The Toronto Blue Jays have sent one of their top scouts to evaluate Chicago Cubs starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel prior to next month’s trade deadline, reports Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network.
The decision comes not long after Toronto had senior advise Mel Didier and big league cross checker Dean Decillis watch Samardzija pitch seven innings against the Miami Marlins earlier this month.
Russ Bove, one of general manager Alex Anthopolous’ most respected scouts, will be watching both pitchers in the coming weeks.
For the Cubs, this could be good news as they look to drum up interest in their most attractive assets. Barring any early deals, Samardzija and Hammel will likely be popular names up until the July 31 deadline, and having contenders like Toronto in the mix should keep the bidding alive.
Chicago is reportedly asking for a four-player package in exchange for Samardzija, one of the top pitchers on the market, while the expectations for a Hammel trade aren’t as clear. The former will surely command a stronger return, but both pitchers could end up bringing in some nice value for Chicago.
Samardzija has a 2.77 ERA with 82 strikeouts and 26 walks over 91 innings this season, while Hammel has a 3.02 ERA with 85 strikeouts and 19 walks over 89.1 innings.
Elliott also says that the Cubs had vice president Tim Wilken on hand for Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris’ recent start at Single-A Dunedin, so it appears the team is also preparing for trade negotiations. Norris, a 21-year-old lefty, has a 1.22 ERA with 76 strikeouts and 18 walks over 13 starts with Dunedin this year.