As to be expected, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer downplayed the rumors and trade talks surrounding the Cubs Friday. With July just around the corner, the noise will get louder before deals are made.
Theo Epstein explained before Friday’s game that it is the usual chatter for this time of year and the talks are “probably not as much as you’d think.”
Scouts were at Wrigley Field to watch Jason Hammel’s latest start Friday and those same scouts figure to return to the old ballyard to see Jeff Samardzija take on the Nationals in the second game of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader.
Comcast SportsNet reported a Blue Jays scout was at Wrigley Friday to watch Jason Hammel and he is sticking around for Samardzija’s start on Saturday. The same scout is going to follow the Cubs to Boston to watch the series with the Red Sox that begins Monday. With Hammel and Samardzija pitching this weekend, neither pitcher figures to pitch in the three-game series in Boston, unless the Cubs alter their rotation.
Alex Anthopoulos’ shopping list is believed to include an infielder and a lefty reliever, along with a starting pitcher. As previously reported, the Cubs could help the Blue Jays fill their needs and use players such as Luis Valbuena or Darwin Barney and Wesley Wright or James Russell as ways to increase their return in a deal for either Jason Hammel or Jeff Samardzija.
Jon Heyman reported Friday that while the Blue Jays are looking for a second baseman, the Mets’ Daniel Murphy is not believed to be on their list. The Jays would like to have a second baseman that can provide more defense than Murphy.
Bruce Levine reported Friday afternoon that multiple teams are having multiple scouts watch the Cubs. Scouts from the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays and Giants “have watched the recent outings of Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija.” According to Levine, “the Cubs are working the communication lines hard, hoping to make deals” like the ones last summer.
Levine confirmed what had been previously reported that the Cubs are “looking for high-ceiling catchers” along with top pitching prospects in deals for Samardzija and Hammel. The Cubs said during the off-season that the lack of catching in the organization would be addressed. Several backstops were taken in the draft, but the Cubs are not done adding depth in the catching department. The Yankees are thought to be very interested in Jason Hammel and J.R. Murphy is believed to be available in the right deal.
Other Cubs Rumors
According to Buster Olney, the impeding cost for Jeff Samardzija could keep the Giants from trading for him, or David Price. Olney reported the Giants will “have to address holes at third base, left field, second base, and perhaps the bullpen” at the end of the season. And the cost to acquire Samardzija and try to sign him long term could be too much for the Giants.
ESPN Chicago reported, despite the way the Cubs have played in June, it’s a matter of too little too late.
Buster Olney agrees with Mark Gonzales that James Russell “is an interesting pitcher to watch in the trade market.”
Darwin Barney could be used as part of a deal of a contender that has enough offense to cover up for his deficiencies at the plate. Barney has value to a team looking to sure up their defense, either in a starting role or off the bench late in games. Barney is arbitration eligible next season and would not come with any strings attached. If he succeeds with another team, he could provide value at a rather reasonable cost. If he was not able to perform to expectations, Barney could be non-tendered in the off-season. Barney would like to stay with the Cubs, according to a report from ESPN Chicago. He has maintained he would like to be around with things start turning around for the Cubs, and he feels that process has begun.