The Cubs remain interested in a reunion with Jeff Samardzija, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark, but the team may be getting uncomfortable with the level to which his price is rising. Samardzija, who has reportedly received offers of $90MM and $100MM, is of interest to both the Giants and Dodgers, and the team that loses out on the services of Zack Greinke may very well turn to Samardzija, per Stark. Said one executive from a team that has interest in Samardzija: “I don’t know if he gets to nine figures. But if you put the over/under on him at $90 million, I’d go ’at’ or ’over.'”
Some more notes on what has been an aggressive and high-priced market for starting pitching thus far…
- As the prices for arms like Samardzija and others rise, a two-year deal for John Lackey is becoming increasingly appealing for the Cubs, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. While the Cubs may indeed have interest in two years for Lackey, it seems reasonable enough to me to believe that interest in him could push the requirement to three years. Lackey will pitch next season at 37, but he’s delivered results that are either on part with or in excess of expectations for younger, second-tier starters and won’t come with as extravagant a price tag as Samardzija, Mike Leake or Wei-Yin Chen.
- Having already completed five trades and signed four free agents — most recently Nori Aoki — the Mariners will turn their focus to re-signing Hisashi Iwakuma, writes MLB.com’s Greg Johns. General manager Jerry Dipoto told Johns and other reporters that while he still needs to address utility infielder and determine who will play first base in 2015, his focus will be shifting more to the rotation for the time being. “We are continuing to move along with Kuma and we’ll see where that takes us,” said Dipoto.
- Turning from free agency to the trade side of the starting pitching market, Stark tweeted yesterday that the Padres are hoping to move James Shields without having to eat any money in the deal, citing unnamed clubs that have been in trade talks with San Diego. Not only that, they’re hoping to land a younger shortstop option in the deal. Clearly, that’s a lofty and unlikely goal, as Shields along doesn’t carry that type of value on his own and comes with significant downside given his opt-out clause. If the Padres were willing to take back a sizable contract in exchange for Shields, perhaps the scenario would become more plausible.
- The Padres, though, think the rising price of free agent starters could make the remaining $65MM on Shields’ contract look more appealing (links to Twitter). That may be the case, but Shields certainly isn’t a bargain, and some scouts tell Rosenthal they feel that Shields’s stuff is in decline. And, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweeted yesterday, his opt-out clause makes him a risky target for any club. Shields isn’t a lock to opt out of the deal even with a big 2016 season, per Lin, because he loves living in San Diego. A trade might make him more inclined to re-enter the market if he performs well enough, so a team could be acquiring just one year of him if he performs up to his previous standards. On the other hand — the aforementioned downside — if Shields repeats his 2015 results or struggles even further, then the team would be left with the two years and $44MM on his contract from 2017-18.
- The Rockies like Braves right-hander Shelby Miller quite a bit, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. However, Colorado and Atlanta haven’t discussed a possible swap “in a while,” a source told Saunders. While the Braves are seeking outfield upgrades, an expensive and relatively short-term asset like Carlos Gonzalez wouldn’t hold appeal to the Braves, he writes. Rather, a player like Corey Dickerson and other prospects would probably be Atlanta’s asking price, he continues, adding that the Rox aren’t presently in the Miller derby.
- The White Sox were interested in both Jesse Chavez and Ivan Nova last month, reports George A. King III of the New York Post, but the fact that Chavez is now off the board following a trade to Toronto hasn’t increased Chicago’s interest in Nova. The Yankees have discussed Nova with multiple teams and will continue to market him at the Winter Meetings, though the asking price reported by King — a younger arm with more controllable years — seems too steep unless the Yankees are adding other pieces to the deal.
- The Marlins aren’t shopping ace Jose Fernandez, president of baseball operations Michael Hill tells MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Hill said he’s “not sure where that came from” in reference to rumors that Fernandez could be had in trades, but the plan is for Fernandez to front Miami’s rotation next season. Hill said that teams, naturally, ask for Fernandez all the time, just as they did with Giancarlo Stanton prior to his extension. But, that’s to be expected with elite players that are not locked up on contract extensions, he notes, and inquiring teams are informed that Fernandez isn’t for sale.