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The Cubs news that has dominated November thus far is the likelihood of a Jeff Samardzija trade. We talked about this earlier thanks to multiple sources, including some items from Tom Loxas. The latest random news suggests that the top bidder for Samardzija's services is the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are attempting to involve a third team in order to facilitate the trade. This in turn suggests that the Diamondbacks either cannot or will not give up a sufficient prospect package on their own to acquire Samardzija.
Packle, from our Facebook community, suggested that the Cubs need to act quickly in order to get maximum return for Samardzija before David Price hits the market. Price has quietly lurked as the big tuna in this winter's trade rumors and will logically cost a lot to acquire. Mauricio and I blogged about what a David Price trade would cost earlier and the Cliffs Notes version is that it would decimate just about any team's impact prospect depth. From this standpoint, it makes sense to move Samardzija quickly, and it makes sense for teams to pony up a smaller prospect package to get Samardzija rather than having to shoot the moon for Price, especially if they cannot afford to pay for Matt Garza or Masahiro Tanaka (if he's ever posted).
Another idea that hit me was that the Cubs may be able to kill two birds with one stone.
Picture a scenario where the Cubs consider their rotation options. They can continue to work with what they have in-house, or they can use their improved farm system to acquire a pitcher from outside. There are a few ways to think about the rotation, and the question is--which one would be best, and which one could actually happen?
- Rotation with Jeff Samardzija at the top.
- Rotation with David Price at the top.
- Rotation that includes both David Price and Jeff Samardzija.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Door #3 does not happen. To torch the farm for David Price seems counter to what the Cubs have been trying to build towards, which is a farm system that funnels impact talent into the majors. Trading for Price straight up would be like sending humanity back to the Stone Age.
As for #1 and #2, let's all agree for now that #2 is the better option. David Price is a former Cy Young Award winner with an incredible track record and despite his hiccup last season is still considered an elite pitcher. Jeff Samardzija has the potential to maaaaaaaaaaaaaybe get there, but he's not quite there yet. Both gentlemen have two years of control left, but Price is going to be more expensive for obvious reasons. The question now turns to how the Cubs can get David Price without completely nuking the farm which is what #3 would entail.
This is a big if, but if the Cubs had the idea to upgrade at the top while lessening the price (pun intended) of acquisition, the third team scenario may help quite a bit. Arizona would be able to send the Cubs various prospects (possibly Tyler Skaggs, and most likely not Archie Bradley since Tom Loxas says they're involving the third team), the third team would also send the Cubs various prospects, and then the Cubs could send a modified prospect package to Tampa Bay to get Price. This would work better anyway because a straight up Samardzija-for-Price trade makes little sense to the Rays; they're looking to get younger talent that has more club control attached to them, whereas Samardzija is slightly older than Price and has the same amount of club control left (plus the whole he-isn't-quite-as-good thing).
Dabynsky thinks that any prospect package to get Price from the Cubs would include Javier Baez, third team or not. Being that Tampa Bay has a reputation for making shrewd trades (as they showed by ripping Wil Myers away from the Royals for James Shields), this may not be palatable to Cubs fans or officials. However, we're left with the following:
- With Prince Fielder having been traded to Texas and allowing Detroit to save money, Max Scherzer may no longer be available as the Tigers will have the flexibility to extend Scherzer.
- The Cubs have shown a reluctance to spend heavily in free agency, which means that an option like Matt Garza is out (even though Garza is solid, he's not that big of a game changer).
- Despite Dabynsky's optimism, the chances that the Cubs can land Tanaka are very slim; also see point #2.
Trading Jeff Samardzija to build for the future is admirable and I'm on board with a long-term plan. While I'm not suggesting that this insane idea will actually happen, I offer this as an alternative method of increasing the odds of contention while mitigating the hit the Cubs' farm system will take. I'm sure smarter people than I are thinking about this in the Cubs' offices in advance of the Winter Meetings. I think some of them will think I'm completely nuts. I also think at least a few will see the reasoning behind all this. I don't expect David Price to be a Cub in the near future, but again, this may be the best way to satisfy concurrent goals with the least amount of damage.