Well, we’re just about at “Obsessive Watch” territory on a Jeff Samardzija trade, something that I’d hoped wouldn’t come. Heck, I’ve probably avoided doing it out of my admitted preference for a reasonable extension, even though I’ve long known – and kept you apprised of the fact – that the two sides are highly unlikely to come to an agreement before the Cubs would seriously have to consider capturing Samardzija’s asset value this trade season.
Alas, here we are, and the rumors are starting to get very specific. Just yesterday, we discussed the Blue Jay’s interest in Samardzija, and how it’s not likely to go away any time soon. And now it’s an AL East competitor reportedly getting in on the action.
Bruce Levine reports that, according to multiple sources, when it comes to a prospective Jeff Samardzija trade, the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago Cubs are “mutually interested,” and the Orioles “appear to be the leading team of interest.”
Before you go too far with that, keep in mind: we’re still way, way early in the process of teams even deciding that they want to be buyers or sellers at all, let alone getting into any specific players. In that regard, I’d read “mutually interested” as no more than “the Orioles like Samardzija, and the Cubs like some Orioles prospects.” I doubt the sides have deeply engaged in talks, or become “mutually interested” in a specific trade. Yet.
Levine notes that the Cubs are scouting the Orioles’ top arms, including Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Hunter Harvey, and Eduardo Rodriguez. Each is not only a top ten arm in the Orioles’ system, but the group is generally held to be the top four prospects in the Orioles’ system overall, and each is also considered a top 100 overall prospect in baseball to most rankings’ services. Gausman and Bundy (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery after being listed regularly as a top 3 prospect overall) generally fall into the top 20 range, and Harvey and Rodriguez generally fall into the back-half of the top 100.
Yeah, these are very legit pitching prospects, and there’s plenty there – together with the rest of the Orioles’ system – to put together an enticing package for the Cubs. I can understand why there would be “mutual interest.”
It’s all just speculation at this point, but it’s hard to see the Cubs landing both of Bundy and Gausman in a Samardzija deal*, and, indeed, anything starting with one of those two and including one of Harvey/Rodriguez would arguably be viewed as a good return … pending scouting takes. Keep in mind that Bundy is coming back from TJS, which makes him something of a wild card in terms of valuation, Gausman has had trouble going deep into games, Rodriguez is struggling at AA right now, and Harvey is only in Low-A.
The Orioles have been connected to Samardzija before, and, given a wide open AL East, figured to be involved this year, as well.
*(Then again, Samardzija has performed so freaking well this year, and looked so freaking good doing it, given the arguable warts on Bundy and Gausman, is it conceivable? I don’t want to be a LOLhomer here, but I could see an argument that, although they are studs with huge upside, there are risks with both Bundy and Gausman. And, with Samardzija pitching as well as he is (and that performance not necessarily exceeding realistic projections based on stuff and body), maybe I’d be selling the Cubs short by saying Bundy/Gausman is impossible. As I’ve said before, look at what the Mets got for R.A. Dickey before the 2013 season. That was two top 25 prospects and a legit third piece. OK, I’ve flipped myself over the course of this parenthetical aside. I don’t think the Cubs would be crazy to ask for both Bundy and Gausman in a Samardzija deal, and maybe more.)