Samardzija Remains on the Blue Jays Radar and Other Cubs News and Notes

The Blue Jays are 7-6 after 13 games and are toward the top of a bunched up American League East. Alex Anthopoulos is still looking to add a starter to the top of his rotation. The Blue Jays’ staff is currently ranked sixth in the American League with a 3.61 ERA ( 1.31 WHIP) and is seventh in the AL in ERA (3.63 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) for a starting staff. 

 

Toronto is still believed to be very interested in trading for Jeff Samardzija. Anthopoulos is under a lot of heat to put a winner on the field and was unable to add to his rotation during the off-season. Alex Anthopoulos appeared to have a deal in place with Ervin Santana before injuries to the Braves’ starting staff opened a spot for Santana to sign with a National League team.

The Cubs are looking for a big return in any deal that involves Jeff Samardzija. Rumors during the off-season suggested the front office is asking for at least two top pitching prospects in a package for Samardzija.

While Samardzija has not posted a win, he is off to a good start this season. Samardzija has not hurt his value and likely increased it. Samardzija is 0-1 in three starts with a 1.29 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. Teams are hitting just .233 against him while he has completed seven innings in all three starts. In 21 innings, Samardzija has allowed 17 hits with five walks and 15 strikeouts. Most think the Cubs will wait until July before they move Samardzija. Bruce Levine has remained consistent in the fact he thinks the Cubs could trade Samardzija sooner rather than later, and maybe this month.

The Blue Jays could be the best fit for the Cubs in a deal for Samardzija that could also include Darwin Barney. The Cubs have scouted Toronto’s system extensively for the last three years. The Blue Jays were one of the teams interested in Matt Garza in 2012, so the Cubs’ scouts started doing their homework on the Jays’ system then. And at this point, the Cubs might know Toronto’s system better than they do.

According to Bruce Levine, if Alex Anthopoulos would make RHP Aaron Sanchez available in a deal for Samardzija, the Cubs would pull the trigger on the trade. The Cubs are also interested in RHP Marcus Stroman and catcher A.J. Jimenez in a package for Samardzija from the Blue Jays.

Aaron Sanchez is the top prospect in the Blue Jays system according to Baseball America and MLB.com. Sanchez is 1-1 in three starts for Double-A New Hampshire of the Eastern League this season. Sanchez has allowed five runs on 10 hits with eight walks and 12 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings (3.29 ERA, 1.32 WHIP).

Baseball America and MLB.com ranked Marcus Stroman as the second best prospect in Toronto’s system. Stroman is 0-1 in two starts from Triple-A Buffalo this season with a 1.80 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP (three runs, two earned, on seven hits with six walks and 12 strikeouts in 10 innings). Catcher A.J. Jimenez was ranked as the 11th best prospect in the Jays’ system by MLB.com while Baseball America thinks he’s the 14th best player in their system. Jimenez has not played in a game since April 4. Jimenez was placed on the 7-day DL with a sore hamstring. In two games for Double-A New Hampshire this season he is 5-for-8 with two doubles and one walk (.625/.667/.857). Jimenez had Tommy John surgery in 2012 but appeared to be fully recovered this winter. Jimenez is known as an excellent defensive catcher with above-average receiving and throwing skills. Jimenez hit .287/.332/.406 with 19 doubles and four home runs in 67 games last season. Jimenez projects as an average hitter at the big league level.

The Cubs’ front office would like to extend Jeff Samardzija’s contract but after being unsuccessful in reaching an agreement last winter neither side will reportedly discuss his contract during the season, which means he will likely be traded by July 31, if not sooner, in order to maximize his value.

Darwin Barney

With the addition of Emilio Bonifacio, Darwin Barney has seen his playing time diminish significantly this season. And he could lose even more playing time once Javier Baez pushes his way on the big league roster at some point this season. Barney has shown an improved approach at the plate this year and appears to be listening to his new hitting coach Bill Mueller. Barney has only three hits in 10 games (3-for-21) but he has walked six times with four strikeouts (.143/.333/.143).

Darwin Barney could be an excellent addition to a contending team with enough offense around him to make up for his shortcomings at the plate. Barney is a Gold Glove second baseman and has been the best fielding shortstop on the Cubs roster for several seasons. Barney knows the game and would be a valuable player on a team with aspirations of playing deep into October.

The Blue Jays are thought to be looking for a middle infielder. And Darwin Barney could be a fit in a deal, along with Jeff Samardzija, according to Bruce Levine.

News and Notes

Rick Renteria said Sunday that the Cubs would not be shifting the starting rotation with the two off days this week. After Jason Hammel squares off against Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday night in the Bronx, Travis Wood is scheduled to face Michael Pineda on Wednesday night in the finale at Yankee Stadium. The Cubs open a seven-game homestand on Friday against the Reds. Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Villanueva and Edwin Jackson will start the three games against the Reds.

Jesse Rogers asked what the Cubs should do with a struggling Edwin Jackson. Rogers suggested a demotion to the bullpen might be in order.

Teams around the league like how Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are building the Cubs according to a report from ESPN Chicago. John Mozeliak is the latest GM to praise what the Cubs’ front office is doing and not only because the front office is building the organization the “right way” but Epstein and Hoyer have “maintained that discipline” and not succumb “under the pressures of winning now.”

Justin Grimm still sees himself as a starter but he wants “to have an important role on the pitching staff, wherever that may be.” Grimm told the Sun-Times if he was able to develop in to a reliable closer he “would let that go.”

Staying sharp has not been easy for Mike Olt or Wesley Wright according to ESPN Chicago.

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  • gary3411

    Anthopolous not AnthRopolous. If i had a nickel for everytime that ‘r’ was added in on this site…Sorry don’t know why it bothers me so much.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks for catching, corrected.

    • GaryLeeT

      Me either. Why didn’t you just email Neil, instead of publicly stating it?

  • NCCubfan

    Jackson for Jimenez

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I personally don’t know what they think they are gonna get for Villanueva but a bag of balls would be a steal.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Either way if they trade Samardzija I definitely don’t want to see Villanueva starting. Or in the pen. I did notice yesterday Jackson pounding the bottom of the zone but not getting calls, they weren’t calling that for the Cardinals either. I hope he continues that.

  • GaryLeeT

    Other GMs say “Cubs are doing it the right way”. Why wouldn’t they say that? As long as the Cubs keep doing what they are doing, it’s one less team the others have to compete against.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      I agree with their plan but I think Lake and Olt need to play everyday. I don’t want to see bad position or pitchers continue to get opportunities in hopes they turn it around to get a marginal prospect. Villanueva /Valbuena

      • BosephHeyden

        This. The whole “let’s see what we have before we set a lineup” bit only works when you’re walking into a team that has the chance to legitimately compete. This team does not. As good as they may play, Ryan Sweeney and Luis Valbuena have zero to contribute to the future of this team. They do not need starts. Lake and Olt need to sink or swim against lefties and righties. And when they show they can’t hit against one or the other after an extensive amount of AB’s, then they can label them “platoon players”.

        • laredo

          What have I been preaching? Let. The. Kids. Play.

      • Richard Hood

        Lake and Olt are playing everyday. They are just not starting. Instead management is picking their spots to increase their chances at success.

        I am getting kind of tired of this PLAY THEM EVERYDAY Bandwagon that I keep seeing everyday but it is not anyones fault. The successful clubs all ease people into a full time role but with the lack of quality ahead of Olt and Lake it makes it harder to justify seeing Valbuena and Sweeney in the lineup.

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

          Agree Richard. I’d love to see them both more but I understand why we’re not.

        • Larry Schwimmer

          I agree Richard. I saw a number of Cardinal players over the years, play part-time until they demonstrated their ability to be everyday players. I think that Olt and Lake will see plenty of playing time and even more if they show they can hit. Let’s be patient instead of trying to force player development. Having said that, I think Valbuena should be used very sparingly. He’s nothing more than a utility infielder.

          • BosephHeyden

            The difference, though, is that those part timers became full time players more because players moved on to free agency than because they were blocked by glorified journeymen. And that’s not to mention that the players they were sitting behind were all pretty good, so you could legitimately say they were learning from some of the best, versus learning from guys who finally stuck with a team that struggles not to lose 100 games.

    • Larry Schwimmer

      That is the most cynical interpretation I could ever imagine. I think that GMs are a bit bigger people than to validate that the CUBS are doing the right thing…in order to have one less team to compete with. Come on…How about consider that they are being truthful?

      • BosephHeyden

        Probably the same reason Jerry Jones always talks about how the McCaskey’s are great owners every time the Tribune needs to run a fluff piece for the Bears: you say good things about a team so that their front office doesn’t try to make moves in the off-season that would hurt them.

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

    That package for Shark seems like a stretch. But if Barney goes too it could happen I suppose. To us Barney is a bum because of his hitting but on a team with some bangers where he can bat 8th he could win another gold glove and really be valuable.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    11th best prospect in a trade depleted system doesn’t say a lot for Jimenez.

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

      If we could get the other two I’d take the mascot as the 3rd guy :))))))

      • chrisyygirl6218

        lol

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

    Just read more scouting reports on Stroman and Sanchez. Sanchez sounds good but not sure about Stroman. He sounds like another closer candidate, when what we need is TOR starters. Sanchez seems to fit the bill, even if he’s not quite Archie Bradley material. But if we’re going to give up one current TOR starter, shouldn’t we get at least 2 in return? Or at least 2 potential all-star types? And not one that is a reliever.

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