A bit of a late start for me today but in perusing the internet, I see that there is some clamoring for Jeff Samardzija‘s services in Colorado. In fact, Denver Post writer Mark Kiszla suggests the Rockies should trade last year’s #3 overall pick, Jon Gray, a pitcher the Cubs strongly considered before deciding on slugging 3B Kris Bryant.
I followed up on this and a source told me that the Rockies indeed would be interested in Samardzija, but that he could not see the team parting with Gray.
He did believe they’d be willing to part with Eddie Butler and/or David Dahl.
Butler burst on the scene as a top 100 prospect and is currently having a solid season in AA (3.45 ERA, 3.58 FIP), though his K rate is down to 5.48 per 9 IP from 8.13 last year, so that is something of a concern. Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America both rank Butler as the 2nd best prospect in the system after Gray.
Per Jason Parks at BP,
Athletic; long arms; good body with more room to add strength; repeatable delivery; fastball is power offering; works 93-98; huge life to the arm-side; holds velocity; two-seamer with heavy life; bat-smasher; changeup is money pitch; plus-plus potential with mid-upper 80s velo, good deception, and heavy two-seamer action; slider is third plus potential offering; hard and cutter like in mid-upper 80s; longer in the 83-85 range with more tilt; shows low-80s curveball with some bite.
Butler projects as a #2 or #3 starter and is probably about a year or less from the big leagues.
The other player of interest would fill a second hole in the Cubs organization — a LH bat in the OF in David Dahl. Dahl, 20, is currently in low A ball and is hitting .261/.301/500 with 8 HRs. Parks had this to say about Dahl,
Athletic and strong; natural hitter; easy, line-drive stroke; plus bat speed and bat control; plus run; strong arm; glove with above-average projection; could be legit five-tool player; strong work ethic and high baseball IQ.
Their is some risk with Dahl as he had injury issues last year and he doesn’t fit the team’s profile as a selective hitter (5.4% walk rate this season).
I think they’yre intriguing players but I’m not sure the front office will surrender their top pitcher. Despite having zero wins, Samardzija is having his best season. We talked about his maturation here and this season, it’s reflecting in his numbers. Samardzija has put up an FIP of 2.92, good for 10th in the NL and 19th in all of baseball. He ranks 17th in terms of WAR among all starting pitchers and 6th in the NL. Those rankings are higher than any pitcher expected to be available in a trade with the possible exception of David Price — but frankly, it’s difficult to see the Rays parting with Price when they have a shot at the playoffs. Kiszla reasoning for the Rockies to be willing to part with Gray for Samardzija is that the Rockies are a veteran team that is ready to win now.
Gray got off to a rough start the season but has since righted the ship, posting a 3.22 ERA (2.82 FIP) with 8.42 Ks and just 1.24 walks per 9 IP.
If the Rockies do offer Gray then, as much as I like Samardzija, I am all for pulling the trigger. But if it’s a package centered around Butler and Dahl, the answer may not be as clear — but there’s still a lot to like with that sort of package. I’m more concerned with Dahl than Butler so perhaps there are alternatives.
Other players of interest include Raimel Tapia, another LH hitting OF who Parks likes better than Dahl, calling him a potential all-star — but he is not as far along as Dahl, so there is more risk. Ryan McMahon, a 3B in which the Cubs had shown some interest in prior to last year’s draft. McMahon is also lefty and has shown the kind of discipline and extra base power the Cubs like in A ball.
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