MLB Rumors: Latest on Stephen Drew, Jeff Samardzija and More Buzz

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2014

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 17: Jeff Samardzija #29 of the Chicago Cubs pitches during the bottom of the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 17, 2013 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

A very active winter around baseball has carried over into the new season. Between free-agent signings, contract extensions and possible trades on the horizon, there's still plenty to discuss even though the main focus has shifted back to the field.

There's usually a lull in activity once the season gets underway. A couple factors are starting to change that. The biggest one is contract extensions for players in or heading toward their prime as a way to get them locked up at what teams hope is a reduced price. The other being qualifying offers leaving some free agents on the market.

At the very least, it makes things a little more interesting for fans around the league. Let's check out some of the latest buzz and analyze what it could mean for the teams involved.


Stephen Drew

Drew is a plus defender who also cranked out 13 home runs for the Boston Red Sox last season. In other words, he should have been able to find a team pretty easily during the offseason. But since he was operating under the cloud of a qualifying offer, that didn't happen and he remains available.

The Detroit Tigers seemed like a good fit after Jose Iglesias went down with a shin injury. Alas, James Schmehl of reports a deal isn't likely to happen unless Drew waits until after the draft in June when the first-round compensation would be eliminated:

Bottom line: Unless he's willing to hold off from signing with a team until after the June draft, he will ultimately cost a team a draft pick if he is to sign with them.

It might not seem like a lot to forfeit in order to sign a shortstop of Drew's caliber, but Dave Dombrowski, along with nearly every general manager in baseball, would likely argue otherwise. Those draft picks mean a lot.

Waiting until June is far from an ideal option for Drew, but it could be his best one. If the Tigers do have interest, he can wait until the draft passes and sign a one-year pact with a championship contender. That still gives him plenty of time to impress before heading back to free agency without a qualifying offer to deal with.


Jeff Samardzija

The Samardzija situation is one that will likely generate plenty of buzz as the trade deadline moves closer. His strikeout rate of more than a batter per inning as a starter is enough to create intrigue despite a relatively mundane 4.14 career ERA.

Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune passed along comments from Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein, who said an extension was discussed: "We talked about it early in spring training. We indulged the questions. Right now we're just focused on the games and just going out and winning." Gonzales gets the feeling a trade is more likely:

The financial landscape for pitchers approaching free agency has escalated since the end of last season. The latest example is Homer Bailey, who was one year from free agency before re-signing with the Reds for six years and $105 million.

Samardzija won't be a free agent until after 2015 but appears likely to be dealt well before then.

Samardzija has the stuff of a No. 1 starter but doesn't have the command to match. The question becomes exactly how much a team would be willing to give the Cubs for him. Waiting until the deadline should maximize the demand, but unless multiple impact pieces for the future come back in the deal, Chicago should try to extend him instead.


Joel Hanrahan

Hanrahan tallied 76 saves over his final two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates before heading to the Boston Red Sox last season. Unfortunately for Boston, he suffered an elbow injury after just nine appearances and missed the rest of the season.

The veteran reliever is now nearing the end of the rehabilitation process and teams are starting to show interest. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports negotiations haven't advanced yet, but the New York Mets are emerging as a serious suitor:

With closer Bobby Parnell suffering a partially torn ligament (via ESPN) in his pitching elbow, the Mets could definitely use somebody with experience closing out games. How long it would take before Hanrahan is ready to go remains unclear, but it's a perfect match once he's cleared.