The Toronto Blue Jays have been rumored to be targeting Cubs' righty Jeff Samardzija, but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that there is "zero chance" the Jays part with the prospects Chicago is demanding. Heyman proposes one-year rentals such as Samardzija's teammate Jason Hammel, Indians righty Justin Masterson, and others.
As a unit, the Blue Jays rotation ranks 17th in baseball with a team ERA of 3.91. Advanced pitching metrics -- like FIP and xFIP -- suggest that the Jays have been even worse than that, despite the fact that they lead the notoriously competitive AL East.
Heyman notes that the Blue Jays would have a tough time extending Samardzija, who has a 2.53 ERA over 103 innings this year. He has already declined a reported 5-year, $85 million extension from the Cubs.
If Toronto decides to pursue pitchers that will be free agents after the year, they could still end up negotiating with the Cubs in an effort to acquire Hammel -- who is pitching effectively as well (2.99 ERA) -- or Jake Arrieta. The latter has been as unexpectedly good as the former, if not more so. Arrieta is striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings, and has put up a 2.05 ERA in 57 innings.
Toronto is expected to pursue options to improve at second base as well. If thy engage in trade talks with Chicago, it might be prudent for them to inquire on Luis Valbuena. The 28-year-old infielder has played more than 1,600 innings at second in his career, and he's hitting .266/.359/.425 this season, though much of his success has been the result of a strict platoon assignment in which he rarely faces left-handed pitching. He could form a similar platoon with Steve Tolleson in Toronto. Tolleson has a career 127 wRC+ against lefties, and if he didn't pan out against southpaws, the Jays could pursue another part-time left masher.