The Cubs are believed to be talking to teams exploring ways to add pitching to the roster. And the Cubs have been linked heavily to three teams since last July, the Braves, Indians and Padres.
One of the starting pitchers thought to be available is the Braves’ Shelby Miller. The Cubs have reportedly talked to the Braves about Miller. Atlanta really likes Jorge Soler and it’s been suggested a trade could be made that included those two players.
According to reports from Jerry Crasnick, John Coppolella may hang onto Shelby Miller. Crasnick explained the Braves have “received a ton of hits, but are not shopping him.” The Braves have a 25-year old right hander under team control for three more years and “are holding their ground in talks.”
Crasnick said the Cubs are interested and the Braves like Soler but with Hector Olivera in left and Nick Markakis in right, Soler “may not fit.” Coppolella also thinks “Mallex Smith is close, so they might opt for a short-term bridge in center rather than try to swing a big deal.”
Jerry Crasnick added that the Cubs “would rather part with Javier Baez or Starlin Castro than Soler.” And despite previous reports, a trade that included Shelby Miller for Jorge Soler is “not an ideal fit from either side.”
With the cost of pitching skyrocketing, teams with controllable, young arms will look to maximize their return. The Indians, Padres and Braves are not going to trade top of the rotation starters without receiving a ton in return as Buster Olney reported Thursday morning.
The Cubs are interested in a reunion with Jeff Samardzija. And reports have indicated Samardzija could be the Cubs top priority. The Cubs believe he could be a good addition to the rotation behind Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in either the third or fourth spot in Joe Maddon’s starting staff.
Samardzija is also interested in re-signing with the Cubs after spending a season on the South Side of Chicago.
A report from Jayson Stark on Wednesday raised a lot of questions about what it could take to sign Samardzija. Stark reported that Samardzija’s camp has told teams he has at least one $100 million offer on the table.
With the contracts signed by David Price and J.A. Happ, Samardzija will likely agree to terms on a bigger contract than he would have just three weeks ago. Instead of the four-year, $60-75 million range, Samardzija could be looking at a contract around the five-year, $85 million extension he turned down from the Cubs.
Bruce Levine reported Thursday that he thinks Samardzija could sign a three-year contract that includes an option for a fourth year. Levine has been consistent with his reporting of this information. Levine has indicated in the last week that he felt negotiations with Samardzija would start with a three-year deal that included an option for a fourth season.
The market for Jeff Samardzija will come into focus after Zack Greinke either returns to the Dodgers or signs with the Giants. The Giants, Dodgers, Tigers, Cardinals and Diamondbacks could all be in play for Samardzija.
Update 8:12pm CST – Bruce Levine reported one of his sources confirmed Jeff Samardzija has a $90 million offer on the table. Samardzija could be looking at a five-year, $90 million contract ($18 million AAV).
According to Buster Olney, the Padres “continue to try to push James Shields in the trade market.” The Cubs were interested in signing Shields last off-season. And the Cubs were linked to him prior to the deadline as the front office tried to add starting pitching to the roster.
Shields chose the Padres over the Cubs and is still owed a lot of money on a contract he can opt out of after the 2016 season. Shields is guaranteed $65 million unless he opts out of his contract. Shields is scheduled to make $21 million next season.
Bruce Levine reported earlier in the week that Shields could be an option the Cubs are exploring.