Like the idea or not, the Toronto Blue Jays seem to really, really want to make a deadline deal with the Chicago Cubs for Jeff Samardzija. They see those long, flowing locks standing on the mound at Rogers Centre and it makes them happy.
That much is evident with each passing start that Samardzija makes in a Chicago Cubs uniform. The Blue Jays sent a full contingent of scouts, including Perry Minisian (Toronto’s pro scouting director), to Monday night’s start against the Reds. As reported by Jon Morosi of FoxSports, the Blue Jays have made a practice of watching Samardzija pitch, leading to speculation that the team is going to make a move on him at some point before the deadline.
However, as Morosi notes, that move is not likely to come without a price. As of this writing, the Cubs are said to be looking at a package that includes top prospect Aaron Sanchez, the team’s #4 prospect Daniel Norris, and top positional prospect Dalton Pompey. That’s a significant difference between earlier reports that said the Cubs were asking for a package highlighted by both Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, but it is still a high price to pay.
Aaron Sanchez has made the climb to Triple-A Buffalo this summer, but it hasn’t been without its bumps in the road. The 21-year-old is sporting a combined 4.08 ERA and a 7.6 K/9 ratio across the two levels, but his command has been a continual issue (5.8 BB/9) and his two starts at Triple-A have been underwhelming to say the least.
On the other hand, Pompey and Norris have forced themselves into the conversation with outstanding seasons.
Norris absolutely blew away High-A opponents to the tune of a 1.22 ERA and 10.3 K/9 ratio over 10 starts at Dunedin before forcing a promotion. His first start at Double-A New Hampshire wasn’t perfect (5.2 IP, 4 ER), but he struck-out 9 and walked just 1 in the process.
Pompey has been absolutely electric for Dunedin as well, but has yet to see the promotion to Double-A. In 67 games, he is slashing .312/.392/.460 with 27 stolen bases and 47 runs scored. If not for a guy named Franklin Barreto, Pompey may be considered the top position prospect in the Jays system, making him difficult for the team to want to part with at the deadline.
However, we are talking about Jeff Samardzija here, and the Blue Jays obviously have a need in their rotation. Ignore the 2-6 record, and see the sparkling 2.53 ERA, the 2.89 FIP, and the solid 3.13 K/BB ratio and you can understand the Blue Jays interest in the right-hander.
But that interest comes with a price, and even with the Cubs altering their demands a bit, the fact still remains that they want a haul that the Blue Jays may not be willing to give up. Norris’ strides alone make him very difficult to justify moving, and Pompey’s future should be in the Blue Jays outfield soon. Yes they want Samardzija, but are they willing to deal away more of the future to make it happen?
That’s a tricky question to answer, as it puts gamble on winning now or the wager that they prospects will pan out and deliver as promised. It’s a million dollar question, and no one has the answer.