I was dead against the Cubs trading Jeff Samardzija because he has the makeup of a great pitcher and he continually improves. Then I thought about the reality of the Cubs rebuild.
The top Cubs prospects will start to arrive in 2014 and 2015. It is unreasonable to think that the Cubs will be ready to contend for a World Series in 2016. How can we expect a group of players who have less than two years of experience to win a World Series? Yes, this core is talented, thus I believe that it won't be long before they win a title, but 2016 is unrealistic. Sure, they will make a run for the division, but I'm not thinking that we can expect anything to come to fruition until 2017 or 2018.
At that time, Samardzija will be 33 or 34 years old and on the decline in his career. How can he be the ace of the staff at that age? He will not be durable enough to be a part of the core for years to come. Sure, he will be effective for 2-3 runs at a title, but the purpose of this rebuild from the ground up was to create a team that could compete for 8-10 years. His services will be useful for those 2-3 years, but consider the return the Cubs can get by selling high on him. Its plausible that those pieces will fit the puzzle of a championship contender better than Samardzija.
Samardzija is a great pitcher, but I don't think he is a number 1 pitcher. He is one of the better number two pitchers out there, but I don't view him as an ace. At some point, the Cubs are going to need to get an ace. Free agency is too expensive and doesn't lead to success all the time. The draft is hit or miss on top pitchers, so it's possible, but another option would be to trade for an asset that has a higher chance of being an ace. The only asset that the Cubs have (except for other prospects) is to trade Samardzija.
He can yield 2-3 top pitching prospects, and the Cubs would be selling high on him. From the package that the Cubs would receive, they would potentially get their number one pitcher. The Cubs are not going to win now and its not worth for the Cubs to pay a pitcher a hefty sum for a middling team. Its in the interest of the Cubs ownership and the front office to trade Samardzija, The Cubs would save money and the team would get a few more assets to add to their core.
It would seem like a reset button for the team, but hopefully these prospects will be on the fast track to get to Wrigley - or Rosemont. I've always said that the Cubs future is bright and they are on their way to being contenders. Trading Samardzija would hinder them in the present, but it would help them in the future. 2017 is the target year and as much as I appreciate Samardzija, I think the Cubs are better off trading him at the trade deadline to build for the future.
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