Blue Jays GM Doesn’t Deny Interest in Jeff Samardzija

Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday the Blue Jays were no longer interested in trading for Jeff Samardzija. Rosenthal explained during the off-season the Cubs asked for RHP Drew Hutchinson in a deal for Samardzija, and either one of the top two pitching prospects in the Jays system, RHP Aaron Sanchez or RHP Marcus Stroman. The Jays “deemed that too high a price and they are unlikely to resume their pursuit of Samardzija.” Rosenthal said the Jays would “prefer a rental at a lower acquisition cost instead.”

Rosenthal further explained two lefties, Sean Nolin (Triple-A) and Daniel Norris (High-A) “are among the Jays prospects who could draw trade interest.” Daniel Norris has been mentioned as one of the many possible pitchers Alex Anthopoulos could use in a deal for Samardzija.

Nick Cafardo addressed the Blue Jays and Samardzija rumors in his Sunday column. Cafardo reported “Samardzija is being watched more than any pitcher by Major League scouts” and the Jays are one of those teams. A scout told Cafardo the Jays have not given up on acquiring Samardzija despite not being able to put together the right package for Samardzija in the past. Cafardo added the Jays “are still insistent on not giving up Drew Hutchinson.” Toronto is looking to add a starter and have “all hands on deck, including special advisor Fred McGriff” to find the right fit to help the Jays in the rotation.

Alex Anthopoulos joined Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette during the Front Office (MLB Network Radio/SiriusXM Radio) on Sunday morning. And while the Blue Jays’ GM could not comment on his interest in Samardzija, he did not shoot down the possibility and also said he is looking to find a mainstay at second or third base.

Jim Bowden asked Alex Anthopoulos when the last time was that he spoke with Jed Hoyer or Theo Epstein. Anthopoulos said he ran into Hoyer at the ACC Tournament

“I just saw Jed, at the, and I know where you are going this. I just saw Jed at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro,” Anthopoulos said. “I think I saw him Thursday of last week and his family is doing great, his kids are doing great. He’s seeing a lot of guys for the draft. Great draft talk … ”

Jim Bowden asked Anthopoulos if he was to participate in a Spelling B, how would he spell Samardzija?

“You know what, I’ve got a board, a depth chart here,” Anthopoulos answered. “I can probably cheat on this one.” Once he started spelling Samardzija’s last name, he stopped and tried to change the subject. Anthopoulos told Bowden he likes the column that he writes for ESPN.com.

“I think I’ve gotten better with revealing in interviews,” Anthopoulos explained. “I was a lot more close to the vest when I first started. I think I’ve learned to balance it a little bit. But I can say that we [Anthopoulos and Hoyer] were sitting there, actually it was a really long game, it was almost four hours. We talked about all kinds of stuff. And I believe we talked about players and what they were going to look to do, trades, and things like that. We talked about big league players, generally speaking, like any time you would when you talk to a GM. But I guess I would say this, as we sit here today we are not actively engaged in any trade talks with anybody. Part of that is, not that we are not unwilling, certainly if it was something that made sense we would look to do it.”

Anthopoulos discussed how hard it is to be in trade mode in late-May.

“I think the understanding seems to be,” Anthopoulos said. “Maybe after the draft, and we get through all that stuff, people will start to have dialogue, be a little more serious with who they might look to move, who they want to move, and then obviously you take your pro scouting departments and you dispatch them to the affiliates. You spend the second half of June, really the beginning of July and try to get your looks and go from there.”

“We would prefer to have someone with multiple years of control, but knowing the acquisition cost is that much greater, our focus right now is maybe we take a look at guys who are scheduled to be free agents at the end of the year. The acquisition cost shouldn’t be as great.”

Jim Duquette asked Anthopoulos if he thought the Jays might be a little more aggressive in June and add a player that could help them sooner than July.

Anthopoulos explained that when the team is playing good it buys a little time. “When I’m talking to other clubs and we are willing to do something now, because we are competitive, we’re in the hunt, we’re in the race. There is certainly more motivation to do that.” Obviously things may change quickly and teams that were thought to have a need for a player might not have the same need if they have a rough month. “On a team that might be selling, your suitors maybe smaller,” Anthopoulos explained.

“I’m more an aggressive mindset overall. I would rather try to do something early that will have more of an impact. There’s more games remaining. At the same time you would like to have as many options as you can to negotiate.”

When asked about untouchables in his minor league system, Anthopoulos said he does not believe in making a player untouchable. He does value certain players higher than others but he believes any player could be traded in the right deal.

“I hope we are in that position come July. We are contending. We are close. And we have to make a painful trade because we have a chance to make this team a lot better.”

When asked what positions he would like to upgrade and which positions he would like to fill, Anthopoulos said he would like to add a starter, either a mainstay at third base or second base and a left handed reliever. The Jays would like to have three lefties in the bullpen.

Bruce Levine addressed Rosenthal’s report during Hit and Run (670 The Score) on Sunday morning. Levine said the Cubs are looking for specific players for Samardzija, and to a certain extent what Rosenthal reported is accurate. The Cubs and Jays have not discussed the right package of players it would take to trade Samardzija to Toronto.

According to Levine, Kansas City and Baltimore are interested in Samardzija and Kansas City recently made a run at Samardzija using Mike Moustakas as one of the players in the package suggested by Dayton Moore.

Stay Tuned.

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