Major League sources confirmed to Kaplan, the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Arizona Diamondbacks are the front-runners to land Samardzija.
“I don’t see him throwing another pitch in a Cubs uniform. I think it’s 99 percent that he gets moved. They’re not ready to win and he brings you the young pitching you need for the future,” said a major league source.
“Samardzija is a really good trade candidate if you believe you are close to winning for several reasons. One, he is under your control for two more seasons. Two, he is extremely durable with no hint of an injury history. Plus, because of his football career he does not have as much mileage in his arm that most pitchers his age have. Three, he is a great clubhouse guy and he shows leadership which should make his transition to a new clubhouse an easy one. Add in the fact that the guy is a big time competitor and I would have no hesitation in acquiring him,” he told me.
Another scout likes Samardzija’s makeup and durability but does not believe that he has the complete package to be a top of the rotation starter.
“I like the guy a lot but the price is really high and I think in the AL he is a No. 3 starter. He doesn’t show me the consistency that I need in a top end guy and to acquire him, Theo and Jed are asking for a top end price. However, pitching is so hard to find that teams will give up a lot betting that his best days are ahead of him.”
The 28-year-old righty (he turns 29 in January) started in 61 games the last two seasons with a 4.10 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, striking out 394 batters in 388 1/3 innings.
The Orioles have been linked to a possible deal with the Cubs including, O’s catcher Matt Wieters. Kaplan notes, Wieters is a Scott Boras client and he will become a free agent after the 2015 season. It appears the Cubs will not trade with Baltimore unless young starting pitching is included.
The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks have several pitching prospects in their farm system which interest the Cubs. Toronto has Aaron Sanchez, while Arizona have Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs. Kaplan also notes, Arizona general manager Kevin Towers he will not make Bradley available.
Trading Samardzija would be a step backwards in the short term but the potential to be a beneficial move for the Cubs long term if the young pitching prospects develop the way they are projected to.