The Cubs endgame on Jeff Samardzija is to let the market play out. Several teams including the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays have called on the righthander who will be 29 come January 25, but the Cubs’ feeling is that when the Masahiro Tanaka posting saga has played itself out and the free agent scrum has cleared, Samardzija and Tampa Bay’s David Price will be the jewels of the market. And their trades will lead us to and probably past Groundhog Day.
Arizona could emerge as the leader, but Kevin Towers has repeatedly made it clear that he will not trade prized righthanded pitcher Archie Bradley, not in a deal for Price, not in a deal for Samardzija. They will deal lefthander Tyler Skaggs, but if shortstop Didi Gregorius were included in a Samardzija trade, it would likely be a three-way, as the Cubs are convinced that Javier Baez is going to remain at shortstop, which in turn might force some decision on Starlin Castro. As for Tampa and Gregorius, while the Rays have been looking for a shortstop, one baseball man this week suggested that if Hak-Ju Lee gets healthy, he could turn into an everyday shortstop on the big league level.