Samardzija rumors flying at GM meetings

ORLANDO -- Another day, another trade rumor regarding Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija. This time a report out of Washington has the Nationals interested in the arbitration-eligible pitcher. General manager Jed Hoyer says get used to it.

“Teams know we’ve had discussions with him and we haven’t signed him,” Hoyer said Monday. “That’s part of it.”

The Cubs still have two years of control of Samardzija before he becomes a free agent, and they say they’re staying in touch with his agent. The sides will meet again this winter to see if a deal can be struck -- otherwise a deal could be made with another team.

“I think teams will certainly inquire about him,” Hoyer said. “He’s really proved over the last two years he has great stuff and is a tough competitor. I think teams will ask us about him so to that extent there could be rumors. I think Jeff has a perfect mentality for that. I think he doesn’t pay attention to it. It’s somewhat the nature of being in a big market.”

• Though the Cubs aren’t in the market for a slew of veteran players, they know they need replacements for leaders like Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus.

“We know we need more player leadership,” Hoyer said. “I think it’s unfair to put all the leadership aspects on the manager and the coaching staff. We’ve traded a lot of those guys away. We know that and so I do think we need to replenish that.”

The ideal scenario would be a veteran who can actually start and not just lead from the bench. Center field is wide-open but free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo are probably too pricey for the Cubs.

• Hoyer indicated the Cubs would announce new manager Rick Renteria’s coaching staff all at once in the coming days. He intimated the important role of hitting coach won’t be an internal hire but an external one. Former hitting coach James Rowson signed to be a coach in the New York Yankees organization over the weekend.