July’s trading deadline may still be six weeks away but the Chicago Cubs have started to discuss potential trades involving a pair of their more attractive trade pieces – pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Multiple teams are believed to have expressed an interest in one or both players to the team, with at least two who have already extended offers according to Gordon Wittenmyer at the Chicago Sun Times.
The Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners, and Toronto Blue Jays are among those teams believed to have interest. Wittenmyer notes that a source has told him that he expects Hammel to end up in Seattle.
Neither player is a surprise to see among trade rumors, even this far out from the deadline. Both have been discussed at length as likely options to be moved, particularly Samardzija. The Cubs’ ace has been a subject of trade rumors since this past offseason when the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on a long term contract extension. The 29 year old will have one more season of arbitration eligibility left for next year before reaching free agency.
Samardzija has pitched well in 2014, making 14 starts and throwing 90.1 IP on the year so far. His 2.77 ERA and 1.176 WHIP are both exceptional and he’s limiting the walks, allowing a career-low 2.6 BB/9. Run support has been a challenge with the Cubs’ inconsistent offense, largely contributing to his 2-6 record, but Samardzija could be an asset for any team that would potentially acquire him. The Cubs, however, don’t need to move him so he isn’t expected to come cheap.
Hammel, meanwhile, will be 32 in September and a free agent at season’s end. He’s off to the best start of his career, posting a 2.81 ERA and 0.984 WHIP in 83.1 IP. His 8.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 are both career bests.