The Predictable Samardzija Rumors and Other Cubs News and Notes

Jeff Samardzija was back in the rumor mill Monday, that is if he ever left. The unbelievable amount of pitching injuries throughout the league has contenders scrambling to fill holes in their rotations. And teams that were once interested in trading for Samardzija could reopen those discussions.

Jeff Samardzija has been named the Cubs Opening Day starter and unless one of the contenders that have lost a starter this week is willing to meet the front office’s asking price, Samardzija will be on the hill at PNC Park in a Cubs’ uniform on March 31.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would like to sign Samardzija to a contract extension and Samardzija would like to remain with the Cubs. But the two sides value Samardzija differently and they have not been able to agree on a long term extension. Plus, Samardzija would like some type of no-trade protection and no-trade clauses are no longer included in contracts players sign with the Cubs.

According to a report from Nick Cafardo, there is “some buzz in the scouting community” that the Braves might be interested in Jeff Samardzija again. The Cubs and Braves briefly discussed a deal involving Samardzija during the off-season. Multiple reports have stated that once the Braves found out the Cubs’ asking price for Samardzija, those discussions quickly ended. But with Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy out for the season, the Braves could reopen those discussions.

Another possibility for Samardzija is the Arizona Diamondbacks, but Kevin Towers is not going to include Archie Bradley in a deal for Samardzija. The D-Backs are looking for a top of the rotation starter to take Patrick Corbin’s place in the rotation. Patrick Corbin is out for the season with a torn ligament in his elbow.

Bruce Levine reported the Diamondbacks will scout Samardzija again and if Arizona asks the Cubs about Samardzija the starting point in the negotiations will be Archie Bradley. Levine added the D-Backs “coveted Samardzija” before they signed Bronson Arroyo. As Levine pointed out, Kevin Towers may decide to just promote Bradley to the majors instead of use him in a deal for another pitcher.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said the daily trade rumors involving Samardzija are more media driven than anything else. And while the front office maintains the Cubs “need more Jeff Samardzijas, not less,” if a team meets the Cubs’ asking price, the front office will likely pull the trigger on the deal.

Mike Olt

Mike Olt was in Monday’s lineup in Phoenix but was a late scratch due to shoulder fatigue. Olt has been dealing with his right shoulder since camp began and it has kept him from playing third base. Olt and the Cubs downplayed the late scratch from the lineup on Monday.

Olt told ESPN Chicago, “I’ve been doing a lot the last two weeks just to get the arm going and made a lot of good strides. It’s just a little fatigue from my shoulder.” According to ESPN Chicago, “Olt was quick to state this wasn’t a setback for him and the shoulder issue isn’t a serious problem.”

Mike Olt could be back in the lineup as early as Tuesday and possibly at third base. Olt told Comcast SportsNet he is “starting to feel 100 percent.”

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta told ESPN Chicago that he felt fine Monday following Sunday’s simulated game and is back on track. Arrieta said he is two-three weeks behind where he should be at this point and without any setbacks he should only miss the first couple weeks of the season.

Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro addressed his progress on Monday as he works his way back from a right hamstring strain he suffered on March 2. Castro said Monday he is running at about 80 percent and is making progress. The Cubs and Castro are not concerned about him not being ready for Opening Day. Castro can always pick-up at bats in minor league games in order to get his timing at the plate.

The Tribune reported Castro did not feel “any soreness one day after running eight sprints at about 80 percent and fielding about 30 ground balls before hitting soft toss and batting practice in the cage.”

Starlin Castro is expected to run the bases on Tuesday, which will be a big test for him according to multiple reports. Castro said Monday he is “very close” to returning to the lineup. Castro said he only needs eight-ten games to get ready for the season. And after improving from 40 percent to 80 percent from Friday to Monday, one would have to think anything is possible at this point.

Javier Baez

Javier Baez made his spring debut at second base on Monday in Phoenix and reportedly looked good on the three routine plays he made. Baez was also in the middle of a 6-4-3 double play started by Darwin Barney. Rick Renteria liked what he saw from Baez at second base. According to ESPN Chicago, Renteria said “Baez could have been better served by using a reverse turn pivot and throw to second base, but overall he looked good” at second base.

Javier Baez is expected to be in the starting lineup on Tuesday night in Surprise playing second base against the Rangers.

Bob Nightengale floated a rumor late Monday night that the Cubs “plan to often play prized shortstop prospect Javier Baez at second base at Triple-A Iowa with hopes of reaching big leagues quicker.” The Cubs have maintained Baez will play shortstop at Iowa at the beginning of the season. It is unclear where Nightengale dug up his information.

News, Notes and More Rumors

The Tigers are looking for a shortstop and a left-handed hitting outfielder. The Cubs and Tigers have had discussions about Nate Schierholtz and Ryan Sweeney, but the extent of those conversations is unknown at this point. According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi, the Tigers asked the Diamondbacks about shortstop Chris Owings “but those talks did not progress very far.”

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Casper Wells is “sidelined with back spasms.” A timeframe on his return was not announced. Wells is competing for a back-up outfield job.

According to Baseball America, the Cubs released RHP Alan Oaks. Oaks pitched in independent ball last season and signed with the Cubs last September.

Chris Rusin and Carlos Villanueva appear to be the front runners for the fifth spot in the rotation with the unfortunate injury to James McDonald. Tsuyoshi Wada will make at least one more Cactus League start and is still in the mix for the fifth spot as well.

According to Susan Slusser, the A’s “are not currently looking outside the organization” for pitching. Oakland has lost Jarrod Parker for the season (second Tommy John surgery) and A.J. Griffin was shut down for three weeks due to flexor tendinitis in his elbow, plus Scott Kazmir was a late scratch from Monday’s start against the Cubs.

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  • TheWrongGuy

    Great information and good reporting as ALWAYS Neil!
    Thanks!

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you.

  • WidespreadHisPanic

    What about Randall Delgado, Porcello, plus 1 or 2 coming to Chicago in a 3 way w/ Detroit and AZ?

  • TrevorPetersma

    Not sure if this has already been posted about, but there is a nice article detailing the Cubs rebuilding efforts on Grantland. It gives me hope that next offseason we will see a couple nice FA pitcher additions. :)

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    I liked reading the article Tony posted about Tseng. Not that he will be, but at leat he is another potential TOT starter to go along with Edwards in the lower levels of the system.

  • cc002600

    so if Nightengale is right (I know – big, big if) and Baez plays 2B at AAA, does that mean Alcantara slides over to SS ?

    • Tony_H

      Baez is going to be the SS in Iowa and Alcantara will be the 2B. What Nightendale is saying is Baez may see some time at 2B in Iowa.

      • TrevorPetersma

        I might need to buy season tickets this season for the ICubs.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Tony, while I agree Baez will play second base at Iowa as he gets closer to the big leagues, Nightengale’s tweet was not read that way.

        The way I understand it is the team has no plans of playing him at second in Iowa until he checks more boxes of his player development card and is pushing for a promotion. In a perfect world, the rumblings will begin in the middle of May he will start seeing time at second in Iowa.

        • Tony_H

          Hoyer just stated what their plan is for Baez in Iowa.

          “David Kaplan ‏@thekapman 17m
          Jed Hoyer just said report on Baez playing 2nd at AAA r incorrect. “He will play SS at Iowa. He’ll move around a little but play mostly SS.””

  • paulcatanese

    With all of the pitchers going down right now, Theo will place the value of the Shark along with a Cy Young winner, the price has gone up for him, both sides of the ledger. The Shark will ask for more as well. Never ending saga.

    • TheWrongGuy

      So very true Paul IMO, also.
      Yet I feel as the trade deadline approaches there will be contending teams in need of rotation help. I still believe Shark will be dealt this season at the deadline.

      • paulcatanese

        And Theo must be licking his chops at the development of this scenario :) He is about to make a killing here.

  • cubtex

    Honestly. The transition from SS to 2B is not that difficult. I guarantee he probably feels just as comfortable with no one on base as he does at SS… in fact he is probably more because of the shorter throw. The area that he will need to adjust is turning double plays and covering 2nd on steal attempts. He goes from seeing the runner barring down on him to now turning 2 blind. That is the area where Barney struggled at. The only way to improve is with practice reps. I am sure the coaches will be working on his footwork at Iowa throughout the season. The cuts from the outfield won’t be an issue. As a SS you know where the 2B should be and vice versa.

  • Rational Logic

    Great article that should put a lot of haters to bed: http://grantland.com/features/chicago-cubs-boston-red-sox-theo-epstein/#fn-1

    Concise, clear, reasonable, and logical. Refreshing.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      It won’t put haters to bed but it is a great article. I think it shows that what Theo is doing is all te more remarkable. It’s funny how he and Billy Beane changed the game so much. He can’t do things how he did because baseball was changed fundamentally because of the unprecedented success he had. I like that he uses anything e can to his advantage. He is a student of front office politics and truly an innovator.

      • Rational Logic

        The best point the author makes is that spending money to win now and building a farm system is mutually exclusive.

        WAY too many people call out the FO for not spending big money or making a big trade to at last make the team competitive NOW but also want a strong farm system.

        In order to do a complete build, money needs to be allocated for the draft and international signings.

        Beyond that, there are a ton of great points about how things have changed, the effort(s) made that don’t meet the eye, and 30,000 foot view of things that ever Cub fan needs to consider before they jump on here and bash the FO and team.

        • John_CC

          It’s a great read, the author covers many points.

    • cubtex

      That might be a record for posters copying the same link to the same story. I am running out of fingers counting the exact number.

      • Rational Logic

        After another scroll through I do see it a whopping one additional time. Please accept my sincerest apologies for not catching it the first time around and thank you for your insightful comment. Reminds me of the repeated illogical remarks that make reading through these posts often too laborious to be joyful in the search for the one or two actually relevant and well-thought out remarks.Let me assure you, yours in this case most certainly fits the criteria of the relevant and well-thought-out comments. I’d more care for your rebuttal to the issues within the argument, but I understand that choosing under which post to write may be too much of a burden seeing as both your fingers are currently used for counting.

        • cubtex

          lol. I believe it was also posted a couple of times on a previous thread as well. I am happy that you found a writer that makes you feel so good about what the FO is doing. That’s the good thing about articles. There are so many writers out there with varying opinions that you will eventually find one that makes you happy.

        • cubtex

          about my fingers. lawn mower accident. helps me throw a nasty cutter though :)))

          • TheWrongGuy

            3 fingers Brown where have you been?

            LOL :)

      • Tony_H

        It has been posted many times, yet you still haven’t read it….right :)

        • cubtex

          I read it. How could I not :) It was posted 4 times lol

          • Tony_H

            I know. I started reading it yesterday and was going to post, but hadn’t finished it. I don’t like posting anything I haven’t read all the way through. I need to finish it later tonight.