Reports suggested two weeks ago that the Cubs could move Jason Hammel at some point during the first week of July. The front office was thought to have Hammel on the same timeframe as Scott Feldman was a year ago and he would be moved early in the month.
Jason Hammel is scheduled to pitch the opener Friday morning in D.C. with Jeff Samardzija pitching game two of the three-game series Saturday afternoon against the Nationals.
There is a rather long list of teams that have been connected to Jason Hammel and many of those teams are thought to have interest in Jeff Samardzija, if the price is right. And Hammel could be the most sought after starter on the market, according to Nick Cafardo. Hammel is pitching well this season and could help a contender, plus the acquisition cost will not be nearly as high as what is expected for Samardzija or David Price or Cole Hamels. That is if the Rays decide they are too far back to grab a playoff spot and if Ruben Amaro decides to pull the plug on the Phillies season and begin the rebuild that many feel should be done in Philadelphia.
Joel Sherman reported Wednesday that Brian Cashman “has been aggressively calling around, according to outside executives, informing clubs of players that interest the Yankees and to please contact him if and when they are ready to move.”
The Yankees have “prioritized” adding a starter to their roster and have been connected to both Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. The general consensus is that the Yankees do not have enough in the system to pull off a deal for Samardzija, but the Yankees could have enough for Hammel, especially if one of the Yankees young catchers is in the trade.
The Sun-Times reported a team “will strike quickly on Jason Hammel to get the additional four or five starts between Friday and July 31.”
The front office is not going to give Jeff Samardzija away, if he is traded. Buster Olney reported Wednesday, the Cubs are asking “a ton” for Samardzija and teams that are interested are hoping the asking price on Samardzija comes down. Plus, the Cubs could still sign Samardzija to a contract extension which is not out of the question.
The Yankees would like to add Samardzija to their rotation and there are two obvious connections with Samardzija in Jim Hendry and Larry Rothschild that could help increase the Cubs return from the Yankees in a deal for Samardzija. But the Cubs might have a higher price tag on Samardzija than the rest of the league is willing to pay.
Joel Sherman spoke with one AL executive about Samardzija that said, “He is very good, but he is being marketed as great and he is not great. I think you have to add something to his ERA going from the NL Central to the AL East, and he has never been a starting pitcher in a pennant race. The Cubs want an ace return [in a trade], and I don’t think you are getting an ace.”
The Cubs are believed to have asked the Blue Jays for a package of RHP Aaron Sanchez, LHP Daniel Norris and OF Dalton Pompey. The Cubs have also been connected to RHP Marcus Stroman and RHP Drew Hutchison. Several reports have suggested the Cubs are looking for two top pitching prospects to headline a four-player return for Samardzija.
Alex Anthopoulos addressed the rumors Wednesday and said that no one on the Blue Jays roster is untouchable. But Anthopoulos has told other general managers that anyone on the Jays current roster that is helping Toronto win right now would be difficult to include in a trade. Anthopoulos said, “We want to add, not take away from the 25-man.”
Anthopoulos recently watched Aaron Sanchez throw and the Jays GM thinks Sanchez might be able to help the big league team this season either as a starter or as a reliever. The Jays have changed Sanchez’s delivery and had “him raise his arm angle” to “generate more downhill plane” and the results have been good for Sanchez so far.
The Orioles, Yankees, Blue Jays, Royals, Mariners, Braves and the Giants are believed to be the teams with the most interest in acquiring Samardzija and but only a few of those teams would be able to pay the price to acquire him. The Cardinals have also been linked to Samardzija, but it would cost St. Louis more to pry Samardzija from the Cubs and that could remove the Cardinals from the equation.
The familiar narrative that if the Cubs trade Samardzija the team could always re-sign him as a free agent is making the rounds. Patrick Mooney reported “the Cubs have privately expressed hopes” about bringing Jeff Samardzija back.
The Cubs are asking a ton for Jason Hammel, the same as Jeff Samardzija, according to Buster Olney. And as is the case with Samardzija, teams are hoping the asking price on Hammel comes down.
According to Nick Cafardo, the Jays “seem to have their sights set more on a midrange starter such as Jason Hammel than David Price or Jeff Samardzija.”
The Mariners, Blue Jays and Yankees are believed to be the three teams with the most interest in Hammel and the Angels are also thought to be in the mix along with the teams that are looking at Samardzija. It is unclear if the Orioles would want to trade for Hammel, a pitcher Dan Duquette let walk in the off-season.
The Sun-Times spoke with one long-time Major League evaluator that said “this year’s sign-to-flip guy on the Cubs’ roster, Jason Hammel, is clearly the best flip guy in the three seasons of using that strategy .”
Jake Arrieta was mentioned last month as a possible trade chip for the Cubs this summer. The report at the time made little sense considering what Arrieta is making this season ($544,500), and he is under club control through the 2017 season. Arrieta figures to make around the same $3.9 million in his first year of arbitration next season that Travis Wood is being paid this year.
When asked about the possibility of Arrieta being traded, Jed Hoyer would not comment on the rumors Wednesday but he did say he is glad the Cubs have Arrieta.
It appears the Cubs see Jake Arrieta as part of the big picture moving forward.
Could the Cubs extend Travis Wood’s contract and buy out the last two years of arbitration and his first two free agent years? The Cubs and Travis Wood were reportedly discussing a contract extension early in the off-season but as quickly as those reports and rumors popped up, they went away. Wood and the Cubs avoided arbitration with a one-year deal for $3.9 million instead.
Ken Rosenthal reported Travis Wood could be a candidate for a contract extension after the Cubs “get through their annual rotation selloff.” Wood struggled Wednesday night in Boston and is 7-6 in 17 starts with a 4.62 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. Wood hasn’t had the same location this season, to this point, as he did a year ago. Wood is only 27 years old and a reasonable extension would make a lot of sense for both sides.
Other Cubs Rumors
Darwin Barney is believed to be on the Blue Jays radar as a possible option to fill Toronto’s need for a second baseman. And Alex Anthopoulos is on record saying he would like to add a player that can field the position. Barney can pick it at second and is a very good shortstop as well. Barney, like Carlos Villanueva, could be added to a trade, with a team like the Blue Jays, in order to improve the Cubs return.
Patrick Mooney caught up with Jeff Samardzija and asked him how much different his career might be now if he had been included in the compensation for Theo Epstein leaving the Red Sox. Samardzija was one of the names rumored to be on the Sox list, along with RHP Trey McNutt and OF Brett Jackson.
The Giants are believed to be interested in both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. According to a report from Henry Schulman, Brian Sabean “has not exchanged names with other teams in trade discussions.” The Giants GM also said “the number of available players is not close to what the media make it seem.” Sabean added that “none of his minor-leaguers is untouchable.”
If the Red Sox do not sign Jon Lester to a contract extension, the veteran lefty with connections to the Cubs front office will dominate the rumors during the upcoming off-season. Lester told ESPN Chicago that he has nothing but good things to stay about Theo Epstein and the front office. Lester also told Jesse Rogers it looks like the Cubs “are pretty close to being there, maybe one or two players away from putting it together.”
Cliff Lee is beginning a rehab assignment Sunday with Class A Clearwater. And a healthy Lee could have an impact on the market. But Jim Bowden believes the Phillies will wait until August and put both Cliff Lee and his hefty contract (Lee is owed the remainder of $25 million for this season, $25 million in 2015 and a $27.5 million club option for 2016 that can vest if he’s not on the DL at the end of the 2015 season and includes a $12.5 million buyout) on waivers so the Yankees can claim him.