LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Cubs fans can dream about Jeff Samardzija and Masahiro Tanaka as a one-two punch at the top of the rotation. That idea would energize the base and maybe shake up the rebuilding timeline.
It would be an extreme long shot, but this is a question worth asking: How would the Samardzija talks impact a Tanaka bid?
“They’re not attached at all,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Monday. “It’s not an either/or-type-thing. We obviously like Samardzija a lot and Tanaka’s a talented pitcher. We’re not looking at them joined or not joined. There’s no influence on each other.”
The Cubs will spend this week at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – and maybe the next seven-plus months – listening to what teams would give up for Samardzija. The demands will be sky-high for a 200-innings/200-strikeouts power pitcher who will remain under club control for two more seasons.
The team executives, agents and international media gathering at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort are waiting to hear what the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles are going to do with Tanaka – and how exactly Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball will structure a new posting system.
Samardzija or Tanaka? The reality is the Cubs could wind up with neither at a time when the upper levels of their system lack impact pitchers and even back-of-the-rotation guys are getting four-year deals as free agents.
Would signing Tanaka send the message to Samardzija that the Cubs are committed to winning and could see the light at the end of the tunnel? Could it better match up Samardzija’s timeline with the organization’s vision?
“We’re not really talking about it that way,” Hoyer said.
Sources on both sides say the Cubs and Samardzija’s representatives haven’t reengaged since discussions about a long-term deal fizzled out last offseason. It’s not bitter or contentious. Samardzija loves Chicago and the Cubs think he has the mixture of talent and personality they could build around. It’s just business.
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It’s also unclear if the Cubs have the financial flexibility to make a splash this winter.
“What people are speculating about our resources – they’re not based on any kinds of facts,” Hoyer said. “There’s very few people that know exactly what we have the resources to do and obviously we’ll keep that internal. I think one thing in this game is that you don’t get any points for having people out there know how much money you do or do not have to spend.”