Because I still believe the Cubs are fully engaged in the possibility of extending, or simply holding, Jeff Samardzija, this isn’t an Obsessive Trade Watch. But there’s a lot to discuss when it comes to Jeff Samardzija and the rumor mill …
- Bruce Levine, who sparked the latest round of rumor mania with his Saturday night report that the Blue Jays were preparing a package of young players to offer for Samardzija, adds that the Cubs have discussed Samardzija with the Diamondbacks. That isn’t new, as we’ve heard that for weeks (and before that, we heard it at the Trade Deadline), but it’s further confirmation of their involvement. Levine says the cost in a Samardzija deal will be “high (3 – 4 top youngsters).” To me, a team-friendly extension remains the best outcome, but getting three to four top prospects could also be the right move, depending on the state of the extension discussions. Either way, placing an extremely steep price on Samardzija – given the starting market and the years of control – is the right move.
- Speaking of the Blue Jays, GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke with Jim Bowden this weekend, and he wouldn’t comment specifically on the Samardzija rumor, but said his team is exploring deals for a starting pitcher. No offers have been made yet, but it definitely sounded like he wasn’t eager to deny any involvement here. My read on the way he discussed the issue? They have definitely had conversations with the Cubs on a possible Samardzija deal, and may even have discussed names. He was very quick to emphasize that the Blue Jays haven’t made any offers right now. That’s a far line to draw, and suggests that they have done everything right up to that line. And, let’s be honest, it’s easy to “not make an offer” while still finding out what the other team would accept. “If we put Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman both on the table, is that something that would move things along? Just asking, not making an offer here …. “
- Sahadev Sharma says that he believes the Cubs would like a resolution one way or the other on Samardzija by the Winter Meetings. If a resolution doesn’t come by then, it could suggest that the Cubs have found the interest in Samardzija to be sufficiently strong that they might be able to pin teams against each other in a bidding war.
- There have been conversations in various corners of the Cublogoverse over the past few weeks about the Orioles having interest in Samardzija (which makes practical sense, given their payroll ceiling and desire to upgrade the rotation), and Jim Bowden suggests a deal centering around Samardzija and catcher Matt Wieters, who is believed to be on the block thanks to an escalating arbitration salary and an inability to come to terms on an extension.
- I’ve seen a number of folks out there very excited by the possibility of a Jeff Samardzija/Welington Castillo for Matt Wieters/Kevin Gausman swap (whether that’s a legit rumor or not, it’s floating out there in the interwebs), and I’ve got to say, I just don’t get it. Wieters comes with the same financial and age concerns as Samardzija (except Wieters looks like he’ll make even more money), so there’s very little in the way of overall improvement there. Castillo remains cost-controlled for some time (and broke out defensively last year), and Gausman is a cost-controlled arm that you hope becomes Samardzija. I see the merit in picking up a Gausman, I really do. But Wieters? He’s fantastic behind the plate, but he’s declined for three straight years. And his platoon splits, even as a switch hitter, are downright terrifying. If you’re going to move Samardzija – and if you have to include Castillo in the deal to do it – you better be picking up a crap-ton of high impact, young pitching talent. This theoretical proposal might have equal value on each side, but I’m not sure it makes sense for the Cubs, unless the plan was to spin Wieters off.