Samardzija, 28, has popped up on several teams' radars over the last few weeks after extension talks with Chicago broke down yet again. The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks have been in recent discussions with the Cubs about putting together a trade package for "Shark," but they now have some competition.
The Yankees are seemingly checking in on anyone and everyone now that Robinson Cano is off the table, and acquiring a rotation piece like Samardzija through a trade could potentially help them clear the payroll needed to go after the likes of Masahiro Tanaka without going over the luxury tax threshold. Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues currently pegs the club's 2014 post-arbitration payroll at $182.7 million -- that's with A-Rod's salary completely removed -- which leaves them just a few million shy of their $189 million goal with at least one starting pitcher left to add.
For the Braves, the addition of Samardzija would solidify an already strong and young pitching core of Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Brandon Beachy. According to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves are also interested in White Sox lefty Chris Sale, but Samardzija is believed to be a more "realistic target" for the club.
The Cubs have one of the deepest farm systems in the game at the moment, so it's unclear what kind of return they'd be hoping for in a trade. Most of the club's premier prospects -- Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler -- are position players, so it seems reasonable to assume that they might ask for young pitching in return for Samardzija.
Samardzija, 28, is entering just his second year of arbitration, so he has two seasons of team control remaining. The tall right-hander has been a strong middle-of-the-rotation arm for the Cubs since transitioning from the bullpen in 2012, posting a 4.10 ERA and 9.1 strikeouts per nine in 388⅓ innings (61 starts) over the last two seasons. He had a lot of trouble limiting free passes (5.3 BB/9) when he worked out of the bullpen, but has greatly improved his control since moving into the rotation, lowering his walk rate to just over three per nine.