Jeff Samardzija is one of the hotter trade candidates on the Hot Stove market this week at the Winter Meetings, and there's a decent shot that when everyone departs Orlando, Samardzija will be a member of someone other than the Chicago Cubs. There are a number of teams reported to be interested in Samardzija, but a new one popped up over the weekend that we hadn't heard before.
John Arguello of Cubs Den reported on Sunday:
The Phillies appear to have interest in Samardzija but would almost certainly have to involve a 3rd team. Their biggest trade chip is Domonic Brown and while the Cubs could use a young LH bat, they are primarily interested in getting young pitching in return for Samardzija. The Phillies don't match up well in that respect.
The Phillies desire to add a starter has been made known this winter, so their interest in Samardzija makes sense. The fact that he has two more years of team control makes the price on the Cubs right-hander high, and Arguello is correct that, if the Cubs don't have any interest in Brown, then the Phillies probably can't get a trade done without the help of another team.
But let's assume for a minute that they are interested in Brown. He isn't the best fit for their lineup - his aggressive, left-handed hitting power profile is too similar to Anthony Rizzo's - but would provide them with a young, impact bat under control for four more years, so it's certainly something they may have interest in.
If the Cubs would take Brown, it would be a big help to the Phillies, because the Phillies don't have a ton of high-end talent to work with. Additionally, their top position prospect, Maikel Franco, is a third baseman who is destined to end up at first base, which is a terrible fit for the Cubs, who already have Rizzo locked up at first, Kris Bryant at third base and Javier Baez, who is currently a shortstop but who many scouts believe will end up at third base as well.
The Phillies do have one piece that would interest the Cubs, however.
Left-handed pitching prospect Jesse Biddle is exactly the type of talented young pitcher the Cubs are looking to insert into their farm system. Additionally, having spent the entire 2013 season in Double-A (at age 21), he's on roughly the same schedule as many of the Cubs other top prospects, including Bryant and Baez. Biddle is not a future ace, but he is a pretty solid bet to make it as a mid-rotation starter, something he could be in the majors by the end of the 2015 season.
It may require a few other pieces, but Brown and Biddle is a pretty solid package for Samardzija. The addition of a few pieces like catcher Cameron Rupp (should be a solid big league backup) or Kenny Giles (100-plus mph arm with control issues but a strong fall) could put a deal over the top.
If the Phillies are adamant on acquiring Samardzija and the Cubs have any interest in Brown, there's probably enough to get a deal done without involving another team. Without Brown, it will be tough, if not impossible, to get a deal done, but the Cubs could easily have interest in a cost-controlled power hitter, so it's not enough to dismiss a deal with the Phillies entirely.
Trading Biddle would come as no surprise to Phillies fans who have seen general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. empty a once-budding farm system in prospect-for-veteran trades in an attempt to keep his aging core surrounded with major league ready talent. Biddle is the only impact pitcher close to being ready to help one of the oldest teams in baseball, and trading him would leave the cupboard virtually bare for the next few years.
Still, that's never stopped Ruben before. The Phillies probably shouldn't go after Samardzija, but if they want to, they can probably get a deal done.