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jeff samardzija gatorade showerA day after departing the Winter Meetings in Orlando without having traded or extended Jeff Samardzija, the Chicago Cubs outwardly plan on starting Samardzija on Opening Day. There have been worse outcomes.

And if the Cubs stick to their reported asking price on Samardzija in trade, it might actually play out that way.

According to Bob Elliott, when the Cubs spoke with the Blue Jays about a possible Samardzija trade, the Cubs were asking for both of Toronto’s top pitching prospects, Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, as well as a third prospect. The Blue Jays’ GM indicated to Elliott that trade talks – without mentioning Samardzija, specifically – continue, even if the acquisition costs remain too high at this point.

Each of Sanchez and Stroman are likely top 50 overall prospects in baseball, and it should go without saying that netting them both in a deal for Samardzija, let alone together with a third prospect, would be the kind of over-the-top deal the Cubs could not turn down. Indeed, that’s probably exactly where the Cubs’ asking price on Samardzija should be right now. Although the team’s control has dwindled to just two years on Samardzija, two years is actually a long time. Even if the Cubs didn’t trade Samardzija now, and even if they were hell-bent on trading him, they could shop him at the deadline – when the number of suitors might be down, but the desperation is up and the available options (no free agency) are reduced – or in the offseason next year. Yes, they risk injury in that approach, but they also could get the benefit of Samardzija performing up to his peripherals.

In other words, even if you accept that the Cubs cannot extend Samardzija (a possibility no one is quite yet ready to throw out), they have no reason to trade him right now short of a fantastic offer. And I didn’t even mention the value that Samardzija offers the Cubs in 2014 in terms of, you know, winning games. That, too, has incremental importance, even if the Cubs are exceedingly unlikely to chase the playoffs.

Setting aside the Blue Jays, the Atlanta Braves could be growing increasingly eager to land a pitcher like Samardzija. The Braves, in the thick of an increasingly competitive division, have already lost Tim Hudson and Brian McCann this offseason, and have yet to make a notable addition. It’s a tight budget in Atlanta these days, and adding a cost-controlled starter like Samardzija has to be a very attractive option.

To that end, David O’Brien writes that the Braves “could be leading suitors” for Samardzija, if he’s dealt. O’Brien adds, however, that the belle of the Braves prospect ball – big righty Lucas Sims – is off the table in talks about Samardzija. That could make finding a package that works difficult (though Sims is just 19, and the Cubs are believed to prefer upper level impact pitching talent – but, hey, talent is talent), especially if Sanchez/Stroman/+ is the standard bearer in what the Cubs are looking for. It’s not impossible to see a deal happening with the Braves, but it may have to be a whole lot of quantity.

A trade involving Samardzija still seems like the most likely outcome this offseason (even if those “99 percent” rumors now sound a little too much), but it’s possible no serious traction happens until after the Masahiro Tanaka situation is clear (coming, not coming? signing with whom?), and until after some of the big name free agent starters – Garza/Santana/Jimenez – sign.

  • cub4life

    Brett,

    Seeing that those are the 2 guys that the cubs asked for from Toronto, who in there minor leagues would be close (kinda/sorta) to the same level as Toronto’s 2 (I do see you made Sims the top prospect to get) but seeing the package the cubs asked for from Toronto who would we get from Atlanta?

    • FarmerTanColin

      Sims, Graham and Cabrera and one or both of their top position prospects.

      • cub4life

        I saw one article (I believe it was an Atlanta guy) that thru around Gilmartin, Northcut and a hitting prospect or Gilmartin, Ian Thomas and Ugla (with Atlanta keeping most of his salary). Not to fond of the second one unless Ugla come ove and hits a ton and then we trade him at the deadline for a good prospect or 2, and as for the prospects….I don’t know any of them except that Gilmartin is a top 10 ATL talent but falling.

        anyone know about these guys? Luke?

        • Isaac

          I read the same article, and it was nothing but slobbery fantasizing from a fan. To even suggest that Uggla would be a major piece in any deal is utterly laughable.

          • cub4life

            I agree, there is no way he could be the main piece, maybe if we got Sims and another big time prospect as well as another prospect we could take him (and alot of money) and we could send Barney as well.

  • cubbiehawkeye

    I think we need to be talking to the O’s…try to work a deal centered around Gausman.

    • mdavis

      ive been saying this for awhile, i think they match up real well. A deal centered around Gausman, and one of Rodgriguez, Wright, Harvey. +. but haven’t heard much from them as of late.

  • C. Steadman

    talking about pitchers in our own organization…Im excited to see what 2014 brings Paul Blackburn and Duane Underwood…Blackburn will almost definitely start in KC but Underwood(age 19, with a “meh” overall performance in Short A) would he?

    • mdavis

      i’m also interested to see if Maples has progressed. I read they are going to reintroduce the change up this year (they scrapped it last year) and it sounds like mechanically they have him worked out. Big year for him. And I think Blackburn could be a real break out candidate this season.

      • C. Steadman

        yeah I think very highly of Blackburn…if Maples gets better control, watch out…he’ll pretty hard to hit

      • C. Steadman

        we have intriguing raw arms in the Low levels…but they are still very raw and unproven yet

        • mdavis

          agreed. upper level really we’re only looking at Hendricks, but AA could have some interesting arms. Pierce J, Edwards, Black, Paniagua (maybe? needs to start progressing). and I’m thinking/hoping, they are going to take one of the arms with 4th pick. Beede perhaps?

          then of course last years draft brought some interesting guys: Skulina, Zastrynys (i just put some random letters together to make it look like what i think his name is), Frazier. hopefully some of those guys take a big step.

          • C. Steadman

            i agree that they’ll take an arm this go around in the draft

      • Dustin S

        They’ll probably send Maples for a 2nd try at Kane County to start 2014, and that will be a big litmus test to see if his confidence and control are back. He was absolutely lost and really looked off there last season. Watching him and Lendy Castillo at KC last year was a bit depressing. But Maples did a 180 and threw great after getting demoted to Boise in the second half. So was his success at Boise from the lower talent level of batters or from his confidence/mechanics improving? This year should tell.

  • Durbin

    Why would we overpay for Samardzija? In 2015 there are a bunch of arms slated for free agency to overpay for.

    Kershaw
    Lester
    Masterson
    Scherzer

    We either sign Samardzija for a reasonable extension or we trade him by the deadline. In 2015 there is potential to have some great arms available. It will be harder to get the value for Samardzija next offseason.

    • commander bob

      none of those guys will hit the market.

      • cubsfan08

        agree – none

        • willis

          Even if they do, they all will cost too much for Ricketts. He won’t pay anything near what those arms will be asking.

          And again, you are not overpaying for Shark. His market value is (will be) much higher than the 11 million or so they are offering. Anything $15 million or less and I think it’s a pretty strong bargin.

          • cub4life

            I disagree with the “they will cost to much for Ricketts. He won’t pay anything near what those arms will be asking”. The reason I am saying that is what Theo said last year (this is a paraphrase) “when that premium talent is there you have to go for it even if you don’t expect to be in the in the playoff hunt”. and that is what he did last year. This year the only true “talent” that was out there was a 10 year deal and that is what the Ricketts will not do. Now if any of those pitchers wants more then a 4-5 year deal then they can keep on moving and we will go after someone else. Now as for Shark, the way I look at it is we need to sign him to a maybe 5 year deal at which we would pay him a little above arb for these final 2 years and then jump it to close to market value will be for those other 3 years, or trade him for a ton for good (close to the majors/in the majors) talent that we can keep for 5+ years.

            • aaronb

              Any true premium talent is going to want to be compensated accordingly. You as an organization can’t make broad statements along the lines of “We want premium talent, provided it’s reasonably priced and wants less than 5 years.

              At some point you are either paying the price of poker or you aren’t. And making blanket declarations like that are doing nothing but guaranteeing you won’t land someone of impact.

              • cub4life

                You are correct about that. But one thing I would say is that it would all depend on the age of that premium talent. I personally would not want to give 7+ year to someone that is 31+ but if that someone was 25-26 it would be completely different.

                As for the pitcher side of things you have to look at the years and age as well, someone 31-32 I wouldn’t want to give more then 4 years or so but 25-26 I would consider it.

        • Revery

          Yes, none. because Scott Boras always has his client sign an extension when they are fresh off a Cy Young and one year away from the open market. I think Masterson hits FA too.

      • Rebuilding

        Really? Why are there trade rumors circulating around Masterson? Because Cleveland can’t meet his demands. Boston has a ton of pitching coming up that might make sense than to re-sign Lester. Why was Acherzer being talked about in trades? Because right now Det isn’t going to meet his demands. Kershaw reportedly turned down $300 million. I wouldn’t be shocked if all 4 hit free agency

    • Durbin

      You don’t think they will want to cash in? There will be some stupid money being thrown around.

      • willis

        Yeah and the cubs won’t be players for anything that costs “stupid” money.

    • hansman

      I think there is a really good chance that 2 of those guys hit FA. The dollars being thrown about in FA is just nuts right now and they will want to cash in.

      • Mick

        Agreed and Theo and Jed love Masterson demonstrated by their attempts to trade back for him while still in Boston. I think it’s a lock that Masterson will be #1 on our next offseason’s to-do list. I can’t wait until next offseason.

    • North Side Irish

      I think there’s no chance Kershaw or Lester makes it to FA, and Scherzer is probably doubtful. Homer Bailey is also a FA next season and I think he’d be an interesting high upside signing.

  • Jeff

    Here’s a bold plan for Tom Ricketts and Theo & Jed. Trade Edwin Jackson to the Yankees in July. Re-sign Samardzija and then trade for David Price this summer. I have a feeling if he isn’t traded this offseason, he won’t be traded till next winter, don’t see Tampa Bay selling off mid season unless they are way out of it.

    Then, go sign Clayton Kershaw. Our first round pick will be protected, it will be a top 10 pick and Kershaw is certainly worth a second round pick. You have Soriano’s money coming of the books at the end of 2014, get rid of Jackson’s 13M and the payroll in 2015 will be 18M. With all the young hitters coming up, they are cost controlled for years, Castro and Rizzo are already signed.

    Throw all your money into Samardzija, Price and Kershaw. With Wood and if Arrieta can put it together this year that’s an awesome rotation.

    Think way outside the box Theo…..somehow I think they lack the Balls and Ricketts isn’t interested in spending the dough….but one can dream. Doing this next year would show Ricketts is for real and not a Poser.

    • danimal8

      So you are saying we should commit $500 million dollars to three pitchers?

      • Jeff

        If your serious about winning a World Series and not just owning a major league team to make profit off of it and fleece the naive fans, yes….that’s directed at you Mr. Ricketts, then you have to spend money on premium ballplayers to win championships and if you have to spend money, put it to where it will have the greatest impact, Pitching!!

        • cubbiehawkeye

          I think a lot of people on here fail to appreciate what Ricketts is doing with his money ala improved facilities. We can all speculate on why free agents won’t come here but I’m sure some walk away from Wrigley thinking, “what a dump”. Now whether thats a big factor in a decision a free agent makes we may never really know but it probably helps to have a nice clubhouse. Everyone looks at the advertising aspect of the renovation because it is the more prominent story since it’s the one that is tied to the rooftops. Let’s not forget the bigger picture. I’m not saying thats a reason to not sign top talent but I think its something everyone needs to keep in mind before they open their mouth about Ricketts and his money. IMO

          • Jeff

            Players go to where they get payed the most.. just look at Ellsbury and Cano!

            They care less about facilities and the like than we do.

            • cubmig

              ^ +++

            • cubbiehawkeye

              While I do agree with you I think Ellsbury and Cano are bad examples. Safeco and Yankee Stadium are two good parks.

    • cubsfan08

      Kershaw will NEVER hit the market.

      Even if he did and the Cubs got him, the cost to acquire Price would cost most of the top prospects in the system.

      Result: Awesome pitching staff with an offense the same as the one we currently have with no help in sight and no money. Oh yeah, and Kershaw will never reach Free Agency…never

      • Jeff

        You didn’t listen to the L.A. sports writer at the winter meetings. He sounded like it was more likely the Kershaw will test free agency. Apparently Kershaw, isn’t 100% thrilled with the negotiations so far.

        It’s stupid not to, the only way you can get the most, i.e. is by playing the market. You can’t get more if you have no one to negotiate with.

        From now on, I think all players will use their Free Agency as leverage to get more, it’s pointless to do otherwise unless your taking the Jeter approach.

    • cubbiehawkeye

      That sounds like a horrible idea. If we were to trade for Price we would take a big hit to the farm and my guess is we would win out of the protected pick so then we go on to sign Kershaw for Mega Money something I wouldn’t be opposed to if he hit the market but he won’t. I will agree with you on one thing…that would be a dope rotation.

      • Jeff

        Hit on the “prospects”? Hit away, everybody else is having a hard time putting a trade together for these guys, Price wouldn’t approve an extension to Seattle and Walker was in that deal.

        Here’s a perspective trade for Price that doesn’t decimate our farm system.

        Castro, Travis Wood, Dan Vogelbach and another top prospect TBD…for Price..

        Baez replaces Castro at SS…

        Kershaw will make it to Free Agency…Price might be available due to conditions that other top teams don’t have the players to get him, can’t fit them in their payroll scheme or he doesn’t want to resign there or a combination of all three…

        • cubbiehawkeye

          I think it would be a mistake to let go of Castro right now. He is my favorite baseball player so I guess I’m a little biased when it comes to Castro but bias aside I think Castro is something to hold onto right now. That being said if he struggles in the first half I wouldn’t be opposed but if he struggles first half then Tampa Bay would probably be opposed. Really we shouldn’t even be discussing a Price trade at mid season. Tampa won’t let him go if they are in contention.

          • Jeff

            I like Castro too but what Baez can do is way more than Castro and I’m not in favor of moving Baez to a different position.

            I think if Price is not traded this winter, he probably won’t be traded till next winter. I think the market, new CBA and other factors are hurting Price being traded. No one wants to step up and trade for him, knowing he is going to become a free agent in less than two years.

            We are in a good position given our prospects and payroll flexibility. Maybe a trade at the winter meetings in 2014 would be better..cap that off with signing Kershaw…now that’s a rotation makeover.

            I’d give Kershaw, 25M, Price 20M and Samardzija 15M, it’s only money, right? I don’t think pitchers are going to get 10 year deals. It will be interesting to see how Price, Scherzer and Kershaw play out and what years teams will go on them.

            • cubbiehawkeye

              To be fair we don’t know what Baez can do in the majors, yet. We know what Castro can do.

              • Jeff

                Yeah, but I watched Castro come up and play at AA and he never did what Baez did in the minors.

                Baez jumped from A to AA and hit better, that’s a stud! Go look at the numbers, the southern league is a tough pitching league. We have a player people, Castro will become trade bait.

                • cubbiehawkeye

                  I’m well aware of Baez numbers. I’m not sure many cubs fans aren’t. Castro led the league in hits at the age of 21. I hope Baez tees off in the majors and I want to see those two working side by side but until he hits the majors it unfair to say Baez can do way more.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  That sword cuts two ways. Castro never hit for Baez’s power . However, Castro never k’d like Baez, either. Javier K’d more times last year in 577 PAs than Castro did in 1098 PAs in his miLB career. (And not by a small margin: Baez wins 147 to 122!)

                  One of the reasons why Castro was able to lead the league in hits is because his walk and K rates both are pretty low. Couple that with hitting leadoff, and he might have led the league in balls put into play, too. Javier will never do that: he won’t hurt that cause by walking, but he’ll nuke it with K’s.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Well good luck with that young man. One, Kershaw will never hit the open market. Two, I think you should put down the hookah (kidding). When I was a youngster it was fun to concoct wild what-if scenarios….I used to devise trades of mass quantities o’ crap that would get the Cubs Mike Schmidt in his prime. Or how we were going to sign Nolan Ryan and Jerry Reuss. Etc.

  • macpete22

    Braves signed Mat Gamel

  • Spoda17

    I apologize in advance, but if this has already been discussed… my bad. MLB TV made a good point about the Cubs laying in the weeds this year, because next year some major free agent pitchers may hit the market…

    Brett Anderson (27) – $12MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
    Homer Bailey (29)
    Josh Beckett (35)
    Chad Billingsley (30) – $14MM club option with a $3MM buyout
    Joe Blanton (34) – $8MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Wei-Yin Chen (29) – $4.75MM club option with a $372K buyout
    Kevin Correia (34)
    Johnny Cueto (29) – $10MM club option with an $800K buyout
    Jorge De La Rosa (34)
    Ryan Dempster (38)
    Yovani Gallardo (29) – $13MM club option with a $600K buyout
    J.A. Happ (32) – $6.7MM club option
    Dan Haren (34) – $10MM player option if 180 innings reached in 2014
    Roberto Hernandez (34)
    Luke Hochevar (31)
    Hisashi Iwakuma (34) – $7MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Josh Johnson (31)
    Kyle Kendrick (30)
    Clayton Kershaw (27)
    Jon Lester (31)
    Colby Lewis (35)
    Justin Masterson (30)
    Brandon McCarthy (31)
    Brandon Morrow (30) – $10MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Jeff Niemann (32)
    Ross Ohlendorf (32)
    Felipe Paulino (31) – $4MM club option with a $250K buyout
    Jake Peavy (34)
    Wandy Rodriguez (36)
    Max Scherzer (30)
    James Shields (33)
    Carlos Villanueva (31)
    Ryan Vogelsong (37)
    Edinson Volquez (30)

    • Rebuilding

      Very helpful list and definitely a good point

      • Rebuilding

        The Dodgers have offered Kershaw a $300 million contract extension which he has reportedly turned down or at least not accepted. He’s taking a big injury risk, but by hitting the open market he can prob squeeze out more. There articles out there suggesting he could be worth $50 million a year

        • Jeff

          Sorry, I don’t believe that, if a 300M contract offer was really out there, that’s a no brainer…I think Kershaw wants or thinks he can get a 300M deal and the first one to put that out there, he would sign.

          I think teams are hesitant to do 10 year deals, that’s the reason he hasn’t signed yet..

          Everybody thought Cano would resign with the Yankees…just saying…Cano didn’t get 300.

        • cubsfan08

          Did anyone see the interview with Kershaw on ESPN after he won the Cy Young? It was the strangest thing. I was uncomfortable watching it. He seems like a nice guy, but they interviewed him in his home (or parents home) and he was surrounded with a group of his childhood buddies. Like 8 of them just stood around/behind him and looked awkward. And they were really dorky. I couldn’t figure out the dynamic at all. After a couple questions I had to turn it off it made me so uncomfortable.

          Sorry for going off-tangent

    • C. Steadman

      Kyle Kendrick is just as good as Garza…64 wins to 67 wins :P

      • Patrick W.

        Heyyyyyy is that sarcasm? You’re coming along nicely!

        • C. Steadman

          im at least courteous enough to put a smiley face behind it…or im sure some poor sap wouldve took the bait haha

    • dumbledoresacubsfan

      If Homer Bailey hits the market and we don’t make it happen, I will not be pleased.

      • SenorGato

        You spelled Clayton Kershaw wrong.

        • dumbledoresacubsfan

          Obviously I’d like for the Cubs to sign Kershaw–but is it really plausible? The money involved will be substantial and, if he does hit the market, everyone (well, nearly) will be in on him.

          Homer Bailey is more realistic and I like him a lot.

          Hell, sign both of them.

  • Durbin

    I think Kershaw will hit the open market. Dodgers have a huge payroll. They are trying to get rid of some if it. Kershaw will test the open market. Cubs could be players. It depends on the prospects development. If 2 of these prospects come to the big leagues and perform well this year (Bryant, Baez, alcantera, Olt) and Rizzo and Castro play better I see the cubs grabbing some top arms in free agency next year. It’s not often you have 2 young cy young pitchers available in free agency. Next offseason we have that potential.

  • cubsfan08

    Looking at the above list – what is everyone’s thoughts on Brandon Morrow – I was really high on him going into the season until he got hurt. I like him best on that list (outside of the obvious big $$$ guys)

    • SenorGato

      I like Morrow too. His stuff is excellent. OTOH he doesn’t stay healthy and he doesn’t throw strikes. Very interesting at the right price, which is not something that has to be said about a top guy.

  • cubmig

    Like several posts I’ve read here today, I tend to believe Samardzija will have a damn good year this next season. I also see the clock working against him at the same time. So…he’s going to pitch his butt off to show the FO up (if he’s not signed long term) and/or….do so to attract a contending team that will pay for his services. Either way Jeff comes out ahead. The luxury in all of this for the FO right now, is they don’t have to do anything. They win either way too. They get the good year from Samardzija and lose him, but not the negotiating posture he’s given them. It’s a weird circular situation that allows a win for all. Go figure.

    Btw, I’m for keeping Samardzija. He’s been through the fires and is now at a point he can/will be a great contributor……plus…lets not forget he can hit as well. His weakness? He scares the hell out me when he has to make a short put out throw to first!!!

    • Jeff

      He’s no Matt Garza…lol

  • Jimmy James

    After some of the deals this offseason I can’t help but ink it would be better to gamble and trade him at the deadline (ducks and covers…..)

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