Results tagged ‘ Jeff Samardzija ’

Mets, Cubs and the shortstop deal just waiting to be made

When the Cubs traded Jeff Samardzija last week in a deal that landed them shortstop prospect Addison Russell, they were left with a glut of high-ceiling shortstops in their organization. Russell and Javier Baez are both uber-prospects blocked by current starter Starlin Castro.

Enter the Mets, who spent most of the offseason fruitlessly searching for a shortstop to replace incumbent Ruben Tejada. General manager Sandy Alderson balked at signing Jhonny Peralta, passed on multiple chances to ink Stephen Drew, and never delved too deep in trade discussions for Arizona’s Didi Gregorius or Seattle’s Nick Franklin or Chris Owings.

The Mets, meanwhile, converted Wilmer Flores to shortstop, where he is currently raking at Triple-A Las Vegas, then watched Flores’ success spark some semblance of a renaissance in Tejada. So their need at the position is not as great as it once was.

Yet neither Tejada nor Flores is a guarantee, and acquiring a shortstop of Castro’s caliber would allow the Mets to deal second baseman Daniel Murphy before he becomes a free agent after next season. It makes sense on multiple levels for the Mets to pursue Castro, provided they can stomach giving up young pitching to do it.

The Daily News’ John Harper estimated that the Cubs would ask for a package of Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, or something similar, which would almost assuredly make Alderson balk. Most likely, the Mets could center a deal around their own top prospect, Noah Syndergaard, who is struggling at Las Vegas but still boasts an immense ceiling.

What’s clear is that the Mets and Cubs are ideal trade partners on paper leading up to the deadline. Whether they can consummate a deal will go a long way toward understanding the mindsets of both.

–Anthony DiComo

12/17 Roundup

The pool of potential closers available on the free-agent market shrank on Tuesday, when the Hot Stove was focused on relief pitching.

The Orioles were on the hunt for a closer after trading Jim Johnson to the A’s earlier this offseason, and they now appear set to use some of the savings from that deal on Oakland’s former closer. Grant Balfour, who saved 38 games for the A’s in 2013, reportedly is in agreement on a two-year contract with Baltimore.

The Cubs also might have snatched up a new ninth-inning man after reaching a reported one-year pact with Jose Veras. That would leave Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Betancourt and Chris Perez among a dwindling group of free agents with recent success as closers. The Padres appear to be targeting Benoit for an eighth-inning role in front of Huston Street.

In other news from around the league:

  • Highly touted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has informed his Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, that he wants to be made available to Major League teams. But even with NPB and MLB having a new posting agreement in place, the Eagles do not have to post Tanaka, and it appears they might be reluctant to do so.
  • One club that figures to pursue Tanaka if he becomes available is Arizona, which is looking to add more starting pitching this offseason.
  • The Yankees are close to signing a pair of veteran players, reportedly reaching an agreement on a one-year deal with second baseman Brian Roberts and a two-year contract with left-handed reliever Matt Thornton. Meanwhile, New York still would like to add free agent Mark Reynolds but is facing competition from the Angels and Twins, among others, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network. Jeff Baker is another veteran bat drawing interest from the club, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
  • The Braves’ search for additional starting pitching likely concluded with Monday’s signing of Gavin Floyd to a one-year contract, despite the fact that the righty won’t be ready until May as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Atlanta had explored trades for the likes of the Rays’ David Price and the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija but found the asking prices too steep.
  • Our Tom Singer checks in on free-agent righty A.J. Burnett, who has yet to make a decision about whether to retire, return to the Pirates or perhaps pitch for another team. It’s a delay that is making things difficult for Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington.
  • After losing out on Juan Uribe, the Marlins continue to search for a third baseman. The club is looking at both free agents and trade possibilities.
  • The Mets’ top priority is to trade one of its first basemen, Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. The Brewers and Pirates are the two remaining clubs that seem like obvious trade partners for such a deal. Pittsburgh is interested in both Davis and the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland, according to Heyman.
  • The Cardinals’ recent signing of free-agent second baseman Mark Ellis likely will turn out to be their last significant move of the offseason, as GM John Mozeliak acknowledged on Tuesday.
  • On the other hand, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said his club still is looking hard at free agents, with the bullpen one area to address. Houston already has signed relievers Chad Qualls and Matt Albers.

– Andrew Simon

12/11 Afternoon Roundup

No transactions went down on Wednesday morning, as the third day of the Winter Meetings got underway at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. But there are plenty of rumors and buzz going around. Here is a look at the latest:

  • The agent for Rays left-hander David Price told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com and MLB Network that his client wouldn’t consider an extension with the Mariners if traded to Seattle but might do so with other, unspecified teams. Price has two seasons remaining before he hits free agency. Our Greg Johns calls Price and the Mariners “an extremely remote match.”
  • Free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo could command a seven-year, $140 million deal, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The Mariners and Rangers are in the lead for his services, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
  • The Rangers are staying patient as they wait for asking prices to come down on the likes of Choo and Nelson Cruz, writes our T.R. Sullivan.
  • The D-backs are in the market for a starting pitcher, Rosenthal tweets. ESPN’s Jayson Stark mentions free-agent right-hander Matt Garza as a possibility.
  • The Nationals’ quest for a left-handed reliever could end soon, according to Rosenthal.
  • Rosenthal also describes Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips as “in play” for trade talks.
  • Our Carrie Muskat updates the Jeff Samardzija situation, as the Cubs explore a contract extension with the right-hander, who also has been involved in plenty of trade rumors this offseason.
  • The Astros are one of the teams interested in often-injured former All-Star outfielder Grady Sizemore.
  • The Marlins are listening to offers for outfielder Justin Ruggiano, writes our Joe Frisaro. They also have interest in outfielder Delmon Young, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
  • The Orioles have talked with free-agent reliever John Axford, tweets Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com.

– Andrew Simon

12/11 Cubs and Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija’s agent was expected to meet Wednesday with Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, at the Winter Meetings. It’s more a chance for the two to touch base. The Cubs would like to extend Samardzija, but he will be a free agent after the 2015 season and is most likely to politely reject their offer. The right-hander has been the subject of trade rumors, and if the Cubs do not deal him now, they could move Samardzija at the Trade Deadline in July.

The three-way trade between the Angels, the Diamondbacks and the White Sox may have had an impact on what the Cubs do with Samardzija. The Cubs were believed to be looking at lefty Tyler Skaggs as part of the package for the right-hander, but Skaggs was sent to the Angels.

One team that could be in the market for Samardzija is Toronto. The Blue Jays have gotten inquiries on right-handed pitchers Marcus Stroman, 22, and Aaron Sanchez, 21, and also are trying to move Colby Rasmus, 27, a left-handed hitting outfielder. Rasums batted .276 in 118 games with the Blue Jays last season, hitting 22 home runs but also striking out 135 times. Stroman was 9-5 with a 3.30 ERA at Double-A New Hampshire, striking out 129 over 111 2/3 innings, and Sanchez compiled a 3.34 ERA in 22 games at Class A Dunedin, striking out 75 over 86 1/3 innings.

– Carrie Muskat

12/6 Jeff Samardzija and Cubs

The Cubs are still hoping to lock up Jeff Samardzija to a long-term contract. You’ll hear Samardzija’s name mentioned a lot next week during the Winter Meetings as teams seeking a starting pitcher try to pry the right-hander away from the Cubs. Where does the team stand in talks with Samardzija?

“I’m not going to provide a running play by play,” Theo Epstein said Thursday. “It’s in the same place it’s been. There’s mutual interest [to get something done]. The situation sometimes makes things tough.”

Samardzija has made it clear he wants to stay with the Cubs, but is under team control for two more seasons and will be a free agent after 2015. Considering the salaries starting pitchers are getting these days, he may decide to wait. He’s coming off his first 200-inning, 200-strikeout season.

– Carrie Muskat

12/4 Roundup

After Tuesday’s explosion of deals, the Hot Stove returned to a light simmer on Wednesday, but there still was plenty of news.

One of the most significant topics was the posting system that governs how Japanese players get from Nippon Professional Baseball to the Major Leagues. The two sides have been working on a new agreement throughout the offseason, which has been holding up the bidding for one of the winter’s hottest commodities, pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

However, a deal appears to be near, with Japanese media outlet Sanspo reporting Wednesday that the NPB is expected to accept a proposal limiting posting fees to $20 million. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports later added that if multiple teams submit the maximum bid, the player then could negotiate with all of those clubs.

Elsewhere on the international front, our Jesse Sanchez writes about the next wave of Cuban players set to follow recent signings such as Jose Abreu and Alexander Guerrero to the Majors. One of those players, slick-fielding 23-year-old shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena, will audition for teams at a showcase this weekend at the Yankees’ facility in the Dominican Republic, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino writes that the Mets will be among those teams with scouts in attendance.

In other news from around the league:

  • In the wake of the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann to contracts totalling $238 million, our Bryan Hoch looks at whether free agent Robinson Cano is still a fit in the Bronx. If Cano doesn’t return, the Yankees have an insurance policy in Kelly Johnson, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network reporting that the two sides have agreed on a one-year deal for about $3 million.
  • One other team rumored to be pursuing Cano is the Mariners, but general manager Jack Zduriencik wouldn’t confirm that interest.
  • Seattle also is among the teams that could enter the fray to acquire Rays ace left-hander David Price. That market soon will intensify, according to Passan, who names the Mariners, Dodgers, Angels, Pirates, Rangers, D-backs and Blue Jays as likely contenders. While Tampa Bay doesn’t need to trade Price, doing so now probably would earn it the best possible return, given that Price has two seasons left before free agency. Several baseball officials who talked to Passan named the Mariners as a frontrunner to land Price, perhaps by offering a package headlined by highly touted pitching prospect Taijuan Walker.
  • Max Scherzer is another Cy Young Award winner who has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, but Detroit could be ready to pursue a contract extension instead. Our Jason Beck also addresses whether the Tigers could make a run at free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
  • With Ellsbury gone, our Ian Browne discusses what the Red Sox will do to fill his spot in center field next season.
  • The Mets are “deep in talks” with free-agent outfielder Curtis Granderson, reports our Anthony DiComo.
  • Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija has been discussed as a trade target this offseason, but Theo Epstein said the right-hander likely will be in the team’s Opening Day rotation, with a long-term deal a possibility.
  • The Cubs also agreed to a one-year deal with left-handed reliever Wesley Wright, who was non-tendered by the Rays on Monday.
  • Paul Konerko has decided to return to the White Sox for one more season, filling a part-time role in his 16th year with the club. He will make $1.5 million, plus $1 million deferred until 2021.
  • The Rockies are getting close to a two-year deal with free-agent first baseman Justin Morneau, who is expected to platoon with the right-handed Wilin Rosario. Morneau likely will get $12.5 million, plus a mutual option for 2016.
  • The Reds might not be as likely to trade second baseman Brandon Phillips as was reported earlier in the offseason, especially in light of comments general manager Walt Jocketty made on Wednesday.
  • With A.J. Pierzynski among the catchers who have gone off the board recently, the Rangers continue to look for a backup to pair with Geovany Soto. Kurt Suzuki is one candidate.

– Andrew Simon

12/4 Jeff Samardzija – UPDATE

During an interview Wednesday night on Chicago Sports Talk Live, Theo Epstein said the chances of Jeff Samardzija being in the Cubs Opening Day rotation are “pretty good.”

Samardzija has been the subject of trade rumors since July, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick wrote Wednesday that the Cubs will do some “serious listening” at the Winter Meetings to teams interested in trading for the right-hander.

In the show Wednesday night on Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Epstein repeated that the Cubs are hoping to sign Samardzija to a long-term deal. The pitcher is arbitration eligible.

“He’s our best pitcher and I’m really bullish on his future,” Epstein said on the Comcast SportsNet Chicago show. “He’s a guy who is a difference making starting pitcher for a long time.”

Epstein did say they want to get the most out of their assets, and although one way is a contract extension, another way is to trade that player for “mulitiple young impact assets.”

“With Jeff, I still have the belief that he can be the guy, he has the exact makeup we’re looking for,” Epstein said.

Samardzija is under team control for two more seasons, has shown that he’s durable, he’s a power pitcher, and he’s only 28 years old. The Cubs would have to be blown away by a package to deal Samardzija, who is arbitration eligible and projected to get a $4.9 million in 2014. Many teams looking for starting pitching consider him to be a better alternative than the free agent pitchers still on the market.

What could influence the Cubs decision on whether to part with Samardzija is if they can fill that spot in the rotation with Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. According to a report on Wednesday, Japanese baseball officials are willing to accept the $20 million maximum bid, which would be part of the new posting rules. Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for Rakuten this season.

Stay tuned. The Winter Meetings get underway Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

– Carrie Muskat

11/25 Roundup

The Rangers officially introduced Prince Fielder on Monday, five days after acquiring the slugging first baseman from the Tigers for Ian Kinsler.

The move likely doesn’t signify the end of the club’s offseason maneuvering, however. Our T.R. Sullivan writes that while the Rangers are not expected to go after free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano, they are looking to add another impact bat to their lineup, either at the top or in the middle.

One of those available big bats belongs to free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Speaking of Choo, our Mark Sheldon explores the question of whether the Reds could bring him back to Cincinnati, meeting his significant contract demands.

In other news from around the league:

  • Veteran right-handed pitcher Dan Haren officially came off the board on Monday, when the Dodgers announced his one-year contract.
  • After adding a center fielder (Peter Bourjos) and a shortstop (Jhonny Peralta) over the past week, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak didn’t close the door on his offseason shuffling but added that, “if the clock stopped today, we’d be pretty happy with our club.”
  • The Yankees’ signing of free-agent catcher Brian McCann signals the club’s aggressive intentions this offseason after falling short of the playoffs in 2013, writes MLB.com columnist Mike Bauman. Along those lines, a move for free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran could be on the way.
  • Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos addressed his team’s search for a starting pitcher, most notably the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija.
  • Veteran righty A.J. Burnett hasn’t decided if he will pitch in 2014, but if he does, the market could push him out of the Pirates’ price range.
  • The Tigers and free-agent reliever Brian Wilson are in “serious” negotiations, a source has told The Detroit News. It appears that Wilson, and not Joe Nathan, is Detroit’s primary target to fill its closer role.
  • Elsewhere in the American League Central, The Kansas City Star reported that the Royals are open to dealing from their bullpen depth, especially righty Aaron Crow or lefty Tim Collins.
  • There were a few minor trades executed on Monday, with the Padres swinging a three-player deal with the Pirates and swapping pitchers with the Orioles, while the A’s picked up a left-hander from the Nationals. The Pirates also cleared 40-man roster space by designating first baseman-outfielder Garrett Jones for assignment.
  • Our Doug Miller looks at what’s left on the free-agent market in The Week Ahead.
  • The Marlins are looking into signing catcher Dioner Navarro and pitcher Phil Hughes, according to the Miami Herald.

– Andrew Simon

11/24 Samardzija rumors

Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija struck out 200 over 200 innings in his first full season as a starter, and has drawn interest from teams looking for a young pitcher, especially one who would be under team control for two more years. The Diamondbacks, Nationals and Blue Jays have reportedly inquired about Samardzija and on Sunday, there was a report that Toronto was putting together a package of young players for the Cubs right-hander.

During an interview on MLB Radio on Sunday, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos was asked if there was any truth to the rumor about the Blue Jays pursuing Samardzija.

“You know what, I just saw that [rumor], too,” Anthropoulos told MLB Radio. “I’m in the office [Sunday] just going through some things. I’m going to try to be a little more candid than I may have been in the past. I won’t comment on specific rumors and things like that but I will say that we’re definitely exploring starters with teams. 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 [says] we’ve actually made an offer to someone for a starter, that is not accurate. It doesn’t mean we’re not inquiring.”

MLB Radio host Jim Duquette asked if anything was imminent regarding either adding a free agent or making a trade.

“You know what, we’re talking to one club about a smaller trade and maybe it’ll move the next few days, or maybe it won’t happen,” Anthropoulos said. “But, no, I don’t think, not right now there isn’t anything imminent. We’re not necessarily waiting on someone to get back to us but, again, at any time that can change and I hope it does. I think, and you guys both went through it, before the Thanksgiving holiday sometimes there’s that last little push [when] teams want to get some things off their plate. So maybe things happen here in the next two or three days. If not, we’ll take it to the [Winter Meetings], I guess, at that point.”

The Cubs have approached Samardzija, 28, about a possible contract extension. The pitcher, who was the Opening Day starter this year, has not been in a hurry to something done.

“I have two more years of arbitration so there is a lot of time to get something done,” Samardzija said in early November.

As for all the rumors, GM Jed Hoyer said Samardzija had the right attitude because he doesn’t pay any attention to the reports.

Teams shopping for starting pitching may be comparing the cost of acquiring Samardzija with another 28-year-old, David Price, who also is under team control for two more years. However, Price has more innings and experience as a starter, and won the AL Cy Young in 2012 when he went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA for the Rays. Price did miss time this season because of a left triceps strain. Samardzija, who ranked fifth in the National League in strikeouts per nine innings, has been healthy. Price was paid $10 million in 2013; Samardzija $2.6 million.

The Cubs don’t have that much depth pitching-wise, with Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jake Arrieta set for the rotation in 2014.

– Carrie Muskat

Blue Jays want Samardzija, other Saturday rumors

The Cubs could be going younger very soon.

According to ESPNChicago.com, Jeff Samardzija continues to command interest and the Blue Jays are putting together a package of prospects in preparation to make an offer.

Speaking on SiriusXM radio, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos didn’t deny discussions regarding Samardzija. The Blue Jays certainly could use a boost to the starting staff after just two starters reached 140 innings last year, and none had an ERA below 4.15.

Samardzija has a 4.10 ERA over two full seasons as a starter. His 9.1 strikeout-per-nine-inning rate is better than any current Blue Jay starter posted last year.

The 28-year-old is set to hit the free agent market after 2015 and reports have indicated a contract extension may be difficult to agree upon.

A few more notes around the league Saturday:

– The Cardinals’ deal with shortstop Jhonny Peralta will be for four years, a little more than $52 million, according to FOX Sports.

– The Marlins are showing interest in former Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes and former Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro, according to the Miami Herald.

– The Red Sox are dealing with competition in the market for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. According to the Boston Globe, the Twins have interest in Saltalamacchia after making the decision to move Joe Mauer to first base. The Globe also reports a deal is still possible that would involve sending Mark Trumbo from the Angels to the Red Sox, presumably for starting pitching.

– After agreeing to a contract with Brian McCann (who was presented a qualifying offer by the Braves) and forfeiting a draft pick in the process, the Yankees are now set up to pursue other top-tier free agents, according to ESPN.com. The Yankees could now go after Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales, Ervin Santana or others tied to draft pick compensation since they’ve already lost a pick. And if one of their free agents who were presented qualifying offers signs with another team, they’ll receive a pick in return.

– Jason Mastrodonato

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