Jeff Samardzija Rumors
The Diamondbacks consider Masahiro Tanaka to be their "No. 1 target" and are serious suitors for the Japanese ace, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Had Arizona not acquired Mark Trumbo, the Snakes were open to spending the $140MM that agent Scott Boras said it would've taken to sign Shin-Soo Choo, and Rosenthal notes that D'Backs management could instead invest that money (the $20MM posting fee and a $120MM contract) towards landing Tanaka. The D'Backs could have an extra source for information on Tanaka in the form of scout Rick Short, who played with Tanaka from 2007-09 on the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
You can click here for some Tanaka news from earlier today, and here are some more items from around the NL West...
- Also from Rosenthal's piece, Arizona could be more motivated to sign an ace like Tanaka in free agency since they found the Cubs' and Rays' respective asking prices for Jeff Samardzija and David Price to be too high, Rosenthal notes, not to mention the fact that Price will become more expensive in his final two arbitration-eligible seasons. The D'Backs rate Tanaka higher than other free agent arms like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana.
- Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers have reportedly been discussing an extension this offseason and ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon looks at some of the factors involved in giving Ramirez a major new deal.
- In a Giants-related mailbag, MLB.com's Chris Haft argues that the Giants should've given Brett Pill more time to prove himself rather than give those at-bats to Jeff Francoeur last summer. Pill's rights were recently sold to the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization and his deal with the club was just finalized today. As Haft writes, "the sense here is that the Giants jettisoned Pill without fully discovering what they had in him."
- Buster Posey is just one season into his multiyear extension with the Giants and he's still owed $157MM over the next eight seasons. While it's far too early to place a verdict on this contract, Grant Brisbee of the McCovey Chronicles argues that the Giants may have saved money by locking Posey up last March as opposed to this offseason, as San Francisco might've had to offer their star catcher a nine- or even a ten-year deal in the $200MM threshold.
Paul Blair, one of baseball's all-time greatest defensive players, passed away today at age 69. Blair spent 13 of his 17 Major League seasons with the Orioles, with his superb center field defense playing a key role in Baltimore's success in the late 60's and early 70's. Blair won eight Gold Gloves over his career and accumulated 18.6 defensive WAR over his career (according to Baseball Reference), tied for 58th-best all-time. While he was best known for his glove, Blair also enjoyed a few impressive years at the plate, including hitting .285/.327/.477 with 26 homers for the O's in 1969. Blair won four World Series rings in his career --- with the Orioles in 1966 and 1970, and with the Yankees in 1977-78. We at MLBTR express our condolences to Blair's family and loved ones.
Here's the latest from Camden Yards...
- The Orioles will focus on free agent starters like A.J. Burnett or Bronson Arroyo rather than Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Pitchers like Burnett or Arroyo have "a track record of stability [and] can be signed to shorter-term deals" than Jimenez, Santana and Garza, Encina writes. The Orioles "aren't high" on Garza in general.
- Also from Encina, the O's may put their closer search on hold for now and focus on other needs. For the time being, Tommy Hunter projects as Baltimore's closer.
- Minor league right-hander Mike Wright drew attention at the July deadline and MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko notes that the O's aren't keen to trade Wright. A rival scout isn't high on Wright's potential, telling Kubatko that Wright is "a back-of-the-rotation starter in the majors, at best." Wright, who turns 24 in January, was taken in the third round of the 2011 draft and he posted a 3.26 ERA, 3.54 K/BB rate and 8.3 K/9 in 150 1/3 IP for Double-A Bowie in 2013.
- The Orioles are hesitant to trade young starters like Wright or Eduardo Rodriguez, but Kubatko notes that they might have to make such a move to acquire a rotation upgrade if they won't pursue Tanaka and have doubts about the free agent market. Kubatko says that Jeff Samardzija is still "a potential trade target" for Baltimore, though the Cubs would surely ask for young pitching in return.
- Kubatko and Encina both reiterate Dan Duquette's claim that the Orioles won't be part of the market for Masahiro Tanaka, since Tanaka will be out of the team's price range.
Jeff Samardzija doesn’t have Twitter and he doesn’t check MLBTradeRumors, but he knows his name has been thrown all over the web in trade rumors, writes Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com. The soon-to-be 29-year-old pitcher hears the questions all the time, but he's not so sure that he's on his way out of Chicago.
“This is strictly just a feel, (but) I don’t think it’s as dire as what it’s all being made out to be,” Samardzija told Mooney in a sit-down interview. “I understand things need to be written and stories need to be put on paper. But I think if you look at the whole picture, it’s been pretty mild with everything that’s going on. They’re listening and that’s what any team would do on any player. I just feel like there’s still that common ground of what we both want to do.”
For his part, Samardzija says that he wants to stay with the Cubs. While some might be discouraged by the team's recent struggles, he says he wants to help build a winner in Chicago and look back on the leaner years and smile.
Samardzija is aware that there are non-baseball factors that can play into his future with the Cubs, but he says he's not actively thinking about that. The Cubs are pushing to renovate Wrigley Field in order to increase their revenue, but they can't get underway just yet over fear of litigation from the rooftop owners from outside the park.
As for the contract negotiations with the club, Samardzija feels as though everything has been cordial and professional, even if there's a noticeable gap that needs to be bridged. The right-hander would argue that his 214 strikeouts across 213.2 innings in 2013 is just the beginning of what he can do. The Cubs, meanwhile, would point out that even though he's still on the right side of 30, there's extra mileage on his arm thanks to his Notre Dame football background. Theo Epstein also has a policy of not giving out no-trade clauses, which could also affect talks.
Multiple industry sources believe the Cubs will let the free agent market play out and see what happens with the top pitchers, including Masahiro Tanaka, before pulling the trigger on any Samardzija deal. In the interim, Samardzija has been working out at the new Cubs complex in Mesa, Arizona.
“[I'm there] every day, man,” Samardzija said. “I figure if they need to get a hold of me for something, that’s the best place to be. I can still get in the doors – as of now – and I still get the free coffee. So everything’s all right.”
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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."
- 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.
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.
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 reports, Reds 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.