What players would you offer for Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija from the Toronto Blue Jays organization? Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays Round Table: Shark Trade Bait

Every once in a while an issue comes up that becomes heavily debated among Toronto Blue Jays fans. This recently happened after a tweet from Bruce Levine of Score 670 in Chicago, which insinuated the Blue Jays were in pursuit of Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija and also said that Toronto was “putting together a package of young players”, which immediately sent Toronto fans into a frenzy. Everyone was curious about the players that could possibly be involved from the Blue Jays organization.

We decided to throw the question out to our Jays Journal staffers to see what they could come up with. It was a fun exercise but I should probably qualify our opinions before we get started.

None of us truly have any idea of what the prospective asking price could be for Samardzija and are purely hypothesizing potential packages that could be sent to Chicago. We asked everyone to try to make the deal as fair as possible for both sides but as Blue Jays fans it will most likely end up with a Toronto tilt.

We also have no idea if the rumour is even true and if the Blue Jays actually “putting together a package of young players” as Levine tweeted over the weekend but that’s not going to stop us from spit-balling potential trade bait for the Shark.

Kyle Franzoni

Now, the Cubs are pretty stacked in terms of outfield depth and on the left side of the diamond, as both areas feature some of the best prospects in the game. However, the Cubs will be looking for help in three areas; pitching, catching, and the right side of the infield. Their window of competitiveness is also a couple of years away, meaning that Toronto doesn’t necessarily have to part with anything that is close to a finished product.

So what would a reasonable package include:

Sean Nolin – Nolin may be more of a finished product than the Cubs would really be looking for, but that could play out well for the Cubs, at least in terms of pitching. Nolin showed some solid promise last season at Double-A, but he tends to fall down the depth chart a bit, so the Blue Jays could see fit to part with him.

Mitch Nay – Nice power option with a quick bat, Nay currently plays third base, but could move across the diamond on a deeper team. The Cubs could use that profile at first base, right across the diamond from Kris Bryant.

Chase DeJong – Toronto is going to have to give up a young arm that they are high on, and DeJong may be that guy. Just 19-years-old, he’s made short work of the rookie leagues and could be tough to part with.

Andy Burns – A 23-year-old, Burns had a solid showing in 2013, making the jump to Double-A. Another third baseman by trade, Burns worked out at first in the AFL and has also seen time at second base, which may make him attractive to the Cubs.

Michael Wray

My proposed package for Samardzija would be as follows:

RHP Kyle Drabek, OF Anthony Gose, LHP Sean Nolin, LHP Daniel Norris, LHP Tyler Ybarra, SS Richard Urena.

My premise is definitely “quantity over quality” but avoids the issue of having to part with either Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman. Blue Jays fans may feel that I’m being too generous but I’m skeptical the Cubs would bite on this offer without at least Stroman involved.

I cherry-picked a few (okay, most) of those names based on tweets from Baseball America’s Ben Badler (which were picked up by Chicago Now) who dropped Ybarra’s name and referred to D.J. Davis, Mitch Nay, Dawel Lugo, Alberto Tirado,and Urena as “secondary trade chips”.

Drabek and Gose would most likely contribute to the Cubs in 2014 and as former top prospects may still have enough shine to bring something back of value to Toronto.

Norris probably saw his stock drop a bit across baseball after he struggled with fastball command in Lansing this season but was much better in the second half and is still oozing potential.

Urena is a 17-year-old defensive wizard that MLB.com ranked as the ninth best International prospect in 2012. For a teenage he handles the bat well and his MLB.com profile refers to him as “soft-spoken and humble” and makes note of “his good makeup and overall character.”

That all being said, if I were the Cubs I probably would not accept my package (at least not yet). I see them holding out for basically a better collection of young players and the Blue Jays may not have enough highly regarded to make this deal work.

Justin Jay

For all accounts, the going word is that the Chicago Cubs are looking for 3-4 top young prospects in a package for Jeff Samardzija. That said, the Blue Jays will need to put together a solid package if they intend to acquire the right-hander.

If the Toronto Blue Jays make a trade with the Chicago Cubs, it should be a blockbuster. Let me preface this by saying I am AGAINST trading our young arms, but realistically we’re more-than-likely going to have to for a trade like this. I’m hoping to come up with a fair remedy for that dilemma however. I’m familiar with Theo Esptein trades during rebuilding phases and the man does not stray from the plan. Since it’s obvious what Toronto needs at this time, what are the Cubs weaknesses and Toronto’s strengths?

First and foremost, the Cubs are looking to go cheap during the rebuilding phase. With Jeff Samardzija going into arbitration at already $2.64M this past season, he’s probably going to see a significant upgrade in pay (Editor’s note: MLBTR projects $4.9M). Typically, Epstein tries to avoid arbitration and if he’s trading somebody like the Shark, it’s because he can’t hammer out some pre-arbitration agreement. So enter Toronto.

Yes, this sounds a bit crazy, but why not dangle the potential of Brandon Morrow out there. The Cubs still need a pitcher. They do have starters in the pen like Justin Grimm, old Jays friend Carlos Villanueva, and if they’re very desperate, Daniel Bard. With Travis Wood as the Cubs current #1 (I refuse to call him an Ace), Morrow’s 1 year at $10M with a 2015 buyout of $1M might appeal to Theo. Epstein has no young arms ready and it may prevent the Jays from having to give up a guy like Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez, or both. As stated before, it sheds Toronto of $10M. If Toronto wanted to make the offer look more appealing however, they could pick up some of that Morrow money for the Cubs.

So while we’re at it, Toronto’s need for catcher won’t be filled through the Cubs organization, but their 2B spot could be. The Cubs have a plethora of young middle infield talent, but not as much in the outfield. SS Javier Baez is more than ready for The Show, is practically untouchable, and could be up sooner rather than later. He probably won’t move to 3B because the Cubs will most likely give Mike Olt the shot to play 3B being that he’s 25. Behind Baez is SS Arismendy Alcantara, another guy the Cubs are high on. This makes Starlin Castro, who took a step back last season, expendable. He is signed to a lengthy, back loaded contract through 2019, with a team option for 2020. Moving Castro to 2B would immediately stop the train of 2B coming through Toronto, especially if he’s committed and focused. It’s because of that lack of focus and maturity that has possibly put Castro on the outs in Chi-town and he may be obtainable with a decent (ie, NOT Stroman or Sanchez) pitching prospect and Anthony Gose or Moises Sierra.

Like I said, I know this trade sounds a little crazy. I know that plenty of writers this offseason have killed the “you have to give something to get something” phrase to justify their means. When you’re Toronto however, teams around the league know this team is desperate to be a contender. AA showed his hand last season. Doing anything this offseason with a high payroll, last place finishing team, is not going to be easy. So a little outside the box thinking can’t hurt.

Now we want your opinion – what would you give up to bring Jeff Samardzija to Toronto?

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  • bluejays79

    For Samardjia and Castro… Daniel Norris, Drabek, Gose, Ybarra, Urena, JPA, Chase Dejong, Mitch Nay, + minor leaguers that nobody cares for. Anything that wouldn’t include Stroman and Sanchez IMHO. If Cubs would be willing to part with both guys (shark and Castro), lets make this happen. Then AA can sign Salty, and (I know I’m dreaming) Garza.

    • Kyle Franzoni

      Interesting, but where do you slide Castro? Can Gibby beat him into a player that hustles on every play?

      • Justin Jay

        Castro to 2B. I think he comes over with a chip on his shoulder going from franchise cornerstone to franchise castoff.

        • bluejays79

          exactly Justin! Slide him over to 2B and let him hang out with Jose Reyes who is always positive even on his worst days.

    • Erik Trenouth

      I like the trade, but the FA signings are poor. Salty is coming off a career year where bidding for him is going to rise dramatically. Unless you are willing to greatly overpay for a below average catcher both offensively and defensively, you are betting off sticking with JP or better yet, trading for Ryan Hanigan. Garza has too high of a flyball rate to pitch in the AL East. His HR rate is already high and will continue to climb if he is in the AL East, and he will command a salary that will have an AAV about $10m more than he is worth. The Jays need a ground ball pitcher, someone like Scott Feldman would command a lot less money than Garza and put up better numbers.

      • bluejays79

        I like Feldman as well. I would’ve wanted Jorge De La Rosa, but the Rockies picked up his options (or signed him).

    • Randy malm

      I’m sorry but Theo and co. aren’t going for quantity, the cubs have tons of young pitchers that project at #3′s and #4′s – they need top of the rotation ceilings. Any proposal that doesn’t include Stroman or Sanchez simply means that we’ll wait till the deadline or find another trade partner. (Castro is a two-time All-star at a premium position, who’s under 25 – they tinkered with his approach but this season he’ll be back to his free swinging ways… he’s far from a throw in).

      • bluejays79

        Well if they wouldn’t mind including Castro in the deal, I’d give up Stroman or Sanchez in a heartbeat. If somehow AA wanted to add a 2B via trade with any team and get a good one in return he’ll need to part with one of the other. I know Sanchez has a very high ceiling but I’d part ways with him, due to his delivery problems and injury risks before I’d give up Stroman

  • Bob Loblaw

    I could see Stroman going. They may have a glut of outfield prospects but I heard they lack many major-league ready. Maybe Gose or Sierra are a fit.

  • Travis Bateman

    Sanchez, D.J. Davis, Drew Hutchison.
    To get Shark they’re going to have to give up Sanchez or Stroman, and Stroman looks like he may be able to contribute this season while Sanchez might still be toiling in the low minors.

    • Justin Jay

      I thought Hutch too Travis. I sat there and really thought about throwing him into the trade when I wrote it up. I don’t know what the value is on him to AA right now, but I think the kid bounces back from TJ and contributes to the Jays. I don’t know if they want to part with him. I’m hoping they don’t. I know his AAA numbers look a bit harsh, but his K/9 was fantastic and I think for him, it’s about getting the ball over the plate while finding location. He’s always been about throwing strikes. I think that’s part of the reason he got hit so hard and I think he sorts that out. He came up the system quick and I think he can be ready to contribute in the #4 or #5 spot next season in a good way.

      • dgprice54

        Hi Justin,
        Just to chime on something you mentioned: “trading somebody like the Shark, it’s because he can’t hammer out some pre-arbitration agreement.”

        Its not so much the Arb agreement. The Cubs want to extend him at fair market value for 5 years or so (probably $12-13 AAV). Samardzija wants ace money ($18-20mm AAV) & is willing to risk injury/ineffectiveness for 2 years to get it.

        Theo is trying to maximize the return in the trade by trading him now. If he doesnt, They pay JS the $5mm or so & they try again at the deadline.

        • Justin Jay

          Totally agree with all of that. Have you ever heard about what goes on at an arbitration hearing? It’s basically a “put your player down” session. Theo doesn’t like to go in there and create ill-feelings which leaves lingering resentment. It’s a very human side of a GM. If there is one knock on the Rays, it’s that they’re more willing to go to arbitration if they have to. That’s the way they have to do business though due to their market and to be successful. They got lucky with Longoria. They weren’t lucky with Price and you can hear the underlying resentment when he speaks. Theo would rather avoid that. I’d have to really search for the last time he went to arbitration with a player. That’s all I meant.

    • bluejays79

      I like Hutch. I’d rather keep him. He’s great depth to have and still has his options left. Same thing with Drabek.

    • http://jaysjournal.com/ Michael Wray

      Holy Bate-man! I’m sure the Cubs would love that offer but two first round draft picks plus Hutch is too much imo. I’m still extremely high on Sanchez and despite the fact he didn’t advance beyond High-A this year you can’t ignore his top of the rotation potential. He has trouble locating at times but watching him briefly a few times this year I feel that his pitches just have so much movement they sometimes dip out of the strike zone but in my opinion they are “good misses” and it’s not like he’s just throwing the ball all over the place.

      • Travis Bateman

        Unless the Blue Jays are ready to gie up a a big package, they’re not going to get Samardzija. Cubs are going to want guys that align with their current farm system (low minors), so Gose/Morrow can’t be centre pieces.

        Kyle Drabek once had electric stuff but needed to “just” figure out how to throw strikes, and we all know how that’s worked out.

        This offseason is going to end in one of two ways. Jays fans will either be complaining that AA didn’t do enough or that he gave up too much to get what they need to win.

      • dgprice54

        Cub fan here (in peace!). I dont think Theo is going to trade Shark without a top 100 prospect, and that one being an Arm. Whether its Bradley, Giolito, AJ Cole, Sanchez, Stroman, Taillion, Glasnow, or Bundy, he’s going to seek to get that potential ace, in that deal.

        That being said, I think its somewhere in-between what us Cubs fans/blogs are expecting (Sanchez AND Stroman) and what Jays fans/blogs are willing to give up (Neither Sanchez OR Stroman).

        • dgprice54

          Oh & good luck with your mayor situation, you guys, We had a few of those here in Chicago & our Governors in the state of Illinois as well! :)

        • http://jaysjournal.com/ Michael Wray

          @dgprice54:disqus completely agree with you that Samardzija is worth a Top 100 prospect. Also understand why the Cubs would be holding out for at least that price. My problem (from a Jays fan’s perspective) is that parting with one of the two (Sanchez/Stroman) would leave the Jays’ system, which was long ago one of the best in baseball, practically barren. I really like Shark but the Jays would be taking a huge gamble by giving up future years of cheap control if either Sanchez or Stroman live up to their potential.

  • brad

    I also think Morrow could be a good piece for Chicago as Justin said(only a one year risk that could excel and get a piece for them at the deadline). More controversially, I would argue it would be better to give up Sanchez than 35 pretty good prospects.

    If you look at the way the Jays are built, Sanchez is not in a really good spot…. especially if the Jays get the shark. By most accounts, Sanchez is pegged to be a contributor in 2015 at which time the Jays will have a rotation of Dickey, Beuhrle, Samardzija, and some combination of Morrow, Drabek, Hutchison,(remember like 2 years ago when Drabek and Hutchison were huge prospects?), Stroman(who has the advantage of being able to start his MLB career in the pen to get his feet wet) and any other SP acquisitions. I love Sanchez but the jays need pitching for a)right now(which excludes Sanchez who isn’t ready) and b) for 2016…. which is what they would be giving up in spades if they chose to keep Sanchez and trade away a thousand mid level prospects.

    • Justin Jay

      Agreed on the moving of Sanchez suggestion. I know Wray loves this guy and I love his stuff, but the left plate location is a real problem. He flies open too easily and can’t repeat his throwing motion enough to solve the issue. A 96 MPH FB with heavy movement IS amazing however. Halladay used to have that too and he had similar problems. 1998 is obviously a far cry from 2013/2014 though.

      As far as where Sanchez will end up if he corrects the issue? That’s a simple answer. Top of the rotation, where guys like Dickey, Buehrle, Samardzija, and anybody else you want to throw in there will be saying “Damn! This kid is for real!” That’s the risk you take though when making a trade like this. Is Shark worth it? Is this team ready to write off Sanchez? Because Brad, if Sanchez figures it out this season, he’ll be up in Toronto sooner than later. If it’s “WIN NOW,” arbitration clocks aren’t going to matter. Wray will be doing a happy dance and sending me Facebook messages of “I told you so” and I’ll happily acknowledge he did. He’s got more belief in some of these guys than you or I do.

      • brad

        Are you really going to take a chance putting a rookie in the rotation if you want to compete? I think the kid is fantastic and is too good to be traded for a middling SP but he would need to be unbelievable in the minors to get plugged into the MLB rotation on a team that wants to compete. I think trading 5 prospects that could be just like Sanchez in 2 years when the jays need replacements for Dickey and Beuhrle would be more damaging than trading him….. but Samardzija is just not worth it.

        • Justin Jay

          Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller… nuff said

          • brad

            St. Louis doesn’t count. Their AAA rotation last year could have pitched in the MLB haha

          • Justin Jay

            Pretty sad since our AAA didn’t belong in baseball and our AA probably could have been AAA… but STL has 10 MLB starters. Wait until Garcia comes back. Then there’s Westbrook too… it’s ridiculous. It’s the kind of crap that makes me angry that Toronto can’t figure this crap out.

          • brad

            …. :(

  • Jefftown37

    “the going word is that the Chicago Cubs are looking for 3-4 top young prospects in a package for Jeff Samardzija.”

    This is too much to give up. Recall last offseason’s Shields trade. At its core, the Royals gave up 1 very top (Myers), 1 top (Odorizzi), and 1 mid-level (Montgomery) prospect, but in return they got one of the game’s best starters (who gave them 4.1 WAR) and a guy who pitched poorly but still has back-of-the-rotation potential (Wade Davis).

    Shields is about as reliably good as a starter can be. Samardzija has had two years as a starter, and each have been solid but not outstanding (1.8, 1.0 WAR). I would be hesitant to give up either a top pitching prospect or a cache of mid-level prospects for him.

    I’d rather the Jays focus on a FA signing like Jimenez or Kazmir.

    At 2B, I’d like to see the Jays pursue Mark Ellis and platoon him with Goins, with Izturis as a utility infielder.
    If (as we all hope) the Jays are in contention in mid-July, then a trade-deadline acquisition of a top starter would be a good idea. Think of David Cone in ’92.

    • Jensan

      TREVOR CAHILL for Goes+ Drabek+Nolin, tell SHARK AND THE CUBS TO SWIM

      • Justin Jay

        I want to say, in my heart, that, that trade idea is too much. But my head is telling me that trade actually isn’t bad. Only problem is the Diamondbacks are such a stacked system, a player like Gose may not appeal. Same with Drabek. What Arizona really needs is a closer.

        • Jensan

          Trevor Cahill for Nolin+Jansen+Cecil+Sierra= Trevor Cahill+Didi

          • Justin Jay

            Too much… and Didi is possibly on the outs with Owings coming up. It will also be interesting to see how good Jake Barrett is coming into training camp for Arizona. He’s only a 2-pitch pitcher, but it’s electric stuff. Blue Jays actually drafted him a few years back. He may be their closer. Depends on how ready Towers feels he is

          • Jensan

            Nolin+Cecil+Sierra+ Arencibia= Cahill+ Monterro.
            Depending on a rookie to act as a closer for a full season is aspirational,and Towers would not be prudent as the GM.

          • Justin Jay

            Worked in St.Louis and has worked in Baltimore, Oakland, and Atlanta.

          • Jensan

            Prefer the Cahill route than to Shark. Cahill is fixed priced for 2 plus 2 options. Worth making that trade, and fill the #3/#4 Pitching role.
            Note offered up Loogy instead of Janssen this way offering Nolin + Cecil for Cahill. Financial relief, and offered Sierra(Goes) and Arencibia, (they taught Hill how to hit) for Monterro.

          • Justin Jay

            I like Monterro. I don’t know if this past season is a sign of decline or if he just had a rough season. I would take him over the other options out there… except maybe Navarro

          • Jensan

            Palm Beach Gardens is looking to donate $100 million for facilities and parking for Astros and Jays farm club. Just off PGA Blvd and Central, DONT worry about restaurants on PGA Blvd, there are 15,000 seats for food along the strip of different types of food. Hotel accommodation just book early.

            Cahill and Monterro and Skaggs= Nolin,Sanchez, Sierra, Janssen and Arencibia

          • Jensan

            Even better, you are correct. Just trade straight up for Cahill= Cecil+ Sierra

            Save Happ+ Janssen+ Itzuris+ Romero(eat 50% of his salary) for Kendricks+ Iannetta.

            Than sign Jiminez and Shark can be traded to Arizona for prospects.

            Net Salaries added 22 million total plus Arbitration eligible of 8 million. $150 million

            Dickey, Jiminez, Buehlre, Morrow and Cahill. Solid SP.
            Santos, Delabar, Jeffress, Loup,Rogers, McGowan,Perez, Wagner or Lincoln. RP Depth.

            AAA Pitching is Nolin, McGuire, Stroman, Drabek, Hutchison and Redmond. Stroman can go into relief corp and be swing pitcher (#6 pitcher). No more retreads.

            Sanchez to AA with whomever graduates from Dunedin, soon to be Palm Beach Gardens.

          • Justin Jay

            Creative. I don’t understand the fascination with Iannetta. Hell, he’s from my state and I’m not thrilled by him. I’ve been waiting for 5 years for Iannetta to show me what he can do. Didn’t happen in Colorado, which is a hitter’s haven. Didn’t happen in a high protection line up like the Angels. It’s just not going to happen in Toronto. Yep, he can take a walk. Fantastic… but he can’t run. He struck out at a higher percentage than JPA AND he didn’t throw out runners at a higher rate than JP. Kendrick would be a help, but he’s not cheap. Is he going to make more of a difference than Goins? I just don’t think an Angels trade in necessary, but Stoeten and even our own Travis Bateman believe it’s a worthy trade. Both are good baseball minds, so maybe there’s something I’m missing… but, from what I see, Iannetta is NOT an upgrade at catcher… even if he CAN walk at a higher rate than JP or Salty.

            I heard the rumour about Toronto leaving Dunedin. Is that definite? I usually go to Dunedin once a year!

          • Justin Jay

            Oh yea… I’m also for replacing Jeffress or Rogers with Stroman so he can get a taste of MLB hitters, if he can show he can handle some short time in AAA… say, June maybe? I would really like to see TBJ use the David Price approach with Stroman

  • Jamie Miles

    Don’t make for him period! Hell we don’t know if even he can pitch in the AL East! I would take Hutch coming off TJ surgery before the shark!

  • Jamie Miles

    Another reason why not to trade for him an extension will be required if he does turn out to be good probably in the neighborhood of what say Matt Garza would want. BTW signing Garza would not cost the Blue Jays compensation (2nd round pick) because he was traded midseason!

    • Justin Jay

      I think the sudden fear among Jays fans has become the “fly ball pitcher,” which is what Garza is. Understandable, since the AL East is made up of 100% hitter’s ballpark, with Toronto being the least hitter friendly. That’s not saying much. Not to mention, Garza isn’t the greatest clubhouse guy.

  • Jamie Miles

    Alex Anthopoulos is currently suffering from bad trade disease. He does understand he can sign free agents right???!!!

  • Godwinslaw

    Spellcheck is way under-rated as a starter going forward. His stuff is lights out, from a consistent 96+ heater, to an excellent split. He is capable of dominating-which is what you need if you make it to post-season ball. Any prospect with his stuff is already either in the show, or being held back for service time concerns. Additionally, his health and athleticism are excellent, and his football career has saved the equivalent of hundreds of innings off his arm. Expect a big year from him this year. It would not be much of a stretch to compare his career arc to Max Scherzer.
    Many scouts agree-and, (with 2 years of club control guaranteed)as there really isn’t the necessity to move him this off-season, the Cubs have the leverage to get a lucrative deal, or they won’t move him.