Cubs Notes: Don't expect Braves pitching woes to lead to Samardzija deal

Cubs Notes: Don't expect Braves pitching woes to lead to Samardzija deal

As they have the last two seasons, the Braves are expected to be contenders this year.  Their main competition is expected to come from the Washington Nationals, but I would still pick the Braves.

However, I'm less certain of that today.  The Braves may lose Kris Medlin to injury long term and now it appears that Brandon Beachy may be having some issues.

Should the Cubs pounce?

The Braves were rumored to have shown some interest in Cubs Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija this past offseason and with the Cubs seemingly no closer to an extension, does a trade between the two teams make sense?

Theoretically yes but in practicality, no.

Here's the thing...

The Cubs reportedly did not ask for the Braves top prospects -- they asked for arguably their top 2 young MLB players (either Justin Upton or Jason Heyward)

If you're a win now team like the Braves, it makes little sense to trade a signifcant part of your offense.  If you look in terms of value metrics such as WAR, it's pretty much a zero sum trade for the Braves, perhaps even a loss.  Both players are younger than the Cubs pitcher and both have the same amount of cost control.

So why would the Cubs have even bothered to make such an offer?  It tells me they aren't nearly as eager to trade Samardzija as some fans are.  They made an offer that they had to have known the Braves would reject.

It also tells us a couple of things:

1. The Cubs may think they're closer to contention than we assume.  They're asking for MLB or near ready MLB talent in return for Samardzija -- not just in this trade, but also in talks with other teams.

2. They aren't all that crazy about the Braves upper level minor league prospects.

The Cubs see their prospects coming soon and they should start to filter on to the 25 man roster over the next two years.  They seem to have no intention of weakening the current roster until (and if) it becomes necessary.  The Cubs want their young talent to be surrounded by young veterans.  And if you intend on taking one of those young veterans away, then they are going to ask you to replace that value -- not with future assets, but with assets that also contain some short term value.

I do not see this latest development with the Braves as affecting the Cubs because I don't expect either side to change their stance since the last time they talked.  The Braves are not in a position to give up current MLB value.  It seems to me they'd be better off giving up the draft pick to sign Ervin Santana or trade for a lesser pitcher that will cost them secondary prospects -- perhaps an out of options arm or deal from a team's depth.  If the Braves do end up making a trade with the Cubs, I could see a minor deal involving an arm like Carlos Villanueva before I see them giving up top young talent for Samardzija.

Today's Lineup

  1. Emilio Bonafacio, SS
  2. Ryan Kalish, CF
  3. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  4. Mike Olt, 1B
  5. Donnie Murphy, 3B
  6. Chris Coghlan, LF
  7. Ryan Roberts, 2B
  8. Eli Whiteside, C
  9. Jeff Samardzija, SP

What to Watch:

  • Ryan Kalish is getting some time in CF this spring which increases his value.  With Ryan Sweeney suffering an injury of unknown severity yesterday, Kalish could get an opportunity to impress.
  • Emilio Bonafacio is leading off once again.  There's no question that the Cubs feel he is the best candidate for that role and even though he won't win a starting spot barring a trade, I expect him to get a lot of opportunities to play multiple positions and fill that role during the season.  He may also benefit if Sweeney is out longer than expected.
  • Mike Olt is in the clean-up spot and is playing the field, though it's still at 1B.

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    Yup, they're dropping like flies for the Braves.

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    The AJC's guy believes that Santana is out of the picture for the Braves because of his cost (the actual dollar amount), so that seems to leave open a trade for a lesser pitcher. I have to admit, I have a hard time coming up with a deal from the Braves that I like in exchange for Shark, even if they do include Lucas Sims.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Santana is more likely to me than making a big trade. I think they'll get some depth for the back of the rotation, fill in some innings until they get healthy. No way they're giving up what the Cubs have been asking for.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    He's actually changing his story on Santana now that Beachy has also had issues, so maybe that does happen.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He just updated piece -- Braves now considering a run at Santana. I could see them signing Santana and then getting depth at back of rotation.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    HAH. We tied.

    Also says Samardzija (included in other optons) "not worth talking about," so that seems to back up what you were saying.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I also don't see EJax as an option to them because of cost -- unless they can get him for less than value of late first round pick. I think either move is unlikely.

    I can see a Santana signing and a deal for a Villanueva type depth pitcher who can slide to bullpen if they get healthy (Medlen, Beachy, Floyd).

  • Bonafacio is certainly giving RichRent lots of options...

    If Medlen is lost to TJS, then I think the Braves sense of urgency accelerates as he is a TOR for them. If if it's just weeks that he's out, then they can get by off the scrap heap.

    I still think we re-sign Shark. Like you said, Epstoyer isn't nearly as eager to trade him as the fans/media seem to be. But with Sims & Hursh headlining a prospect deal, I'd think Epstoyer could pick a couple of others and come out pretty good. But like you said, they may want MLB talent that they could include in that core.

  • I really hope Shark's results this year catch up to his stuff and become a TOR SP.

  • The Braves farm system is not that good--at least in the upper levels. They have produced a lot in the past few years though--Simmons, Heyward, Freeman, Minor, Kimbrel, and Alex Wood among others. That is a ton to lose from your system--but that's why you have a system!!

    The Braves and most of their fans--which I am a fan in addition to the Cubs as I live--overvalue their prospects. I think that is due to the Texeira trade. Anyway, I am not a fan of an Atlanta deal unless it's a Villanueva type guy.

  • I would like to see Olt play 3rd. I think it's important for him to be comfortable in the field and concentrate on hitting. I am sure he got some bad habits last year with his vision and it would be better for him to find his old groove.

  • In reply to bigswede:

    Agreed. Reportedly he is getting close to a 3B start.

  • In reply to bigswede:

    He has had a sore shoulder. He'll start playing 3b soon.

  • I suspect with Samardzija - it is more of this point than the second - regardless of which team a trade is rumored to be to.

    "1. The Cubs may think they're closer to contention than we assume. They're asking for MLB or near ready MLB talent in return for Samardzija -- not just in this trade, but also in talks with other teams."

    The more I read about this team - and the more I see some of the guys who are jockying for playing time and call-ups - the closer I think this Cubs incarnation is getting close to being the 'real deal'.

    I won't take anything earthshattering - just incremental improvements from Castro/Rizzo, solid years from some combination of Sweeney/Kalish/Schierhtolz/Ruggiano/Lake - and something 'good' to materials out of the confusion that is 3B and 2B to have a potentially tolerable offense. Defense should be generally good. The Bullpen (as we just discussed in the most recent post) is shaping out very nicely.

    The biggest 'if' is the starting pitching. Samardzija and Wood could progress, or regress. Hammel could stay healthy and excel, or bomb. Jackson could rebound to have an average year (for him), or be more of the same disaster waiting to happen. And excatly whom is it that will fill out the #4/#5/#6 slots in starting pitching?

    We'll know better in a couple of months - but I'm strangely optimistic despite my generally cynical nature.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I think the Cubs may change their tune on Samardzija if they have a bad first half, but right now I think they want to roll with what they have and see what happens. Plenty of time to make deals when deadline rolls around.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I agree, in the last 2 months I have went from not excited at all to now thinking we are close to turning a corner. I think the second half of this year will be a fun one to watch. Even if we are out of contention, we could still win some games and have a lot to cheer for. Baez coming up at the break, maybe AA too. 2014 can be a pivotal year for the Cubs, even if we finish with only 70 wins. I want to buy tickets to 2015 already!

  • Asking for Upton or Heyward seems kind of strange. They both have the same FA timelines as Shark. Seems like the only way that makes sense for the Cubs is if they feel confident that 1) either of those two would sign with the Cubs after being acquired for a price significantly under market (unlikely) or 2) they feel they can then trade Upton or Heyward for more than they would get for Shark.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I think because they are younger and safer bets on living up to potential. They probably fell more comfortable with paying them the money than shark. You can kind of see it with there draft pattern, they prefer the everyday players with upside than the pitching prospects of the braves.

  • In reply to seankl:

    The issue is, you're still trading for a guy just for the chance to sign him long term. The value of that, unless you get some sort of discount to their market value, is very small.

    Sure, they're also getting 2 years of those players, but those years aren't likely to be spent on a contending team, particularly if they don't fill those years with better pitching (which trading Shark makes it even harder to do).

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I think it may be easier to sign upton or heyward to the extention than shark because shark is going to be thirty years old. I dont think its a given you have to trade shark for pitching. If they can get heyward or upton then prospects become more tradable. I think they asked for upton or heyward because they probably are not in love with any of there pitching. Again I don't think the front office is sitting there saying we need to get pitching for shark they are saying we need more top of the line talent. Same with the draft, they choose the best player no matter the postion.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I agree that they don't absolutely have to get pitching in a deal for Shark, but I think the players they get back either have to be 1) under control for longer than the 2 years Shark is or 2) able to be traded for prospects that are more valuable than Shark.

    Trading Shark for 2 years of Upton or Heyward is a waste, in my opinion, even if they do extend those players because the extensions are unlikely to be significantly under market value.

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    The Braves, arguably, have one of the worst farm systems in baseball thanks to graduating so many players to the show. There simply isn't enough there right now to get excited about. Lucas Sims is a "potential" #2, but he's yet to pitch above Low-A. He'd have to be the center-piece of any potential deal, but what else might they put with him? There just isn't much else there. I just don't see it happening.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Agreed. The Cubs would probably ask for Lucas Sims, Mauricio Cabrera and maybe Jason Hursh too. That'd essentially clean out the Braves farm system, particularly the pitching side.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Hursh would have to be ptbnl until June 5th wouldn't he?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Until a year after he signed his contract, yes. Not a big deal, the Cubs would probably have to put together a contingency PTBNL package in case he got hurt before June.

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    Good strategy on Olt-his bat is what will determine whether he makes the team. Might as well baby the shoulder...

    I think today's lineup will determine some cuts-Murphy, Kalish, Roberts, etc all vying for spots. My guess is the cubs will cut early to give some guys a chance to catch another ball club.

  • call me crazy but i believe Kalish has a chance to make the team ,

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    If Sweeney misses the start of the season, i bet Kalish replaces him.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Like Kalish, but my money is on Bonafacio in LF with Barney at 2B.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Bonifacio is making the team whether Sweeney is healthy or not. And I do agree he would start at any position a starter would be missing at. If Sweeney starts on the DL his spot will probably go to one of the 40 man guys like Jackson/Vitters/Szczur but I wouldn't be shocked if they made room for Kalish.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    He's got the kind of skills you want. Only question is how much rust after missing most of last two seasons.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I like Kalish, but I think he's got options left... If that's the case, then he sits in Iowa til the deadline, etc...

  • Both Shark and Cain have been impressive today, only facing one batter over the limit thru 3. Olt made a nice play to start a 3-6-1 DP.

    Plenty of scouts today. Probably the second most I've seen this Spring (A Bradley). Lets hope there are other surprise teams who can put together a package if the Cubs do trade him.

  • in regards to the braves, i think a samardzija deal is unrealistic, because they just don't have the prospects that the cubs are looking for and as john said trading away heyward or upton doesnt make any sense for them.

    the braves are a payroll conscious team and i think what the cubs should be trying to do is a barney-uggla swap. i think both guys need a change of scenery and the braves would be trading a decent pitching prospect in exchange for more payroll flexibility.

    this doesnt really change a lot in terms of the cubs plans because u swap out barney for uggla in the lineup, hope he bounces back somewhat and then try to unload him at the deadline.

  • Too bad Olt didn't get the start today. The Giants have 5 hits, 4 have been within a few feet of Murphy and he has yet to make a play, frustrating to watch. So, along with Rusin, I've seen enough of Murphy this Spring.

  • Matt Cain just moved up my fantasy draft boards. Did he even throw a ball in 5 innings?

  • I drafted Medlen in my fantasy draft yesterday. Not 15 minutes later, he left the game holding his elbow. I made a snap decision and drafted the best available SP with my next pick, Jeff Samardzija. Funny how that worked out...

  • In reply to Ratmoss:

    Ha! That's pretty appropriate for today's discussion!

  • Today I checked the box score at the end of the fifth inning of the Cubs' spring training game against the Giants. I couldn't believe my eyes. I've looked at a lot of Cubs box scores over the years but have never seen anything like this. The Giants' pitcher, Matt Cain, had to have thrown the most dominating five innings in MLB spring training history.

    Through five complete innings, Cain had a no hitter, and only required 29 pitches, all of them strikes! That's right, he didn't throw a single ball in five full innings. He was then removed from the game.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Those boxscores in ST often dont include everything especially while the game is still going. I'd be surprised if that was accurate, but it doesn't change the fact that he was great today.

  • Another win for the Cubs. .500 in spring training! Gotta start somewhere ;)

  • Someone on MLB on XM said when gauging how a young, rebuilding team is developing, look to see who is winning innings 6-9. 3-0 today. 7-6 yesterday. 4-0 Saturday. 3-1 vs Angels & 0-4 vs Indians on Friday. 0-0 Thursday. 4-4 Wednesday. 3-2 Tuesday. 2-0 Monday. 5-1 with 2 ties over the last week. 6-2 with 3 ties on the spring thus far.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Nicely done. Thanks for researching that.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I am SORRY Quedub; usually I can follow yet I can not for the life of me can figure out what those numbers mean. Help a brotha out pls!

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    In reply to rickmonday:

    I think he's just listing the scoring - Cubs vs oppo - in innings 6 through 9 of each game this spring. Cubs have been outscoring - ie "winning" innings 6 to 9 - pretty consistently.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Thanks SKMD. Howabout that!

  • John: I know this isn't related to the current thread, but I just watched some video on the Baseball America site about Hartford LHP Sean Newcomb. Looks like he throws low 90's gas with good run. Any chance he moves up the boards to the Cubs come draft day?

  • In reply to 2015HereWeCome:

    There is a chance but he's a long shot to move into the top 5. Will be a nice pick for someone later in the draft.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Also looks as if Hoffman and Rodon have been struggling, unlike Beede. Top 5 picks may not go as everyone is presently thinking.

  • In reply to JB55:

    2013 census top three after Appel was Stanek & Manaea... Bryant & Gray were not being touted as top 3 picks this time last year... Lots can (will) change between now and draft day.

  • In reply to JB55:

    I don't think much has changed at this point. If the trend continues over a larger sample size things could change, but by all accounts, there is nothing wrong with Hoffman or Rodon's arm, so teams aren't ready to say they've suddenly taken a step backward over 2-3 starts.

  • Does Bonafacio have a 3B glove in his duffle bag in case Olt is not ready to go on March 31?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Yes he can play 3B and I wouldn't be shocked one bit if he opens as the starting 3B and top of the order w/ Castro.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    He can play 3B.

  • I believe he can play third base.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I suspect one of many reasons why the Cubs thought signing him was the way to to.

    I have 'visions' of a Mark DeRosa type position player (obviously less power, but more speed) for Bonifacio as he can effectively cover probably every defensive position other than 1B and Catcher.

  • So Jeff Samardzija gives up 2 runs in 4 innings and he is satisfied with that. I know that it is spring training and pitchers are working on specific things, but I'm still not sure where Jeff's head is. That averages out to a 4.50 ERA. Cain threw 5 perfect ones. Now that is an ace and a TOR pitcher.

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