It is no secret that the Chicago Cubs are shopping around Jeff Samardzija. Again he has rejected an extension offer from the Cubs, which means he’s the hottest item on the trade market. The seven year veteran’s time with the Cubbies seems to be drawing to a close, and there’s a perfect fit for him out west. And the Colorado Rockies should heed Horace Greeley’s timeless advice.
Chicago has openly informed suitors that any interest in acquiring the Cubby ace should include competitive draft picks and some bonus-pool money; both of which the Colorado Rockies possess. With the 35th pick in the upcoming MLB Amateur Draft, the Rox have all the pieces necessary to pull the trigger on Samardzija. One question remains, is he worth it?
At just 29 and with seven years of pitching, Samardzija would bring valuable experience to the Rockies rotation. A look at his record and many would hesitate to acquire a pitcher who is just 2-6 right now. After all, a win percentage of .250 doesn’t hold much appeal. But it is critical to remember Samardzija plays for the lowly Cubs. He has also managed to keep his ERA at just 2.53 despite the record.
Samardzija has a great deal of upside and would quickly become one of the Rockies top starters in the rotation. His career 3.93 ERA is impressive. So is the fact that he struck out 214 batters in 2013, and has tallied a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.13 so far this season. He’s easily one of the top twenty pitchers in baseball today, and that’s with career numbers that would shine even more if he hadn’t been stuck in the red and blue his whole career.
The only thing that stands in the Colorado Rockies way, bidding wars. The Cubs know what they have and they’ve got high expectations in regards to return. The Rockies would likely be the only NL West team interested in Samardzija, while the AL East is littered with suitors. The Blue Jays, the Red Sox, the Orioles and even the Yankees would all be expected to flirt with options. This type of competition will likely drive up the cost of Samardzija. A cost that Colorado would not be willing to consider.
Should Colorado enter the dance for Samardzija, they could shop around an outfielder like Corey Dickerson or Charlie Blackmon. With an excess of talent to roam the confines of Coors Field, the Rox could really sweeten the deal with a big-league tested outfielder, a competitive draft pick, and a little side cash.
The Cubs are in a hurry, which only fuels the bidding war. A bidding war that Colorado is unlikely to get caught up in. So while the Cubs-Rockies deal is rather unlikely, it is crucial to remember that Theo Epstein is a creative general manager. Three-way trades are not out of the question.
While Samardzija is likely to wind up on the east coast somewhere, a case for putting him in purple can be made. At the very least, Colorado should entertain the idea and throw their hat in the ring. If the prices go too high, they can let AL East sort themselves out and look to free agency and the battle for David Price.