MLB Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs Rumors: Top 5 Potential Landing Spots for Jeff Samardzija

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Top 5 Possible Landing Spots for Jeff Samardzija

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

All along the first choice for the Chicago Cubs has been to extend the contract of 28-year-old pitcher Jeff Samardzija, but that is becoming more and more unlikely as the days go by.

Samardzija has established himself as a quality starting pitcher the past couple of seasons. The win-loss record has been unimpressive (17-26), but the poor play of the team has a lot to do with that. Samardzija's 4.34 2013 ERA left plenty to be desired, but he proved his durability pitching 213.2 innings and he was among the league leaders in strikeouts with 214. Also, Samardzija's BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was an inflated .302. You would expect a guy with the stuff like Samardzija to have a lower BABIP, and that probably means he got a little unlucky in 2013 so you can expect his numbers to be better next season.

The Cubs would love to keep Samardzija around and make him a core player on their team. That being said, he only has two years remaining on his current contract. The two sides have reportedly discussed an extension, but those talks have apparently gone nowhere.

The Cubs want Samardzija to sign a team friendly extension, but he does not seem ready to do so. I do not blame him; basically he is betting on himself to pitch well and get a bigger payday than what the Cubs are currently offering him.

The Cubs now have a decision to make. Do they sit back and hope that Samardzija signs with them long term before he hits the open market or do they look to trade him and cash in on his value? Well, there have been plenty of trade rumors about Samardzija recently, so I think it is safe to say the Cubs are at least listening to teams that are interested in him.

Samardzija would be a great addition to any rotation, and if the Cubs are really making him available plenty of teams will be interested. Here are the top 5 suitors for Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija.

Daniel is a Chicago Cubs writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Minnesota Twins

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Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan has said that acquiring starting pitching will be at the top of the team's priority list this offseason. The Cubs will be looking for young and cost controlled talent. The Twins have almost unarguably the best and deepest farm system in baseball so the two teams could surely find a way to make a deal.

Minnesota has not been connected to Samardzija, but if they are ready to make a move he would make sense. The Twins are an unlikely suitor, but I think it is possible if the Twins want to make a splash.

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4. Pittsburgh Pirates

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are among the latest teams that are reportedly interested in Samardzija. The Pirates make for a perfect trading partner with the Cubs. Chicago will certainly be looking for good to great young pitching prospects in a deal for Samardzija. The Pirates have plenty of young arms including Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham.

The two teams undoubtedly match up in a trade, and the Pirates appear ready to make a splash move like trading for Samardzija. The only issue is trading within the division. I do not rule the Pirates out as Samardzija suitors, but them being in the NL Central makes it a tough trade for both sides.

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3. Arizona Diamondbacks

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The Arizona Diamondbacks have been connected to Samardzija since the trade deadline last season. They have always had him on their radar, and they certainly have the pitching prospects to make the Cubs happy. Archie Bradley is probably the best pitching prospect in all of baseball, but you can forget about him; they are not trading him.

Tyler Skaggs, David Holmberg, Andrew Chafin and Zeke Spruill are some other arms that would surely get the Cubs' attention. So far it appears that Arizona refuses to pay the price it will cost for Samardzija. That being said, they are obviously interested and make great trading partners with the Cubs.

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2. Toronto Blue Jays

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I think the Toronto Blue Jays are the dark horse team in the Samardzija rumors. They have recently been mentioned as interested, and after the disappointment of last season Toronto could be looking to make a splash. One of their best prospects is pitcher Aaron Sanchez, who is pretty much a consensus top 50 prospect in baseball.

The Blue Jays do not have a ton of depth in their system, and Sanchez would almost surely have to be involved if they want Samardzija.

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1. Washington Nationals

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After a disappointing 2013 season, the Washington Nationals should be back in the playoff hunt in 2014. They already have a loaded rotation with the likes of Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann leading the way. The Nationals have been connected to Samardzija many times and adding him to their rotation would just make it ridiculously good.

I am not sure that Washington would be willing to part with top prospect Lucas Guilto, but other pitching prospects like A.J. Cole, Matt Purke, Robbie Ray and Nathan Karns would all be interesting for the Cubs. Adding Samardzija to the Nationals could be the kind of move that puts them over the top. I think they have the most motivation to make the trade, and they definitely have the ammo to get it done..