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Jeff Samardzija Rumors
Dan Jennings was a guest on MLB Network Radio’s Front Office show this morning, and the Marlins GM told hosts Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden (as per Bowden’s Twitter account) that owner Jeffrey Loria is willing to “open the checkbook” to make additions before the trade deadline. Miami began the season with one of the league’s lowest payrolls at just under $46MM, yet despite losing ace Jose Fernandez to Tommy John surgery, the Fish began the day just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL East. The Marlins could be looking to take advantage of their surprising good form, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported earlier today that Miami has been as aggressive as any team in scouting for upgrades.
Here’s some more from around the NL East…
- The Braves likely won’t be involved in the bidding for the Rays‘ David Price or the Cubs‘ Jeff Samardzija, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The team is already over budget and still has a solid starting rotation, despite the loss of Gavin Floyd.
- The easiest way for the Phillies to rebuild would be to trade Cole Hamels, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Despite Hamels’ big contract (he is owed approximately $107.5MM through the end of the 2019 season), he is younger and carries fewer health question marks than other veteran Phillies who could be available in trades. “If I were in their boat, I’d really hate to move [Hamels],” a rival executive tells Brookover. “But if you go back to question about which player is going to bring you the most value, you’re going to get the most for that guy. You have to get the most you can for a guy like that. If you don’t, you keep him. But you’re only going to get 1.5 pieces for someone else when you could get a lot more than that for him.”
- When Travis d’Arnaud returns this week, the Mets have the choice of either optioning Anthony Recker to Triple-A or exposing Taylor Teagarden to waivers, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes. Also, Teagarden has the option of becoming a free agent if he is outrighted again. Rubin explores several factors in the decision, such as whether the Mets would mind losing Teagarden, and the effect this roster move could have on catching prospect Kevin Plawecki‘s development.
It’s been a rough week for the Rockies, who have lost five games in a row, got no-hit by Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday and allowed three runs to score on one wild pitch in yesterday’s 9-4 defeat to the Brewers. Here’s the latest on a Colorado team that is trying to hang on in the NL playoff race…
- The Rockies aren’t interested in Cubs starters Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports.
- It may be too soon to tell if the Rockies will be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline, but if the team does decide to sell, Saunders notes that two of its key trade chips have very limited value at the moment. Michael Cuddyer is on the DL until August, while southpaw Jorge De La Rosa is battling a stiff back and has pitched poorly over his last three outings.
- In an MLB Network Radio appearance today, Rockies director of Major League Operations Bill Geivett told Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden that Troy Tulowitzki won’t be traded and Geivett hopes the star shortstop will spend his entire career in Colorado (via Duquette’s Twitter account). With Tulowitzki healthy and putting up MVP numbers, it could be argued his trade value has never been higher, though Geivett and other members of Rockies management have steadfastly insisted for a few years now that Tulowitzki isn’t going to be dealt.
The Cubs promoted top prospect Kris Bryant from Double-A to Triple-A yesterday, but as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat writes, president Theo Epstein doesn’t feel the 2013 No. 2 overall pick’s development is complete yet. Muskat spoke with manager Rick Renteria and current Cubs players Jake Arrieta and Anthony Rizzo about Bryant’s future as well. The 22-year-old Bryant, who slashed an unthinkable .355/.458/.702 with 22 homers in 69 Double-A games, didn’t seem to have a hard time adjusting to his new Triple-A surroundings; he went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in last night’s Iowa debut.
More on Bryant and the Cubs…
- Despite Bryant’s tremendous minor league success, Epstein told reporters, including the Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles, that he doesn’t expect Bryant to be promoted to the Major Leagues this season (Twitter link). That may be disappointing for Cubs fans, but from a business standpoint there’s little harm in letting Bryant develop at Triple-A and waiting to start his service clock.
- Via Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago (on Twitter), Epstein also said that if No. 4 overall pick Kyle Schwarber‘s bat warrants fast-tracking him to the Major Leagues, the team won’t slow him down by leaving him behind the plate to develop. A catcher and outfielder at Indiana, Schwarber’s bat is said to be much closer to big-league ready than his glove behind the plate. However, the consensus seems to be that he could reach the Majors quickly as an outfielder.
- As for the team’s more immediate concerns — presumably, dealing away several veterans from the big league roster — Epstein says that trade talks remain sporadic at present, Rogers reports. “The rule of thumb is there is more speculation this time of year than actual trade talk,” said Epstein. “Teams don’t like to rush into those types of things.” While last year’s Scott Feldman deal went down in early July, Epstein said that did not mean anything for this year’s plans. The head baseball man also hinted that he hopes a healthy number of buyers could work to his team’s advantage. “The parity creates more potential buyers,” he said. “A lot of teams are out there that could be one or two players away from getting into the playoffs and doing some damage.”
- The Cubs may come to regret not locking up staff ace Jeff Samardzija when they had the chance to do so at a lower price, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times. Wittenmyer reports that, earlier in the year, Samardzija had proposed a $100MM deal while the Cubs were sitting at $60MM. Samardzija’s representatives signaled that they would split the difference, but Chicago only increased its offer by $500K. Now, with the asking price much higher, it seems as though the 29-year-old will instead be dealt, and Wittenmyer argues that the club will struggle to replace him for anything approaching a reasonable price.
5:45pm: Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that Samardzija rejected a five-year offer that was worth slightly more than $85MM (Twitter link).
WEDNESDAY, 4:48pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also hears that the Cubs have made a new five-year offer to Samardzjia, but he says the number is “definitely not in the vicinity” of Bailey’s $105MM guarantee and could be more in the $75-80MM range. Samardzija and his agents have not countered the offer, he adds.
Heyman notes that some Cubs people have spoken optimistically about trading Samardzija, only to sign him in a year and a half when he reaches the free agent market. Given Samardzija’s prioritization of winning, the Cubs would likely need to experience a drastic turnaround in 2015 to make that scenario plausible.
TUESDAY: Though most of the rumors surrounding Jeff Samardzija of late have understandably pertained to possible trade destinations, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Cubs are making a late push to extend their ace. Wittenmyer hears from multiple sources that the Cubs have offered Samardzija a new extension that would keep him in Chicago through 2019. While that contract length is the same as the previous five-year deals Chicago has offered, Wittenmyer says the new offer is for a higher guaranteed number than the previous $60-65MM figure that was proposed.
One source tells Wittenmyer that Samardzija would require something in the vicinity of the $17.5MM annual value that Homer Bailey received on his six-year, $105MM extension with the Reds. That deal, of course, essentially boiled down to a five-year, $95MM extension, as Bailey was already likely to earn about $10MM via arbitration in 2014.
Multiple sources also indicated to Wittenmyer that “at least” two teams, including the Blue Jays, have already had preliminary talks with the Cubs about Samardzija and exchanged potential names that could change hands. He adds that contenders that are looking for starting pitching this summer “still believe Samardzija is firmly on the market.”
A midseason extension for Samardzija certainly wouldn’t be unheard of; Cole Hamels was thought to be a trade candidate for a potentially rebuilding Phillies club in 2012, but Philadelphia instead inked him to a six-year, $144MM extension. Matt Cain signed a five-year extension that guaranteed him $112.5MM in new money shortly after the onset of the 2012 season, which could be a potential talking point in negotiations for Samardzija. That contract, however, was worked out entering Cain’s contract year, while Samardzija has one-and-a-half years of control remaining.
The Cubs are reportedly gauging the market value of Jason Hammel, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta in addition to Samardzija — perhaps in an effort to assess what they can pull in via trade should they lock up their most valuable trade chip long-term rather than ship him elsewhere for what would surely be an impressive haul of prospects. Given Samardzija’s excellent season to date and the fact that he is controlled through 2015, it’s hard to envision the Cubs getting anything less than the package they received for two months of Matt Garza last summer. In my estimation, a team would have to top that package — C.J. Edwards, Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez — in order to pry Samardzija away from Chicago.
In 91 innings this season, Samardzija has pitched to a 2.77 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent ground-ball rate. Both the walk rate and ground-ball rate would represent the best full-season marks of his career, should he maintain them. Sabermetric ERA estimators love Samardzija’s work even more than usual, as FIP pegs him at 2.95, xFIP at 3.27 and SIERA at 3.39.
The latest trade deadline news and rumors out of the National League …
- Even as the team explores the possibility of an extension, the Cubs are still indicating to other clubs that top starter Jeff Samardzija is available, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. As Wittenmyer notes, Chicago engaged in “lukewarm final talks” with Matt Garza last year prior to dealing him away.
- We heard last night that the Blue Jays were keeping a close eye on Samardzija. Further reports indicate that, unsurprisingly, they were not alone in watching his start last night. The Giants took a look, according to a tweet from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, as did the Royals, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Also present, albeit with unknown targets in their sights, were scouts for the Angels, Indians, and Reds, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
- Diamondbacks starter Bronson Arroyo has a sprained UCL and is now on the DL for the first time in his career, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (Twitter links). Though the current plan is for Arroyo to rest for about ten days, the injury certainly throws some uncertainty into his potential status as a trade candidate this summer. Arroyo’s calling cards, of course, are his remarkable durability and consistency. The injury suggests a potentially increased risk for a pitcher who is 37 years old, has 3,469 2/3 professional innings on his right arm, and is owed not only the rest of a $9.5MM salary for this year but also $14MM in future guarantees.
- Phillies president David Montgomery says that he is confident in GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and his staff, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I just believe that group of people gave us the successful period we had,” Montgomery said. “They had different roles in it. I know people focus on Ruben’s role having changed vis-a-vis 2009 vs. 2008. … [Y]ou have to look at the whole body of work. Have we been served well? My answer to that is yes.” Regarding the team’s operating strategy, he said that it will continue to “pay attention to both today and tomorrow, and to do what’s right in both cases.”
- While it remains unclear whether the Phillies would be willing to deal either or both of their veteran middle infielders (Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins), or if the players would in turn be amenable to waiving their no-trade protection, it is also worth considering what kind of value they might bring back. “I don’t know if some of those guys will get you enough in return to warrant making the trade,” an American League executive told the Inquirer’s Bob Brookover. The unnamed exec did indicate that some teams may be willing to look past the negative clubhouse reputation of closer Jonathan Papelbon, whose strong performance to date could make it possible for the Phils to offload him and save some future cash.
- The Marlins are open to dealing for rotation help, but will first explore internal solutions, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Miami just promoted youngsters Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani. If the club does ultimately consider dealing away close-to-the-bigs talent in exchange for an established starter, Frisaro says that it would likely aim for a player that it can control beyond the season. He floats the possibility that the Fish could dangle infield prospect Derek Dietrich, who offers intriguing left-handed power.
JUNE 16: In addition to discussing Samardzija and Hammel trades, the Cubs are at least willing to consider the possibility of moving additional arms, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Morosi hears Chicago is trying to gauge the market on Samardzija, Hammel, Edwin Jackson and even Jake Arrieta.
It’s not surprising that they’d be willing to move Jackson, as they undoubtedly would be pleased to shed some of his salary obligations — he is owed roughly $28.3MM through 2016 — but Arrieta is somewhat of a surprise. Chicago acquired him in last year’s Scott Feldman trade, and he’s off to an outstanding start in 2014, having pitched to a 2.09 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 52.1 percent ground-ball rate in 43 innings. Still just 28 years old, Arrieta is not yet arbitration eligible and is under team control through 2017, so it stands to reason that the asking price would be high.
Listening on Arrieta is a bit puzzling, as one would think he’s the type of arm the Cubs would like to build their rotation around, but he’s also battled injuries and has never been able to consistently succeed in the Majors, despite having the talent to do so. As Morosi notes, the Cubs aren’t planning to trade all four starters, but rather is doing its due diligence to know the market value of each starter heading into trade season.
JUNE 14: The Cubs are already discussing trades involving starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel with at least two teams, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Interested teams include the Braves, Blue Jays and Mariners, and Wittenmyer cites one source from within baseball who tells him Hammel is likely to wind up with Seattle.
With about six weeks left to go before the trade deadline, the Cubs are 27-38, 11 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central. It is, of course, not necessarily surprising that the Cubs would consider trading two veteran pitchers who are having good seasons. Samardzija, who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season, currently has a 2.77 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 91 innings. Hammel, who’s signed to a one-year deal for $6MM, is in the midst of the best season of his career, with a 2.81 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Notable talent evaluators from the Rays and Cubs were recently on hand to watch Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris throw five scoreless innings in a high-A ball start, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. Norris, 21, was a second round draft pick for the Jays in 2011 and was ranked as the franchise’s sixth-best prospect by the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. The southpaw has a 1.22 ERA, 4.22 K/BB rate and 10.3 K/9 in 13 starts this season, and Elliott wonders if Norris or outfielder Dalton Pompey could be targeted by the Rays or Cubs as part of a trade package for David Price or Jeff Samardzija this summer. Both Elliott and two scouts feel the Jays (who are known to be looking for a pitching upgrade) need a power arm to be legitimate postseason contenders.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Also from Elliott, he hears that the Cubs are asking for four players in return for Samardzjia. The Blue Jays had two evaluators present for Samardzija’s start against the Marlins on June 7th.
- The Rays are “looking like the strong favorites” to sign 15-year-old Dominican shortstop Adrian Rondon, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports, though Rondon cannot sign until he turns 16 on July 7. Rondon, who is 6’2″ and 180 pounds, is expected to sign for around a $3MM bonus. Several scouts consider Rondon to be the best prospect available on the international market, with one scout even telling Badler that Rondon’s upside could make him “a Hanley Ramirez-type of offensive shortstop.”
- Nick Markakis “wants to play here for the rest of his life,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko). The O’s have a $17.5MM club option on Markakis for 2015 that will very likely be bought out for $2MM, though Markakis’ strong play this season is putting him in good shape for a new multiyear contract.
- The Orioles expect Dr. James Andrews to recommend that Matt Wieters‘ right elbow will require Tommy John surgery when the catcher is examined later today, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. Losing Wieters would obviously be a major blow to the O’s this season, and it would further complicate any plans they might have to sign Wieters to a contract extension (Wieters is under control through 2015).
- Two-thirds of the Red Sox roster could be trade candidates if the team decides to rebuild for 2015, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. Abraham’s list includes several relievers (including Koji Uehara), A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross, Stephen Drew, Jake Peavy and Jonny Gomes. While you could make a case for the likes of Jon Lester, Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks or Clay Buchholz to be dealt as well, Abraham feels these players are much longer shots to be traded.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington needs to make a move for a quality outfield bat before the season is lost, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines.
The Giants are showing strong interest in Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). Other clubs in the picture include the Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Red Sox, and Blue Jays.
Yesterday it was reported that the Cubs have already started discussing trades involving Samardzija and Jason Hammel with at least two teams. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times cited the Braves, Blue Jays, and Mariners as clubs that have interest in bolstering their pitching through a deal with Chicago. Seattle is viewed as the most likely landing spot for Hammel at present.
Samardzija, who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season, currently has a 2.77 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 91 innings. It has been long expected that the Cubs would dangle the 29-year-old and the future-minded club should find a ripe market this summer. The Red Sox could be a suitable trade partner given their strong pitching and catching depth in the minors and Theo Epstein’s familiarity with their system. The Orioles, meanwhile, have top-tier pitching prospects such as Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Hunter Harvey, and Eduardo Rodriguez that they can use to entice Theo & Co.
While some of the Samardzija suitors are playing catchup, the Giants are enjoying a 6.5 game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West and the top record in baseball. Adding the Cubs ace to their rotation would further bolster their already strong pitching. The Giants have a team ERA of 3.22, the third best in the majors.
With the draft in the rear-view mirror, the league’s attention will increasingly turn to the coming summer trade market — though, with so many teams still in the hunt and so much money owed to many possible trade candidates, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if it will be a sluggish market.
Here’s the latest on some teams and players who could be discussed:
- The Diamondbacks, who feature a roster with several attractive veteran pieces, have also been widely noted for their abundance of quality young middle infielders. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links), current Triple-A shortstop Nick Ahmed has sparked interest from multiple other clubs. Ahmed, 24, is known as an outstanding defensive player and has enjoyed his most productive season at the plate this year with a .304/.385/.401 line in 250 plate appearances in his first run at Triple-A.
- The Rays should consider putting ace David Price on the market now rather than waiting for the deadline to approach, opines MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince. Tampa may not achieve the return it hopes for if it waits, says Castrovince, citing a variety of reasons — including the current proliferation of teams still in the hunt, the possibility that Cubs hurler Jeff Samardzija may approach or even surpass him in value, and the potential introduction of Royals’ ace James Shields into the discussion.
- Price may be the Rays‘ most valuable trade chip, but the versatile Ben Zobrist would draw the widest interest if he is put on the block, tweets Rosenthal. The 33-year-old jack of all trades is owed just $7MM this year and comes with an attractive $7.5MM club option for 2015.
- Indeed, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com writes that Zobrist is “the perfect acquisition for a team like the Tigers, Giants, or Dodgers.” As I noted a few days ago, he would also make sense for a team like the Nationals if they decide to add an impact veteran, and there are surely many others with possible interest.
- Gammons goes on to cite a few other possibly overlooked trade possibilities. He lists Bartolo Colon of the Mets and Steve Cishek of the Marlins in addition to some more commonly mentioned names like Jason Hammel of the Cubs, and Chase Headley of the Padres.
- Cliff Lee of the Phillies, a hypothetically intriguing trade candidate, finally threw a baseball yesterday for the first time since May 18, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. After what he described as a “light throwing session,” Lee said that his elbow was feeling “better.” Of course, he would need to make it back for at least a few starts to allow Philadelphia to recoup anything close to maximum value were they to shop him.
- In today’s Baseball Tonight podcast (audio link), ESPN’s Buster Olney says that hears the Cubs will approach this year’s deadline as they did in 2013, dealing one pitcher early as they did with Scott Feldman last year and waiting until later to move a second, as they did with Matt Garza. Presumably, that’d mean Jason Hammel would be moved first, with Jeff Samardzija being moved later. His colleague, Keith Law, feels the strategy can work, as there will never be enough starting pitchers for all the teams looking to buy, and the price for Hammel isn’t as difficult to agree upon. Moving Hammel early on forces interested clubs to force on the bigger target later in the deadline as the need becomes greater.
- Olney lists the Blue Jays, the Orioles and the Athletics as teams that could have early interest in Hammel, and he wonders if the recent injuries to the Pirates‘ rotation would cause them to jump into the mix. Law feels the Angels could be added to that mix, as their weak farm system would prevent them from adding a big-name starter.
12:56pm: A baseball source differs from the report referenced below, telling MLBTR there is no truth to the assertion that the Cubs have inquired about receiving a competitive balance draft pick as part of a Samardzija deal.
10:57am: The Cubs have asked about acquiring a competitive balance-round draft pick and the associated bonus slot money as part of their desired return for Jeff Samardzija, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports. This would give Chicago an extra pick either between 35th-41st overall (Round A of the competitive balance picks) or 69th-74th overall (Round B) in this year’s amateur draft, should a trade be completed between now and Thursday.
Here’s a refresher on the order of the competitive balance round, which awards an extra pick to teams that play within the 10 smallest markets and/or teams with the 10 lowest revenues. Unlike other draft selections, competitive balance picks can be traded; just yesterday, the Marlins dealt the 39th overall pick to the Pirates in exchange for reliever Bryan Morris.
Passan cites the Rockies (picking at No. 35) as the best fit for Samardzija among the Round A teams with picks to trade, given Colorado’s long-standing need for starting pitching. The draft pick would just be part of a Samardzija trade package, of course, and I would guess the Cubs would also ask for Rockies pitching prospects Jonathan Gray or Eddie Butler in exchange for their ace. The Rox could possibly upgrade their rotation simply by promoting one of those two young arms, however, rather than deal assets for a veteran.
It seems unlikely that the Cubs would move Samardzija between now and Thursday’s draft, though they could still target a competitive balance pick in the 2015 draft. The competitive balance lottery for next year’s draft will take place in roughly six weeks’ times, and an extra pick could be a valuable trade chip for any contending teams who win those additional selections.