The Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs briefly discussed a trade that would have sent Jeff Samardzija to Arizona shortly before the trade deadline this past July. Now, Buster Olney is reporting that the deal might be revisited this off-season.
Samardzija, who will turn 29 in January, is still under team control through the 2015 season but will likely see drastic pay increases through arbitration. The Cubs obviously don’t believe Samardzija is someone to build around after he didn’t show much improvement over his 2012 season that saw him post a 4.34 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 213.2 innings while going 8-13. In 2012, Samardzija looked like he was poised to have a breakout 2013 after he posted a 3.81 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 9-13 record. He did see an increase in strikeouts, 180 to 214, but actually saw his K/9 decrease ever so slightly from 9.3 in 2012 to 9.0 in 2013.
The Cubs need to make a decision on Samardzija soon and trading him now is probably the best course if they believe he won’t be a part of the future. With two years of team control left on his deal and a mid-90s fastball in his repertoire next to some decent success as a starter, the Cubs could seek a fairly nice package in return for him.
Of course, a trade would happen if the Cubs got a package in return that would make it worthwhile to deal Samardzija. It is likely that they will want at least one MLB-ready prospect in return as well as a few high-ceiling, lower-level prospects.
This isn’t a salary dump, at least not in the way that trading Alfonso Soriano last season was. If the Cubs do trade Samardzija it will be to help accelerate their rebuilding process since he is their best, and most expendable, trade chip at the moment. The Cubs will hold out until they receive a deal they find acceptable.