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.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.