The answer to that question seems like an obvious “yes” at this point, bordering on rhetorical. With the offseason essentially in the rearview, and with teams generally constructed in the way they want for the first half of 2014, at least, major trades during Spring Training are rare.
That said, a few significant free agents remain unsigned, and the offseason has definitely stretched much later than usual this year. A handful of teams that appeared to be dead set on acquiring a quality starting pitcher back in November have made no such acquisition. Maybe there’s a big trade left yet before Opening Day.
Which, of course, leads us to Jeff Samardzija (were we Rays fans, I suppose it would lead us to David Price – but, given that they actually project to be good this year, it would be much more difficult for the Rays to deal Price at this time). Gordon Wittenmyer checked in with three industry sources about the possibility of a pre-season trade of Samardzija. Two said it remained possible, while the third said that no such talks are happening.
As Wittenmyer notes, and as other media have discussed, Cubs manager Rick Renteria declined recently to name Samardzija his Opening Day starter, citing the unknown things that can pop up between now and then. Of course, he could have simply meant injury, but the looming cloud of trade rumors makes you wonder. If RR is leaving open the slim possibility that Samardzija won’t be with the Cubs come Opening Day to start their first game, then perhaps we, too, should leave open that possibility.
In the end, the Cubs figure to keep their asking price extremely high on Samardzija from now through June. If a team like the Blue Jays, which clearly needs another starter, decides to finally part with their top pitching prospects, then the Cubs will likely pull the trigger regardless of the date on the calendar. Otherwise, the Cubs will re-evaluate come July. Unless there have been dramatic steps forward in extension negotiations, the Cubs will probably have to bite the bullet and take the best trade offer they get. Fortunately, there are reasons to believe that Samardzija’s value in trade at the Trade Deadline will be at least as high as it is now.