Report: Cubs Receiving Calls on Samardzija, Hammel and Wood

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, several teams have called the Cubs about Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Travis Wood. All three starters have gotten off to good starts this season and it is believed the Cubs would move all three pitchers in the right deal. The report did not indicate which teams have called about which pitchers.

The Cubs have been listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija since last summer. The two sides simply cannot agree to a long term extension and the general consensus is that he will be traded at some point prior to the July 31 deadline.

Jason Hammel signed a one-year contract with the Cubs after Masahiro Tanaka agreed to pitch in the Bronx and ‘Plan B’ is coming off an excellent outing in Milwaukee. The Cubs signed Hammel with the hopes he would turn out to be the 2014 version of Paul Maholm and Scott Feldman.

Several reports surfaced at the beginning of last off-season that the Cubs were interested in signing Travis Wood to a long-term contract. But those rumors quieted as quickly as they surfaced. The Cubs avoided arbitration with Wood on a one-year contract for this season. Wood has been very good this year, not as good as either Samardzija or Hammel, but over the first month he has pitched pretty close to the way he did last season.

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija agreed to an affordable $5.345 million contract for this season to avoid the arbitration process. The team that acquires Samardzija would have one more year of control before he hits free agency following the 2015 season.

Samardzija has been very, very good in five starts this year. Samardzija is 0-2 with a 1.53 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. Samardzija has notched a quality start in his five outings while completing at least seven innings each time out. Samardzija has allowed eight runs, six earned, on 30 hits with nine walks and 27 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays, Braves and Diamondbacks had a lot of interest in Samardzija during the off-season. And the Yankees were also connected to Samardzija by multiple reports. The Jays and Yankees may still have interest, but it is unclear how much Kevin Towers would be willing to give up for a team that is buried in the NL West. And the Braves have received tremendous pitching performances from unexpected sources over the first month of the season while the pitchers expected to contribute are getting healthy.

Jason Hammel

The Cubs signed Jason Hammel to a one-year, $6 million contract in February that includes a $1 million incentives package. And when the Cubs signed him after losing out on Masahiro Tanaka, he was viewed as a sign and flip candidate the same as Paul Maholm two years ago and Scott Feldman last season.

Hammel has thrown the ball extremely well and he says he’s healthy for the first time in a couple of years. Hammel has five quality starts under his belt and is 4-1 in five starts with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP. In 34 2/3 innings, he’s allowed eight runs on 17 hits with seven walks and 27 strikeouts. Hammel pitched a gem in Milwaukee on Sunday and snapped the Cubs’ four-game losing streak after taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Jason Hammel has pitched in the AL East with the Rays (2006-2008) and most recently the Orioles (2012-2013), which could increase his value, but the teams that could be interested in Hammel have not surfaced yet.

Travis Wood

Travis Wood has made five starts, three have been of the quality variety, and one of the other two was better than his final line indicates. Wood is 1-3 in five starts with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. In 30 2/3 innings, the lefty has allowed 13 runs, 12 earned, on 34 hits with seven walks and 31 strikeouts. Wood did not have it in his last outing, struggled with his command, and ended up with the only loss the trio (Wood, Samardzija, Hammel) has earned to this point of the season

Wood agreed to a one-year contract worth $3.9 million to avoid arbitration. The Cubs were thought to be interested in signing him to a contract extension, but Wood is willing to go year-to-year in the arbitration process. Wood is not eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. So the team that acquires Wood would have two-plus years of control.

If the Cubs are looking for a team’s top two pitching prospects, plus, in a package for Jeff Samardzija, could the front office ask for one top pitching prospect, plus, in return for Travis Wood?

The Cubs will be looking for pitching in any deals the front office makes this summer in return for players off the Major League roster. While some of the position players in the system are off to slow starts or injured, the Cubs system is seen as position player rich, pitching poor. The front office will figure out ways to add pitching while continuing to develop the position players.

It is not May 1 yet and the rumors have started in regards to the top three pitchers in the Cubs rotation. So if all three hurlers continue to pitch the way they have, it is going to be a rumor-filled two months.

Update 12:10am CDT: A Cubs spokesperson told Carrie Muskat late Monday night that the Cubs have not received phone calls about the three pitchers.

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