A blog published by Peter Gammons recently corroborated what our baseball internet friend Tom Loxas said this past weekend. The gist is that a third team must be involved in order for the Arizona Diamondbacks to land Jeff Samardzija in a trade with the Cubs, and that the third team may be interested in a shortstop prospect. I immediately thought of Didi Grigorius, which was mentioned by Gammons in his blog. There is very little chance that this trade will eventually be used by either the Cubs or the Diamondbacks to land David Price (but it sure was fun to think about!), especially since the Diamondbacks are unwilling to put Archie Bradley on the market.
Tyler Skaggs is still in play according to Gammons, and despite his poor showing in recent call-ups, there is plenty of reason to believe that Skaggs can be "fixed" by the Cubs' pitching coaches. Moving Samardzija will shake up the rotation quite a bit, with only Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jake Arrieta and possibly Carlos Villanueva as mainstays. The Cubs may still look to the market for cheap alternatives like they did with Josh Johnson before Johnson signed with the Padres. They could also look to sign a guy on the rebound like Phil Hughes, who I think would require no more than $8MM per season over two or three years to secure. And of course there is Scott Baker, who might owe the Cubs a small debt for basically being paid to stay on the disabled list all season.
My idea with the previous crazy David Price trade idea was that if the Cubs were to upgrade from Samardzija to Price, they would also be operating under the assumption that contention is sooner rather than later, which means they would be scrounging up money to acquire Masahiro Tanaka as well as accessory pieces like Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo. Simply trading Samardzija for prospects and treading water doesn't sound appealing, but we as fans don't know the Cubs' true financial situation (we can only speculate) and so it would be sad if they were not spending out of necessity rather than by choice because of the long-term rebuilding plan. It's difficult to determine whether the Cubs being "in" on Tanaka and other free agents is just public relations damage control or sincere, but this front office has been playing things very close to the chest ever since they came aboard.
Peter Gammons also mentions Cubs shortstops in passing, so don't be too surprised to hear that the Cubs are shopping Starlin Castro under the radar. The Cubs have poised themselves at an interesting crossroads that could affect the timeline of contention significantly depending on which way they plan to go, but again, they are unlikely to deviate from building up the farm system in favor of a short-term shot at the big time.