Trade Rumors: Pitching Not in Demand?

Trade Rumors: Pitching Not in Demand?



Follow up on Heyman's piece: Blue Jays sure are scouting a lot of pitching in a year when there isn't much demand for pitching.  According to CSN, there is a Blue Jays scout watching Hammel today.  He'll also be on hand tomorrow (Samardzija) and will follow the team to Boston.

Obligatory Samardzija Story of the Day

Jon Heyman has another piece on Jeff Samardzija, listing 3 reasons why he won't bring in "twice as much" as Matt Garza did a year ago:

  • Teams aren't as desperate for pitching this year.  It's all about a lack of offense.
  • David Price will be on the market and, as the best pitcher available, will lower the return for Samardzija.
  • The team that acquires Samardzija will be unable to extend him.

Despite this, Heyman lists 8 teams with at least passing interest in Jeff: the Giants, Mariners, Cardinals, Braves, Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox and Blue Jays.

John and I have both made a point of how there's a lot of posturing going on at this time of year and, to me, Heyman's three reasons seem like talking points from the Blue Jays.  The claim that the need for pitching is down is kind of laughable.  The Blue Jays are offensive monsters but have serious holes in their rotation.  The Cardinals are a down three starters just this week.  The Yankees rotation is a bit of a mess after Masahiro Tanaka.  The Braves and Mariners have been snakebit by injuries.  The Brewers are scoring at will but giving up runs at about the same clip.

The line about the team that acquires Samardzija being unable to extend him sounds like it comes directly from the story the other day about why the Blue Jays were willing to give up top prospects for Dickey, Buehrle, and Reyes.

So, don't worry too much about this article.  The demand for Jeff is still quite strong and we should get a very solid return for him.  In regards to what that return will be, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun says that the Cubs want four players, all pitchers.

Samardzija still wants to stay...

Speaking of Samardzija, he reiterated that he wants to stay a Cub in an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio, though he understands it is a business,

“I don’t think there is any doubt how bad I want to stay here. I have been here since the beginning, it’s the only organization I know. It’s pretty close to my hometown, I’m from Northwest Indiana. I am comfortable here. I love driving here every day coming to the park. I love the day games. I love Wrigley Field and I want to be here. But obviously I understand this is a business and not everything is in your control. I understand that they have my rights for another year, year and a half and that’s exciting to have that and know I am in their control. I want to stay here. I love being here and it feels good. I love pitching here and my numbers finally are better at Wrigley this year than on the road and that’s a positive and you learn how to pitch here and the fans get to know you and it ends up being a really exciting atmosphere to play baseball at.”

Frankly, I think the only way he stays is if the Cubs continue to get low-balled -- but in the end someone will be willing to pay for Samardzija. There's a lot of good stuff in that interview and you can read the rest of the interview transcript here at CCO.

At What Price Price?

With respect to the aforementioned Mr. Price, Ken Rosenthal at Fox becomes the first to my knowledge to officially acknowledge that a Cardinal trade for Price may well cost them Oscar Taveras.  Rosenthal advises against it "if they believe in Taveras as a player and a person, believe that he is their Bogaerts, their George Springer, their Gregory Polanco."  The thing is, I'm starting to get the feeling they don't.  After some bitter words in spring training over his surgically repaired ankle, the Cardinals finally brought him up this month, only to have him struggle and be returned to the minors.  Based partly on this, I believe that Price will be a Cardinal by August.  (Which will make life real fun for us next season.)

For his part, Price is acting like a guy on his way out of town, tipping his cap to Tampa Bay fans Wednesday night as a way of saying thanks in case it was his last game in Tropicana Field.

Hammel to the Angels?

Rosenthal tweeted on Wednesday that the Angels were interested in Price and, if they couldn't get him, Jason Hammel was on a "long list" of alternatives.  I don't think there's any chance they get Price.  Their system is charitably described as barren.  To have Hammel included in a tweet with Price makes me doubt how serious the possibility is.  Looking at their system, there really isn't anyone I'd consider a good get.

Adios Luis?

It's hard to know what's going to happen with the polarizing Luis Valbuena.  Last week, Rosenthal argued that he could fit with a number of contenders at either second or third.  Since then, Valbuena has hit .105 with no walks.  The big question, of course, is whether this is a genuine correction or a bad week.  Even after the miserable week, Mike Axisa at CBS Sports lists Luis as one of the Cubs three big trade chips, along with Samardzija and Hammel.

An industry source suggests one of the teams scouting him is the Blue Jays.  This would be a bitter pill for them to swallow -- first they waive him and then they have to trade to get him back -- but they are desperate for infield help following Brett Lawrie's broken finger.  It's possible that this means the Blue Jays are willing to meet the Cubs price if they sweeten the pot a little.  It's also possible that this is just due diligence by the Blue Jays and Valbuena is relatively far down their wish list of infielders.

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  • fb_avatar

    Valbuena and Shark to the BlueJays? Where there is smoke......

  • Valbuena was getting a little too much love on here IMO. He's a great utility/bench player. But were tossing his name around as a potential core piece. That's laughable to me. But he is symbolic of why we sign so many AAAA DFA's... every once in a while, one of them contribute to the MLB club.

    Since we don't know the particulars of contract negotiations with Shark (because neither side has publicly stated) it's difficult to get upset at either side right now. I'm still hopeful we sign him vs trading him... but if we got less than a haul before the deadline next year, it'd be a disappointment. I like our chances with this FO of either getting surplus value or re signing him.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Luis read his press clippings last week.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    The core talk did raise my eyebrows too.

    He has cooled off considerably since then.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Speaking for myself, I called him a great utility guy/fringe starter in my most glowing article about him. That is what he is, he is an important cog, a role player as Cubs transition into a competitive team. As the team gets better, Valbuena's role will lessen. He is a good ballplayer but that is not the same as saying he is a core player or a player to build on.

    That said, the question will be whether the Cubs can get value for him that exceeds what he gives the Cubs right now and for the next couple of years. If they can, they should trade him, but if the can't then they probably should just hang on to him. I have no interest in pulling off a deal for fringe A pitching prospect like they did with Jeff Baker, nor do I want to give him away as they did with DDJ. We can't assume teams will want to give up anything of value and if they don't then they have to consider what is best for the organization overall.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I never mentioned any names I agree with your assessment as to whether or not we should trade him.

    A LHH guy who will almost always give you a quality at bat, with plus OBP some power and good-plus defense at a couple premium positions certainly has some value to everyone.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I know, I just wanted to clarify my stance since I am an unabashed Valbuena fan even before he was hitting .280 and will still be one when he gets back in his .220-.240 range.

    I think the only way Valbuena helps is if he helps a team do some one stop shopping like the Jays.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I am too... and we both were when people on this board were cursing having him as our everyday 3B last year. To me, it's a statement about where we are as an organization vs what Valbuena is.

    But I tip my hat to him. First we brought in Ian Stewart and gave him the job, Valbuena took it away from him. Then we break with Olt and cross our fingers. Valbuena just did his thing...

    He's not a core piece as some have suggested. Doesn't mean he's not a meaningful piece. Much like BP pieces. Cant win w/o them, but they're supposed to be interchangeable. So while I am a huge fan of guys like Valbuena (and BABIPfacio), I can't wait until they are relegated to the bench vs everyday player status...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed. Nice players but role players and their value diminishes if they are forced to be more than that.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I don't remember anyone calling him a core piece. I thought I was on the high end of the spectrum and I basically called him a guy that wasn't an embarrassment as a starter. And as he is cost controlled for multiple years, is left handed, defensively versatile, and in his prime should not be traded. Keeping a guy and considering him a core piece are two widely different things. Core guys get extended.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I can back him up. There were definitely people questioning if Valbuena was now a core piece.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    You'd have to go through the comments in a few threads around the time John wrote about him.... I don't remember specifically who, but there was a few who dropped the "C" word.

    Even still, in a lost season on a rebuilding team the only "Un-tradeable" assets we have are CORE pieces. Valbuena is very much tradeable. In fact, one could argue that given what he is, his value may never be higher....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    While Valbuena may not be a "core" piece he is a "super sub" that we have a few more cost controlled years of while he is in his prime years. Like John has said before Luis is more valuable to our team than the low level prospect that we would get in trade

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Luis clearly saw this comment and thought "oh yeah??!!"

    Good work.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I remember that. My take was that with his approach he would be difficult to replace in the lineup.

  • Jon Hayman should rarely be listened too. He's like a weatherman.

  • fb_avatar

    Teams always need pitching, whether they want to admit it or not.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Can never have too much!

  • Reasons why the Blue Jays may not want/need Samardzija:
    - Happ, Stroman are doing a very good job as 4/5th starters
    - Injuries to Lawrie and Bautista (with existing 2B black hole) may have shifted to offensive priorities.

    Reasons why the Blue Jays want/need Samardzija
    - Hutchison and Stroman will likely have their innings capped
    - Their rotation maybe solid enough to get them to the playoffs, but Shark improves their rotation considerably
    - The extra year of control at a reasonable cost gives them another chance at the playoffs in 2015. The Jays have had a really tough time luring FA starters, so even with some money freeing up they may not be able to address their SP needs through FA.
    - Should be able to at least make a reasonable extension offer to Samardzija. Dickey, Buehrle, Romero, come off the books in 2015, and they'd need to replace Dickey and Buehrle's inning. Morrow in 2014 or 15.
    - competitive window last for only a couple more years (Bautista, Encarnacion signed through 2016). That is their window. 3 shots, I think they should be building around 2014, 15, 16. Shark works fairly well for that window.

    A trade for Shark and Valbuena makes a lot of sense. Considering Syndergaard and DArnaud were traded for Dickey. And all the prospects they gave up to Miami, a package involving Norris, Sanchez + seems entirely reasonable for the pair.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    Hutchison is looking a little shakey. They have all the incentive in the world to build up what they have. But they know they need more for the playoffs.

  • I'm starting to think that Rosenthal is on the Bluejay payroll.

  • 8 teams need pitching, 2 top pitchers on the market. Come on.

  • So is Heyman just a schill for any FO that wants to leak anything? Only an idiot would seriously say there isn't much need for pitching at any trade deadline. Doesn't he care that it makes him out to be a buffoon? man-o-man!

  • fb_avatar

    If valbuena doesn't boost the return package to what we want, what about Alcantara?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    Absolutely not. If we're lucky we'll get one player back in that trade with the floor/ceiling that Alcantara has right now.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Alcantara could possibly be the best prospect in a trade for Norris and Sanchez. A big time overpay. I think a Vogelbach would be more the type of prospect the Cubs would include the other way to balance out. If the Cubs gave up Shark, Alcantara for Norris, Sanchez, and Pompey I'd probably freak out.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    I see

  • Valbuena's only problem recently is he has suddenly becoming hacktastic rather than sticking to his game of working the count deep and punishing pitches right down the middle.

    He had/has a solid approach a lot of players could learn from.

  • fb_avatar

    Jason McLeod on fangraphs:

  • In reply to SKMD:

    That is a great piece SKMD, thanks for sharing it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One of the best articles I've read on the subject in a long, long time, John. It's so good I saved the link and am going to send it to some of my baseball friends. It's going to be a damn shame when they lose McLeod.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Awesome article. Thanks

  • Shark rejected what I think was a good offer... So he is either talking from both sides of his mouth or the only way he stays is if he takes that offer

  • In reply to Caps:

    Yeah, I can only assume what he really meant was "I want to both get paid $20M/yr and stay in Chicago," because ultimately, his action is showing that he is much more concerned with the $$$ than where he'll be at when he's getting paid...

  • Jon Heyman's conclusions don't make any sense. How is David Price, a more talented pitcher obviously, going to hurt Samardjiza market value when Shark will be cheaper in the prospects the Cubs would ask for and in dollars paid him over the next year and a half? Shark will make 50% less this season and the next, that isn't desirable? And how are Prices contract demands any less off putting for a pursuing team? Both will be expensive come 2016....

  • Just read this on twitter:
    Cubs Talk ‏@CSNCubs · 4m
    A TOR scout is here at Wrigley today w/Hammel pitching. He said he'll be here tomorrow (Samardzija) and follow Cubs on road to BOS, too

    I think this says a lot. Like they are looking at more than just our pitching. This could be a blockbuster.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Saw that too -- article has been updated.

  • Actually, we probably can meet Toronto's needs better than most other teams.

    They need a starting pitcher, a player who can play second or third for a month and then add strength to their bench, and a relief pitcher.

    Samardzija, Valbuena and Strop.

    That should bring back a lot more than is being bandied about in the press.

  • " According to CSN, there is a Blue Jays scout watching Hammel today. He'll also be on hand tomorrow (Samardzija) and will follow the team to Boston."

    Maybe the scout is just trying to get a job with the Cubs. It seem obvious that the Jays aren't looking for pitching....

  • Every starter but Castro with a hit today, come on Starlin!

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Not gonna get the chance.

  • Patience is key here. We all must remain patient and loyal...Five more years...tops...The thing is, we need to hope that WW3 doesn't interfere with Epstein's grand scheme.

  • In reply to Hey Hey:

    Whatever Hey Hey,..... if you don't see the progress, then you are blind or willfully ignorant.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Don't bother drkaz, he is a troll that leaves the same comment over and over.

  • Luis Valbuena: 1-3 with a double, walk, and 2 runs scored
    Jason Hammel: Win, (7-5 2.98 ERA) 6.1 IP, 2ER, 1 BB, 6 K's

    C'mon Toronto scouts, tell them to pull the trigger already!

  • As far as Samardzija goes, I'm hoping they hold out for one of about 10 guys or so...Bundy/Walker/Pederson/Crick/Martinez/Webster/Owens/Zimmer/ Norris/Sanchez...Obviously several of those guys aren't super likely to get moved. I do think that if I were Baltimore I would seriously consider trading a Bundy package for Samardzija given the presence of Gausman and Harvey and Bundy's medicals. If they don't get what they think is a huge haul, keep making extension offers. To me, given all the circumstances, I think 6 and 120 is fair. Technically it may be an over pay but who cares? Scherzer and Lester will get more than that.

    How about Hammel to SEA for Nick Franklin? Turn him into a Ben Zobrist lite. Maybe Hammel to LAA for Kole Calhoun and Cam Bedrosian?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ben20:

    "It might be an overpay but who cares"? I think that is a dangerous line of reasoning. Right now Shark is 29 years old (with low miles on his arm) but at the end of that contract he will be 35 (with high miles on his arm). At that point A LOT of our players are going to likely start getting expensive. Rizzo and Castro won't be "cheap" anymore and some of our prospects will be finishing their indentured servanthoods and start getting late in their arbitration processes and into Free Agency. The last thing I want, at that point, is an aging starting pitcher clogging up the payroll.

    We are getting close. Our Pythagoran W-L record is a good deal better than our actual which bodes well, but that only gets us to .500. And that is without any significant injuries. .500 is not my goal and this is with Shark at his best. We have too many other holes. We are better off trading him for high up-side pitchers and some more solid prospects that will help us when we are ready to contend.

    "Why would another team give us that?" Simple: They are MUCH closer to being a play-off team than we are. For them Shark may be the final piece to make them a contender, in which case they would be foolish not to take a flier on him and give up "potential" for a known quantity. They would be coming at the same thing from the opposite side. A guy who will be good in 3-4 years is useless to them. It is the classic "Win-Win."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yeah. We are getting close. Samardzija is a huge part of that. My line of reasoning is that I could care less if a 35 year old pitcher is "clogging our payroll" when said pitcher is only 29. I think you have to have one contending team before you can be in contention perennially. Right? Who cares what the payroll is? I'd be just fine with the highest payroll in sports history as long as the Cubs are a lock to win 90+ games a year. I'd be fine with the lowest payroll if we could somehow get a guarantee of a wild card spot.

    Can't be that kind of team that we all want to be without frontline pitching. Scherzer, Lester, Price, Shields, Samardzija, etc. will all be "overpaid" when their times come.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    " I think you have to have one contending team before you can be in contention perennially. Right?"

    Well, yes and no.

    Yes, you have to have one contending team before you can be in contention perennially.

    No, if you put together the on contending team in such a way that you prevent the ability to field a contending team in subsequent years.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Signing a frontline pitcher to a 6 or 7 year, 100 million plus pact is not going to prevent the Cubs from fielding a competitive team in subsequent years. Not at all. Especially when you will hopefully have key contributors (Bryant, Baez, Alcantara, Almora, Schwarber, Soler, etc.) in the pre arb phases of their careers.

    Think of it this way...if they sign Lester for instance to a 6 year 142 MM deal prior to next season...Kris Bryant won't even be eligible for arb until the 4th year of that deal.

    My point was that they are going to have to pay handsomely for premium pitching. They've set it up nicely so that there should be surplus value all over the diamond to offset those big contracts in the rotation.

  • The Twins just called up 20 year old Jorge Polanco all the way from Class A Fort Myers. Hey Hey really missed an opportunity to for trolling there.

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