Although it remains too early to expect any kind of trade action – even after the sad Jose Fernandez news – it’s probably not too early to peg the Chicago Cubs as midseason sellers. And, as we’ve discussed ad infinitum, the Cubs’ biggest trade chip is Jeff Samardzija, who remains under team control through 2015, but with whom the Cubs haven’t been able to come to terms on an extension.
Dayn Perry writes at CBS about the possibility of a Jeff Samardzija trade later this year, and looks at the contenders who satisfy a handful of yeah-that-makes-sense criteria: the Braves, the Orioles, the Mariners, the Rangers, the Blue Jays, the Angels, and the Yankees.
You can read Perry’s piece for his thoughts on each team, but I can see immediate problems with a few of them. The Angels simply don’t have the ammo to get Samardzija, full stop. It’s really rare that you can say that about a team, but, in their case, it looks to be true. The Yankees are only slightly ahead of the Angels in that category, and, while I’m sure they could put together a digestible package, I doubt they’d be the Cubs’ first choice of trade partner.
Then you’ve got the Rangers, who have the pieces to get a deal done, and definitely have the desire to pick up a guy like Samardzija … but would they really deal with the Cubs again? In some ways, that’s just a fan narrative question – if a trade is worth it, you do it, and who cares with whom you’re trading? – but, at the same time, I do wonder whether the Rangers would be wary about giving up whatever hand-picked prospects the Cubs would want, given how effective they have been thus far at grabbing some of the best. (On the other hand, I could make the argument – based on performance or injury – that none of the six prospects the Rangers have lost to the Cubs (seven if you count the Geovany Soto trade) in the last two years is a guy they are absolutely beating themselves up over losing.)
That leaves the Braves, Orioles, Mariners and Blue Jays. All strike me as plausible (and I’d throw in the Giants, A’s, Royals, and Rockies as similarly plausible destinations), and all would have the pieces to make a deal work. And if you don’t hack out the Rangers and Yankees, that’s 1/3 of baseball in a position to want, and to be able to acquire, Samardzija.
The good news in an early exercise like this is that it’s shaping up to be a pretty robust market to which the Cubs could try and sell Samardzija (and Jason Hammel). It’s still very early, though, and we’ll see some shifting as May turns to June.