Jeff Samardzija Rumors

Blue Jays Notes: Rasmus, Samardzija, Anthopoulos

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke with reporters at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings today.  Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith (in two seperate pieces) and the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott have the highlights of Anthopoulos' talk, as well as a few other hot stove items…

  • Anthopoulos didn't say whether or not he'd recently discussed a contract extension with Colby Rasmus, who is eligible for free agency next winter.  Rasmus has raised his value after a big 2013 campaign, though Anthopoulos noted that larger-market teams like Toronto had the luxury of waiting before locking players up.  "We don’t mind paying a little more to be sure we get a little more information," Anthopoulos said.
  • Rasmus' name reportedly emerged in trade talks for starting pitching.  While Anthopoulos noted that "no one is untradeable," he also added that "for us to move an everyday position player and feel like we can get better, that would be hard to do."
  • The Cubs are asking for Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and a third prospect from the Blue Jays for Jeff Samardzija, Elliott reports.  Anthopoulos recently said he was constantly being asked about Stroman and Sanchez, the Jays' top two pitching prospects, in possible deals.
  • The Blue Jays have been approached by teams looking to add power hitters.   "The one thing we have is power and there’s not a lot of power on the market and the free-agent prices don’t work….We haven’t lined up anything,” Anthopoulos said.
  • The Jays have three starting pitchers targeted and Anthopoulos says a fourth pitcher could also be in play.  “We’re not going to close the door on the fourth,” the GM said. “The fourth is a little more challenging, but I think there could be a domino effect with the fourth if we do some other things.”
  • The signing of Tomo Ohka adds another knuckleballer to the organization and Anthopoulos hinted that the team may add more knuckleballers to prepare their catchers for the challenge of handling R.A. Dickey.  “To be honest, we’ll look to add some more guys if we can….We may look to get some other guys that we think can be guys to convert," Anthopoulos said.
  • The Jays are looking to add an international free agent, Nicholson-Smith reports, so the trade of Rule 5 draft pick Brian Moran to the Angels for $244K of extra space under the international spending cap helped Toronto prepare for this potential signing.  The Blue Jays attempted to acquire international cap space from the Phillies earlier this winter but were turned down.

NL East Notes: Papelbon, Braves, Samardzija, Nats

Trading Jonathan Papelbon wouldn't solve much for the Phillies at this point, opines Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. Seidman runs down a possible scenario in which the Phillies ate $6MM to move Papelbon, noting that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would then still try to sign a replacement. Names like Grant Balfour and Joaquin Benoit could cost upwards of $10MM per season anyhow, meaning the Phillies may not even save much money should that scenario play out. Papelbon will have more value to teams at the trade deadline when fewer quality options are available, writes Seidman. Here's more from the NL East…

  • David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Braves have approached some of their young stars about extensions over the past two years but felt they'd have to overpay to get something done.
  • O'Brien also runs down the Braves needs on the heels of a quiet Winter Meetings, noting that they're optimistic about re-signing Eric O'Flaherty. Atlanta is still pursuing a veteran bench bat — O'Brien mentions Eric Chavez — and are still interested in Jeff Samardzija. The Braves may be considered the favorites to land Samardzija at this point, says O'Brien, noting that payroll constraints will likely preclude them from pursuing David Price.
  • After adding to their rotation, bench and bullpen, the Nationals will now turn their focus to extending Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Should the Nats be unable to extend Zimmermann, they may be forced to consider trading him this time next season, one source told Kilgore.
  • Nate McLouth spoke to former teammate Adam LaRoche (whom he called one of his favorite teammates ever) and asked what the Nationals clubhouse was like before deciding to sign there, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. McLouth doesn't hold ill will toward the Orioles for not retaining him.

Latest On Jeff Samardzija

Our last few updates on Jeff Samardzija came back on Monday, but the Cubs pitcher's name is back in the rumor mill today, with an earlier report suggesting that the Diamondbacks may no longer be in the mix now that they've agreed to send Tyler Skaggs back to the Angels. Here are the latest updates on Samardzija:

  • There was no resolution to Samardzija's long-term solution following his sitdown with the Cubs today, but team president Theo Epstein called it a "great meeting," according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. "There is no trade imminent," Epstein said. "We'll see what happens. We hope he's here for a long time."
  • Sources tell Rogers that if Samardzija were to sign an extension, he'd be seeking a deal that would pay him as if he's a free agent, as a trade-off for agreeing to stick with the Cubs through their rebuilding process. Based on Samardzija's reported asking price on a new contract and the team's reported asking price in trade talks, neither an extension nor a trade seems all that likely right now.

Earlier updates:

  • The Cubs are meeting again today with Samardzija to discuss a possible extension, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. According to Sherman, the Cubs aren't hearing what they were hoping for in trade talks, which might make the team more likely to pursue a long-term deal. However, the right-hander isn't overly anxious to commit long-term since he's not sure when the Cubs will contend, says Sherman (Twitter links).
  • Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that due to the Cubs' high asking price for Samardzija, it seems likely the club will ultimately revisit trade discussions in the summer rather than completing a deal during the offseason.


Sherman On Mets, D-Backs, Masterson, Rasmus

It's still early on Day Three of the Winter Meetings in Orlando, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post is coming out of the gate with a few items of note. Let's dive in and round them up…

  • An increasingly crowded first base trade market may make it difficult for the Mets to acquire a solid return for Ike Davis, as Sherman outlines in a column.
  • Sherman adds in the same piece that the Mets have placed a "significant return cost" on Daniel Murphy, but people around the league continue to believe he could be dealt.
  • With Tyler Skaggs headed to the Angels, the Diamondbacks may no longer have the trade pieces to pry Jeff Samardzija away from the Cubs. However, Sherman says (via Twitter) that the D-Backs would now "really love" to acquire Justin Masterson from the Indians.
  • The Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott reported on Tuesday that the Blue Jays had offered Colby Rasmus to a pair of teams in exchange for starting pitching, and it sounds as if Rasmus remains in play. Sherman tweets that the Jays will use Rasmus to try to land a starter.

Jeff Samardzija Rumors: Monday

The Cubs are reportedly likely to trade Jeff Samardzija this winter, and ESPN's Jerry Crasnick heard last week that they plan on doing some "serious listening" on the right-hander at this week's Winter Meetings. "Shark" figures to be a hot topic in Orlando this week, and we'll keep track of today's rumors pertaining to him in this post…

  • Although the Yankees like Samardzija, they may not have the sort of prospects the Cubs are seeking, writes Joel Sherman. One member of the Cubs organization told Sherman that the Yankees "have no upper-level talent."

Earlier Updates

  • MLB.com's Mark Bowman tweeted that the odds of Samardzija ending up in Atlanta appear to be "slim" at this point.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with one executive whose team is interested in Samardzija and heard that the Cubs are definitely discussing Samardzija trades but the asking price is very high (Twitter link). That executive said the Cubs will either find a team to meet that asking price or simply keep Samardzija and try again in July.
  • The Yankees and Braves are among the teams that have shown interest in Samardzija, according to Bruce Levine of WSCR (on Twitter).
  • David O'Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constituion also tweets that the Braves like Samardzija, noting that he's a more realistic trade option for the Braves than White Sox ace Chris Sale.

Stark Previews Winter Meetings

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark is out with a Winter Meetings preview, noting that the frenzy of signings and trades this week threatens to overshadow an event that's traditionally one of the hot stove's busiest periods. Twenty teams either swapped a player or agreed to terms with a free agent between Monday afternoon and Tuesday night, according to ESPN's count. "I don't ever remember a day like Tuesday ever," an AL official commented. "Not just [during] the week before the Winter Meetings. Ever." Nevertheless, with several top names remaining unsigned and rumors of a David Price trade hanging in the air, Stark notes that there's plenty of hot stove left. Here's a run-through of his Winter Meetings preview, which includes a survey of 17 big league executives (conducted before the Carlos Beltran and Robinson Cano signings):

  • Some believe Scott Boras will bide his time with Shin-Soo Choo following how quickly a deal for Jacoby Ellsbury came together with the Yankees, but there's another group that believes the superagent wants to show new rival Jay Z that he can be decisive. Around half of execs polled said they think Choo could sign during the Winter Meetings, or immediately afterward. All speculated he'll land with either the Rangers, Mariners or Tigers, though Detroit is indicating they're not involved.
  • The market for starting pitching has been slow to develop because of uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka, as well as slow-developing rumors for Price and Jeff Samardzija, leaving Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez still on the board. Officials polled varied widely in their predictions for when the two will sign, though many see Garza heading to the Yankees or the Orioles. Draft pick compensation is an issue with Jimenez, who doesn't have a consistent track record.
  • Kendrys Morales isn't expected to sign soon, with many NL clubs passing on the slugger because there's a perception that he'll need to DH. "I think he has all the makings of this year's Kyle Lohse," one exec commented. Draft pick compensation is also an issue. "You should never forget how many teams don't want to give up those draft picks," one exec commented.
  • Samardzija was seen as the player most likely to be traded during the Meetings among players who are still on the market, though his three votes only slightly surpassed Mark Trumbo's two. Many believe, however, that Samardzija could remain a Cub until later in the winter, or even until the summer trade deadline in July. One exec said he thinks the Angels were more willing to move Trumbo a month ago than they are currently.
  • Carlos Beltran was by far seen as the most likely player to sign during the Meetings, though as that's already happened, the title is now held by Choo.
  • While the Dodgers, Rangers, Mariners, Angels, Braves, Diamondbacks and Padres all appear to be interested in trading for Price, the group of teams that are actually able to consummate a deal could be much smaller. Rays GM Andrew Friedman appears to be taking his time allowing the market to develop. "Andrew is looking to make the Herschel Walker trade," a source tells Stark, referring to the 1989 NFL trade that involved 18 players and draft picks.

NL Notes: Mets, Nats, Reds, Samardzija, Rockies, D-Backs

Here are the latest updates from the National League side of the ledger:

  • The Mets are increasingly expressing optimism about their efforts to bring Curtis Granderson into the fold, reports Marc Carig of Newsday, though nothing appears to be immiment. Joining the Mets in pursuit of Granderson are the White Sox and Mariners, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. If that does not work out for New York, says Puma, the club will "likely" turn its attention to Nelson Cruz.
  • After parting ways with two left-handed relief options in Fernando Abad and Ian Krol, the Nationals remain interested in adding Oliver Perez, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore says that the Mariners and Padres also have interest in the 32-year-old southpaw, who pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings last year for Seattle.
  • Echoing previous reportsReds GM Walt Jocketty says that the club has told second baseman Brandon Phillips that it is "not in any talks to trade him," reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Though Jocketty also noted that he could not rule out that possibility, he definitely left the impression that he is not actively shopping Phillips.
  • Jocketty also indicated that the club is likely going to keep Aroldis Chapman in the closer role rather than converting him to a starter, reports Sheldon. Though Cincinnati will keep the starting option on the table in the spring, Jocketty said that the club likes its depth at the present. As MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth wrote at the start of the off-season, the Reds could tinker with their rotation, but lack a pressing need to do so.
  • Though the latest scuttlebutt has Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija marked for trade talks, club president Theo Epstein says that the club still hopes to extend him, tweets Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Of course, Chicago could certainly be keeping both options on the table for the time being.
  • After trading away center fielder Dexter Fowler, the Rockies plan to shift Carlos Gonzalez over to fill the vacancy, reports the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). Meanwhile, the club is still shopping for relief pitchers, reports the Denver Post's Troy Renck (via Sulia), and may be most likely to add a bullpen arm via trade. 
  • The Diamondbacks are still looking to add a major piece, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, and GM Kevin Towers has indicated that the club would be willing to give up its first-round draft choice to sign a free agent who turned down a qualifying offer. Towers indicated that the club is most likely to add a starter via trade, leaving Piecoro to posit that the most likely open-market targets would be Granderson, Nelson Cruz, or Carlos Beltran.
  • Meanwhile, the D-Backs could be much more willing to deal pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs than they had been in the past, Piecoro writes. In fact, the club apparently recently explored just that possibility. Coming off of a down year that saw his velocity drop, however, the 22-year-old probably also has diminished trade value at the moment, Piecoro further notes.

Cubs Likely To Trade Samardzija This Offseason

DEC. 4: The Cubs are preparing to do some "serious listening" on Samardzija at next week's Winter Meetings, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).

NOV. 27, 7:08pm: The Cubs are going to keep trying to sign Samardzija long-term despite the trade rumors, a major league source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter).

6:30pm: Jeff Samardzija's name has been swirling about the rumor mill for quite some time, and David Kaplan of CSN Chicago reports that as many as eight teams have shown "considerable" interest in Samardzija. Kaplan lists the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Diamondbacks as frontrunners to land the pitcher often referred to as "Shark," though as Kaplan notes, the asking price is substantial.

One Major League source told Kaplan, "I don't see him throwing another pitch for the Cubs," while a second offered a laundry list of reasons that Samardzija is an excellent trade candidate: he has two years of control remaining, has no injury history, comes with relatively low mileage on his arm due to his prolific football career at Notre Dame and is an excellent clubhouse presence. "Add in the fact that this guy is a big-time competitor, and I would have no hesitation in acquiring him," said Kaplan's second source.

Kaplan points out that teams run a serious risk by waiting for resolution to the Masahiro Tanaka situation  since teams that miss out on the Japanese standout will swarm on Samardzija and other alternatives.  One NL scout suggested that if he were a GM and didn't have pockets deep enough to guarantee landing Tanaka, he'd give up more than he'd like to get the Cubs' hurler. 

The Orioles are among the frontrunners for Samardzija but most scouts that Kaplan checked in with do not expect the Cubs to trade for catcher Matt Wieters unless he was part of a much larger deal that also included young starting pitching that is nearly MLB ready.

Zach Links contributed to this post.    


D-Backs Looking To Trade Market For Ace, Power Bats

3:30pm: The Diamondbacks may also be looking to the trade market for power bats, according to a recent series of tweets from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal reports that the D-Backs and A's recently discussed a trade that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Arizona in exchange for Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pollock and others. Both sides have cooled on the idea and backed off the trade at this time, however, and the A's would only trade Cespedes for a "monster" return, according to Rosenthal. Still, as he points out, it serves as an example that the Diamondbacks will be aggressive and creative in their search for a power bat in the outfield.

1:54pm: The Diamondbacks are motivated to swing a trade for an ace-caliber pitcher, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick spoke with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, president/CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick in an excellent, in-depth breakdown of the situation. While Towers was quick to say that no player is untouchable, he sounded loath to part with prized pitching prospect Archie Bradley, a consensus Top 10 MLB prospect. Asked about the possiblity of trading Bradley, he replied:

"I don't see that happening. Not that anybody is untouchable, but we're hoping he's our David Price, and we can control him [for several years]. He's gonna get every opportunity to crack our rotation this spring … He's not looking to make our rotation as the fifth guy — he's looking to make it as the ace."

Hall pointed to the Diamondbacks' success in 2011 when Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the Cy Young race, noting how impactful having a "No. 1 type starter" was to that year's team. Hall expects activity to pick up: "We're getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls, and we can see the interest is there. We're probably a good fit for a lot of clubs."

In addition to enviable pitching depth, the Diamondbacks also have several intriguing shortstops in the form of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed. Martin Prado's presence means that Arizona could also be inclined to include Matt Davidson in potential trades, and the presence of both A.J. Pollock could mean that Adam Eaton is attainable as well, notes Crasnick.

Crasnick lists familiar trade targets Price and Jeff Samardzija for the Diamondbacks, though Price has had multiple ace-caliber seasons while Samardzija has more so flashed ace potential. Crasnick adds that Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado, each of whom is still younger than 24, may be more likely to be included in potential trades.

The Diamondbacks are also looking to add an impact bat to the outfield, though that addition may be more likely to come via free agency, reports Crasnick. Big-name items like Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson may not fit into Arizona's payroll, which could lead to pursuits of names like Corey Hart and Michael Morse, though there are many who don't consider either one to be capable of handling the outfield at this point.


Cafardo On Samardzija, Price, Kemp, Pierzynski

The Red Sox won a World Series last year thanks to their daring offseason gameplan.  Will they break away from those habits going forward?  “So far, I don’t think it’s been all that different,” Lucchino told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “We still value the draft picks enormously and our behavior has shown that we still prefer shorter- to longer-term contracts and a presumption against really long-term contracts. A lot of things we did last year proved to be successful at least in the short term, and I think we’ll behave accordingly going forward.”  Here's more from today's column..

  • Trade talks for Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija have been going on and he could be on the move, but the Cubs’ preference would be to re-sign Samardzija and lock him in beyond 2015 and build their future around him, according to a major league source.  The Cubs will continue to work on both fronts until an extension is reached or an extension proves to be improbable.
  • The Rays, unsurprisingly, have gotten a number of inquiries on David Price.  However, none of them have been strong enough to make Tampa Bay give serious consideration to parting with him.
  • Moving Matt Kemp would require the Dodgers to eat some of the $128MM he's owed over the next six years.  If L.A. knocks that down to $80-90MM, the market is expected to open up.
  • The notion that A.J. Pierzynski is bad for a team is way off-base, according to one longtime teammate who said, “He may rub people the wrong way on other teams, but if he’s your teammate, he’s great. He’s tough, loyal, can call a game, and he can hit. I wish we had him back.
  • Daniel Bard's control issues have followed him into winter ball.  The Cubs are expected to keep working with Bard, however, as they can give him a longer leash than the Red Sox did.  
  • Most teams, including the Brewers, want Corey Hart on a one-year deal.  However, because there are a number of teams in on him, he might get two.