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Blue Jays Making Push For Jeff Samardzija, Aaron Sanchez May Be Involved (UPDATED)

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Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

There's rumblings that the Blue Jays are trying to work out a deal to get Jeff Samardzija in a trade with the Cubs. The rumour was first mentioned by Chicago writer Bruce Levine and posted on Twitter late this afternoon:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Teams have inquired about StarterJeff Samardzija. Source: Toronto putting together package of young players.</p>&mdash; Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) <a href="https://twitter.com/MLBBruceLevine/statuses/404380357866188801">November 23, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Samardzija was drafted in the fifth round of the 2006 draft and will be 29 years old when the 2014 season starts. He was planning to play both football and baseball professionally before being drafted by the Cubs, but after signing a five year deal with the North Siders he decided he would focus on baseball (there was a nice bonus involved with that decision). Samardzija was a standout for both the baseball and football teams at Notre Dame and would have gone quite high in the NFL Draft as well.

The Indiana native is a 6'5" and 225 pound right-handed pitcher. After making his debut in mid-2008, Samardzija came out of the bullpen for four years before moving to the rotation in the past two years. The big right-hander started 33 games with Chicago this year pitching to a 4.34 ERA and a 3.77 FIP resulting in a WAR of 2.8. With a K/9 consistently above 9.00, his stuff definitely is not lacking. His pitches include a four-seamer, two-seamer, cutter, splitter, and slider with his hard stuff sitting mid-90's. Here's his wicked splitter:

Samardzijafs

via www.fangraphs.com

Jeff Samardzija was paid $2.64 million this year and is under team control for two more years of arbitration eligibility. MLB Trade Rumors projects Samardzija to be earn $4.9 million this upcoming season, which would definitely be good value for the Blue Jays.

Guessing the package of players being put together for Samardzija is a pretty impossible task, but the Cubs would likely ask for an outfielder in the deal as they're quite weak in that regard. Seeing Anthony Gose traded would not come as a huge shock personally. A bullpen piece going Chicago's way is also somewhat likely as they need help in that area of their team as well.

It's only a rumour at this point, but at least the Blue Jays have thrown us a bone to chew on for a little while.

UPDATE

Jim Bowden of ESPN spoke to Alex Anthopoulos on the radio this morning and AA did not deny the rumours:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Anthopolous not denying report from Bruce Levine of ESPNchicago that they are working on a deal for Jeff Samardzija deal just no offers yet</p>&mdash; JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) <a href="https://twitter.com/JimBowdenESPNxm/statuses/404641491588362240">November 24, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Alex Anthopolous Blue Jays GM: &quot;We haven&#39;t entertained the idea of trading either Bautista or Encarnacion&quot;</p>&mdash; JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) <a href="https://twitter.com/JimBowdenESPNxm/statuses/404644944238743552">November 24, 2013</a></blockquote>

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UPDATE 2 (Minor Leaguer)

Chicago Now blogger Tom Loxas wrote in a post that the Blue Jays and Cubs "could be close" on a deal involving Jeff Samardzija, and that Toronto knows that pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez must be included in the package. The two teams are trying to complete the deal before American Thanksgiving, which is this coming Thursday, November 28.