Shark Week: Blue Jays On Hunt For Samardzija


Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago WSCR 670 The Score has cited a source that the Toronto Blue Jays are putting together a package of young players in an attempt to pry Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs. Samardzija has long been considered a target of Alex Anthopolous so the rumour appears to have some validity unlike some of the Jays-Phillies rumblings of last week.

Levine followed up the above tweet with the one below, indicating that the Arizona Diamondbacks are also in on the Shark sweepstakes, and the cost will be rather prohibitive as the Cubs are expecting 3-4 “top youngsters” in return.

With multiple teams in on talks, the Cubs will likely be able to extract close to their asking price for Samardzija, which after losing so many top prospects last season, is a terrifying thought for many Jays fans. The deal would likely start with one of the Jays top pitching prospects in either Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez. My feeling is Sanchez would be the preferred centre piece for both the Jays and the Cubs. For the Jays they would likely prefer to keep a pitcher in Stroman that may be able to contribute now, while the Cubs would prefer a guy in Sanchez that aligns more with their expected window and may have a slightly higher upside.

In addition to one of the above “centre pieces” the Jays would likely have to send at least two more attractive pieces. Since the Cubs do in fact have to field a Major League roster this season, they would likely want to see at least one piece ready for the big league roster to come over in the deal. A Sean Nolin, Drew Hutchison or even Kyle Drabek type might be attractive for the Cubs, who will need someone to fill in Shark’s innings. The final piece of the package would likely be someone in the low minors, whose developmental trajectory aligns with what the Cubs are aiming to do with their current farm system (stacked in the low minors). Some like D.J. Davis, Dalton Pompey, Rowdy Tellez or Santiago Nessy may be enough to get the Cubs to let go of Samardzija.

Now that we’ve hashed out what we think the Jays would be willing to give up for Samardzija, it’s time to ask, would it be worth it? After all, Samardzija isn’t exactly the ace that you would expect to be getting for the aforementioned bundle of prospects.  The Shark is coming off of just his second season as a starter that saw him throw 213 innings, while posting an ERA of 4.34.  That obviously isn’t the full story, as Samardzija was able to strike out over a batter per inning which helped him post an xFIP of 3.45.

All of his peripherals would lead you to believe that he could bounce back to his 2012 level of performance which saw him post a 3.81 ERA in 174.2 IP, which would be a welcome sight in the Blue Jays rotation.

Many fans would like to see Samardzija in the Blue Jays rotation but are loath to give up any additional prospects. Aaron Sanchez is the last remaining member of the “Lansing 3”, and Blue Jays have been conditioned to believe that he is the second coming of Roy Halladay. Unfortunately, as Drew Fairservice of Getting Blanked pointed out, he’s not quite as shiny as you think.

The Toronto Blue Jays want to win now. Aaron Sanchez is not going to help them win now, and quite frankly may never be as good as Jeff Samardzija is now, and if Sanchez does manage to get to that level? Well he won’t have Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion at the heart of his line up. Jeff Samardzija will. Bring on the Shark.