With the 2014 non-waiver trade deadline rapidly approaching, most Jays fans are left speculating and pleading for GM Alex Anthopoulos to make a splash and acquire a starting pitcher to supplement the AL East leading Blue Jays’ rotation.
Therefore, it is only fitting to look at one team who presents several viable options for the Blue Jays to pursue at the deadline: the Chicago Cubs.
It has long been speculated that the Jays have had interest in right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija and rightfully so. Samardzija sports a deceiving 2-6 record with a 2.77 ERA and a 2.95 FIP suggesting that his numbers will stave off serious regression especially given a better offence on a new team.
So the question is not whether Samardzjiza would be a good fit in a Jays uniform but rather what it would take to acquire an ace like him and whether or not it would actually be worth it.
Over the off-season it was reported that the Jays had been in conversation with Cubs GM Theo Epstein with Epstein asking for a package which would have included Drew Hutchison and either Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez. Alex, correctly held off on that deal and stayed the course, allowing both Hutchison and Stroman to make an impact in the Jays 2014 rotation.
According to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, the Cubs are now asking for four players in return for Samardzija. With their previous request in mind, you have to believe that, at the minimum,they are asking for Sanchez and three other potential prospects which could include Hutch or Stroman, and two of Deck McGuire, Liam Hendriks, Sean Nolin, Dalton Pompey, Dwight Smith Jr. etc.
In my opinion, if the package to acquire Samardjiza is in fact similar now to what it was then, Alex should again stand pat and explore other options on the trading market.
A legitimate option which may come at a cheaper price in a much less competitive market could be Jason Hammel, also a Chicago Cub. Hammel has impressive numbers thus far, dawning a 2.81 ERA with a 1.94 BB/9. Although Hammel is having one of the best seasons of his career, the 31 year-old’s 3.02 FIP indicates that if regression is to occur, it shouldn’t be jaw-dropping.
Another benefit discovered in his numbers is his HR/9 which currently resides at 0.65. In a hitter friendly Rogers Centre, this stat can only be seen as welcoming.
One of the biggest reasons Hammel could come north of the border is his rental status within a one year contract. The Jays have expressed interest in a rental pitcher which I normally don’t agree with but in a what appears to be a win now situation, acquiring a rental pitcher at a low-cost isn’t such a terrible idea.
The key here is ensuring the trade is cost efficient. Given Hammel’s track record, it shouldn’t be impossible to suggest to Epstein that Hammel’s season is somewhat of an anomaly and therefore should not be giving away a prospect of Aaron Sanchez‘s caliber. Instead, this deal is probably most beneficial and realistic for both parties if the Jays send a mid-level prospect like Sean Nolin or Liam Hendricks.
The Jays has been pondering the idea of upgrading the rotation for a while now, and although it isn’t the main reason they have fell into a June swoon (if you will), upgrading on the mound won’t be the worst idea come the dog days of summer as they attempt to hold off the rest of their AL East opponents and clinch a playoff birth for the first time since 1993.
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