As you all surely know by now, earlier today the Seattle Mariners signed 2B Robinson Cano to a monster deal worth $240 million over 10 years. Whether you think the Mariners made the right decision by signing the 31-year-old Cano or not, this proves that the team is going for it.
Now, the Mariners must look to add pieces around Cano. As constructed, this Seattle team is not ready to compete, even adding his big-time bat in the middle of their order. The Mariners have some impressive young pieces that they can use to trade and upgrade their ball club immediately.
Since the announcement of the Cano signing there have been plenty of Mariners rumors to go around. They are still connected to a ton of free agents including, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli. They have also been reportedly talking to the Tampa Bay Rays about their ace pitcher David Price.
The Mariners are obviously willing to spend the money, so I would imagine that they will probably sign at least one of the free agents that I mentioned above. In order to land Price, they will have to pay a huge price in young talent. Obviously adding Price to the top of their rotation with Felix Hernanadez would be amazing, but I think that approaching the Chicago Cubs about Jeff Samardzija would make even more sense. There have been rumors connecting Samardzija to many teams since the All-Star break, and I think it is fair to say the Cubs are shopping him.
While Samardzija certainly does not have the Cy Young track record that Price has, he flashes ace potential all the time. He is a live arm and was among the league leaders in both strikeouts and innings pitched last season. Samardzija does need to become a bit more polished, but he has shown that he has the talent.
Both players are 28-years-old, but I think it is fair to wonder if Price’s better days are behind him. Do not get me wrong; he is still a fantastic pitcher, but his velocity seemed to be on the decline last season. Obviously, that is never a good thing for a power pitcher. Price has logged a lot of high-stress innings with the Rays, and that may be taking its toll.
When it comes to past success there is no comparison between the two players. Price takes it running away. But Samardzija’s 558 career innings pitched in the majors compared to Price’s 973 makes me think that Samardzija certainly has the fresher arm.
In the Price rumors that have circulated there has been a mention that the Rays are saying top prospect Taijuan Walker must be included. Obviously Price is a rare breed of pitcher so the asking price must be high, but I do not think that a package around Walker would be a smart move for Seattle. Walker is one of the best prospects in all of baseball. He got a cup of coffee in the majors late last season and performed very nicely. I get it, prospects are so hard to predict and Walker could become a bust. But this guy has nasty stuff and is only 21-years-old; you try to hold on to a young talent like that if at all possible.
The Cubs have a very talented minor league system that ranks among the best in baseball. What they lack in that system is impact pitching. They would obviously love to acquire Walker, but he would not be in consideration for Samardzija. The Cubs will not insist on Walker, however, and a package centered around young lefty James Paxton would make a ton of sense for both sides. As long as the other pieces were good I struggle to believe that the Cubs would say no.
Teams should always acquire players based on what you think they will do for you, not based on what they have done. Obviously, track records are part of the equation, but they do not tell the entire story. Based on the asking price and the expected output of the two players, I think that Samardzija is a better option for the Mariners than Price.