Here we are in the early hours of the first day of the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings. No major trade news or signings to report, but in the last 24 hours, a couple more potential suitors for right-hander Jeff Samardzija have emerged.
According to several rumors, the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves have joined the Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays as potential destinations for the Cubs’ right-hander this offseason.
Samardzija, who turns 29 in January, had a bit of a down year in 2013, but still emerged as a workhorse of the Cubs’ staff, throwing 213 2/3 innings and notching 214 punch outs – both career highs. According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, on the open market, the right-hander could notch a deal between $10-$14 million annually, given the deals that other pitchers have received this winter.
A recent report indicates that Samardzija turned down a 5-year, $55 million contract offer from Chicago earlier this winter, and although the sides continue to negotiate on a deal, no extension appears to be imminent, of yet.
With the addition of the Yankees and Braves into the mix, a still-slow market appears to be picking up at least a little steam. Many believe that any deal that would send Samardzija to New York would revolve around outfielder Brett Gardner, but based on what the Cubs are reportedly seeking, there would have to be more pieces included. The real question that arises next is which pieces New York has, and is willing to offer Chicago.
A couple of potential pieces the Cubs could target focus inherently on pitching – left-hander Manny Banuelos and righty Rafael DePaula – who rank at the fourth and eighth-best prospects in the Yankees organization, according to MLB.com, would be nice additions to the Chicago system.
Banuelos made just six starts in 2012, before shutting it down and having Tommy John surgery and missing all of last season. Prior to this, he was regarded as a high-upside arm that was highly-regarded in the Yankees organization.
DePaula, 22, is known for his lively fastball thank has hit 99 and regularly sits in the mid-90s. He performed masterfully for the Yankees’ Class-A affiliate, going 6-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 13 starts. He did, however, struggle after his call up to Advanced-A ball, but still finished the season, as a whole, with a 7-5 record. Batters hit just .232 against him in 113 innings, evidence of how good his stuff can be.
Atlanta, I personally believe, is much more of a long-shot. Following the disastrous long-contracts given out to Upton and Uggla, it would make sense for the Braves to focus on continuing to build their minor league talent – something that has helped this franchise remain so powerful for so long. That being said, as more rumors surface, the workings of a potential deal could become more clear.
Let us know what you think. Does Jeff Samardzija finish the week in a Cubs uniform? What type of deal would you propose if you were one of baseball’s general managers? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter by Tweeting @CubbiesCrib.