The Blue Jays have been linked to Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija for months now, so it's not exactly a surprise that the rumours are heating up with the "North Siders" slipping way out of contention in the National League Central and the Blue Jays obviously making quite a run at the American League East crown. Samardzija has 4.028 years of service time entering this season, meaning he'll be a free agent after the 2015 season making him a little more attractive than a straight-up half-season rental player. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports had the initial report of the Blue Jays scouting Samardzija, which would be a bigger story if they weren't scouting him:
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<A href="http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/video?vid=c654c738-09b0-49af-929d-ae0b66edffb7&videoId=c654c738-09b0-49af-929d-ae0b66edffb7&from=shareembed-syndication&src=v5:embed:syndication:" target="_new" title="Full Count: AL East eyeing Samardzija?">Video: Full Count: AL East eyeing Samardzija?</A>
Samardzija is definitely a quality pitcher, currently sitting at an ERA of 2.77 in 14 starts this season, although he is in the NL Central. With a $5.345 million contract this season and a pay raise expected in his final year of arbitration, it wouldn't be a huge financial commitment to the "cash-strapped" Blue Jays.
Before the season, Theo Epstein and the Cubs were apparently asking for Drew Hutchison and one of either Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez in return for the tall right-hander Samardzija. Hutchison and Stroman have definitely increased their stock this year, while Sanchez has at best remained stationary despite his promotion to AAA Buffalo.
It's anybody's guess what it will take to get Samardzija, considering there's an AL East bidding war almost surely going to take place in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline between the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Red Sox. There's a clear lack of depth in the Blue Jays rotation though and it's up to Alex Anthopoulos to decide if he wants to really stick his neck out and make one more big move to try and secure the first Blue Jays playoff berth in 21 years.