As time goes on it seems more and more likely that the Chicago Cubs will trade starting pitcher Jeff Samardzjia. With plenty of teams looking for quality starting pitching, it is also starting to look like they will get nice value for him.
Personally, I still believe that the best thing that the Cubs can do with Samardzjia is sign him to a long term extension. At only 28 years old, he projects as a very good starting pitcher for many more years. His ERA in 2013 was an unimpressive 4.34, but he was among the league leaders in innings pitched (213.2) and strikeouts (214). Also his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was .302. A high BABIP like that for a pitcher of the caliber of Samardzija makes me think he got a little unlucky. I believe that he was better in 2013 than traditional stats like ERA indicate.
Although I am sure the Cubs would love to sign him long term, it appears that Samardzija would rather wait it out and see what happens before he signs a deal. He still has two years left on his contract, but the longer the Cubs wait the less valuable he becomes.
With Samardzija trade rumors popping up daily, it seems pretty obvious that the Cubs are at least talking to other teams about him. The Arizona Diamondbacks have been interested in him for a long time, and their intriguing pitching prospects would make a ton of sense for the Cubs. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals have also reportedly shown a lot of interest.
Over the weekend, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reported on Twitter, that that the Toronto Blue Jays were “putting together package of young players” for Samardzija. When asked directly about Samardzija, Toronto General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said that the team is interested in adding a starter, but he was very adamant that no offer had been made and did not mention Samardzija by name.
The Blue Jays would make for a great trade partner with the Cubs. Pitchers Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman and outfielder Anthony Gose would be the exact kind of young, cost-controlled talent that the Cubs would be looking for.
Whether it’s Toronto, one of the other teams I mentioned or another team that has yet to be connected, I believe that Samardzija will be dealt this offseason. It seems that the Cubs are unsure whether Samardzija will be around when the team is ready to compete, and because of this they need to cash in on his value while they can.
Losing Samardzija would be a tough loss for the Cubs, and he would be a welcomed addition to any MLB rotation. That being said, the interest in him seems real and trading him for younger core options seems to be in the best interest of the future of the organization. Right now, that is what matters most.