Report: Cubs already talking potential trades involving Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel

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With 25 teams within five games of a playoff spot, the number of sellers before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline will likely be limited. The Cubs are one of the obvious ones and they are already talking about potential trades.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Cubs have had trade talks with multiple teams regarding Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Offers have already been made by two teams, with the Braves, Mariners, and Blue Jays among those who are the most interested. One major league source told Wittenmyer that he expects Hammel to end up in Seattle.

Samardzija has a 2.77 ERA over 14 starts this season and figures to be one of the top names available this summer. The 29-year-old right-hander is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season. Hammel won’t cost as much as Samardzija, but he should generate more interest since he won’t cost as much in a trade. Coming off a disappointing 2013, the 31-year-old owns a 2.81 ERA and 76/18 K/BB ratio in 83 1/3 innings over 13 starts this season. He’s owed a little over $3 million for the rest of the season and will be a free agent this winter.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.