Think of this as prelude. The Cubs season has had a certain pattern lately as far as topics of discussions go. Right about this time we talk draft, which is what we've been doing. After the draft, we start talking about trade rumors.
It seems the entire AL East is interested right now and that should work to the Cubs advantage. Not only can they get the best bid for Samardzija, but they may be able to offer one of the best consolation prizes in Jason Hammel.
But right now, the focus is on Samardzija and as I have mentioned in the past, the Cubs need to clean up on this deal. He is better than Matt Garza, he has more cost control remaining, and the team that acquires will recoup a comp pick if they lose him. In a similar situation, you may remember the rumor at the time that the Cubs were on the verge of acquiring Rangers top pitching prospect, LHP Martin Perez as well as the pre-concussion/eye injury Mike Olt, who was himself considered a top 25-35 prospect at the time.
I would expect the Cubs to demand something similar this time around -- that is, a couple of top near MLB ready prospects to headline and then perhaps a lower level prospect or two. Factors such as his dominance, stuff, age, health, and durability should make him the top target for contending teams.
According to both Heyman and Cafardo, the Blue Jays will be among the top suitors and they are a team that can offer all kinds of pitching, from the MLB ready Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez to intriguing Class A lefty Daniel Norris to a high ceiling/high risk arm like Alberto Tirado. The Cubs need to get one of Stroman and Sanchez and possibly both.
Heyman's top team isn't the Blue Jays, it's the Yankees. A deal with the Yanks isn't as clear cut. The Cubs have shown interest In Manny Banuelos in the past and now that he is healthy he is starting to show flashed of his old self, when he was considered one of the top 25 pitching prospects in the game. But his size (5'10, 155 lbs) and injury history make him a bit of a risk. He could easily end up in the bullpen. They also have C Gary Sanchez, but he has stalled at AA. The Yankees best talent may be at the lower levels. LHP Ian Clarkin, pure hitter 3B Eric Jagielo, and power hitting OF Aaron Judge. Is it enough? Not for me, not when the real talent is too far away and the upper level talent carries so much risk.
This is Levine's contribution, who says the teams are mutually interested in a deal, The two teams worked on a mutually beneficial deal and with the Blue Jays off to a great start, the Orioles may be motivated considering they don't have an especially large window. There's all kinds of options here and some opportunity to get creative. Dylan Bundy is one of the top prospects in baseball when healthy but there are some questions beyond that. I've heard conflicting accounts as to his coachability, which brings Trevor Bauer to mind. Perhaps a change of scenery would be best for both sides. Kevin Gausman is a pitcher the Cubs scouted heavily for the 2012 draft and while he is a ready to near ready starter with #3 potential, he is struggling now and the Orioles need immediate help. Eduardo Rodriguez is a player whose name came up in the past and he has just 21.2 innings in AA so far with a 5.57 ERA but his peripherals indicate he will make progress.
I also want to bring up an idea that was bandied about this past offseason and that is the possibility of acquiring Matt Wieters. The Cubs have a younger, more cost-controlled catcher in Welington Castillo but Wieters LH bat, power, approach, and outstanding defense may appeal to the Cubs. He is injured right now, which is more of a problem for the Orioles than it would be for the Cubs. There is also the issue of re-signing the Boras client. It'd be a risk on many levels, but Wieters may be a better fit for Castillo as the Cubs are currently constructed, Just a thought.
Other teams mentioned here in the past and in Heyman's article include the Dodgers and Rockies. The Dodgers are a good fit with OF Joc Pederson, SP Zach Lee, and Julio Urias -- but do they need SP bad enough to part with top prospects? I'm not sure the motivation is there. The Rockies are intriguing but if they don't headline the deal with Jonathan Gray or Eddie Butler then there isn't enough there to make a deal.
There could be as many as 8-10 interested teams, perhaps even more, that would be interested in adding Samardzija, so it wouldn't be surprising if a team not in this article ended up being the so-called "mystery team".
Whatever the case, the Cubs need to get top prospects in return with at least a couple of them ready to contribute by 2015. They appear in prime position to do just that.
Filed under: Rumors/Speculation