On Sunday, our Matt Garza trade rumor discussion turned into a referendum on what to do with Jeff Samardzija. Rather than lay out what we're looking at with Jeff and his contract, I'll take the lazy way out and provide a link to my position six months ago which is more or less the same then as now. I'm going to try and stay away from should we or shouldn't we and instead I want to look at who has the ammo to actually trade for Jeff Samardzija if he was on the market.
Assumptions for a Samardzija Deadline Deal
- A team looking to trade for Samardzija likely needs to be within shouting distance of the playoffs
- A team looking to trade for Shark will not be willing to give up assets that are currently providing big time value for their major league club
- Any prospect is in play. You're going to scoff and say, "That team will never trade that guy!" Shark is a No. 2 starter with No. 1 potential who is cost-controlled for 2½ years. Everyone is in play.
Now the fun part. Let's talk about the contending teams and what they can offer.
Who doesn't have the pieces?
The Tigers, Athletics, Angels, Nationals, Yankees, Reds and Braves just don't have the pieces to get a deal done, in my opinion. The Rays aren't the type of team to make this deal, so I'll exclude them too.
So, who is left? Let's break the remaining teams up into some categories. All deals include only Samardzija from the Cubs unless otherwise noted. Want to create your own deal? Click on the team name and it'll take you to MLB.com's top 20 prospects of that club.
Too far out of the race?
Blue Jays: These guys went for it this offseason and it's gone pretty badly for them so far this year. They do have another couple of years where they should have solid major league talent, but they need another starter. The problem is, their farm system is thin at the top, so the Cubs would have to be willing to take volume over quality.
Royals: Similar to the Blue Jays, the Royals went for it this year and it hasn't gone as planned. They have an option on James Shields for next year and if they decide to keep him and really go for it, they could use another stud pitcher. But, like the Jays, it'd probably clean them out in order to get the deal done.
The Stud Deal: RHP Kyle Zimmer, RHP Yordano Ventura and SS Adalberto Mondesi
Giants: Eight games under .500 and 6½ back from the Diamondbacks, the Giants' recent World Series wins make a panic buy unlikely. The Carlos Beltran rental that cost them Zach Wheeler probably also has left a bitter taste in their mouths. Like the Blue Jays, the Giants' offer would have to be predicated on quantity, not quality, but they are deep in pitching.
Padres: They're in even worse shape than the Giants and they don't have the past performance that tells them they're underachieving. They could certainly use a starter, though, so if they want a below market value guy for the next couple years and think they're not far away, they'd look at Shark. They also have a system the Cubs' front office is very familiar with, although right now it's very banged up.
The Volume Deal: C Austin Hedges, LHP Max Fried and RHP Matt Wisler
Pitchers? We don't need no stinking pitchers!
Cardinals: The Cardinals have the best record in baseball and don't need starting pitching. That being said, they're a half game from a wild card spot, so they aren't too comfortable. If the Cardinals decided they wanted to go nuts, bring in Samardzija and bump a few guys down a spot, they'd have the best rotation in baseball for the next 2½ years. The Cardinals certainly have enough to pull this deal off too.
The Stud Deal: OF Oscar Taveras and LHP Tim Cooney
The Volume Deal: RHP Michael Wacha, RHP Carlos Martinez and RHP Tyrell Jenkins
Rangers: I don't even really understand why they're looking at Matt Garza, let alone a guy like Jeff Samardzija. The problem this year has been injuries, but they've got Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison for the next three to four years. And they've got Martin Perez, Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz -- all seem like good No. 5 options. Trading for another controllable top of the rotation guy just seems excessive. They do have the pieces to make it happen and they have a glut of middle infielders...
The Stud Deal: SS Jurikson Profar and RHP Alec Asher
Pirates: Their staff may not have any big name guys, but it's been outstanding so far this year, even with Wandy Rodriguez currently out with an injury. The Pirates can't really afford big name free agents, so prospects are probably more valuable to them. At the same time, maybe they see this as their window to "go for it". If so, they have some pieces who might interest the Cubs.
The Stud Deal: RHP Jameson Taillon, OF Gregory Polanco and RHP Nick Kingham
Dodgers: The new ownership is throwing money around like they want to win right now and their trades have reflected that. Their rotation is excellent and only really needs a solid No. 5, not a top of the rotation guy. That said, who knows what this ownership has up its sleeve.
The Volume Deal: OF Joc Pederson, RHP Zach Lee, LHP Julio Urias and 3B Alex Santana
Red Sox: The Red Sox don't really need a pitcher at all... unless Clay Buchholz runs into problems in his rehab. This is a system that the Cubs are very familiar with and has some arms who would definitely interest the Cubs.
This May Actually Make Some Sense
Diamondbacks: Ken Rosenthal seems to think the Diamondbacks are very much interested in Jeff Samardzija because they don't want a rental. But there have been reports the Cubs asked about both Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley and the conversation ended. That being said, they have the pieces to get a deal done if they want to, and it doesn't necessarily have to include both of those guys.
The Stud Deal: Archie Bradley, Tyler Skaggs and Jake Barrett
Indians: They made some aggressive signings in the offseason and they've hung with the Tigers most of the year. What they really need is a top of the rotation guy to lead their rotation for the next couple of years while they have the talent to win. And while they don't have a lot of depth in their system, they do have studs.
The Stud Deal: SS Francisco Lindor and CF Luigi Rodriguez
Orioles: The Orioles are right on the edge of a playoff spot, but even after the addition of Scott Feldman, their rotation needs help. Like the Indians, their system is very thin, but they have MLB-ready studs that are just not quite there yet.
Rockies: The Rockies weren't expected to compete this year and even though their rotation has been bad, it's been better than expected. If they can get healthy and decide they want to make a run while they have Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez under contract, then Shark could make a lot of sense.
I'll be honest, my trades tend to skew in favor of the Cubs. And, this time, it was sort of on purpose. I don't think the Cubs do a deal unless they're blown away. In my opinion, most of the trades above represent "blown away". I admit, they waver in terms of the degree of "blown away", but that's why I have you guys to call me out, right? So, what's your take? Which of these deals do you like? Which do you hate? Which do you feel are the best fits? Feel free to offer your own deals, hate on my deals, include deals for teams I excluded, etc.!