Reading over some notes and rumors from around baseball, the Chicago Cubs continue to heavily shop Jeff Samardzija. Some of the most notable teams that are usually connected to this trade are the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Toronto Blue Jays. The last I had heard, the Diamondbacks were attempting to bring in a third team to help them meet the trade demands of the Cubs, which is said to be very high.
A few days ago, however, Dave Kaplan reported that his sources mentioned that the Baltimore Orioles were considered to be a front runner for Samardzija. The Orioles have many top pitching prospects, such as right handed pitchers Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, both of whom would be considered to be Major League ready. But those were not the names that intrigued me. Kaplan brought up the name of their catcher Matt Wieters.
While the Cubs currently have Welington Castillo pegged to be their starting catcher, Wieters is a very interesting name to add to the mix. While Kaplan reports that his sources say the Cubs do not expect to trade for the 27 year old catcher, his sources leave the door wide open if he is part of a deal that would also bring back major league ready pitching, which would likely include either Gausman or Bundy.
If the Cubs do pull off a trade with the Orioles , and Wieters is included they will have added in another bat to their lineup which can deliver some pretty good power. Wieters averages 21 home runs a season over his five year career, which includes his rookie season in which he hit nine in just under 100 games. Also on his resume, is his being a two time All Star as well as a pair of Gold Gloves. One issue many fans might have with trading Samardzija to the Oriels in a package that might include Wieters is the probability that the Cubs will have to include Castillo in the deal.
While Castillo played well for the Cubs last year, I am not sure that he can match the credentials that Wieters is able to boast. As good as Castillo played for the Cubs last year, I am not sure he will ever get a nod as an All Star in the National League, at least not when he has to go against Yadier Molina, who will also stand in his way of ever winning a Gold Glove. Perhaps the same issues will keep Wieters from earning those same honors in the National League, but he already has that on his resume and has shown he can play at an All Star level.
Wieters also has less years of team control left, as he is scheduled to be a free agent after 2016, where Castillo has to wait until after 2018 for his first year of free agency. Keep in mind though, Wieters is also only one year older than Castillo so the age factor will not be much of a breaking point. While at the moment Wieters does provide more power, there is also a chance that Castillo could develop more power, but considering his age in comparison to Wieters and what he is currently capable of doing, I am not sure if Castillo will be able to match his production or even hit more home runs a season that he did last season.
The problem would be finding a package that makes sense for both sides, and if the deal is as simple as Samardzija and Castillo for Wieters and Gausman than I am not so sure the Cubs would, or should make that deal. All winter long the Cubs have been insistent on getting top prospects back for Samardzija, and I am not sure that changes if they get an already established major league player along with one prospect with major league experience; especially since the Cubs are adding in Castillo.
If the starting package is Samardzija and Castillo for Wieters and Gausman I would imagine that the Cubs would be asking for at least one more pitching prospect to be added into the deal. I highly doubt the Orioles would be desperate enough to give the Cubs both Gausman and Bundy, so perhaps the Cubs should ask for either right handed pitcher Hunter Harvey or left handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez who round out their top four prospects.
Since the Cubs do not really need a catcher, they are in the perfect position to ask for the moon to gauge just how desperate the Orioles are to move Wieters. In this scenario, the Cubs hold all the card. If the Oriels are not willing to put together a prosperous package that meets the Cubs needs, they can move forward without the addition of the catchers to the deal. If that is the case, the Cubs can just focus on getting the top pitching prospects back for Samardzija alone, which brings us back to Gausman and Bundy as the starting point in any trade discussion.
Stop by our other blog for more Cubs news!