The rumors continue to swirl but as the meetings come to a close today, there has so far been more speculation than substance. There are a few things we haven't covered and we'll take a look at those now...
- The Blue Jays are a 3rd team that is taking more than a passing interest in Jeff Samardzija. We've mentioned the Jays as a possible suitor in the past. They certainly have what the Cubs need, which is young pitching. Even after trading Noah Syndegaard and Justin Nicolino, the Jays still have Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Roberto Osuna, Daniel Norris (L), Sean Nolin (L), and Matt Smoral (L). They also have some solid 2nd tier catching prospects. They certainly have enough talent to get the Cubs to listen and Shi Davidi of Sportsnet Canada confirms the Jays do have interest. Alex Anthopolous is expected to explore the trade market before turning to free agency. That seems to be a common theme this year among many organizations -- including the Cubs.
- While teams continue to inquire about Samardzija, a source says the Cubs will still try and sign him to an extension this offseason.
- The Orioles have reportedly made Matt Wieters available. Yesterday Patrick Mooney reported that the Cubs are looking at Kurt Suzuki and not expensive free agents like Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Weiters is somewhere in between. He's cost-controlled for the next 2 years and will become a free agent after the 2015 season, at which point he'll also likely become pretty expensive, especially considering he is a Scott Boras client. Still, it makes sense that he'd be interesting at least. He provides the kind of LH power (he's a switch hitter) the Cubs seek and any interest presumably means the Cubs would then deal Welington Castillo. Timeline is a question as well. Weiters will be 29 when he becomes a free agent. The Orioles are in a similar situation as the Cubs with Jeff Samardzija in that they aren't sure they'll be able to retain him. Could a swap of the two make sense? Maybe, but the Cubs greatest need isn't an MLB catcher, it is young pitching. And it seems poorly planned that the Cubs would stick themselves with two young catchers and effectively lose leverage. Teams would obviously know they would have to deal one of them.
- Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets, "Source says Mariners have "no interest" in Ellsbury. Market looks thin, but source adds that Cubs are stealthily waiting in the wings." Not sure what to make of this, actually. It makes sense the Cubs would be interested in Ellsbury if his price comes down, but wouldn't every team looking for a CF be interested at that point? And didn't we hear this same "waiting in the wings" scenario with Michael Bourn last year and Prince Fielder the year before? At some point maybe Jacoby Ellsbury's price comes down far enough to make it worth the Cubs while, but I wouldn't count on that scenario and it certainly wouldn't play out this early in the offseason.
- A Jon Heyman article suggests the Cubs and Marlins could swap prospects. It makes sense in that the Marlins have young pitching and the Cubs have young hitters but the problem is that the Cubs top 4 prospects are superior talents and the Marlins seem to want infielders. It seems highly unlikely the Cubs would trade Javier Baez and they cannot trade Kris Bryant even if they wanted to (which they don't), and then there is a drop off when you get down to the Cubs next best IF prospects in Arismendy Alcantara, Jeimer Candelario, and Dan Vogelbach. The Marlins do have some interesting young pitchers, led by LHPs Andrew Heaney and Justin Nicolino along with intriguing raw RHP Jose Urenas, but I don't know how you make this work, honestly.
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