Cubs fans are used to trade rumors by now.
After months and months of speculation, veterans Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza were dealt away the last two seasons. Now, with a young roster, it's Starlin Castro and Jeff Samardzija finding their names popping up in a new rumor each week.
The Blue Jays are reportedly one of the teams in on Samardzija and Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos refused to address the Cubs starting pitcher by name while on MLB Network Radio with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette Sunday.
"I won't comment on specific rumors and things like that, but I will say that we're definitely exploring starters with teams," Anthopoulos said. "But also, just like a lot of stuff that's out there that is false, we have not made an offer to anybody with respect to a starter.
"So if there is something out there that we've actually made an offer to someone for a starter, that is not accurate. It doesn't mean we're not inquiring...Right now, there isn't anything imminent."
The Cubs have been negotiating a contract extension with Samardzija but have not been able to come close to a deal yet. The 28-year-old righty (he turns 29 in January) won't be a free agent for two years and is an attractive option to teams with his durability, competitiveness and fastball velocity that ranks in the Top 5 in MLB among starting pitchers.
Samardzija bounced between the starting rotation and bullpen early in his career and doesn't have the same mileage on his arm as other pitchers his age. He has started 61 games the last two seasons with a 4.10 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, striking out 394 batters in 388.1 innings.
The Cubs boast an impressive supply of positional prospects that includes Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, but they have a dearth of pitching prospects in the farm system, especially at the upper levels.
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Toronto has the resources to put together a prospect package to the Cubs' liking. The Blue Jays tied for 11th in Baseball America's farm system rankings and their top six pitching prospects (according to MLB.com) are pitchers.
With Thanksgiving coming up in a few days and the MLB Winter Meetings the second week of December, the Cubs aren't in a rush to get a deal done. But, as we saw with the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade last week, a deal can come about quickly.