Now that he’s got a win, Jeff Samardzija will be even more highly sought after this trade season.
OK. I won’t make that joke again.
Should the Cubs opt to deal Samardzija mid-year, they’re going to find an interested suitor up north, as we’ve discussed many times before. Or, at least, that was the expectation about the Blue Jays until a report this weekend from Ken Rosenthal suggested that Toronto likely wouldn’t be re-engaging the Cubs about Samardzija after failing to get him this offseason. In those efforts, according to Rosenthal, the Cubs were seeking starting pitcher Drew Hutchison and one of top 100 pitching prospects Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez. Hutchison was coming back from Tommy John surgery (that would have gone over well with circumspect Cubs fans), and the Cubs were apparently betting that he’d come back strong – early results this year suggest the Cubs would have been right on that one. It doesn’t matter now, according to Rosenthal, because the Blue Jays aren’t likely to come back to the table.
Immediately casting doubt on Rosenthal’s report, however, is a report from Nick Cafardo. Not only does Cafardo point out that Samardzija is the most-scouted pitcher in baseball right now, but he explicitly discusses the Blue Jays as a suitor. They’re still not keen to give up Hutchison in a deal, but they “haven’t given up on trying to repackage.” I can understand why the Cubs would prefer Hutchison to, for example, Sanchez, who may have more upside but isn’t big league proven. That said, if the Blue Jays will eventually consider packaging Stroman and Sanchez, I’ve got to believe the Cubs will be listening.
Further casting doubt on Rosenthal’s report was an interview this weekend with Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulous on MLBN Radio. The CCO is on the spot with a transcript, and Anthopoulous did everything but explicitly say, “Yeah, we’d like to acquire Samardzija.” You’ve got to read the whole thing to get a good sense of what I mean, but it seems pretty clear that, although negotiations haven’t started, the Blue Jays will definitely be involved when the Cubs do open up talks about a Samardzija trade.
Anthopoulous did say that front offices generally don’t start these kinds of discussions until after the draft, and, from there, they spend a month scouting/mulling/dickering/etc. That’s why you tend not to see a lot of deals done until July, and see a whole lot of rumors in June.
The Blue Jays are just one of many teams that figure to be heavily in on Samardzija, and that have the pieces to pull off a deal. Given their huge moves before the 2013 season, and the disappointments therein, it’s easy to see why the Blue Jays – currently leading the AL East – will be one of the most incentivized teams to add a starter, however.