lukewarm stoveThere are some potential moves still out there before the season starts ….

  • A Spring Training injury might throw the current free agent and trade market for a loop (yes, there is still such a market even though it’s almost mid-March): the Braves’ Kris Medlen, expected to be among their top starters, left his most recent outing with a right forearm strain. Obviously that could nothing more than a few week rehab injury, or it could be a Tommy John precursor (Medlen has already had the surgery once). The Braves will apparently evaluate him further today and could know more soon. You hate to see anyone go down like that (Medlen threw a ball, and immediately ran off the field shaking his arm), but the injury must be followed closely because there are a wide range of implications, which could potentially touch on the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija. Without Medlen, the Braves’ rotation looks might scary at the back-end, with guys like Freddy Garcia, Alex Wood and David Hale having to step up.
  • If the Braves do decide to turn to the trade market, Buster Olney looks at some possibilities. Jeff Samardzija offers perhaps a perfect fit for the Braves, given the inexpensive control and, well, skillz. We know that the Braves did have interested in Samardzija during the offseason (i.e., before Medlen’s injury, even), but they reportedly balked at the Cubs’ asking price of Jason Heyward or Justin Upton. (I still find those demands to be highly interesting, given that each guy is under control for the same two years as Samardzija, and isn’t enough of a difference-maker for the Cubs in 2014. It suggests that the Cubs were heavily eyeing 2015 when they made those requests.)
  • Ken Rosenthal writes about the latest on free agent Ervin Santana (including the possible relationship between where he goes and the Medlen injury), which features Santana potentially deciding between one-year deals with the Orioles and Blue Jays, or maybe even a three-year deal with the Orioles or Twins. The Blue Jays remain the most obvious destination for Santana (though the Orioles and Mariners could use him, too), but he’d probably have to take a one-year, $14 million deal to go there.
  • Rosenthal also mentions, by the way, that the Braves could re-open talks with the Cubs about Samardzija. If one of those outfielders isn’t to be had (or isn’t what the Cubs are looking for anymore), then you can figure top 100 pitching prospect Lucas Sims is what the Cubs are going to demand as the headliner. Catching prospect Christian Bethancourt (also a top 100 type) would also be attractive, but the Braves are expected to lean on him very soon. Sims has serious upside, but it’s worth pointing out that he’s just 19 and has only one full year of professional ball (at Low-A).
  • UPDATE: And just like that, the Braves have picked up an emergency depth option in Zach Stewart from the White Sox (for cash, according to Paul Sullivan). Does this mean anything? Well, it could be a sign that they expect to lose Medlen for some period of time, but obviously Stewart doesn’t replace him.
  • The Cardinals’ signing of Cuban Aledmys Diaz is being met mostly with shrugged shoulders around baseball, though Jim Callis says he would have ranked Diaz as the Cardinals’ fourth or fifth best prospect if he’d been eligible. The deal is worth just $8 million total, according to Derrick Goold, far less than folks were projecting. Then again, those projections were likely inflated by the recent deals for Alexander Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarruena, as well as Diaz’s lofty demands – it’s hard to project Cuban signing values in advance, because there is no stateside track record as a benchmark. All in all, probably a fine deal for the Cardinals, but not a game-changer.
  • Ben Lindbergh looks at that Diaz signing, as well as something we haven’t yet discussed here: this weekend’s extension for Matt Carpenter. The Cardinals locked up their now-third-baseman for six years and $52 million, plus an $18.5 million option at the end. That appears to be market rate for a guy of Carpenter’s service time and value (the deal buys the Cardinals two free agent years). The weird thing about Carpenter, though, is his age: he’s already 28, so this deal will take him through age 33. It covers not only prime years, but probably some downside, too. For me, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have preferred to just go year-to-year with Carpenter if I were the Cardinals. That still gets you his age 28, 29, 30, and 31 seasons – why pay free agent prices today for ages 32 and 33 for a guy with such a limited track record in the big leagues as an elite player? He was fan-freaking-voodoo-tastic in 2013, and was very good in limited duty in 2012. Is that enough to want to make sure you’ve got him well into his 30s? I’m just not sure. Lindbergh, by the way, gives the deal a “ok fine.” That’s probably right.
  • One of the big-time free agents for next offseason doesn’t figure to sign an extension! Hooray! Oh … it’s third baseman Chase Headley. Hamburgers.
  • Noah_I

    For some reason I thought Heyward has posted higher OBPs than he has (with the exception of his rookie year), and his BABIP has just bounced around way too much to make more than an educated guess on his natural BABIP. If you do the mean of all his seasons, MLB time, he’s essentially at .300, but when he’s been under .300, his highest OBP has been .281, and when he’s been under .300, his lowest OBP has been .319. I’d like him as a return because he brings one of the few things the Cubs don’t have offensively in the minors: left handed power. And the Cubs should be able to extend him. But I like him less than I did when I thought he was posting .360 OBPs. I’m also concerned all the injuries will harm one of his biggest assets: the elite defense.

    I have no real reason why, but I don’t love Justin Upton… but the numbers tell me I should. Either of these guys would likely immediately be one of the Cubs’ two top offensive players, depending on what Rizzo does.

    With that said, I doubt the Braves bite on that. They’re in a window right now, and trading either Heyward or Upton to get Samardzija would be one step forward, one step back.

    • snakdad

      I don’t want anything to do with either Upton brother. They’re just too inconsistent. Heyward, while injury prone so far, is a star waiting to happen.

      • Edwin

        I would have liked Justin Upton, but it didn’t sound like the Cubs were that good a match.

  • Edwin

    If Samardzija is traded for pitching, I’m hoping the Cubs work out a deal with the Blue Jays. To me, they seem like the most likey source to pick up an arm with some upside.

    • Jr 25

      Jays have a lot of good young pitching, with the likes of Sanchez, Stroman, Norris, Nolin, Hutchinson, DeJong and the list goes on we could prob get 3 good mid tier guts for Shark.

  • CubFan Paul

    “It suggests that the Cubs were heavily eyeing 2015 when they made those requests.”

    Or just as easily 2016. Theo&Co wouldn’t trade for a guy with just 2yrs of control if an extension wasn’t possible.

  • Dakota44

    Wouldnt the extension of Heyward make it highly unlikely (more than it already was) that the braves would trade him?

    • Noah_I

      Probably, but not necessarily hugely so. The extension is only for 2014-2015, buying out his last two arbitration years. I think it’s more that Jason Heyward is better than Jeff Samardzija.

    • Chad

      They gave him a 2 year extension, but gave everyone else 5-8 years. I think they may be running tight on the budget in the near future. If you send Shark and say Scherhotz and get Heyward, what else could the cubs get with him?

      My guess is there may be a few other injuries pop up in the next few weeks that could cause the same type of thought process on Shark.

      • Kyle

        If I were the Braves, I wouldn’t come close to trading Heyward for Samardzija and Schierholtz.

        • Norm

          agree. Samardzija is not worth Heyward.

        • Chad

          Depends what they think a Heyward extension would cost v. a Shark extension. I’m not saying it’s a great deal for the braves, but I think in 2 years Heyward will get a lot more years and $ than Shark will. If I’m the Braves and I like Shark why not. They already have committed a lot of money to Simmons and Freeman. Might be something they would consider. Schierholtz is on the cheap as well and a pretty good player in his own right.

          • Kyle

            The reason he’ll get a lot more money and years is because he’s a much better baseball player, and that’s kind of important.

            • Chad

              Not going to argue that he’s better because he is. But a 2 for 1 probably isn’t out of the question. Especially if Beachy is down for a while. I doubt he is but he did leave with a bicep strain, or cramp or something today.

          • Edwin

            They might consider it, but they’d probably want a decent prospect in addition to Shark and Schierholtz.

  • Darth Ivy

    Heyward seems like a good fit. I always thought the Cubs would only be interested in pitching for Samardzija, but Heyward would be nice. Kind of a veteran, but still young, lefty bat. Yeah. Yeah. ok.

    • Darth Ivy

      By “only interested in” I really meant as the core piece to a trade

    • TulaneCubs

      Seems like a terrible fit to me for both sides. Cubs would probably have to include a prospect in the deal in order to get Heyward, who is under control for the same amount of time as Shark. Braves downgrade their current team in order to trade away Heyward.

  • C. Steadman

    Beachy left his start early, with reports that his velocity was decreased as well…Braves looking mighty interesting in regards to SP market

  • Diehardthefirst

    Hey- last nite I reported this injury and proposed a trade fair to both sides- need to freshen up your sources- also my trade settled the Cubs OF for years to come as this turd kid has creds from both sides of the plate giving Mgr Rick

    • Diehardthefirst

      more options

    • mjhurdle

      “Hey- last nite I reported this injury and proposed a trade fair to both sides”

      well, half of that statement is true.

    • ssckelley

      Ah yes, your famous Shark for Terdoslavich trade proposal. One of the best trade proposals I have seen posted on this site. The Cubs FO should be paying you for this information.

      You are a genius! Can you let us in on any other good trade ideas?

  • Chad

    And now Brandon Beachy leaves ST with bicep tightness for the Braves. That one probably isn’t too bad, but you never know. Braves also may be trying to add Santana.