make sense to me. Cubs need much more pitching and getting rid of your #1 or #2 for prospects does not make much sense to me.

  • jt

    “I can go both ways on this and have(for the record).”
    –Senor Cub
    man, I’m guessing a lot of us have said the same thing to ourselves.

  • rockin’ dawg

    Why go for Sanchez/Gose when we already have Edwards/Almora? I agree with Brett. If we are going to trade Shark now, it would need to be something that really knocks our socks off. And this is not it.

    • X The Cubs Fan

      We’re gonna need more than one future starter, obviously.

  • Bill

    I was looking over the pirates top 20 prospects and liked what I saw how about a Samardzija and Sheriholtz for Heridia,Glasnow and Kingham trade.

    • rockin’ dawg

      Can we do Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco instead ha ha!

    • bpaoni

      “I was looking over the pirates top 20 prospects and liked what I saw how about a Samardzija and Sheriholtz for Heridia,Glasnow and Kingham trade.”

      SOLD!!!! Fire up the fax machine…

  • Bill

    I don’t see the pirates giving up Tailon or Palanco.

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    I never was comfortable with Shark he has been over achieving
    and is set for a major fall.

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    The Cubs need a veteran position player like Wieter for Shark with some other prospects thrown in.

  • Assman22

    All smoke no fire…the talks were preliminary and nothing more…Cubs pushing Shark to sign or get dealt this offseason…won’t wait til trade deadline…

    • Sandberg

      Good. Last thing they need is another Garza fiasco.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Because that turned out so poorly?

        :) (I kid – I know what you mean, re: 2012)

        • Sandberg


          I wonder if the return they got this year was better than the offers they had the previous year. Hard to argue with what they got for Garza, but I don’t need to develop an ulcer due to an injured Shark.

          • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

            No. The deadline before we would have received 2 top 50 players at the time in Martin Perez and Mike Olt. We got quantity without the view of hindsight. Pretty damn good quantity, but it wasn’t what was offered the year before.

    • Mike F

      Hey Assman, so what are they doing this offseason anything?

      • Assman22

        Waiting out the FA market…hitting trade front hard on several levels…wouldn’t expect the Cubs/Dodgers doing biz anytime soon…Shark does not want to leave Chicago…

        • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

          LA & Chicago FOs not seeing eye to eye on value?

          Was Kemp mentioned? Jose Dominguez? Onelki Garcia? Joc Pederson?
          Was Shark mentioned?

          He may not want to go, but its up to him…extension wise..up to FO if they see him around in 2016.

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    It’s time to add a known quantity. Enough with the prospects.

  • Rebuilding

    I certainly hope a Shark deal doesn’t center around Sanchez. He is all potential at this point and while he might fulfill that potential he’s too big of a risk given his BB rates. Very seldom do guys just get command and ge doesnt have the K rate to overcome shaky command. There is nothing in the Blue Jays system that excites me at all

    • Rebuilding

      I still think either the Dodgers or Diamondbacks make the most sense. They have the organizational depth to give you a pitcher (Zach Lee or Skaggs) and an outfielder (Joc Pederson or Adam Eaton) plus another interesting piece like a Stryker Trahan or an upside arm Jake Spruill

      • YourResidentJag

        I like the Dodgers as well. Just haven’t heard them as part of these rumors. Skaggs, though, is actually worse than getting Sanchez, IMO. Sanchez does excite me. I also think Drabek still has potential to be a solid pitcher.

        • Rebuilding

          I just love Eaton and then you can add from there (we aren’t getting Bradley). The Dodgers have a hole in their rotation with Nolasco and Capuano walking and are obviously going for it

          • YourResidentJag

            If we could wrangle Lee and Stripington from the Dodgers, yes it would be better than Toronto’s package. The question is can we?

            • Rizzovoir Dog

              Colleti doesn’t wanna part with prospects. Why would they when they can throw money at guys like Tanaka, Garza, Santana and keep their kids at the same time.

              • Rebuilding

                Well, they gave up prospects (arguably not very good ones) for Nolasco. I just think picking up Samardzija makes sense for where they are right now. And Joc Pederson has nowhere to play in that org

              • YourResidentJag

                So then you’re on board with Toronto? I don’t see us trading with division rivals or acquiring Bradley or Bundy or Gioloto. If you think that Coletti doesn’t like to do this, what makes you think that teams with top-heavy farm systems, the Pirates who need those prospects, or Kevin Towers would like to part with those same kinds of pieces? In the end, regardless of what others may say, you have to take the most realistic package. That’s why I’m a believer that Shark will be traded there before the new season. Not necessarily because it’s the best package. It’s the most realistic. Toronto is a team that will part with its prospects and their ownership wants to make a run for the playoffs which failed spectacularly last year (after they acquired big contracts).

            • X The Cubs Fan

              That Dodgers package sucks.

              • Rebuilding

                Care to elaborate? Pederson is a Top 50 prospect CF and Lee is a Top 50-75 prospect SP. what exactly are you expecting?

                • Rebuilding

                  Lee had a 1.17 WHIP and 131 Ks in 142 IP and an almost 4:1 K/BB ratio as a 21 yo in AA. Pederson OPSd 878 in AA as a 21 yo. Those are two good prospects

                  • Rebuilding

                    We are talking about trading an almost 30 yo who wants $15 mil a year and has a career ERA of 4.19 in the NL

                    • YourResidentJag

                      This. ^

                      Wait until we see how much guys like Garza, Nolasco, and Kazmir will get respective to their contracts. I will have us changing our tune about Shark. I have problems already with the Vargas contract that KC gave out to him.

                    • Mike F

                      Just so we’re clear, he is not almost 30, fits your purpose for dissing him I get it, but he’s 28 and turns 29 in 30 days. Almost 29 not 30! And his arm has low mileage.

                • X The Cubs Fan

                  They should be looking for TOR pitchers, not a mid rotation starter and a lesser CF prospect than we already have.

  • anonymous-ly

    Hate looking at Cardinals logo at the top of a Cubs blog page.

    I think people are under-valuing Samardzia. I agree with Brett that he may have a breakout season as a TOR starter soon. Any team that trades for him will be getting a low-end #2 or high-end #3 starter based on advanced peripherals. That’s the floor. If a team feels that he can stabilize and continue to evolve into a TOR starter, then it will be a nice deal for them.

    A team like Toronto can trade Sanchez+ for Samardzia during the offseason and if they are out of contention by mid-season, turn around and trade Shark for possibly a similar package or more depending on how much Shark improves. In that scenario, if they Toronto trades him, they will have gotten a free half-season of a top pitcher for a reasonable salary and if they are in contention and keep him, then the costs of prospects was definitely worth it to them.

    Copy and paste that scenario with a few other teams and Samrardzia’s trade value becomes even clearer.

  • YourResidentJag

    So, according to Cubs blogger Julie DiCaro no trade forthcoming with Toronto. So that’s no trade to Arizona, no trade to LA, no trade to Toronto, no to Baltimore. And those who think trading him during the deadline will be easier, eh? Here’s hoping for the reasonably priced extension.

    • Ron

      I sure hope the Cubs can sign him to an extension. I don’t want to give up on this season till the loses start piling up.

      • YourResidentJag

        No more than $16 AAV though.

      • Assman22

        This is more likely than many think…Cubs holding firm on AAV and years in negotiations with his agent…as I mentioned before, Shark does not want to leave Chicago…

        • CubFan Paul

          Assman you need a twitter account.

        • Edwin

          No kidding.

  • bobbyk

    what would the ideal package be for shark? so far AZ and BJ’s are the most interested from what I’ve read. which team is more interesting? I would like to lock him up but to a reasonable deal. he needs to realize he is a #2 guy at best and probably more like a #3. if we can get him to realize that then that’s the move but if not it seems we are obligated to trade him. If we land Tanaka and he is a true #1 then shark starts to look a lot better as does the back end of the rotation. we can always collect pitching prospects by other means.

    • YourResidentJag

      Well, the Blue Jays appear out if you buy blogger’s Julie DiCaro statements, that is.

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