For some reason, there have been a flurry of reports today that the Cubs are “listening” to offers for Jeff Samardzija. This caused a whole bunch of Cubs fans on Twitter to lose their collective shit and start tweeting about throwing in the towel and trading Travis Wood and a bunch of other nonsense I really couldn’t follow.
If you’ve ever read “Soccernomics,” you know that English Premier League Club Manchester United is the most valuable sports franchise in the world. In fact, their approach to acquiring and trading players pre-dated Moneyball, and has become the model for many, many front offices around the world. And central to their philosophy is this: Every player has a value. And if another team is willing to meet or exceed that value, you move that player, no matter how valuable his is or how unthinkable trading him might be.
For example, FC Barcelona might value Lionel Messi, the best place in the world, at $10 billion. That’s an outrageous sum that no team would probably ever pay, or ever be able to pay, for a player. But even so, he has a value. And if another team is willing to meet that value, Barca would drive Messi to the airport faster than you can say “Goal.” Okay, maybe not if you’re Andres Cantor, but pretty damn fast.
Which brings us to Jeff Samardzija.
One of the big mistakes Jim Hendry made was deeming players like Corey Patterson and Felix Pie to be “untouchable;” meaning he wouldn’t trade them not matter how much he was offered. The problem with this approach, of course, is exactly what ended up happening: Patterson and Pie never lived up to their expectations, and the Cubs possibly passed up valuable young players because they were unwilling to listen to any offers for their untouchables.
So of course Theo and Jed are listening to offers on Jeff Samardzija. I guarantee you they are listening to offers for Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro and Junior Lake, as well. They’re listening to offers on everyone. Samardzija, like every other player, has been assigned a value, and if a team meets that value, he’ll be moved. This doesn’t mean that Samardzija is “on the block” or on his way out the door. It just means that Jed and Theo aren’t going to foreclose any deals just because of who a player is. And that’s exactly the right way to approach the trade deadline.
It’s highly unlikely that any other team has the ability or the willingness to meet the value the Cubs currently place on Samardzija at this point in time. If they’re unable to lock him to a long term deal, that value will start to come down, and teams will find it much more doable. But for now, none of us have to worry about Samardzija bring traded. And on the off chance that he IS traded, it will be for such a haul of young talent that you won’t even care. I promise.
The Cubs are back at it tonight in San Franciso at 8:05 pm CT. Chris Rusin (1-0, 5.40) gets another start. On the hill for the Giants will be left-handed pitcher Madison Bumgardner (10-6, 2.93).
Cubs lineup looks like so:
First pitch is at 8:05 pm CT on CSN,