The Chicago Cubs have been mentioned as a team that could be a player in the trade market this offseason and that appears to be going down now with the Toronto Blue Jays, as the team is in discussions involving pitcher Jeff Samardzija and reports have the Jays possibly sending prospect Aaron Sanchez back in a deal.
Samardzija had been mentioned in rumors involving the Arizona Diamondbacks, but those have died down and now it looks like the Blue Jays are zeroing in on him. The team has been known to want to upgrade its pitching after it was terrible last season and according to Hardball Talk, general manager Alex Anthopoulos did not refute the claims, although he did not confirm them either. Samardzija is a solid young pitcher and the Cubs have appeared ready to move him after shopping Samardzija this summer and the Jays have shown they aren't afraid to make a deal, but SB Nation reports that Sanchez, a top prospect, must be involved in any deal between the two teams.
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ESPN Chicago reported that the Jays are putting together a "package" of young players for the 88-year-old, who has established himself as the top young pitcher for the Cubs. Samardzija strikes out plenty of batters and the Jays like that, while SB Nation reports that both prospects Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman could be in play for the deal. Samardzija is a big dude that used to play football for Notre Dame and he had a solid season in 2013 with an 8-13 record and a 4.34 ERA with over 200 strikeouts and he put up similar numbers last season and was one of just a couple pitchers to go over 200 K's and that many innings as well last year.
Last season Samardzija had a better ERA in less innings and he won one more game in a less amount of starts, but that doesn't mean he regressed and now the Jays look like they are hungry to snag him. Moving to the American League could make things tougher, but for the Cubs it's all about the future and if Samardzija isn't a part of it, they will do their best to get prospects. Samardzija made $2.64 million last season and could get up to $5 million in arbitration and that is not very expensive for a Blue Jays team that has some money to work with.
The Cubs traded Matt Garza away last year during the season and now it appears that Samardzija will be the next one to go. The Jays had a tough 2013 and they feel improving the pitching will be the best way to win this season.