Ken Rosenthal opened a can of worms yesterday.
Apparently there was a reason for it. Rosenthal simply reported the Cubs were listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija. The reaction from most was that it was just an exercise and that a deal was highly unlikely.
I thought maybe the Cubs were done with the high profile deals and would be focused on lesser moves like Kevin Gregg, David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz, etc.
Then we heard otherwise. I was told there were indeed some teeth to the Shark chatter. The Cubs were already fielding phone calls from the Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Red Sox, among others.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are in no hurry to deal any of their remaining chips. However, they are in a position to let others come and get guys like Samardzija or James Russell. The asking price has been reported as astronomical for Samardzija, though it may be just a starting point in talks. What we are told is the Cubs will part with their now ace for a can’t miss pitching prospect.
From what we hear there are two teams that have serious enough interest to get a deal done, Arizona and Pittsburgh. There were reports that the Cubs had previously asked Arizona for both of their top pitching prospects Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley, but were refuted.
That may have been a pie in the sky return for certain, but we do hear the Cubs would certainly require that any package center around Bradley. When it comes to Pittsburgh we have talked about their deep system before, but any talks will start and end with Jameson Tailon, I’m told.
So why would the Cubs deal a 28-year-old pitcher (with a young arm) they developed into top of the rotation caliber? It centers on the contract issue it seems. The Cubs are trying to lock up their young (see Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro) to club friendly deals. Apparently, the Cubs have tried to get Samardzija and his camp to the table and at this point I’m told they don’t even want to talk.
Samardzija is controlled through the 2015 season and has two remaining years of arbitration eligibility. I very much like Samardzija and his stuff. However, if his camp is not interested in doing what is best for this front office, all bets are off.
I'm told that the Cubs and Samardzija's relationship is fine and respectful. Epstein and Hoyer would prefer to keep him a Cub for a long time, and it may just be Shark isn't complying like the front office would prefer. This may be just a case of two sides that won't give in easily and it will bear watching. Ultimatlely it could be a ploy to drive team Shark back to the table.
Until the deadline passes, we can speculate if Epstoyer has really decided that they may be better off moving on.