With extension talks still at a stalemate, the Cubs could still potentially deal top starter Jeff Samardzija before the start of the season, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Two sources said that was a strong possibility, while another rejected the idea that trade talks were in progress.
It has been nearly a month since the 29-year-old's name has seen the pages of MLBTR in reference to trade chatter. While he avoided arbitration with Chicago in the interim, both player and club have given recent indication that the sides are somewhat entrenched in terms of a longer deal.
With only one premium starter (Ervin Santana) still on the market, the Rays seemingly likely to open the year with David Price in their rotation, and Homer Bailey now not even a theoretical trade candidate, an opportunity could conceivably arise to get solid value for Samardzija. Surely, the likelihood of a deal would rise if the team does not believe it can get him to sign a new deal at a palatable price, though a mid-season move might still be a preferable strategy. Fueling the sense that a trade could still be in the works, says Wittenmyer, is the fact that manager Rick Renteria has declined to name Samardzija the Opening Day starter, saying that "so many things can happen over the course of the spring that I'm not going to lock myself in."