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To Trade or Not to Trade? Setting Proper Expectations on a Potential Jeff Samardzija Deal

To Trade or Not to Trade? Setting Proper Expectations on a Potential Jeff Samardzija Deal

Yesterday's uninspiring return for Doug Fister, a pitcher who is just one year older than Jeff Samardzija, has the same amount of cost control, and greater success  was just traded for a pitcher many feel will be a 4th starter (Robbie Ray), a reliever (Ian Krol), and a utility infielder (Steve Lombardozzi) is making some think twice about dealing Jeff Samardzija.  Maybe the Rangers liked Ray more than others.  Maybe they were trying to save money.  Whatever the case, in a vacuum, the return is not enough for a pitcher of Fister's production and value.

The Cubs do not believe the Fister deal will affect any potential Samardzija deal much -- if at all.   I think they'll do much better. But, at the same time, we've been acting like this should be a slam dunk decision.  Maybe it isn't.

It depends on what you are looking for in the long term.

Today Jim Bowden suggested 4 trades and none involve an elite level top of the rotation type prospect --  unless you believe Daniel Norris or Albert Tirado  may someday reach that status, which is possible, but both are at the lower levels right now and have much work to do.  If you were looking to upgrade on Jeff Samardzija, that is far from a safe bet to happen.  What the Cubs can gain out of a deal at this point is cost control with what will hopefully be another potential #3 pitcher plus a couple of higher ceiling/higher risk guys.  Barring an expanded deal where the Cubs add significant value, that near MLB ready top of the rotation guy isn't coming here in a deal.

What it effectively does then is it just buys the Cubs more time, but it doesn't necessarily make it better for the future in terms of just pure talent alone.  Whatever you think of Samardzija, he is at worst a mid rotation innings eater, a #3 starter who is healthy and will take the ball every 5th day.  The same cannot be said about some of the prospects being bandied about as potential return.

The question now shifts to whether the Cubs should trade Samardzija at all.

Yesterday Julie DiCaro reported that the two sides have gotten a little closer in contract talks and my feeling yesterday was that the Cubs should at least consider keeping their de facto ace.  There is certainly no hurry to do any of the kinds of deals the Tigers did.   I have spoken with some that feel the Cubs should be able to get a top 25 prospect (though that opinion is not shared by everyone) for the hard throwing pitcher.  And I can also say that there are some in the industry who have told me  they would keep Jeff Samardzija rather than trade him -- and this was before the Tigers/Nats trade.

Maybe that's the best course of action to take right now.  But it depends on what your expectations are in any potential trade.

As mentioned, Samardzija is a healthy innings eater at worst and he can be flat-out dominant when he has command with his fastball and consistency with his slider.  I have been told by one scout that he needs to tone down his aggressive approach, that he essentially pitches like a closer for every single inning, even every pitch.

But nobody really questions his stuff, his competitiveness, or his ability to take on the big load for the long term.  Samardzija has only been starting for 2 seasons.  Is it unreasonable to assume he can gain some consistency and refine his approach?

Moreover, why can't he be a long term piece?  He has half the career innings of most starting pitchers his age.  His peripherals indicate there is potential for better results.  And there is no doubt that his makeup and work ethic.  While we can't be assured he will improve, we can safely bet that Samardzija will continue to work at it relentlessly.

So who says the Cubs should be locked into trading him?  What if they were to keep Samardzija, make a play for Masahiro Tanaka, and perhaps deal for someone like Brett Anderson?  That suddenly looks like a rotation that is as good as any in the NL Central...

  1. Masahiro Tanaka
  2. Jeff Samardzija
  3. Travis Wood
  4. Edwin Jackson
  5. Brett Anderson

Maybe you trade Jackson instead and work Jake Arrieta into the rotation. Or Kyle Hendricks. Or any number of 5th starter type prospects the Cubs have on the brink of contributing, as Mauricio outlined earlier today.  That would give the Cubs an all under 30 rotation that should still be productive when the Cubs hitters are ready to give the team some balance.

Whatever they decide, there is nothing to say the Cubs need to make a deal right now and they certainly shouldn't make one if they cannot get the kind of value they seek.

To be clear, I'm not saying the Cubs need to shut the door on a trade.  I'm only saying they don't need to close the door on re-signing him.  There is more than one way to build a contender.   It seems to me that this is a different situation than Matt Garza because the Cubs are further along in terms of their foundation -- and they had every intention of trying to keep Samardzija.  That never really seemed to be the case with Garza.  It indicates they value Samardzija more in the long term as well as their potential to compete in the next few years.

At the same time, it depends on how feasible it is to sign Samardzija.  His present value begins to decay the longer they hold on to him as the acquiring team loses cost control and eventually, draft pick comp if the Cubs wait as long as they did with Garza.   The Cubs should not assume they will be able to wait until the last minute, make the same kind of trade, and recoup the kind of surplus long term value as they did with the Rangers on the Garza deal.  But they should be able to get substantially more than that if they trade him now.

It's still pretty split among many fans as to whether the Cubs should keep or trade Samardzija.  I don't think it should be that black and white.  the Cubs should do whatever makes them better in the short term in a way that doesn't affect the long term.  And whether or not that long term plan includes Samardzija will depend on whether the Cub can get better value by extending him or trading him.

Just know that as it stands now, it looks like the Cubs will likely not upgrade their rotation if you are evaluating the deal on talent alone.  What they will do is gain value through cost control and multiple pieces, with the hope that somewhere in that package, they can get at least another mid-rotation level starter while, at the same time, saving money they can spend on other needs.  The hope is always to get a front line, near MLB ready, cost-controlled pitcher in return, but that is improbable.  They may be able to get a couple of lower level guys with higher end potential, but far enough away that they entail a significant amount of risk that they may never reach that ceiling.

As long as you're okay with that scenario, then you should be excited about a potential Samardzija trade.  But if you're expecting that the Cubs will get their ready made, future ace for the next decade, you will almost certainly be disappointed.

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Tags: Jeff Samardzija, trade

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    At this point I'm for just letting the whole situation ride. The potential trade return is looking a little light at this moment. Nothing wrong with having Shark start in Chicago and see how things play out at the trade deadline.

    Going all in on Tanaka and hopefully landing him makes things much clearer. I'm also hopeful that a deal for Scott Baker can be made. I never want to be short of quality starters ever again....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I have to agree with you on Shark. No one is desperate now, they will be at the trade deadline. Risky? Sure. Worth it? probably. (Not a fan of Baker, though).

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    I would say trade, but only if the return includes someone who WILL - not might, not could, maybe, kinda, sorta, if the lighting is right - replace his stuff in 1-2 years. I don't want to see another TJ lottery pick or another guy that was pretty good 2 years ago and now needs a change of scenery. Those might be fine as throw-ins, but not as centerpieces to this deal.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Prospects are prospects for a reason, none of them is a guarantee, so you're not going to get the return you're looking for.

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    In reply to TulaneCubs:

    sure there's no guarantee, even at the MLB level, but some prospects are more sure than others. The trade essentially needs to be a trade of championship windows - we'll give you yours now, if you give us ours in 2 years. I'd be more in favor of quality over quantity - get one very good prospect and a lower level one, rather than 4 lotto tickets.

  • Excellent read John.

    My preference would be:

    1). Keep him, and extend him. I tend to believe in the upside his peripherals, "stuff", mental makeup, competitiveness, and work ethic, etc., indicate there is better days ahead.

    2). Trade him only for a excess value which must include a TOR prospect that should be MLB in >3yrs.

    3). Keep him for now and then flip either at the deadline or next winter....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks.

    I think I just wanted people to know that it's not trading a #3 for a potential ace. It's likely trading 2 years of a #3 for a potential #3. If they were trading him for a cost controlled, near MLB ready potential ace, I think we'd all do it.

    That's not to say that trading 2 years of a #3 for a potential #3 and a couple low level guys is a bad idea, but the value will almost certainly come with added cost control, not (necessarily) an upgrade in talent.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Honestly, if that's what trading Jeff would get (and I'm not saying it's not), then I'd be pretty disappointed to see a trade. To me that sounds like trading Jeff for someone who could maybe be Jeff and a couple of other guys with, what, a 5-10% chance of being better than Jeff in 2 or 3 years?

    The cost savings seem relatively minimal in the times that we're talking about, which is the next two years. Hopefully after that the Cubs will have the budget for more contracts anyway.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    I hope I am wrong. I really do. But that is my take on it. Like I said, though, there are some out there more optimistic than me.

    Nobody will be more excited than me if the Cubs surpass that kind of return but it's just hard for me to imagine a team giving up 6 years of a low risk/high ceiling, near MLB ready guy with ace stuff.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    That is where I stated we differ earlier...if youcan tade him for a TOR prospect that should be in MLB in less than 3 years, that is easily my first choice. Jeff S. is unlikely (IMO) to ever be a TOR pitcher, so if I get someone projected to be one who is likely 7-8 years younger, I'd rather do that deal than re-sign him.

  • In reply to springs:

    I wouldn't be upset with that. But I may be more optimistic that he he's better in 2014 than he was 2013 than you are. I also do not believe, as John eludes to; that we are likely to get a #3 type in return. To me, it's not worth trading if that's the case. Shark carries zero risk as a #3, but he still has upside from there.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    sorry that should read:

    that we are likely to get more than a #3 type in return.

  • Great post, John. I've been skeptical about trading Shark from the get go, though I certainly can still understand why they might go that route. But after seeing that trade for Fister and also seeing Bowden's article I can say that if that's the talent we get back that I hope we really make an effort to keep Spellcheck even if we have to overpay by a million or two a year.

    Bowden does mention Gausman is his trade scenarios though. Does he have TOR ceiling as Bowden thinks or do you see him more as a 3/4 type?

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Thanks. I don't think Bowden's trades are necessarily bad. Take the Jays trade for example: (Nolin, Tirado, Norris). What you're getting is a #4 and couple of lottery tickets who could be as good or better than Shark -- but you are getting them cheaper and for more years, so you can use the money saved to address other needs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John - do you have a scouting report on Fister. I have no idea what his stuff is like.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Sorry Dave. Missed this post earlier.

    Fister is probably the prime example of what you can do if you can throw strikes with sharp, downward plane (he's 6'9", so that helps) even if you don't have good velo. He limits hard contact and walks and keeps the ball in the park. He's kind of what I hope for when I see guys like Dallas Beeler and Ben Wells. Pie in the sky perhaps, but nobody really thought Fister would be this good either.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Then if I understand correctly, Fister is not a very good comp for Samardzija.

    Right now, it seems as if Fister is better than they though he would be, and probably as good as he is going to get. When you trade for Fister, what you see is what you get.

    But my understanding is that Samardzija has substantial potential far beyond his performance to date. So what you see is NOT what you hope to get. If there are GMs out there that truly see Samardzija as a #1 or 2 pitcher, he will bring in a lot more in trade than Fister. Probably not a top ten milb prospect, but certainly more than a couple of # 3 pitching prospects.

    I get the feeling that there are quite a few out there, including our front office, that see a lot of potential improvement in Samardzija. If that is the case, they are not going to give him away at this point for less than they got for 3 months of Garza.

    Even Feldman, who IS a # 3 starter, brought in more than the above mentioned possibilities for 4 months of pitching.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    No, very different style of pitching and different ceilings, though as you know, the likelihood of players reaching ceilings at age 29 is remote. Not impossible, just uncommon.

    I do think there are GMs out there who think there is potentially more to squeeze out of Shark's natural ability and that perhaps, even though he's already 29, he's only scratching the surface with just 2 yrs of starting under his belt. But I don't think they have any intention of buying as if he already is a #1. I think they're buying as if he's a #3 with 2 years of cost control.

    When you are talking about aces, you are talking about a handful of pitchers in baseball. So really we are talking about top 10 type prospects as far as arms if you think you are going to get a likely ace for Samardzija. What I'm saying is I think what's realistic is you get a ready made potential #3 with a couple of lower level guys who could project higher down the road -- but I don't think you'll get that combo in one player. That is, I don't think it's likely that you'll get a ready made guy with #1 potential for Samardzija alone, that is basically a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. You might get an A-ball guy with TOR potential, but you're not likely going to get a healthy, TOR guy who is knocking on the door of the big leagues.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Fister at times also misses bats. K rate is about 6/9, not bad for a sinkerballer who doesnt throw hard. He actually can be a solid mid-rotation pitcher on a good defensive team. I some respects Feldman isnt a bad comp for him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not impressed with Nolin at all. He is at the extreme best a #4. I would never trade Shark for that ultra weak package. Bottom line: We get a #1 prospect top of the rotation guy or no deal, Period.

  • If we could get prospects with great potential, even if they are
    2 or 3 years away, I would go for it.

  • fb_avatar

    I still think that the Fister trade has absolutely no bearing on a Shark trade.

    But either way, I've always thought the trade should only happen for s surplus of talent. It would've been nice to see something in the offseason, but if not, teams are often even more desperate at the deadline.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I don't think it will either, but the point here is that you have to realistically know what you are getting if you trade Samardzija, probably a #3/4 MLB ready guy, a low level guy riskier guy with a higher ceiling (i.e. Tirado) and another lottery ticket. If that is okay with you, then you should be ok with a Shark deal. If you are expecting a guy who is a ready made front line guy, it's not going to happen.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    that's really really ODD vision of a trade to have carved in concrete like that.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I did say probably, so I wouldn't call it concrete. It's always possible the Cubs could get a Sanchez, Stroman, or Tallion -- but I think it's improbable. If that happens, then they should take the deal. I'm not saying it can't happen, I'm saing we should be prepared that it probably won't

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Fair enough. Can't say I was sure they'd get the top return myself, just that they shouldn't settle for less than that.

    But it's still really unpredictable. The Cubs FO will let the market develop and see where it benefits them. The Nats may be out right now, but the Orioles are in a very tight spot. They've lost some talent and need to be gaining it.
    Today has been super busy and it's changed a few perspectives. Where other FA's sign will continue to change the market, so who knows?

    Plus predictions are tough cause there are SO many guys the average fan doesn't know about. The Garza trade had several guys no one had heard of that we're excited about now, so I also can't count out the possibility that a trade happens with names we hadn't heard brought up before.

  • Ellsbury signed with the Yankees. Lets see what Boras wants for Cano

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    Cano is no longer with Boras....

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to emartinezjr:

    Boras doesn't represent Cano. JZ is his agent.

  • Exactly my thinking here... If the Cubs trade Samardzija, they need to net someone like Aaron Sanchez or Jameson Taillon... But it doesn't make sense to trade him for a prospect that projects as a #4 guy... The Cubs don't necessarily have to trade him, unlike the Tigers, they are not in need to dump salary in order to bring other players to win the WS in 2014.

    The Cubs have 2 years to keep negotiating with Samardzija, if they don't get the offer they want, they can still keep him and like you said, if they were to get Tanaka, the rotation improves greatly, probably for a price similar to what it would take to land Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana... All of a sudden they have a competitive rotation and it would improve the team in the short term and long term.

    So, they don't have to push the panic button, they still have leverage and could gain leverage with the new posting system and the Yankees potentially out of the Tanaka sweepstakes.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I think you can get a #3 type MLB ready guy and maybe a low level guy with a higher ceiling as the headliners, so it's possibly you upgrade the talent, but it's unlikely. If you view this as getting a #3 guy who is cheap and saves you money along with a lottery ticket or two, then the deal is worth it. I just want people to know that the Cubs aren't getting a #1 starter who will be cost controlled for 6 years. If that was the case, there wouldn't be a question of whether they should trade him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well, true... A lot depends on how those prospects are viewed... I see Aaron Sanchez and Taillon as future #3, with #2 potential... Now I see Archie Bradley as pretty much a future #1 if he reaches that potential and I don't think it's likely to get him... The Dbacks would probably prefer to wait 1-2 years to have a #1 than to give him away for a #3.

  • In reply to Caps:

    That is a factor and teams do view pitchers differently.

  • fb_avatar

    Salty to the Marlins. Someone explain their plan to me - rebuilding? going for it? Crossing their fingers?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Not spending $22M on a position that's already filled?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    that would be a plan.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sounds like Loria sticking his nose into the baseball side again. Some people never learn.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I think behind most bad deals you'll find an owner is involved somewhere and Loria is among the worst offenders.

  • fb_avatar

    Getting a package built around Gausman would be a major win. His ceiling is playoffs-Michael Wacha. High 90s FB, with good run. Devastating change. He put up very good K numbers in the minors while walking no one, and had a GB% above 50% to boot. He may not reach it, but he's definitely got #1 potential. I seriously doubt Baltimore would trade him for Samardzija, though.

  • In reply to Dale Madden:

    Bowden did say straight up. I don't know if that changes your thoughts.

  • Is Jeff worth 5 yr 65-75 million?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I would say he's worth about 15-17 AAV, but it all depends on what he's asking for tbh.

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    In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    That's about spot on to what I've been thinking, and I've been amazed at the notion that he shouldn't fetch more than $10-11 million/ year.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    I can't believe that Samardzija would sign for less than 5 / 75. I would be disappointed in the Cubs if they didn't offer him that much.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    $15mm/year seems like extreme overpayment for someone with his stats last year.

  • In reply to springs:

    Not to mention he is expectedd to make about 5.6 million this year and 7.5 million next year in arbitration, that's 13 million if you werent counting along for the first 2 years. Which means you are paying him $62 million for the privilege of signing him to an extra 3 years - Shark is not worth $20 million a year.

    Remember the Cubs can do NOTHING and get Shark for $13 Million Total for the next 2 years AND a Top 30 Draft Pick.

    That's not so bad for doing nothing. People also seem to forget that when we are trading Shark to another team this year THEY are getting a Top 30 draft pick which definitely adds to his value.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    That's paying him $20 mil for 3 years after he would've been a FA though. He'll get about $5 this year, $10 next with similar or slightly improved stats. That's $15 for the next 2 years, so you're essentially paying him $20 mil./yr to buy out 3 years. The Cubs don't want to do that. I think that may be where Shark is at and the Cubs are at 5/60. I don't think they go over 5/65.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    On one hand John says he's worth no more than a average #4 starter and a couple of high risk lottery picks in a trade, you say he's worth 15-17 mil. a year as a free agent?

  • In reply to peoria cubfan:

    i think that's a pretty good package. I did say a current 3/4 with 2 guys who could be more than that. That's a lot of value you pick up because if you think about it, if you can get similar production to Shark with a guy who is under cost control, plus have two more guys who could pan out as better, that is a lot. Even if the other guys come out as relievers, that's some value because you have 3 spots filled out cheap and all that money saved to use elsewhere -- maybe even another pitcher.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    That's probably close to his fair market value based on his current percieved value splitting the difference between what he wants, and what 'we' are willing to pay. I mean Jackson is getting ~$11/year for the next 3 years - and Shark is likely worth more than that relatively speaking.

    IMO anyway.

  • I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize for wasting your time when reading any posts I've made about Jacoby potentially signing a "1year "reestablish value" contact. Granted I made those in May but damn this market is crazy. The question is - will the Yankees have enough money to sign Cano? If they are out - what does his market look like? At this point it wouldn't surprise me if Houston gave him 10/250M!

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    LOL...there was that possibility early on that he'd go unsigned the way Bourn did, but that possibility died pretty early this offseason. Boras worked hard to get him inked early.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Which is not Boras' style. He typically waits out the market. You wonder if he worked that much harder just screw over Cano.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Hmmm... I wouldn't put it past him. Never thought of it like that.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Im skeptical of them trying to get under the luxury tax. They need Tanaka, Cano, and a back end starter.

    Hopefully the recent signings lessen their interest with Tanaka.

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    Almost $22 mil per year for Ellsbury seems so off the wall insane it's not even funny. After that deal, how can anyone say someone like Cano is only worth $1-3 mil per year more than that? I wouldn't be handing out 7 year deals to any 30 years olds, but Cano is a far better player at a much harder position to fill than a speedy, defensive CF'er. Ellsbury has hit more than 9 hr's only once in a season. He's an excellent player when healthy but c'mon. If that skill set is worth $22 mil per year then I hate to see what Mike Trout or Bryce Harper eventually get, I have to think $30 mil per is not out of question for them in the near future.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    where do you people see the endpoint in baseball salaries? when A-Rod signed his deal at 25 mil/yr people shook their heads at the insanity of it - but now 25 mil is not an outrageous number being thrown around, I could see a 50mil/yr man in 10 years (maybe even Kris Bryant!). How high can ticket prices go to accommodate that, and where will networks and sponsors draw the line at MLB deals? And what will these sorts of numbers do to the traditional connection between professional baseball and the common fan? Will we really pay outrageous cable fees and ticket prices to see Arab oil sheikhs playing a game?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Kinda think the end point is established when the TV Cable bubble bursts and the owners cry poor.

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    In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    call it a bubble, or a house of cards - give me a number figure, or an event, where the whole thing collapses?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    If I had to guess, it's when the owners propose a salary cap because of all the money they're spending now that they won't be able to afford in 5-10 years.

    It'll be a developing play.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Yup.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    I want to say that the owners would come to their senses eventually, but it seems like there's always a couple willing to break.

    Eventually the MLB will have to join the salary cap era. It's aburd.

    (Can't we just punish the Yankees, they're doing a LOT f the ruining.)

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I'm very much against a salary cap in any sport, and particularly one in baseball.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Oh, I didn't say I'm behind the idea, just saying it's likely inevitable.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    I'd rather see a salary floor than a cap.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    I second this thought. I would love to see a hockey type salary cap floor so teams can't do what Houston & the Marlins did this year.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Why are you against a salary cap, Mauricio? It works well in the NFL to at least create parity where any team can field a contender from year to year. I like that aspect of it.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    It punishes the players and in the case of baseball I can see how it would put some potential talent off playing the game. Especially in the DR and other international countries.

    Baseball isn't football and I'm not really a fan of year to year parity and randomness. I think smart organizations should be rewarded.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Giffmo:

    the only people that can punish the yankees is the Pittsburgh's and KC's and Milwaukee's (or their fans) that will soon never be able to compete with the Yankees and Bosox. The current luxury tax clearly isn't stopping the big boys, but the small market owners are comfortably making enough money that they really don't have a lot of incentive to push hard for change.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    That contract is pure, unadulterated madness.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Just Win:

    There is zero doubt in my mind that the Yankees have, once again, bid against themselves on a FA. There was doubt if Ellsbury was going to even touch 100mil, let alone far above it. No one was going to give him that kind of money. So what made the Yankees feel they have to give him 153 mil? That's absurd.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Just Win:

    Kershaw's contract will be lunacy.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Sounds like Hank Steinbrenner is getting desperate. Ellsbury will end up being a Soriano albatross in 3-4 years.

  • I'm not down with trading Samardzija for a package of what-ifs in the hopes of finding the next Travis Wood. If that's the market for a pitcher of his talent, I'll hold.

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    In reply to Eddie:

    totally agree, see my comment above

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Apparently the Tigers' fanbase is just livid over that trade. And then they took the savings and gave Joe Nathan two years...? Huh???

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Eddie:

    there's probably another shoe to drop in Detroit - they're saving up for something - Scherzer, Tanaka? They've lost a fair amount of offense between Peralta and Fielder, they're going to want to replace that somehow.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    MLBTR reported the Tigers are trying to sign Choo. I'm not so sure though that I like all of those moves if I'm the Tigers. They would have trade Fielder, Fister, and lost Peralta, and replaced them with Choo, Nathan, and Kinsler. Still seems like the offense could be taking a bit of a hit if/when Choo drops back to earth and the rotation has a major hole in it. They also took the money saved from trading those guys and signed significantly older players (if they get Choo).

  • In reply to Just Win:

    They'll lose their first round DP and the associated pool money in 2014 to boot. I don't know what Dombrowski is doing.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I think some of the speculation I've read suggests they're prioritizing signing Choo. Whether clearing $7M/year gives them room to sign Choo for what, $20 M/ year, is anyone's guess.

  • Going into this, I always thought that anyone less than Giolito or Bradley would not be a good idea. If that is unrealistic, that's fine. Don't trade him. Wrigley is a tough place to pitch in, and there is no run support for Samardzija either. In 9 of his starts, he got 0 runs from his team. I think he improves next year, and improves even more the year after when the team starts to be competitive. Plus the thought of Tanaka-Samardzija-Wood for the next couple of year (if they can pull off a Tanaka signing) is pretty nice.

  • There is no hurry at all on Samardjiza. The reason why Garza brought such a big haul is because the Rangers had a sense of urgency in a time when they had a high demand. The Rangers thought that both Garza and Dempster would give them the "oomph" they needed. As a result they met the market price.

    In December, that sense of urgency is gone. Therefore, I think it is best to hang on the shark. If you really want peak value for him, July is the prime month not December. Besides, he and Tanaka would make a very nice 1A and 1B.

  • In reply to historyrat:

    He is not a 1.

  • Well if Eduardo Rodriguez is the MLB close to ready #3 and Dylan Bundy is the high upside prospect then I'm game, anything less than that and I say no thank you.

    I still think that type of value is what's coming for Shark, but that's just me.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    If that's the plan, then I'm falling all over myself to make that deal happen :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Before the TJ I would have said that Bundy was untouchable like Bradley or Walker but I think the Orioles are in win now mode, and I think they would much rather have Shark than Rodriguez in their rotation.

  • The way the free agent market has been trending lately, i think we are lucky we got our FO when we did.

  • I like that you are tempering expectations John, but I don't believe it is unreasonable to obtain a top of the rotation starter for Samardzija. For many small market teams with a win-now approach he is the only power pitcher that can compete (when he's on) against other T.O.R. arms that is affordable. Sure he is not David Price, but he is also making $15 million total over the next two years. Bowden has always undervalued what the Cubs can expect in trades. Take a look at his article suggesting five trades for Garza dtd July 1. http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/the-gms-office/post/_/id/7053/five-trades-for-matt-garza
    These trades ideas were pretty awful then and real awful after seeing what the Cubs received for 2 months of an oft-injured pitcher. He later on July 17th suggested that David Holmberg (who was traded today) would likely net the Diamondbacks Garza.
    The Fister deal is totally unrelated to Samardzija's trade market and teams like the Orioles, Jays, Pirates or Diamonbacks are likely to overpay to take a chance at a title. As we know, the chances to compete are not everlasting and small market teams will need to capitalize on opportunities when they arise no matter the cost.

  • In reply to Bigstevo4000:

    I agree with this 100%

  • In reply to Bigstevo4000:

    I think unless there is an injury or some other factor that would bring value down, I don't think it will be a guy who is both close to being MLB ready and a #1 starter. Example -- I wouldn't expect Archie Bradley to come to Chicago.

    You might...might, get a guy with TOR stuff but with some flaws (i.e. Sanchez's lack of TOR command), but that is a long shot and they're unlikely to be aces anyway. In other words, a younger version of Samardzija. TOR stuff but flaws that prevent him from performing at that level.

    I'm just setting up realistic expectations here. That's not to say they can't be surpassed, but if you are expecting to get an Archie Bradley type guy who is both ace material and close to the majors, then I think you'll be disappointed.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Oh I agree with this 100% John, teams don't trade away sure fire #1 Pitchers that are also close to ready. Bradley is not happening. But honestly I don't think anybody is expecting a pitcher back who has both #1 potential and is close to MLB ready. I think what most people are saying is that one thing that we have right now is time, so we are more than willing to take a couple prospects with big upside but still a few years away.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    While I think Bradley is highly unlikely, I wouldn't completely rule it out given Towers past trading record. Do I think the deal would just include Samardzija on our side? Not at all. But I do think he would be the centerpiece. If the Cubs asking price to Ariz in July was really Skaggs and Bradley then I refuse to believe the price has fallen that far. Could see Shierholtz and possibly another prospect involved. Just today, Kevin Towers stated that they will be going after a SP and OF power bat.
    I also don't agree with Bowden that Stroman and Sanchez are not going anywhere in a trade. I agree that people need to temper their expectations but we need to also remember that for every Doug Fister trade there is a James Shield trade. Let's hope we find our Dayton Moore

  • In reply to Bigstevo4000:

    Big Stevo,

    I am rooting hard for you to be right and for me to be wrong. And maybe you are right and the deal is expanded and somehow the Cubs can pull it off. I will go with your word and we'll call it unlikely -- but we won't say impossible. I'm going to keep that small glimmer of hope alive.

  • In reply to Bigstevo4000:

    The thing is Bradley is starting the year in AAA this year and he has dominated along the way. If he continues it this year that means he is theoretically only about 10 starts away from the majors.

    So why would Towers trade Bradley who not only can be a true #1 Starter but can help them this year?

  • With all the activity today, Cubs fans must hope that Theo and Jed are up for the challenges to come in finessing deals to their favor and that they are working the phones accordingly. Because if the Reds can get David Holmberg from AZ for sending Ryan Hanigan to Tampa, and Mike Rizzo can get Doug Fister for spare parts, then anything is still possible on the prospect front. Plus, if Billy Beane can find a piggy bank to break open with an extra $21 million for two pitchers not named Tanaka, then who's to say what additional funds our erstwhile brain trust may find laying around burning a hole in the pocket of Chairman Tom.

    This has never been about Shark or Castro, this has been about utilizing the new baseball economics and market variables to derive maximum value in unconventional ways from the trading function. So, now is the time for Theo to show Cub fans what he really learned at Yale.

  • I don't think a return of a potential TOR starter that's a few years away (similar to Aaron Sanchez?), a bottom of the rotation near-ready starter (similar to Sean Nolin?) and a raw power arm in the lower levels is out of the question. Something in that ballpark seems like what they'll want. The Cubs can always get creative and add a prospect going back and/or get another team involved.

    At the end of the day, I just think the package they'll be able to get (and the money they'll be able to divert to other areas) will be of more value than Shark at the contract he's looking for (guessing 5 years, $70M).

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Exactly sweeten the pot for a win now team with an Alberto Cabrerra as a power arm for their bullpen, a Schierholtz or Valbuena for utility, etc. etc.... Just as long as the final outcome is a TOR arm returning to the Cubs.

  • My preference is that they sign Samardzija to an extension. After all, I went to the trouble of learning how to spell his name.

    But I have no problem trading him if the Cubs are getting excess value.

    If neither of those two things happen, then....

    Samardzija starts pitching like a true ace and his contract demands go up, but so does his trade value and the Cubs end up with a great haul....

    Or

    Samardzija repeats last year and maybe moderates his contract demands and the Cubs get an extension.

    Most likely we will be having this same discussion ad nauseum one year from now.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Richard, any relation to Tim Beckman?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    As far as I know, no. So any relation between us would be rather distant.

  • It always struck me as unlikely that the Cubs could acquire a MLB-ready potential ace for Samardzija. But the key to being a good trader is to know your bottom line and patience. The Cubs want at least two quality pitching prospects back in any package, with one being MLB ready or near ready. This makes sense to me and keeps the calculus simple. If no team will offer this, you just let Shark prove more of that much ballyhooed high ceiling in the first half. That hopefully should increase his value. Then if you feel he is still unsignable, then you again test the trade market in July, which becomes more of a seller's market without FA pitchers out there, fewer sellers with the expanded playoffs, and more than a few pitchers on the DL.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I think that's a realistic return. Two good arms, one MLB ready with a mid range ceiling and one at the lower levels with a higher ceiling.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, one of the scenarios Bowman put forth in the article you referenced hasn't been mentioned yet. Shark for Gausman straight up. While I think the Cubs would want another prospect in there (like you've been saying a near ready but younger match to Shark and a high-upside/high risk/ further away arm).

    I'd jump on Shark for Gausman and someone like Josh Hader. Is this out of the realm of possibility?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I don't see why not. Cubs may have to add someone too but could be something there to work with.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Or a deal with Toronto that doesn't include Sanchez or Stroman, but does include Norris or Osuna, and 2 or 3 of Drew Hutchison, Shane Dawson, Chase DeJong, Alberto Tirado, Miguel Castro...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Give me Tirado from that group. He's becoming one of my favorites.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Done! Now all we have to do is blackmail Anthopoulos.

  • To me, whenever you trade an MLB player, and especially one who can still qualify as both young and good, the best talent should be on the prospect side. There's always a risk with prospects, so the potential reward (i.e. ceiling) should be higher so it balances out with the MLB player.

    In other words, I don't want quantity for Jeff, I want quality.

  • John, let's see if I'm reading your suggestions for pieces correctly:

    How would a package of 2011 Travis Wood, 2013 Justin Grimm, and 2013 C.J. Edwards for Jeff Samardzija look?

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    I'd take that, but then again, I never said I'd be against that type of package. I'm only writing to temper expectations a bit.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Oh, absolutely. I agree. I'm just not as well-versed in other teams' prospects as I am the Cubs' players, so I like having the points of reference. I feel like there's enough depth in the Cubs' system now that we can typically use Cubs comparisons for other prospects (though I suppose not with top-level pitching, yet).

  • Great article! I'm in the 'sign him' camp and I'm hoping it happens before the Tanaka situation unfolds. My guess is that if the FO gives Tanaka more money than they've yet offered Samardzija, he's not going to sign. If they can get it done with Samardzija before that, they can give Tanaka whatever. The FO has done their share to help Shark's asking price go up by giving Jackson 13 per. If I were Shark I'd want 16 or 17 if he's getting 13.

    I'd rather see the Cubbies add young major league starters than lower to mid level minor league arms with mid rotation ceilings. As you pointed out, it doesn't look like that marquee guy is coming via trade. We can nab him in June!

    I would've really liked to have added Fister. Its too bad the Tigers pulled the trigger on that one so fast. I like the idea of adding Anderson. I like that rotation you listed in the article a lot but I still don't see a perennial Cy Young candidate in there. Just goes to show how hard those guys are to find. I still love runs at both Tanaka and Price even though I know the ladder is not happening.

  • fb_avatar

    Even if the Cubs can't get him on a "team-friendly" deal, I think overpaying him slightly would still be a better option than shipping him out for a guy who maybe possibly could become as good as Shark is a few years down the line. Trading him would, by its very nature, delay the rebuild.

    And if the rotation going into next year is Wood Jackson Arrieta Rusin Baker, I might just have to cover my eyes this season.

  • If the Ellsbury signing wasn't proof enough, the Kelly Johnson signing sort of shuts the door on Cano going back to the Yankees.

  • I get the impression that most folks feel that the Fister trade doesn't affect the projected return for Samardzija. However, is there a possibility that Shark and Mark Rodgers (his agent) think otherwise?

    If they think that the return in a trade wouldn't be enough for Theo and Jed to pull the trigger, could it then embolden them to double down on the contract demands? (And thus erode the "progress" made in recent days?)

  • Here is how I look at this. The chances of the Cubs truly contending before 2016 are remote at best. At that time Samardzija is at the tail end of his prime, while the prospect that have come up are in or just started their prime. I would also rather see the Cubs focus on getting Tanaka then spend the money on Samardzija. Tanaka fits their timeline better.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I agree Kevin. If Shark was 25 instead of 29 this year then it would be a different story as he would have a much better chance of still reaching his potential as well as being a much better fit with the current Cubs timeline.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    That has been my biggest issue and it seems to me people think he is something he isn't. He never projected as a true #1. I have never talked to one scout that has said that. For me a good return could happen by packaging him with Soler or Vogelbach to get a maximum value.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    He can pitch like a #1 at times, though. I don't think he'll ever have enough command or the pitchability to be a true #1, but I think he can improve somewhat and we can see more of those ace-like starts and less of those clunkers.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You just described most #3. They are dependable and show upside at times but are mostly just dependable.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I said he was a #3 in the article.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I know. But you can throw #1 without someone else just seeing that and believes he has more value.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I'm not sure what you mean by this, Kevin. Can you re-phrase?

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Its a be careful how you phrase things. People will see the #1 and overvalue it

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Ohh, I see. I don't think he's a #1. He can pitch like one at times and he has #1 type stuff with the FB and splitter -- but as we know, being a #1 also takes consistency, pitchability, and great command, which Shark doesn't have -- at least not at the ace level. I think he can improve on those things and he'll work at it, but expecting him to become a true #1 is a tall order.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    I wouldn't mind seeing him packaged with Edwin Jackson. Kinda like Shields + Wade Davis.

    Jackson isn't a star but at his worst he's still a #4.

    I'd love to see what offers come back if we were to offer Shark + Jackson and a willingness to eat a lot of their contracts.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Kevin, would packaging Soler or Vogelbach with Samardzija expand the number of potential trade partners or would it increase the likely hood of a three way trade?

  • In reply to rdacpa:

    No I think a 3rd team makes things more complicated.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I would hate to include Soler or Vogelbach in any package simply because the Cubs are in total rebuild mode and I feel we have to be patient to see what the these guys can eventually provide (talent-wise).

    I get the whole "sweeten the pot" idea, but, that scenario (of giving up good prospects) doesn't fit what the Cubs are trying to do right now.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I don't think all pitchers age at the same rate. I think Samardzija is younger than your usual 29 year old and Tanaka may be a bit older than your usual 25 year old in terms of wear and tear on the arm. I'm still all for getting Tanaka but I think Samardzija can still be a good pitcher into his mid 30s.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The thought crossed my mind that Samardzija has more bullets left than Tanaka.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    You never know. Very different career workloads. That said, I really, really want the Cubs to sign Tanaka and I'm not sure they can sign Shark -- even if they want to.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the amount of high stress pitches Samardzija throws will take a toll. His closer mentality is what is the problem and there is also concern about the toll football took on the rest of his body.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Possibly. Good point.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I'm not saying it isn't possible, but I don't see it.

    Shark was a monster and usually the one if the biggest guys on the field. In college ball, there's still a lot of linebackers that weighed less than Shark.

    I think there's just as much argument that his football days benefited his health as there is an argument for it harming him.

    Not many pitchers are ever in the kind of shape Shark was in playing football.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    If Samardzija is traded for a guy or two that are in AA or below in 2014, I don't think its fair to say those guys will be in their prime in 2016. Isn't Prime age 26-29 or somewhere around there? Why not both?

  • In reply to Ben20:

    But then they Give themselves a longer window for winning. Because it will time position and pitchers to hit their prime around the same time. It will also extend that time like the Cards do.

  • Bruce Levine ‏@MLBBruceLevine 13s
    Former Cub manager Mike Quade accepts roving outfielder instructor job with Yankees.

    Yankees really are signing everyone...

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    He is a buddy of Hendry

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Reunites with Hendry!

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Mike is liking awake right now wondering whether he's going to call him Coby or Elss-y

  • I see the main issue with Large Mardj being much more about signability than anything else. The Cubs almost certainly won't compete for the next two years. If Samardzija refuses to give them at least some break in salary on years beyond that window then why wouldn't the FO save serious money and trade for a few guys who could be similar talents in a couple of years?

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    Or just read a better synopsis from KGallo above...

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    The thing is that we know the Cubs tried to sign him multiple times, so I don't think it's that cut and dry. They obviously think he can still be effective when they compete or they wouldn't have bothered.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I actually was agreeing more with KGallo's points about other players fitting the Cubs timeline better. I agree with your assessment that Samardzija will remain relevant beyond those years, but I'm not sure it'll come at the value the FO would like, if they have to wait two years to sign him.

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    I think the value on the deal is that sticking point. I think Samardzija wants to go above and beyond what the cubs feel comfortable with. In that case, you trade him and if you can get a #3/4 MLB ready guy and some high ceiling prospects in addition you do it. Or maybe you expand the deal and get something better as Kevin suggested.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You nailed it. I feel like the FO must have low-balled him and now is just moving the offer up incrementally in hopes that the Shark still bites at a discount (I apologize for the pun).

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    If he doesn't give them a break in salary then they have no incentive to sign him now and pay him as if he was an unrestricted free agent. If they can't sign him, then I completely agree they need to trade him. And I agree that if you can get similar talents with more years of control, you do it. I'm just setting realistic expectations because I hear a lot of talk that he can fetch a future ace in return. I don't think he can unless the deal is expanded.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed. I just think that even after lowering expectations to non-ace trade candidates, the FO still has the unenviable task of deciding whether his heightened (albeit perhaps reasonable) money demands are worth it or if they'd rather commit that future money into other assets.

  • I think Tanaka will play a big part in the time table of this whole situation, but if the market is indeed this muddy, I would much rather have an innings eater for two years and then a comp pick who would likely be a better prospect than any in the Fister deal.

    Also, I understand that on paper two years of value should net more value than one and three months, but desperation at the trade deadlines can do wonders to trade leverage as we've seen first hand.

    Not to mention, what if Jeff is lights out in the first half again? What does that do to his value? In a way this would be selling low after the second half that he had. The more I look at this whole situation, the more I would be inclined to wait it out without taking any action, including resigning Jeff in case that ties your hands on Tanaka. The market is doing funny things right now, and unless the FO gets blown away, I would wait it out until the deadline when the price is more predictable for both trades and extensions.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Great points.

    Shark had much better stats in the first half than his year totals show. It was the first time throwing 200+ innings so he probably wore out some.

    If he can get his BB% down this year, I think he can be a hell of a chip at the deadline (if nothing happens in the offseason).

    I think his K/9 ratio was up near 11 halfway through last year. If he can repeat THAT but walk fewer guys, his value would be pretty strong.

  • The Cubs know, or seem to think they know, what they have in Shark.

    That's good enough for me because it means that we are keeping him or "not" giving him away. Meaning, it's going to cost a team, because the Cubs absolutely do not have to budge.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Yes, the sense I get is that he won't come cheap.

  • Here are the combined 2012-2013 statistics (from Baseball-Reference) for two starters who both hope to have a new contract by the end of the off-season:

    SP#1 SP#2
    W 17 18
    L 26 23
    ERA 4.10 4.12
    GS 61 62
    IP 388 389
    SO 394 294
    ERA+ 97 97
    WHIP 1.290 1.201
    H/9 8.5 8.2
    HR/9 1.0 1.5
    BB/9 3.1 2.6
    SO/9 9.1 6.8
    SO/BB 2.94 2.63
    WAR 2.8 1.5

    [Side note: SP#2 is two years older and has double the mileage on his arm (twice as many total professional innings, majors and minors) as SP#1.]

    SP#1 is Jeff Samardzija. SP#2 is free agent Ervin Santana (he who is asking for a 5-year, $100 million contract).

    Shark's camp may be overestimating his value at current numbers, but when the trajectory of SP salaries have led a free agent non-ace to feel he has the leverage to ask for a $20 million AAV contract lasting half a decade, it makes you wonder when Theo and Company will finally cave to Samardzija's demands. There's no way Santana gets that much money in the end, but at the current rate of salary inflation, a deal on Shark's terms may look like a bargain in a few years EVEN IF he doesn't emerge as a bona fide ace.

    Will the Cubs be better off if they can sign him for less? Of course, every dollar saved helps. But I'm beginning to think that failing to extend Shark would be a pretty serious setback, particularly since the trade return isn't looking particularly inspiring at this point.

    Thinking about it now, I would personally rather have a solid starter in his mid-to-late-peak years, as Samardzija will be once the Cubs are ready to contend, over the guys in the rumored trades who will just be making it to the majors when the Cubs will hopefully be lining up for a pennant race. Not everyone can be Madison Bumgarner and have success down the stretch and in the postseason as a rookie, and almost none of the names mentioned in a possible deal (except for MAYBE Gausman or Bundy) have the prospect pedigree that Bumgarner had as he was coming up through the Giants' system.

  • In reply to gocubsgo25:

    That's a good post. I do think about that as well. Suppose in two years the Cubs do need another solid arm, which is highly likely, wouldn't Large Mardj be very close to the guy they're looking for? But, as you point out, the money demands on the open market then would be much greater then Mardj's current demands. I'm glad I'm not making this call!

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    Thanks! I agree that it's a tough call to make...though in all fairness, if WE were the ones who had to make the decision, then we would have offices at 1060 W. Addison and what many folks here would consider a dream job :)

    Sorry about the formatting of the statistics; they looked significantly less messy in the comment box.

  • John or Kevin - This is OT but can either of you explain to me why Brian Schlitter isn't being given a chance with the Cubs?

    I know he is 28 but with all the talk by the FO of aqcuiring power arms for the bullpen it would seem like they would love a guy like him.

    His is a big 6'5", 240 lbs with an upper 90's fastball moving fastball and a quality change (and an average at best slider).

    He did well as the closer for AA-Tennessee and AAA-Iowa last year so what's the deal. Did he sleep with Sandberg's wife?

    (and why wouldn't somebody grab him for their bullpen in the Rule 5 draft coming up as the Cubs have left him unprotected.)

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Schlitter is more of an organizational arm. Not really considered a prospect though he has improved his command and his FB. Still, Blake Parker had just about fallen off the radar when he had a great spring, so maybe Schlitter gets an invite and see if he can impress someone.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Huh. It's just weird. When a guy is that big and is throwing 97-98 consistently AND has a quality change AND was the closer for your AAA team you would think he would be on some teams radar, no? I must be missing something. I've never heard of org arms that throw that hard and have a second pitch I guess.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    That Huh, wasn't like a what? by the way, it was more like a hmmmnn. lol I trust what you have to say John.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Who knows? Maybe he's a late bloomer or a guy who slipped through the cracks. I'd like to see him in ST to see how he can handle MLB hitters. To be fair though, he didn't dominate AAA as a 28 year old. FIP was a solid but not spectacular 3.01. Cubs basically picked him up the scrap heap. He's gone from org to org and has never been considered a good prospect. I don't know about 97, 98. Maybe, but he wasn't throwing that hard on the day I saw him (more mid 90s, which is still good of course)

    That said, I'd invite him to ST. Why not?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Great info John, thanks.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Schlitter had arm problems a couple years ago, which set his development back. He certainly came back strong last year. If he's still in the organization in the spring, I would think he'd get a look for all the reasons you mentioned.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Didn't know that, thanks Mike

  • Of the $524MM spent on free agents (as of Tuesday night), the Yankees account for $238MM of it, or 45.4%.

    A source tells Jeff Passan that the Yankees not only believe they've got room for Ellsbury and Robinson Cano or Shin-Soo Choo, they still plan on signing at least one starting pitcher as well.

    The Yankees truly are the evil empire.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Let them be evil. The more players they overpay, the further their current conundrum runs into the future. I hope they sign Cano and Ubaldo and Santana tomorrow, then when Ellsbury ruptures his achilles getting on the flight to New York, they can sign Choo as well.

    And none of it even guarantees they'll be terribly good.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    It's the Yankees.

    Money grows on trees for that organization.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Giffmo:

    What is there conundrum? They seem pretty decisive to me. Did I miss a move last night? They just signed Ellsbury I thought.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Canter:

    *their. Ouch.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Canter:

    A neverending supply of overpaid old players sounds like a conundrum to me. But they Yankees seem to be into it.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    It appears the old Yankees are back after a brief hiatus of trying to act like a small market team.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Giffmo:

    Ahhh I see. Conundrum is indecision or in this instance a confusing problem. I don't think the Yankees are confused though you could make that argument I suppose and be spot on. I would consider this more like a repetitive compulsion neurosis.

    Quoting Freud: "At the outset he was in a passive situation...but by repeating it, unpleasurable though it was, as a game, he took on an active part in traumatic repetition."

    I just love neurosis.

  • If I'm the Cubs, unless a team is overpaying, I'm holding on to Shark.

    Shark was in elite company with the 200/200 season he just had. Plenty of room for improvement and plenty of life left in that arm of his.

    Don't trade him for the sake of trading him because you can't agree on an extension. Trade him because the value you are being offered is something too good to pass up.

  • Shark's a very, very competitive guy, and my hunch is that more than most players, he hates being on a losing team. And I think he finds it very hard to focus when he knows the team is not a contender. At the same time, I think it's a lot harder for him to be patient with the Cubs plan than it is for most of us. So my theory on Shark is that he'd rather the Cubs trade him to a contending team, because he believes he'll then have the focus he needs to make good on his ace potential. Only then does he want to sign a long-term contract, which would be closer to $20 than to $15.

    Although, honestly, I think the money is secondary for him. And the real wild card here is the arrival of Baez, Bryant, Soler, Almora, et al. If the kids make a big splash in 2014 or early 2015, then maybe Samardzija starts to believe in the plan and come to the bargaining table, just before he'd hit the free agent market. Keep in mind that by 2015, even if Samardzija has loads of suitors, there may be few teams in baseball that have a brighter future than the Cubs.

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    In reply to Taft:

    Taft, I'm not a sports psychologist, I don't play one on tv, and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but what you said makes a whole lot of sense to me.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Although, I should add, the reason it's still a bad idea to buy your brother a Jeff Samardzija Cubs jersey this Christmas: Around the time the Cubs have turned the proverbial corner, Samardzija may be about 31 years old and looking for a contract of eight years, which means the moment he wants to stay a Cub may also be the moment that the Cubs are ready for him to leave. So either way, the timing on this relationship just seems doomed.

  • In reply to Taft:

    What a conundrum this is, if you're right on it. And you may well be. If he's not buying into the big picture and thinks he needs to play on a contender to focus, then what is his value to us? He needs to see himself as one who pushes us closer and closer to that day, not one who waits for that day.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I think there is something to that. I think we'll see him thrive once he has a good team around him and he wants to make sure the Cubs go in that direction before he signs an extension. While it's unlikely, it'd be interesting to see what happens if Shark is having a good year and the Cubs are exceeding expectations by a good margin -- to the point where the Cubs don't sell off parts at the deadline. Will that make him more willing to extend early?

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    Would have to disagree on one of your points, John. The below proposed rotation does not look as good as either the Cardinals or Reds 2014 rotations, respectively.

    Masahiro Tanaka
    Jeff Samardzija
    Travis Wood
    Edwin Jackson
    Brett Anderson

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Really that all depends on how good Tanaka is. If he's Darvish good, its as good as both of those staffs.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I think that can easily compete. I expect better years from Shark, Anderson, EJax and maybe a bit of a lesser year for Wood. Cubs were still in the middle of the pack in the NL last year for SP so not that big a leap.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think people have forgotten all of the games the bullpen blew for our starters at the start of last season

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sure, that staff could "compete". But both Wainwright/Miller/Wacha/Lynn/Kelly and Cueto/Latos/Bailey/Leake/Cingrani are > > > > than theoretical Tanaka/Samardzija/Wood/Jackson/Anderson (or Arrieta).

    Tanaka highly likely won't be Darvish-level good. Very few are. Cubs fans overvalue Samardzija. We do. Wood will regress. Jackson will be marginally better (which means he still won't be that good). Anderson is a huge health-risk, and I doubt we even acquire him. Arrieta will likely regress, too.

    Other than a theoretical Tanaka who's (probably) a #2, the others (Samardzija, Wood, Arrieta, Jackson, and a theoretical Anderson) fall somewhere between #3 and #4 rotation levels. That set could "compete", but not defeat the aforementioned Cardinals or Reds staffs.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I don't think they're that much better. That's swinging the pendulum far too much the other way.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Fair enough, and I hope you're right!

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    In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but the reason the Cubs can't compete has nothing to do with that rotation. Tanaka doesn't have to beat Wainwright or Cueto. Shark doesn't have to beat Latos or Miller.

    The Cubs can't compete because they struggle to hit against the those pitchers on the Cards and Reds.

    If the arrival of Bryant, Baez, Olt, and Soler along with resurgences of Castro and (to a lesser extent) Rizzo are able to put our offense to a point where they can compete with the big boys, then that proposed rotation is plenty good enough to compete.

    The Red Sox didn't win the WS because they have the best rotation. Hell, that rotation was not particularly special.

    So, yeah, that theoretical Cubs rotation would be just fine. But the rotation has not been, and is not currently the problem.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Giffmo,

    I agree that our rotation from 2012 to a theoretical 2014 has not and will not be the problem. I'm just saying that this theoretical rotation is still probably not good enough.

    Of the teams that made the 2013 playoffs, I'd take the rotations of the Cardinals, Reds, Braves, Dodgers, Tigers, Rays, and Red Sox over that theoretical 2014 Cubs rotation. That's 7 out of 10.

  • John,

    I really admire your work and love this site, however, I find it a little bit ironic that in an article titled, "...Setting Proper Expectations..."; you have suggested that we could end up with a rotation that includes Tanaka. Chicago is not outbidding New York, Texas, Boston, and Los Angeles for his services. Perhaps anyone of those teams but certainly not all of them. It might be good to start setting that expectation now...

  • In reply to travelguy:

    They've been the among the two or three highest bidders on almost every major international FA, so I wouldn't be too sure about that. And I happen to know they like Tanaka a lot. I would expect them to be among the top competitors for his services.

  • In reply to travelguy:

    I interpreted that to mean proper expectations for the potential return on trading Shark. We're not likely to get a clear-cut TOR near MLB guy....

    So far as Tanaka, we have just as good of a chance as anyone else. It all boils down to internal evaluations of him. That will dictate what we will spend. He is not a clear cut #1 in everybody's eyes. Right now, there still is not a deal in place and the proposed one has a max bid limit.... still way too many variables to predict where he lands.

  • I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs have the highest or one of the highest bids if he is ever posted. The things that scares me at this point are some of the rumors about the new posting system. One report says their will be a max bid and the tiebreaker would be based on previous seasons record. Then is back to the player posted has the choice. In the first scenerion all the Cubs would have to do is post the max bid and they will should get him but if the second report is true they could be in trouble if the Yanks or Rangers also post the max.
    One thing is for sure it seems like everytime this FO has a plan the rules change. Such is life as a Cubs fan I guess.

  • John, perhaps it would make sense to break down the stats for what an ace looks like, #2, #3 and 4/5 starters. The consensus is that their aren't 30 'aces' (#1 starters) i.e. one for every team. What, there are maybe 6-8 legit aces, 5-10 other '#1 starters', etc.

    Seems like if you label a guy a #1 - people think he is in the same bucket as Kershaw. Maybe you've already done this - but it might help frame the discussion.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I actually wrote a piece along those lines and I used standard scouting definitions more than stats, though stats help illustrate.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If I find, I will link. If not I will write a similar, updated piece.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Cool. Thanks.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Per BA Prospect handbook with notes from John Sickels:

    NUMBER ONE STARTER:
    **Two plus pitches
    **Average third pitch
    **Plus/plus command
    **Plus makeup
    John's Commentary: The BA list should be seen as a rough guide and a "minimum qualification". The best Number Ones have more qualities than the ones on the BA list. For me, a Number One starter is a guy who anchors your rotation, will be in line for the All-Star game most seasons, and is on the pre-season candidate list for the Cy Young Award. The exact style can vary between pitchers, but the results have to be there.

    NUMBER TWO STARTER
    **Two plus pitches
    **Average third pitch
    **Average command
    **Average makeup
    John's Commentary: A Number Two starter is similar to a Number One, but not quite as good for a variety of reasons, perhaps not as consistent or durable as a true One.

    The dividing line between the two categories is blurry, and some Number Two starters will have Number One-quality seasons at times, although they may not sustain the performance year after year. These guys can certainly anchor your rotation. Number Twos can be considered aces for most teams, and will be on the short list for the All Star Game many seasons. A team with a Number Two in the top spot of the rotation can certainly win the World Series.

    NUMBER THREE STARTER
    **One plus pitch
    **Two average pitches
    **Average command
    **Average makeup
    John's Commentary: These are the guys that soak up innings for you, usually with average to slightly above-average performance, but who don't meet the standards to be a One/Two. For weaker teams, a Number Three may take the first slot in the rotation and be the de-facto ace. There is usually a fairly clear dividing line between a Number Three and Number One/Two. It's like pornography; you know it when you see it.

    NUMBER FOUR/FIVE STARTER
    **Command of two major league pitches
    **Average velocity
    **Consistent breaking ball
    **Decent changeup
    John's Commentary: A guy to soak up innings, but who isn't as good or consistent or durable as a solid Three. The styles here can vary wildly. Some of these guys are control artists who lack plus stuff, others have plenty of stuff but don't command it well.

    Examples are legion. Old Barry Zito. Ivan Nova. Blake Beavan. Luke Hochevar.

    Something to consider: fans are often disappointed when a prospect is referred to as a "Future Number Three starter," but that's actually a huge complement. Even calling someone a Future 4/5 isn't a bad thing: there aren't enough 1/2/3 guys to fill every major league rotation spot, and even if a guy is just going to provide 170 so-so innings, that's still valuable.

    Also note that someone can be a Number One or Two starter in his prime years, but fade into the lower category as they age and begin to lose their skills.

  • The Cubs must look at their history and avoid repeating it here. The Cubs drafted a local pitcher out of the University of Illinois once who made the jump straight to the majors and pitched six years in Chicago posting a 43-68 record. After a down season, going 9-15 with a 4.48 ERA, he had the audacity to ask for a $20K raise. So, the Cubs traded Ken Holtzman to the A's who paid him his $70K, and got a 77-55 record with a 2.92 ERA plus three WS championships in four seasons, while the Cubs got Rick Monday.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    Ouch....a dark memory.....was able to see Kenny pitch at Wrigley with my best friend, Mike, who passed away just a couple of years later.....always hated this trade but I recall he was so bummed by Cubs that he said something on the order of: "I wouldn't care if they traded me for a dozen eggs."

  • In reply to Cleme:

    That was before my time, but I remember a similar story with Bill Madlock when I was just a kid. Madlock was my first true favorite player (I was 6 years old). He won two straight batting titles and then he also had the audacity to ask for a raise. He was shipped out for an aging Bobby Murcer and Steve Ontiveros, the latter of whom I took out all my frustration :)

  • I agree with what you are saying John. If all we can get is an uninspiring return of talent back for Shark then we should just keep him. At worst, we have a solid pitcher for at least two more years.

    The reason I am "for" trading him is mainly to acquire more young talent that will be ready in a couple of years when we're ready to make some noise. But what about this scenario:

    Nobody gives us a bunch of talent for Shark so we keep him for two years. Toward the end of this time we should start seeing some improvement on the field and some of our young studs starting to contribute. Also, by then (hopefully) the team will have worked out all of the business issues that will allow for a bigger stream of cash flow to raise the payroll. So, (if we can't get a huge return in a trade), what if we keep Shark for those two years then just resign him? If he reaches his potential then we should have more than enough money to pay him the market value for a number 1 or 2 starter . If he stays the same we can pay him accordingly- a number 3 who is over 30. If he regresses we can simply walk away.

    I think it's a win-win situation for the Cubs. Trade him if another team overwhelms us with young prospects or just keep him and then resign him. He'll still be young enough, if all goes well, to help solidify a rotation for a contending team.

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    I'm still optimistic Samardzija could fetch quite a king's ransom. His value is in his projectable upside and proven ability to eat innings near the top/middle of a rotation. That's a valuable piece!

    If we can resign him cheap? Yeah, sure. He's coming off a meh season. We can try and buy low. Give him a chance to drink that team-friendly contract Kool-Aid. (Although, he's obviously not thirsty.)
    Or, we can let the market unfold in the coming weeks and sell high based on demand.
    Or, we can let him start the season, hope for another solid first half, and sell high based on performance.
    Bottom line: We have leverage and multiple options.

    Do I think we get Bradley or Giolito for Shark?
    Probably not.
    But it sure as hell wouldn't be unheard of. Especially with additional moving pieces.
    The illusion of the Fister trade will clear up once David Price hits the market. And I still think it wouldn't be unheard of for a team pushing to contend to mortage it's future.
    Wouldn't be the first time. But I won't exactly hold my breath.

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