Lukewarm Stove: Samardzija Risks and Rewards, Villanueva, Bonifacio, Cuban Free Agents

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Lukewarm Stove: Samardzija Risks and Rewards, Villanueva, Bonifacio, Cuban Free Agents

Chicago Cubs

lukewarm stoveThe song of the offseason for impatient Cubs fans (who like pop music): “Do something, I’m giving up on you.”

  • At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan writes about the Jeff Samardzija trade rumors, and about the risk associated with holding onto him until midseason, versus trading him for whatever you can get right now. It’s something we’ve talked about before, but I always like seeing these things from a dispassionate, third party smart dude. The risk of injury or ineffectiveness, in Samardzija’s case, is partly offset by the possibility that his performance in the first half of 2014 finally matches the peripherals and the scouting. Further, by June, we’ll have a better idea which teams are actually in the race, and, for those teams, the value of marginal wins will have increased (potentially dramatically). Sullivan also points out that, once the season starts, the Burnett/Jimenez/Santana group will have signed, and David Price will be off the market (at least temporarily) by virtue of the Rays being a playoff contender. In that scenario, Samardzija becomes something of a rarer commodity, and teams might pay accordingly. So, you balance the risk of injury, ineffectiveness, and a surprisingly crowded market midseason (if unexpected teams stink and sell off, for example) against the upside of having the prime pitcher on the market (and the tiny chance that the Cubs are good and need Samardzija, or that they’re able to extend him). Add it up, and you can see pretty clearly why the Cubs are willing to stick to their stratospheric asking price on Samardzija for now.
  • Samardzija isn’t the only starting pitcher about whom teams have inquired, by the way. According to Mark Gonzales, the Blue Jays and Rangers asked the Cubs about Carlos Villanueva over the course of the Winter. The Cubs asked Villanueva to come to camp ready to start, and, before the Jason Hammel signing, it looked like Villanueva very well could end up in the rotation. If there’s an injury (or a Samardzija trade), of course, that could still happen, but right now Villanueva projects back into a swing role with the Cubs. He’s under contract for 2014, only, at a very reasonable $5 million. Depending on what happens with other teams in Spring Training, Villanueva could become an attractive back-of-the-rotation trade target.
  • We’re still waiting on the resolution of the Emilio Bonifacio release waiver designation, but, according to multiple sources, it sounds like teams aren’t anxious to claim him for his $3.5 million salary. As I said, I’m not sure I see it as all that unreasonable, but if teams think they can soon get him for less, they may be willing to take a chance on him clearing waivers and reaching free agency.
  • Cuban free agents Aledmys Diaz (shortstop) and Odrisamer Despaigne (righty pitcher) will be showcasing tomorrow for interested teams. The Cubs have been connected to each player at various points in the past, so we’ll see if Cubs reps are in attendance. Diaz and Despaigne are just two of a handful of Cuban defectors currently available to be signed. We’ll keep an eye on their situations, as the Cubs could be involved in one or more.
  • The one Cuban free agent reportedly nearing a deal? It’s with the Dodgers, obviously. The Cubs haven’t been connected to 23-year-old shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena anyway, so there isn’t any kind of aw-hamburgers on this one. Frankly, my fingers are pretty happy about it.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.