Jon Morosi dives into the Great Shark Hunt in a piece this afternoon at Fox Sports, groping around for answers as to who should blink first when it comes to the Jays’ and Cubs’ staredown over Jeff Samardzija. Much of it simply looks at where both the Jays and Samardzija are currently at, but there is one clear money quote:
The Cubs have evaluated the Jays’ farm system, and there are strong indications they would trade Samardzija to Toronto if the Jays offered Triple-A right-hander Aaron Sanchez, Double-A left-hander Daniel Norris, and Class-A center fielder Dalton Pompey.
The problem: The Jays maintain they won’t include Sanchez, Norris and Pompey in the same offer for Samardzija — or any other available player, including Tampa Bay ace David Price.
The Jays may be willing to trade one or two players from that group. But not all three. At least, not yet.
I get the sense that I maybe like and want Samardzija a little more than a lot of fans, but I’m with the Jays on not wanting to make that deal. At least certainly not yet.
Steep as it is, I’m not entirely sure I’m with them on not being willing to make that offer for David Price, though. Or Cole Hamels — who Morosi also says is on the club’s radar at the moment. I know Sanchez is a big fuckin’ deal, but for two seasons with this lineup with one of those guys as your number one? I can live with that. And maybe this is way convoluted thinking of me — especially given the nonlinear path a tonne of baseball prospects take — but Norris and Pompey sort of feel like found money.
Very strong prospects, yes, and Norris has the pre-draft pedigree and the fact that he’s getting top 100 list buzz of late — Keith Law noted him as one of several movers up his board (though he didn’t necessarily confirm his place in the top 100), while Jon Sickels wrote yesterday that Norris would be “somewhere” in his upcoming top 150 list — but his first year as a pro was pretty disastrous in terms of both command and mechanics. Is he “fixed” now? The results and the promotion to Double-A make it look like that could very well be the case, and I’m certainly not trying to suggest I think he’ll wither back into nothing at some point down the line, but for most of the two full years after he was drafted we’d kind of gotten used to the idea that Dan Norris was a good idea that didn’t seem like it was going to work out.
Should that make it easier to consider parting with him now that the results as a pro have started to match the excitement we had for him as an amateur — a guy who was considered a tough sign when drafted, and a consolation prize/fallback option when first-rounder Tyler Beede didn’t sign? Probably not. But, at least for me, it kind of does. Maybe? Almost? Especially since you worry that he could be the type of guy who might constantly have to battle to repeat his mechanics.
I have absolutely no idea if that’s actually a real concern, but there were certainly reports of the Jays’ trepidation over Ubaldo Jimenez this winter for that very reason, which might make the Jays a little more inclined to move him.
More importantly, I think you can kinda feel pretty good about what might be coming through the pipeline behind Norris by the start of 2016, when spots in a rotation based around the acquired frontline starter, Dickey-Buehrle-Stroman-Hutchison start to open up.
And Pompey? The Maple Cock Cheese Brigade sure is pulling for him, but so should all Jays fans, probably, as he’s been tearing up the High-A Florida State League this year, hitting for average, a little bit of power, taking walks, stealing bases, and playing centre field. It’s impressive stuff, and he really gives you some numbers to dream on, but… the 16th-rounder from 2010 is still a long way from the Majors, and very possibly at the absolute zenith of his value.
Moving him requires a similar kind of calculation to the one the Jays made last year, dealing away guys like Syndergaard and d’Arnaud. Obviously Pompey isn’t considered on their level in terms of prospect status, but he’s an interesting player — he and Norris were just today named to the roster for the All-Star Futures Game — but one who doesn’t fit the Jays’ current timeline very well. He may well be able to help a club in the outfield two or three seasons down the line, but he’s not going to replace potentially departing free agents Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus for 2015. His contributions at the big league level, if he ever even makes any, won’t be until after the Jays have found some kind of solution to go forward with.
In other words, unless they think he’s destined to be a legitimate star (or… OK, maybe even just an above average big leaguer), Pompey is a guy who serves the Jays very well right now as a trade piece. Add him to an offer of one of Sanchez or Norris and I think you have a lot of value going in the other direction, yet a palatable amount to surrender. All three, though? That’s a very tough sell unless you’re talking about a serious, serious get, and I’m just not sure Samardzija is that. (Are Hamels and Price? Yeah, probably). I continue to also not be so sure that there aren’t a number of other teams that could beat such an offer anyway — or at least that have enough prospect depth to not being as worried over it as the Jays ought to be over the blow that such a deal would… uh… deal to their system.
Whatever the case, that’s the state of the stalemate. Supposedly.
Hey, at least Stroman is clearly off the table now, right?