jeff samardzija gatorade showerNow that he’s signed for 2014the Cubs can focus on trying to trade Jeff Samardzija!

I kid, mostly, as it remains unlikely that Samardzija is moved before the Trade Deadline – if he’s even traded then, that is. The big righty remains under team control through 2015, and it’s important not forget in the swirl of rumors: Samardzija’s presence on the team helps it in 2014 and 2015. That has value. Naturally, the Cubs must weigh that value against what they might get in trade and against whether the value of Samardzija in 2014 or 2015 will help the team make the playoffs (and against whether they can get a reasonable extension done later if they keep him).

Until we see the Cubs making a spirited effort to compete in 2014 (doesn’t look likely), however, trade rumors involving Samardzija are always going to be reasonable bits for discussion. So it is with a Tribune report, in which a source tells Mark Gonzalez that the Mariners have emerged (or re-emerged, depending on what you thought of December’s rumor mill) as a possible Samardzija trade destination. With a top-heavy rotation, potential financial limitations (as it relates to signing a free agent starter, anyway), and a go-for-it type offseason (especially if they add Nelson Cruz), adding a starter like Samardzija could be an enormous boon to the Mariners’ near-term playoff chances. Having reportedly struggled to find a fit in a David Price trade when the Rays insisted on the inclusion of top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker, maybe the Mariners would indeed be willing to fall back to Samardzija. 

I tend to think it makes more sense for the Mariners to try and get someone like Ervin Santana, but, if they did seriously pursue Samardzija, is a deal plausible? Well, Walker is off the table, so let’s start there. The Mariners do have some interesting arms in their system, including lefty James Paxton, who is a top 100 type, but might not be a true centerpiece. Would the Cubs take a quantity over quality return? Would they want big league pieces with reclamation value like Dustin Ackley? I tend to think the Mariners could put together an adequate package without Walker, but I question whether the Cubs would be willing to pull the trigger on such a deal right now when the possibility of picking up front-of-the-rotation pitching prospects at mid-season is still out there. The Cubs’ focus in dealing Samardzija is very likely to be impact pitching prospects with a chance to contribute within the next few years, as the Cubs’ young offensive core emerges.

I suppose the Mariners rumor is something to monitor, but not more than that right now. Setting aside trade rumors, are there any lingering hopes whatsoever for a long-term extension?

Well, Nick Cafardo reports that, despite persistent trade interest, the Cubs are holding out hope for an extension. Maybe that’s just a little bit of gamesmanship with the market, but maybe it’s true. At this point, the thing about an extension for Samardzija is this: it’s been discussed, at length, and each side knows quite well where the other one stands. Unless one of the two is willing to bend suddenly for some reason, it’s hard to see a deal being reached without more data being the thing that swings the talks (i.e., Samardzija comes out dominating, and the Cubs relent; or maybe Samardzija tweaks something – not serious enough to derail him long-term, but serious enough to give him pause – and he decides to grab guaranteed money while he can).

As I always say, a reasonable extension strikes me as the best possible outcome here. But each side has its own interests and perspectives, so I’m not so sure that the “best” possible outcome will ever be the “most likely” one.

  • itzscott

    Who would’ve thought that the Cubs would have more trouble trading a healthy Samardzjia with 2 years left on his contract than a questionably healthy Garza with 2 months left on his contract??

    • Chad

      I’m not surprised. Teams are not in desperation mode yet and there are other options on the table that are of equivalent talent and value, or in Prices case more in both venues. Shark’s value will be much higher in June/July. I think that Jed and Theo will try to jump the gun on the market again before other pitchers get put on the market though. Any return that the cubs get now would have to be astronomical and most teams are not ready to part with that this early in the game.

    • CubFan Paul

      I think they’re still dealing with the delay of Tanaka. As are the remaining free agent pitchers.

      Let the dominoes fall before we declare they’re having trouble or that they’ll wait til July

    • Norm

      I don’t think the Cubs are having any problems at all trading Samardzija. They can trade him today if they wanted. They are just asking for too much in return.
      That’s not having trouble trading him, that’s overvaluing him.

  • josh ruiter

    I’m still of the mind Walker is not completely off the table. The Mariners have put themselves in win now mode. They are built on money now…and need to produce wins to justify it. Walker would be a slight overpay for Shark…but again, you don’t have the luxury of demanding when you are in win now mode. Much like the competitive window debate against the Cubs signing of big name FA this offseason, because we would be paying for wasted years as we weren’t competitive…the same is true in the inverse. When you are in that competitive window, and it can be short, you have to overpay for the value years. When you have a 29 year old #2 caliber pitcher at only 5 million this year and maybe 8 next year, you are going to have to overpay to get him. Is he Price level? No. With a bit more regression from Price, and a bit more progression from Shark are they in the same tier? Probably. And Price is considerably more expensive. Looking at 20 million or so extra to Price vs. Shark over the two arbitration years. That argument being made, knowing the Mariners are short on cash after their spending spree, and their additional desire for an additional outfielder, Send em Schierholtz or Ruggiano(if he is eligible to be traded) along with Shark and we should be thrilled with that trade as it gives us cost controlled #1 ceiling starter who fits into our perceived competitive window. If they need a reliever throw in Russell, and maybe ask for someone who is a long shot rebound guy like Ackley or Hultzen. I know Hultzen may never throw again…but that isn’t the point. The added piece would be a diamond in the rough type piece of the trade.

    • Edwin

      Walker is even cheaper than Shark, and he’ll likely be called up this season. And if he is as good as hyped, he’s probably a better pitcher than shark. So even if the Mariners are in “Win Now” mode, there’s a strong case to be made that they’re better off with Walker than Shark.

      Schierholtz and Ruggiano are both throw ins, as is Russell. I think Cubs fans are overvalueing those guys heavily. If the Cubs are going to trade for walker, it’s going to be a shark+ one or two of the top 5.

      • josh ruiter

        I don’t know I agree…the old adage that one in the hand is better than two in the bush is in play here for sure. With any prospect there is an unknown portion of projecting. Again, projecting Walker ahead, he certainly appears better down the road than Shark, but to say in his first full season (which he is guaranteed to start in Seattle), he will be a better pitcher than Shark is foolish. He could be…he could also hit a bump in the road. If they projected Walker to be as good as Shark, they wouldn’t be kicking the tires on Santana either, or any other pitcher. That would give them a formidable 1-3 with Iwakuma and King Felix. Clearly they aren’t there on Walker in 2014, so again, the win now thought prevails. Walker has the brighter future, Shark has the brighter present, it’s a matter of win now while Corey Hart, Cano, etc, are in peak value seasons. Ruggiano and Schierholtz are no more throw ins than starting Ackley in the OF, and provide a better avenue than inking Nelson Cruz to a multi year multi million dollar deal.

  • Norm
    • DarthHater

      Synopsis: A lot of excess words to say that some team might be desperate enough to overpay for him at the deadline.

    • YourResidentJag

      A lot of words that overvalue the deadline when, in the last two years, it’s been exactly the opposite.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Holland deserved every penny rcvd yesterday in arbitration deal and his stats should humble Shark to complain less and produce more going forward