Friday, June 27, 2014
First off lets address something. I am not and will never be a Jeff Samardzija fan. Ever since his comments about wanting to be on a "winner", throwing ownership and the front office under the bus, not understanding the direction of the front office, turning down 2 reasonable extensions, and then trashing those players who signed team friendly extensions (although he did not name them but it was implied he was talking about the likes of Rizzo, Castro, Longoria, etc.). I respect the competitor and the talent Shark is but I do not care for his antics and constant venting/communicating through the media. So having Jeff Samardzija dress in that Cards red would be an easy transition for me because I just do not like the guy.
The 2nd reason I think this trade works is both clubs have to take a great leap of faith when it comes to this deal. The Cards are going to have to give up more than one quality prospect; prospects that could torment them for years to come. While the Cubs have to deal with the idea of Shark (who is developing into an Ace) pitching against them for at least the next year and a half; possibly more. It is a give and take where both have the opportunity to win or lose the trade which is why the appeal to get over on your division rival makes this trade possible.
The 3rd reason is both have the resources to get this done. The Cardinals want a top on the rotation pitcher to help them this year and next which is why they are targeting David Price and Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs want impact prospects either ready or near ready. The Cards can deal multiple impact prospects and still not deplete their farm system which puts them in the front when talking about other suitors for Shark.
Players that could be dealt
The Cubs Side: Well obviously you are talking about Jeff Samardzija but the Cards need bullpen help which the Cubs can help. Schlitter, Wright, Russell, and Carlos Villanueva all could be dealt at the deadline and all could help the pitch hungry Cardinals. The Cardinals are ranked 17th in bullpen ERA while the Cubs are ranked 7th so obviously the need is there. Plus the Cubs will also be targeting pitching so they may need to give more pitching to get pitching back in the deal.
The Cardinals Side: I would start off by saying Oscar Taveras is off-limits but now I am not so sure especially after reading this article from Mike at Cubs Den. Obviously he would be the main target giving he is let-handed, only 22, MLB ready, hits for power and average, good OBP, and plays the corner spots in the OF (see his stats here). Honestly an Oscar Taveras for Jeff Samardzija might be realistic from both sides. It might come down to if the FO values pitching more or if it just comes down to quality. Taveras=Quality. If Theo and Co. do want pitching then the first guy on their list would be Carlos Martinez. The Cards are using Martinez currently in the rotation but he has done most of his work in the bullpen this year. If the Cubs did get him in a deal for Shark then they will likely have to include a reliever (like I stated above). Martinez is going to be a #1 starter in the ML, He gets the nickname baby Pedro after Pedro Martinez and the profile is so similar it is scary. You can see his stats here or his impressive minor league stats here. Of course the Cards could get Shark even without including those two but they will have to give up more in the terms of quantity. Guys like Stephen Piscotty, Marco Gonzales, Rob Kaminsky, Tim Cooney, Zach Petrick, etc. The fact is the Cards system is stacked with quality talent and they have the goods to get the deal done.
In the end I think the Cardinals as a destination for Jeff Samardzija is a legit one. When laying everything out above I honestly believe a deal could happen. I think the chances dramatically increase if the Rays end up pulling back David Price or their asking price increases to something like Taveras plus some or Martinez plus some which I believe it will get that high. There is no doubt in my mind a deal can be hammered out by the Cubs and Cardinals especially if the Cards get desperate enough and include Oscar Taveras or Carlos Martinez.
Until Next Time...
This is the final installment of the series “What do you have to offer” So lets take a look at the final 4 teams.
Joc Pederson: It is hard not to express my love for Joc and there is good reason. This year he has hit for a .391 avg with a .437 OBP and a 1.005 OPS. His K rate is quite high but so is his walks. He is the Dodgers top prospect and must be included in any deal for Samardzija. See his stats here.
Zach Lee: There is your package. Joc Pederson and Zach Lee plus another high ceiling high risk player. Many of you are not as high on Lee as I am but the fact that he has four average big league pitches, eats innings, and throws strikes makes him incredibly intriguing to me. There is a reason the past 3 seasons he has been rated in the top 100 best prospects in baseball. He may not every reach the ceiling of an Ace scouts thought but his floor of a #3 starter in the big leagues is as sure as sure can get. See his stats here.
Notes: Some other guys that would be nice (but not as nice) as the guys above are Chris Withrow who has a career 2.73 ERA in 56 IP for the Dodgers the past two years. There is a lot of talk of him being converted back into a starter. Of course high ceiling LHP Julio Urias is a nice looking prospect and everyone loves LHP Chris Reed. Although the Dodgers may not have the dynamic pitching prospect they are looking for they have the lefty, athletic, and potential All-Star bat in Joc Pederson they love. I also would like to throw in the idea of getting Matt Kemp even though he does not bat from the left-side he maybe an intriguing option for Theo and Co.
Andrew Heaney: It has to start with him. LHP who is in the top 5 best pitching prospects in baseball. He has 3 quality pitches and is a likely #2 starter in the big leagues. This year he was rated in the top 30 best prospects in baseball and at the age of 23 he made his ML debut for the Marlins. In 3 seasons in the minors all he did was sport at sparking 2.31 ERA over 36 starts with a 9 SO/9 and a 2.1 BB/9. This guy is the bee knees and the Cubs should be so lucky to get him in a deal for Shark. See his stats here.
Justin Nicolino: Another solid lefty in the Marlins organization who has posted a 2.64 ERA in 419 IP with a 7 SO/9 and 1.6 BB/9. He throws strikes and does not walk many batters but he lacks the upside of Heaney or many pitchers in this series but is still very intriguing.
Notes: Some other players that are interesting as well are Adam Conley, Anthony DeSclafani, and Jose Urena. The Marlins have the big piece that is attractive to the Cubs but the lack smaller pieces to compete with the other teams. FYI the Cubs really do not have a shot at Stanton without getting another team involved or including a top prospect of their own in the deal.
Lucas Giolito: Unlike a lot of the players on this list Giolito is in the lower levels of the minors but he would still be a huge target. Posting a large 9.5 SO/9 rate is insane to go along with a 2.37 ERA in just 87 IP is too good to pass up. If that is not enough then you look at the rating Baseball America gave him on their prospect list which is #21 and Baseball Prospectus was really impressed as well giving him the #13 best prospect in baseball label for 2014. He is a headliner and a guy you jump for joy if the Cubs have a chance at him.
A.J. Cole: In the same mold as Lucas Giolito but does not have the upside Lucas has. Still in 2014 he was rated in the top 70 prospects by MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. Cole in 437 IP has a great 9.3 SO/9 and a low 2.1 BB/9. He is a little further along in his development having pitched about 110 IP in AA for the past two years. He could see the ML sometime in 2015.
Notes: The Nationals have a nice farm system including Rafael Bautista who is off to a fast start for a 21 year old batting .311 with a .385 OBP in 191 games between rookie and A ball. While the Nats have a nice farm system without Cole of Giolito they do not get Shark.
Carlos Gonzalez: He has been rumored to be on the trade block the past 2 seasons and has been linked to the Cubs several times. The Rockies front office seem to want pitching and are willing to dangle the struggling and oft-injured Gonzalez to get it. Enter the Cubs who are in need and wanting ML talent especially in the OF that bats left-handed. He is the perfect fit. Not only that but the Cubs are in the position to take on a large portion of his salary to also sweeten the deal. Something a lot of teams may not be willing to do. He is and will be the top guy the Cubs should target.
Jon Gray: The Cubs can get Gray after all. He has all the make-up as a #1 pitcher especially with a 100MPH fastball and a good slider along with a solid changeup. Gray has been nothing but solid making his way to AA after just 19 games pitched. IN 23 games started he has a 3.15 ERA with a 9.6 SO/9. This is the guy the Cubs need to make a deal if they cannot get Cargo.
Notes: The Rockies are not without other solid to good prospects. Eddie Butler would be a nice piece to interchange with Gray as you can see from his stats here. I also like David Dahl but he still has a lot of development in from of him. Catcher Tom Murphy is an interesting choice who has struggled some in AA this year but will likely hit for power and scouts love his defense.
That concludes my “What do you have to offer?” series. In the end all these teams have a legit chance to deal for Samardzija if they are willing to trade the pieces I laid out and we are soon to find out if they will.
Until Next Time….