travis wood beardThe calendar hasn’t flipped to May, let alone June – the increasingly “normal” beginning of the heavy trade rumor season – but that isn’t stopping teams from turning to the Chicago Cubs bazaar for their ever-available supply of quality goods (of course, as the Matt Garza trade demonstrated last year, the goods aren’t always available at reasonable prices – tough noogies, and all that).

Carrie Muskat reports that the Cubs have already received calls about three of their starting pitchers: Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, and Travis Wood. Each starter has had a great April, and each would have a great deal of value to a contender. (SEE THE UPDATE BELOW: Perhaps the Cubs haven’t yet received calls after all. The rest of this post will remain, since, as a discussion piece, this is all still useful.)

You know the story with Jeff Samardzija, who has been discussed at length as a possible trade candidate. In some ways, I probably wouldn’t describe the Cubs as getting calls on Samardzija so much as “never stopped getting calls” after an offseason full of trade rumors. Without an extension forthcoming (and it’s seriously unlikely), the Cubs could look to capture Samardzija’s value by way of a trade this season. He’s under control through next year, but his value could be peaking, and the Cubs could try to grab a couple top young arms to pair with their top positional prospects, who could emerge over the next few years.

With respect to Hammel, the calls are unsurprising, given his one-year, $6 million deal, which was necessarily evocative of the Scott Felman deal the year before. Feldman pitched well to start the year, and was flipped to the Orioles on July 2. The same could happen to Hammel if the Cubs don’t catch serious fire over the next month. If the calls are coming already on Hammel, who has looked dominant this month, it’s conceivable that he could be deal even before July.

On Wood, the discussion feels quite different. In just his first year of arbitration, the Cubs have Wood through the 2016 season. Even if the Cubs don’t view him as an extension candidate – although it’s debatable, given the nature of pitcher extensions – having him under reasonable control for another two and a half years could line up with the Cubs’ competitive window. And, of course, Wood’s performance seems to be improving year after year. At 27, he’s probably not going to improve too much more over the pitcher he is today … but the pitcher he is today is a clear 2/3 type that any team would love to have in its rotation, including the Cubs. The fear that he was just getting lucky – outperforming his peripherals – and that a serious regression was coming seems more unjustified after each start.

In other words, it’s very hard to see the Cubs seriously entertaining dealing Wood, absent a killer return. As for Samardzija and Hammel, however, well, if those reported calls have already started, I wouldn’t expect them to stop until some deals go down.

If the Cubs aren’t going to be a playoff team this year – they didn’t look like one before the season, and nothing that has happened so far could really persuade you otherwise – then at least it’s nice to have some guys performing in a way that makes them, or keeps them, interesting trade chips. I know it’s been a tiring path over the past few years, but this is the way it is right now. And, come August 1, the future could look even brighter. On its own merits, that’s not a bad thing.

UPDATE: Carrie Muskat has updated her piece to indicate that the Cubs have *not* received calls on the three pitchers. Here is her comment on the edit: “I was told they had received calls by other sources, and a Cubs spokesman told me that is ‘inaccurate.’ The post has been updated.” Whether the Cubs have been contacted yet or not (it sure did seem early), the discussion is still interesting and useful. Eventually, if the losing continues, paired with good performances by the pitchers mentioned, the calls will come.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Hammel is a 100% certainty to be traded too. Unless his arm falls off. Cubs should be able to flip him for something of distinct value when the time comes.

    • diamonddon

      The Cubs should extend all three! Where are you going to find better pitching for the money than these three (Shark, Wood, Hammel)? Unless you can get a Bradley type in return its not worth trading these guys.

      • Funn Dave

        “Where are you going to find better pitching for the money….”

        What money? We don’t know what kind of extensions they’re looking for….

        • diamonddon

          What I meant is that the FA pitchers out there such as Shields and Scherzer types will cost a lot more.

          • FullCountTommy

            Scherzer, yes, but I wouldn’t be so sure that Shields will cost more than Shark

      • Cubs-Win

        I agree with you on the extensions of these three. I would hate for the Cubs to be in a bas position in two years with not pitching and a ton of offense. It seems to me that the smart thing to do here is eat a little bit of money for one year and continue to stockpile these types of arms. Here is hoping that next year will be “the” year.

  • pfk

    Counting on top free agent pitchers to sign with the Cubs is very risky. Unless the Cubs start showing some big improvement with the kids coming up in the second half of this season, no big FA is going to choose the Cubs. So, while this year the problem is we can’t score runs, it could be that next year we score runs but can’t get any body out. We’ve done good with fringe FA pitchers like Hammel, Feldman, etc. and maybe we can continue to do that until our own young pitching talent shows up. I hope so. I’m sure the Cubs’ FO doesn’t want to go the Hendry route and way overpay for FAs.

  • TimBeam

    Wasnt it Hammel who said at the beginning of the season that he didn’t sign with the Cubs to be traded?

    • HislersHero

      Feldman and Maholm said that as well. Just because they sign and don’t sign with the intention of being traded doesn’t mean they don’t know it is almost a certainty if they pitch well. Might as well sign with the Cubs and get traded to a contender than try and pick a contender.

  • ChrisFChi

    Trade shark. Extend Wood,Hammel. Get rid of Jackson and sign one of the top FA pitchers next off season. Call up Hendricks and Ramierz.

    Go with
    1-top FA pitcher

    • Crockett

      Hendricks is not going to be an MLB-caliber pitcher.

      I was at Saturday’s start against Colorado Springs, and sat right behind two scouts and right next to Darnell McDonald.

      He topped 88 four times, and while his changeup is a plus pitch, nothing else is even above average (with his fastball being below average).

      The comments from the scouts were less than stellar as well.

      • FullCountTommy

        Yep, 1 start successfully predicts a players career

        • Coop

          What about yet another start where the scouting observations continue to be consistent with the existing scouting reports?

          • FullCountTommy

            I’ve seen many scouting reports saying Hendricks will be a back end starter, so that is not consistent with existing reports.

            • ChrisFChi

              I’ve always felt Hendricks will be a #5, that’s why I chose to put him there in my hypothetical 2015 rotation. Unless there’s another pitcher in our system that makes a HUGE step forward, that rotation doesn’t look so bad.

              But that outfield………

  • gmv2323

    What am I missing. The article written by Carrie has they are NOT receiving inquiries.

    • Luke

      Bah. That article has been edited to say the exact opposite of what it said before. Carrie explains it a little in the comments.

      • Mike Taylor

        Explains her horrible journalism.

        • Brocktoon

          The worst of it is, based on the comments, the story was updated at least 20 minutes before she provided clarification that she got the story wrong, and only as a response to somebody confused in the comments. Tried to just change the story and hope nobody had read it yet?

          • jp3

            My favorite part is her news is titled MUSKAT RAMBLINGS. That’s exactly what I’d call it too… Rambling

            • FullCountTommy

              Sad part is she’s nowhere near the worst beat writer covering this team

              • Brocktoon

                Yes she is.

                • FullCountTommy

                  I’ll take her over Jesse Rogers or Wittenmeyer any day, and it’s not close.

                  • Brocktoon

                    Rogers is a buffoon, but he’s so vanilla I can’t even be bothered by him. I can see people feeling Wittenmyer is too negative, but he can occasionally contribute something of worth.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      Rogers just has no fundamental knowledge of baseball and it really bothers me. I would be totally ok with someone negative like Wittenmeyer, but the majority of his articles contain no facts at all. He just comes across as extremely bitter, my guess is because he lost his sources when the new ownership/front office took over.

                    • Brocktoon

                      Rogers at least seems to understand that he knows nothing about baseball. Muskat seems to genuinely believe she knows baseball and then mixes up Clayton Kershaw in a Dodgers uniform for Brett Jackson in a Cubs uniform.

              • Jon

                She’s not a beat writer.(per se) She works for the Cubs.

                • FullCountTommy

                  Yes she is, she’s the Cubs beat writer for

      • Brocktoon

        Heh, I was going to say, judging by the big UPDATE listed up top and the fact that Muskat is…prone to errors, I figured that was the case.

        • newsguy23

          One could say that without the media there would be nothing to talk about because you would know absolutely zero..

          • Brocktoon

            Yes, where would I be without Carrie Muskat reporting that the Cubs have received no calls on these pitchers AFTER she reported they had.

            Or when she mistakenly thought Brett Jackson was called up to the Cubs, but it was actually just Clayton Kershaw(obviously in a Dodgers uniform)

            My heartfelt thanks to you Carrie.

  • Ballgame17

    I think if the Cubs sign 1 Top tier SP, they’ll try and sign a 2nd one. My thought process for this is that if they’re giving up draft comp (2nd rd if 1st rd pick is protected) for Scherzer, then they’ll forfeit a 3rd rd pick for someone like Lester/Shields/Masterson. If the Cubs trade Shark this year, they’ll certainly get more value than their 2nd/3rd rd picks for the next draft. Plus, they’d be adding two TOR pitchers. Fitting their salaries in the budget shouldn’t be an issue. Soriano’s $13mil is off books, plus Shark’s $5mil. Let’s say Lester gets 18mil/season, There’s Shark/Sori contracts right there. It’s been known, Tanaka funds are being rolled over. Even if Scherzer is signed for $25mil/year our salary would be around $100mil if we kept the exact same positional players next year (which we won’t -Schierholtz $5mil, Barney 2.5mil), traded Shark and added Scherzer and another TOR.

    • FullCountTommy

      My problem with Scherzer is not the AAV, it is giving a 29 year old pitcher an 8 year deal

      • tymx9

        Yeah, I’m with you on that. The only problem is we’re going to have to overpay to convince top tier talent to play here. I much rather pay $100M + for the likes of Scherzer or Shields than Shark

        • FullCountTommy

          Except Scherzer will probably get 200 million. I’ve already got him penciled in to the Yankees rotation in 2015.

          • tymx9

            But the Dodgers might need a #5 after Maholm leaves next year lol

  • jp3

    I don’t believe they haven’t received any calls… That was the most boring update ever😃

  • http://BleacherNation blewett

    A 29 year old with a young arm who pitches like Shark should be extended, not traded. Wood is signed through 2016. Hammel will get flipped. We’re stuck with Jackson.

    Must sign a TOR free agent SP (maybe two) to compete next year. Sign an OF bat or two, mix in some youth (Baez, Bryant, Alcantara) and I don’t see why that’s not doable.

    • bbmoney

      “A 29 year old with a young arm who pitches like Shark should be extended, not traded.”

      Sure, for the right price. There’s always a price where someone should be extended (well someone non-terrible at least), but there’s also a price where they shouldn’t be extended and should be traded.

      I hope their price isn’t the 5 year / 55M I seem to remember being rumored before this year, because I think he’s worth more than that. But if Shark was looking for 5/80M (which included two arb years)……then I’m not so sold.

    • hansman

      He has a low-mileage arm but an old body…that played collegiate football.

      • Brocktoon

        Playing probably the lowest impact position on the field outside of Kicker/Punter

    • tymx9

      I don’t think we’re necessarily stuck with Jackson in a year from now concidering that contract was front loaded. If he pitches into respectability, I’m sure some frindge playoff team will take a chance on him but that’s a big if and a solid year + away.

  • Zoolander

    When will be winding down the rebuilding mode? The comments from former Cubs over the past few days sting a bit because they are true. Shark is putting his time before he is traded or his current series of contracts run out. I feel for the guy.

    The new ownership and FO have made the Cubs a laughing stock. The highlights on 2014 so far is a birthday celebration of a 100 year old building that is still in need of a remodel/expansion. Sad really. This terrible team will be soon selling off some of its better pieces to better teams to create an even worse Cubs team.

    • http://BleacherNation blewett

      You forgot about Clark the Bear.

  • Stogie

    Kyle Hendricks is going to be agood MLB starting pitcher. Most scouts say that. He doesn’t light up radar guns but everyone knew that. He works quickly and has good control.

    • Kyle

      Most scouts don’t say that.

    • Edwin

      He also has an underwhelming fastball, and not much of an out pitch. It seems like scouts/prospect sites are mixed on him.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Agree with your analysis of Travis Wood other then he definitely isn’t a #2. I agree with a #3

  • Sandberg

    Not buying that update. After a weekend of bad press about the losing and Shark leaving, of course the Cubs will try to spin this the other way.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Would be nice if can move Sweeney to Nats as Harper sub for pitching