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old stove featureA little rumor-y stuff for your Friday afternoon …

  • Jon Heyman reports that the Blue Jays prefer to focus on a rental starter rather than pursue a very expensive multi-year piece like Jeff Samardzija. We heard something similar from Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulous, speaking with Peter Gammons, a couple days ago. Then again, just a few days before that, it very much sounded – from Anthopoulous, himself – like the Blue Jays will maintain an interest in Samardzija for a while. So, how do we square that with the Heyman report? Well, there’s probably some intentional leaking going on by the Blue Jays, knowing that the price tag on Samardzija is enormous – so, you start spreading word that you actually prefer to just get a rental anyway. I suspect this isn’t going to be the end of rumors connecting the Blue Jays to Samardzija, although they’re likely to be just one of many, many teams in that boat come the next month and a half.
  • If the Blue Jays do wind up going the rental route, however, there actually could be quite a few decent options on the market, especially if the Royals, Pirates and Indians continue to slide. As I speculated earlier in the week, Royals starter James Shields might soon become the best rental on the market, and the Blue Jays might target him. Heyman adds that Justin Masterson and Francisco Liriano could be targets, together with the Cubs’ Jason Hammel. The key takeaway here is a reminder that, for market purposes, it matters just as much how many teams are in the market for your guy as how many other players are available in the market. If all three of those non-Cubs pitchers become available, it could get tricky for the Cubs to get top prospect dollar for Hammel and Samardzija. Moreover, the mere fact that those pitchers might eventually become available could scare teams off from making a move any time soon.
  • Also, it probably goes without saying, but: the price for Samardzija is higher because he’s worth more than those rental starters. Even if a team wanted him only as a rental, they could pay the steeper price, see what happens this year, and then trade him in the offseason to recoup much of what was given up in trade the first time around. You can’t always bank on pulling that off, but I’m just saying: even teams that only want a pitcher for this season could still have interest in Samardzija, despite his being under control for 2015.
  • We still don’t know whether Cuban pitcher Raicel Iglesias, who defected quite some time ago, is eligible to sign, but he’s showcasing for teams today, according to Jesse Sanchez. The 24-year-old righty is a smaller, hard-thrower (who might profile as a reliever for that reason) is more pitching prospect than pitcher, so it will be interesting to learn whether the Cubs are involved. His performance in Cuba was comparable to Cubs relief prospect Armando Rivero, who received $3.1 million from the Cubs last year. Iglesias is not subject to any signing restrictions – well, that is to say, he won’t be whenever it is that he’s eligible to sign.

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