Is It Almost Trading Season for the Cubs?

While the Cubs are working on finalizing deals with this year’s draft picks, the front office is expected to start listening to offers in the very near future for players such as Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Teams, for the most part, have moved away from the draft and the contenders will begin looking at ways to improve their big league rosters. And unless the plan has changed, the Cubs could have two of the more sought after starting pitchers on this year’s trade market.

Ken Rosenthal recently reported the Cubs asking price for Jeff Samardzija will be exorbitant as the front office will look to make a bigger deal for Samardzija than the one they made with Texas last July for two months of Matt Garza. The Blue Jays have already balked at the Cubs asking price for Samardzija, thought to be Drew Hutchinson plus either Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez, and the Cubs are thought to be interested in some combination of the Orioles top four pitching prospects in return for Samardzija.

The Blue Jays may decide to trade for a rental, or a pitcher that will become a free agent at the end of the season. The Cubs could trade them Jason Hammel instead of Jeff Samardzija and try to land a package similar to the one (Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta) they received for Scott Feldman, plus Steve Clevenger, a year ago. Hammel has been very good, to this point of the season, he signed an affordable one-year contract without any options or buyouts attached, he’s healthy and he’s had success in the AL East, which has become the gauge used by the mainstream media on if a starting pitcher is actually any good or not.

Bruce Levine reported Sunday that if the Cubs cannot find what they are looking for in return for Samardzija, the front office might not trade him. Levine is not sure if the Cubs and Samardzija could re-engage talks over a contract extension of not. The two sides were believed to be $25-30 million apart on a five-six year extension. Plus, Samardzija would want some kind of no-trade protection, and the Cubs stopped including no-trade clauses in contracts when Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over Baseball Operations.

Ken Rosenthal made the argument Monday that the Cubs should sign Jeff Samardzija to a long-term extension and figure out a way to trade for David Price, and then extend the southpaw. Rosenthal acknowledged those scenarios are likely not to happen as the team “waits for new revenue streams and Samardzija seems to want out.” Rosenthal pointed out the Cubs have always liked Price and his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, is the Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator.

The Cubs are playing good baseball right now, and have won seven of their last 10 games. But they are still buried in the basement of the NL Central and are tied with Ryne Sandberg’s Phillies for the worst record in the National League. And while the players are trying to win games to keep the annual sell-off from happening, the consensus is the task is simply too step … and the trading season is getting ready to begin.

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