Yankees get a look at Samardzija, Hammel before trade season

Yankees get a look at Samardzija, Hammel before trade season
May 20, 2014, 11:45 pm
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Tony Andracki

When the trade deadline approaches and the Cubs are taking calls on starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, expect the Yankees to be one of the teams on the other line.

[RELATED - Trade forces lining up with Samardzija, Hammel]

You can talk about run differential all you want, but the simple fact is, you are what your record says you are. And despite a 6-1 victory Tuesday night, the Cubs (+2 run differential) own the worst record (16-27) in Major League Baseball while the Yankees (-13) are 23-21 and a half-game out of first in the AL East.

Barring a collapse by the Yankees or an epic turnaround from the Cubs, come July, the Bronx Bombers will be buyers and Theo Epstein's front office will once again look to sell off at least 40 percent of its rotation.

[RELATED - Cubs roll past Yankees, snapping Tanaka's unbeaten streak]

But it's still only mid-May. A lot can happen between now and July 31.

"I really don't concern myself with it too much, Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "Because I can only control what I can control and what I have before me. Right now, the men that I have here have done a great job and they're still here with me.

"I don't try to speculate or consume myself with things at this particular time. I can't do anything about that.

"All those guys that are in there are Cubs. I foresee them as being Cubs. [The trade rumors don't] really affect me."

[MORE - Wrigley's nice, but Girardi loves the stability with Yankees]

Hammel shut down the Yankees Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, allowing just one run in 5.2 innings, picking up his fifth win in nine starts and lowering his ERA to 2.91 and WHIP to 0.90.

Like his manager, Hammel isn't concerning himself with trade speculation right now.

"I could care less," he said after beating the Yankees. "I'm wearing blue pinstripes right now and I'm excited to be here. I don't think about that kinda stuff. I've been around long enough to know it's part of the game.

"I want to be here. I want to pitch here. I want to win here. For right now, that's all that matters to me."

Samardzija will take the ball Wednesday afternoon, and now owns the best ERA (1.62) in the MLB thanks to Johnny Cueto's blowup (6 ER in 5.1 IP) with the Reds Tuesday night.

Samardzija wants to be paid like a frontline starter and realizes there's almost no way he's still pitching in Chicago this fall. Hammel knows the Cubs' reputation the last two seasons and understands he's a prime candidate to be a sign-and-flip guy.

So does Renteria keep tabs on the two righties and how they're dealing with the trade rumors?

"Not necessarily," Renteria said. "You just cross paths with your players on a daily basis. You get a sense of where they're at. I think they're all in a pretty good place as far as those two guys are concerned. If anybody has shown resiliency, it's been Jeff."

[MORE - Cubs vs. Yankees: Derek Jeter Night takes over Wrigley Field]

Samardzija, of course, has drawn a lot of attention around the league thanks to his rough luck. He's still winless in nine starts despite his sparkling ERA and he hasn't picked up a victory since Aug. 24 of last season.

"He's pitched great," Renteria said. "I think he's mature, he's a man who knows what he's doing and what he can do, controlling what he can control.

"Every single time he takes the ball, he's going to try to do the same thing again. Most people keep asking me if he's getting frustrated. Again, I see a guy who's going out there every single day and to this point, has still been as professional as ever, knowing he can only do what he can do and he's doing it."

The Yankees might not have the high-end pitching prospects to pry Samardzija from the Cubs, but Hammel could be a nice fallback option for a team with only one consistent starting pitcher right now - Masahiro Tanaka, who just picked up his first MLB loss at the hands of the Cubs.

No team in the AL East looks like they can run away with the division and with the second wild card and a persistent win-now mentality in New York, the Yankees will always feel the pressure to be buyers in July.

[MORE - Theo vs. Evil Empire: How Cubs move on from Tanaka fallout]

The Cubs are still in the stage of acquiring long-term assets during Year 3 of the rebuild and were able to work out a deal with the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and his hefty contract last year.

Could there be another Cubs-Yankees trade this summer?