As the Cubs search for their new manager, the players on the roster have fallen a bit under the radar.
But a tweet from ESPN's Buster Olney changed that Monday afternoon.
There is an expectation that the Jeff Samardzija/Arizona trade talks will continue. Cubs reaching point where they need a decision on him.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 4, 2013
After 197 losses the last two seasons, the Cubs are at the point where they're listening to offers on everybody. But Samardzija is part of the core, so would they really deal him?
The big-right hander turns 29 in January and regressed in 2013 (4.34 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) despite career highs in starts (33), innings pitched (213.2) and strikeouts (214).
It's no surprise the Diamondbacks would be in on a guy like Samardzija, hoping the Cubs' ace could provide a veteran presence at the front of their rotation in Arizona. But with five starting pitchers all under the age of 26 and Archie Bradley -- arguably the game's top pitching prospect -- coming up fast, the D-Backs aren't exactly hurting for starters.
Assuming the rumor is legit, the next question becomes: What would Arizona be willing to give up in a package?
With possibly the best stable of positional prospects in the league, the Cubs would be looking for young pitchers in return. Leading up to the July 31 trade deadline, the Cubs were asking for Bradley -- a 21-year-old right-hander who compiled a 14-5 record and 1.84 ERA in 26 starts between High-A and Double-A -- and 22-year-old lefty Tyler Skaggs, who has already pitched 68 innings in the big leagues to date.
[KAPLAN: Cubs closing in on Renteria as search winds down]
Would the Diamondbacks really part with two of the best pitching prospects in the game?
If not, Arizona still has southpaws Patrick Corbin (24 years old) and Wade Miley (26) as well as righties Trevor Cahill (25) and Randall Delgado (23) to offer. Cubs fans may remember Delgado from the Ryan Dempster deal with the Braves that fell apart before the 2012 trade deadline.
Samardzija is due for arbitration again this winter and is under team control through the 2015 season. The Cubs have reportedly been discussing an extension with Samardzija's camp on and off over the last calendar year, and it would figure to take a package of at least two young pitchers to pry him out of Chicago.
“I got two years still in arbitration,” Samardzija said after the Cubs' last game of the season in St. Louis. “I’m a ways away from free agency, so there’s still a chance for me to grow and build and get stronger – and grow with this team.
“We need to get stronger and improve and be ready to compete, day-in, day-out, year-in, year-out against these teams – the Cardinals, the Reds and the Pirates – to get in the playoffs.
“Because that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about playing six months. It’s about playing that seventh month and that’s it. Otherwise, you’re just out here buying time. I want to win. I want to pitch in October.”
It'd be interesting to see what happens with Samardzija and the Diamondbacks after the ultra-competitive right-hander got into a shouting match with Arizona coaches and players in June. prompting D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson to tell Samardzija to 'shut the (bleep) up and pitch.'
There's also familiarity between the front offices of the two teams. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers held the same position in San Diego and gave Theo Epstein his first big break in the early stages of his career.
After the new Cubs manager is announced, Samardzija will be a hot name at the GM meetings next week and leading up to the winter meetings in December.