Jeff Samardzija Rumors
Teams have inquired on Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija and the Blue Jays are putting together a package of young players to try to land him, a source tells Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com (on Twitter). For his part, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos didn't deny that he has discussed Samardzija with Chicago in an interview with Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter). Even though Anthopoulos is looking into starters, he insisted that he has yet to make an offer to anyone (link).
As it stands, Samardzija is set to hit the open market prior to the 2016 season. Most reports throughout the 2013 season indicated that an extension would be tricky, but GM Jed Hoyer indicated recently that he has had discussions with the 28-year-old, making a new deal seem more plausible than it has in the past.
The Blue Jays are far from the first club to be linked to Samardzija and the Nationals and Diamondbacks are two of the more recent clubs with rumored interest. The Cubs hurler posted a 4.34 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 2013 and his xFIP of 3.45 suggests he was stronger than his ERA shows.
We've heard a lot today on the Twins' interest in acquiring starting pitching, with two of the market's top arms -- Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza -- both being mentioned as realistic targets. The club is willing to hand out as many as five years in a deal with a starter, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports via Twitter. Minnesota is definitely interested in both Nolasco and Garza, he adds, though that isn't to say it would necessarily go to five years on either or both. Here's more on the starting pitching in baseball's central divisions:
- Though he says he understands the business logic that could force him to be traded, Tigers ace (and newly-minted Cy Young winner) Max Scherzer told MLB Network's Jim Bowden (on SiriusXM) that he hopes that does not occur. Scherzer said that he and agent Scott Boras had indicated to Detroit that he was "open to" an extension, but acknowledged that "no actual dialogue has been talked or anything like that." Ultimately, said Scherzer, he will "see how the business game works out and whether or not we go down that path."
- Meanwhile, Boras acknowledged that GM Dave Dombrowski would likely "invite a number of people to come in and look at all of his diamonds," referring to Detroit's most attractive trade assets. "But in the end I don't think Dave is in the business of anything other than what Mr. Illitch's goal is, and that is to win a world championship," Boras continued. As he further explained, Dombrowski could be discussing Scherzer with other clubs in part to guage his value and to see how those teams value their own players.
- Royals starter James Shields says that he has not had any talks with his club about an extension, ESPN.com's Jim Bowden reports via Twitter. Shields, who is in the last year of his deal, did say that he is open to exploring a new contract that would keep him in Kansas City. Having dealt recently-anointed AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers to get Shields, one would think that GM Dayton Moore will at least make an attempt to secure his services beyond 2014.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer indicated that the club has talked about an extension with starter Jeff Samardzija, David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com reports via Twitter. "We've had discussions with Samardzija because we like him and want to keep him," said Hoyer. "We'll see where things go. We like hearing he wants to be here." Hoyer's comments seem to make an extension for the 28-year-old seem more plausible than we've recently heard. Absent a new deal, Samardzija will hit the open market before the 2016 season.
- The Cubbies' GM also emphasized that the front office was not going to change its approach to placate anxious fans Kaplan also tweets. "We will not hit the fast forward button on our plan simply because people are impatient," Hoyer said. "It will make it worth it in the end."
We heard earlier today that the Brewers explored a trade for Mets first baseman Ike Davis but talks went nowhere, and that the Brew Crew aren't going to deal Norichika Aoki. Let's check in elsewhere around the NL Central...
- The Pirates have been looking at "high upside" starting pitchers in their initial round of free agent calls, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (Twitter link).
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington said that his team is open to discussing a long-term deal with second baseman Neil Walker, FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reports (Twitter link).
- Also from Morosi (Twitter links), the Pirates will probably add a starter from outside the organization if A.J. Burnett retires or signs elsewhere. Huntington said Burnett hasn't yet given the Pirates any indication if he will retire or pitch in 2014.
- David Freese has seemingly gone from World Series hero to forgotten man in St. Louis. Bernie Miklasz of the St Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the Cardinals' options with their once-star third baseman and where he fits into the club's plans.
- It has been assumed that Carlos Beltran will leave the Cardinals this winter but GM John Mozeliak tells reporters (including MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch) that it isn't quite a done deal. "I still think it's a situation where the door's open but we haven't made any decisions either way. In time, we'll see," Mozeliak said.
- Jed Hoyer isn't surprised by the Jeff Samardzija trade talk, the Cubs general manager tells reporters (including ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers). “Teams know we’ve had discussions with him and we haven’t signed him. That's part of it," Hoyer said. "I think teams will certainly inquire about him. He’s really proved over the last two years he has great stuff and is a tough competitor. I think teams will ask us about him so to that extent there could be rumors." Samardzija is reportedly unlikely to sign an extension and he has been linked to the Nationals and Diamondbacks in recent rumors.
- Also from Hoyer, he says the Cubs will be looking to add veterans to replace Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus' clubhouse leadership.
- Chicago native Curtis Granderson would be a big addition both on and off the field for Cubs or White Sox, yet as CSN Chicago's Dan Hayes notes, both teams' focus on adding younger talent makes them hesitant to give up the second round draft pick it would take to sign Granderson.
This winter at the GM Meetings, the Mets are in the market for an elite shortstop for the first time since 2011 when Jose Reyes was a free agent, writes David Lennon of Newsday. Lennon believes that Stephen Drew will be out of the club's price range, leaving them to consider Jhonny Peralta or acquiring someone via trade. If they do spend on someone like the former Tigers shortstop, the Mets could theoretically shift Ruben Tejada over to second base, which would leave Daniel Murphy without a starting spot. Here's the NL East news out of Orlando, Florida, where our own Steve Adams is on the scene..
- While the Nationals have been linked to top pitchers David Price and Max Scherzer, Washington is expected to also discuss Cubs’ right-hander Jeff Samardzija, a person familiar with the Nationals’ thinking tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The Cubs hurler posted a 4.34 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 and his xFIP of 3.45 suggests he was stronger than his ERA shows.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter link) expects the Mets to assess Ike Davis' trade value while they're in Orlando, Florida. Last week, Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that Davis is very likely to be dealt, with Lucas Duda getting an opportunity to play first.
- Martino also says (via Twitter) that there's no indication that there will be major Mets developments right away.
The Cubs will likely continue to discuss trading starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija to the Diamondbacks, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. It now appears unlikely that the Cubs will sign Samardzija to an extension, so with only two years remaining before he hits free agency, it makes sense that a rebuilding team might look to trade him.
After pitching in relief in 2011, Samardzija has emerged as a solid starter in the past two seasons, posting a 4.34 ERA in 2013, but with 9.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. If the Cubs were to deal him, he ought to be able to return good young talent. The Cubs did consider dealing him at last year's trading deadline, but they were reportedly asking a lot. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman wrote then that if the Cubs were unable to sign Samardzija in the offseason, a winter trade would be likely.
An extension between the Cubs and Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija this offseason "looks like a long shot" according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Wittenmyer's sources indicate that a sizable financial gap exists between the two sides, and neither is confident that said gap can be closed this winter.
Samardzija, 28, completed his first 200-inning season in 2013, totaling a 4.31 ERA with 9.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 48.2 percent ground-ball rate. His ERA is surprising when considering his K/BB numbers and strong ground-ball rate, and indeed, sabermetric stats such as xFIP (3.45) and SIERA (3.60) feel that he had quite a bit of poor luck on his side.
Samardijza has transitioned from a solid setup man to a reliable rotation piece in recent years. He's racked up 388 1/3 innings in Chicago's rotation since Opening Day 2012 and figures to hold down a spot in their 2014 rotation as well, barring a trade.
The Cubs were willing to listen on Samardzija this July, with the Diamondbacks among the most frequently rumored teams to have interest. However, in the end, it was reported that the Cubs never got close to dealing the Notre Dame product and planned to discuss a long-term deal this offseason.
As shown in MLBTR's Extension Tracker, recent extensions for starting pitchers with between four and five years of service time include Matt Harrison (five years, $55MM), John Danks (five years, $65MM), Justin Verlander (five years, $80MM) and Felix Hernandez (five years, $78MM). Five years would seem is likely the target for agents Mark Rodgers and Sam Samardzija (Jeff's brother).
This is my own speculation, but the Danks contract may be the Samardzija camp's floor, as the 3.99 ERA compiled by Danks over his 383 1/3 innings prior to the extension is similar to the 4.10 mark that Samardzija owns over his past 388 frames. While Danks had a slight edge in ERA and control, Samardzija has Danks dwarfed in strikeouts, has a more impressive ground-ball rate and is considered a better pitcher in sabermetric circles.
Wittenmyer spoke with Samardzija's close friend and former teammate Ryan Dempster about the situation, with Dempster noting that Samardzija's strongest desire is to win with the Cubs. Wittenmyer points out that Samardzija has said all along that money isn't the biggest issue for him, but he also cautions that doesn't mean Cubs fans should expect a hometown discount. Samardzija has shown a willingness to go year-to-year at this point, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz expects a healthy raise on Samardzija's modest $2.64MM salary this offseason, projecting him to earn $4.9MM after the arbitration dust has settled.
Wittenmyer feels that barring an extension this offseason, Samardzija is certain to be dealt next July, if not this winter. The Cubs control Samardzija through the 2015 season, so dealing him with more than one year of team control left would maximize his trade value.
The Royals' trade for Ervin Santana was the best move of the offseason, ESPN's Buster Olney writes. Santana has posted a 2.97 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in a resurgent season in Kansas City. Right behind the Santana deal, Olney says, was the Braves' deal for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson, followed by the Orioles' signing of Nate McLouth. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Olney's ESPN colleague Jerry Crasnick writes about Francisco Liriano's surprising season with the Pirates. Sure enough, just hours after Crasnick's article was published, Liriano allowed ten runs against the Rockies at Coors Field. But he has still been a big part of the Pirates' stellar year, and for very cheap -- Liriano has a complex contract based on the timing of his return from a broken humerus suffered last offseason, but the deal tops out at $4.75MM for 2013, and includes a reasonable vesting option for 2014. Crasnick also names the Rays' James Loney, the Mets' Marlon Byrd, and others as being among the best cheap signings of the offseason.
- Astros manager Bo Porter isn't planning on returning to Washington to manage the Nationals after Davey Johnson retires at the end of the season, Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire of MLB.com report. "I'm the Houston Astros manager," says Porter. "I'm 100 percent entrenched into getting our situation here to where it is we want to be. The situation in Washington is completely out of my hands and -- I'm going to give you my famous one -- out of my jurisdiction." Porter is in the midst of a multi-year contract with the Astros, McTaggart and Abshire note, and could only leave for the Nats if the Astros decided to trade him or just let him depart. Neither scenario seems likely, however.
- Jeff Samardzija has struggled recently, but the Cubs don't think his contract situation has anything to do with it, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Samardzija allowed nine runs on Thursday against the Phillies, four starts after allowing nine against the Angels. "We’ve had some dialogue at different times, but nothing’s really changed on that front, so I don’t see why he would start pressing now as opposed to other times," says Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. Before the non-waiver trade deadline, Samardzija's name occasionally appeared in trade rumors, but it never looked particularly likely that the Cubs would deal him. The two sides reportedly will discuss a contract extension after the season is over. Samardzija is eligible for free agency after 2015.
Though the Cubs listened to offers for Jeff Samardzija at the deadline, they "never came close with any deal," GM Jed Hoyer reveals in a report by Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. However, the club plans to explore a contract extension for their right-hander this winter, with Hoyer ranking it "very high" on the Cubs' priority list. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined the cost of locking up Samardzija earlier this week, placing the floor of such a deal in the range of the five-year, $55MM extension Matt Harrison inked with the Rangers this winter. More Thursday night Cubs links:
- The Cubs are likely to actively pursue trading Samardzija if they're unable to agree on an extension this winter, instead of merely listening, as they did this year, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. That matches an earlier report from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The team is also expected to pick up David DeJesus' $6.5 million option, Sullivan says.
- DeJesus drew interest at the deadline, as did fellow outfielder Nate Schierholtz and pitcher James Russell, sources tell Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. "We thought we had a high but not unreasonably high price on some of the guys, but a lot of the guys we were being asked about we control going forward," Hoyer said, referencing DeJesus, Schierholtz and Russell. "In some ways it makes our winter potentially easier." The Northsiders have a say in where each of those players ends up next year, Rogers notes.
- The Cubs have had preliminary discussions on who they may end up placing on waivers with an eye toward an August deal, Hoyer says in an article by Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. However, the executive added that he believes teams with specific holes to fill were able to do so by putting together deals before the deadline.
The Cubs have determined they aren't going to get the required blockbuster package for righty Jeff Samardzija, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman echoes a weekend report from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that stated the Cubs will once again try to extend Samardzija this winter. Should that fail, "a trade will become much more likely," according to Heyman.
Samardzija, 28, has a 3.75 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.94 HR/9, and 48.5% groundball rate in 144 innings this year. Those are solid numbers, and he has the repertoire of an ace, but so far Samardzija's control hasn't taken a leap forward as it appeared earlier this season (in fact, it's been worse than last year). The Cubs control Samardzija for two more years after 2013.
For his part, Samardzija told Wittenmyer that he's content to let his performance dictate his earnings: “My numbers and what I do on the field will, I guess, implicate myself in a way. And that’s all I want. Just to win.” Samardzija added that he's been reluctant to discuss long-term value to this point due to his limited big league experience as a starter.
In my opinion, Samardzija's floor would be the five-year, $55MM deal signed by Matt Harrison in January this year, with the possibility of aiming for the five-year, $80MM range deals signed by Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander before the 2010 campaign. Though Samardzija doesn't have the Cy Young votes or career innings those aces did at the time, four years will have passed since they set the bar for starting pitchers in the four-to-five service class. Good pitchers with four years service rarely avoid multiyear extensions to that point, but Samardzija signed a $10MM deal out of the draft and has earned more than $15MM in total, perhaps reducing his willingness to choose the financial security of a team-friendly pact.
ESPN's Jayson Stark begins his latest column with a look at the Biogenesis situation. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported, suspension announcements are not expected today. Sherman expects the announcements to come Thursday or Friday. In Stark's opinion, the Rangers are acting like a team that knows what Nelson Cruz will do if suspended, in that their aggressive search for a bat suggests he might serve a suspension now to preserve his free agent value. Meanwhile, the Tigers' lack of pursuit of a backup plan to shortstop Jhonny Peralta suggests he'll appeal. Elsewhere in Stark's column:
- The Dodgers and Angels, who haven't made a trade in 20 years, had a "mostly casual conversation" regarding Halos second baseman Howie Kendrick. There are no indications a deal is in the works.
- The Angels are at least listening on infielders Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Alberto Callaspo, and seeking high quality big league ready pitching in return.
- The Cubs could move Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz, but are extremely unlikely to trade lefty reliever James Russell and there's just about zero chance of a Jeff Samardzija trade.
- Pitchers Ian Kennedy and J.J. Putz of the Diamondbacks and Kyle Farnsworth of the Rays "have suddenly been made available." Trading Kennedy would allow Arizona to clear around $1.4MM toward another move. Are they that hard up for cash?