Chicago and Samardzija have been going back and forth for several weeks in extension talks that appear to have fallen through. Last week, the team was reported to have offered the right hander a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $55 million. Samardzija might be holding out for an opportunity at a big pay day on the open market -- he's set to be a free agent in 2016.
That might be why the Cubs could ramp up their efforts to move him now. His value is much higher now than it will be as he approaches the open market and loses inexpensive, pre-free-agency service time.
The Yankees have plugged several holes in their offense despite losing Robinson Cano to the Mariners, and they retained Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year deal worth $16 million. Kuroda has slowly become the staff ace with CC Sabathia experiencing a few injuries and an overall decline in performance in 2013. Samardzija would bring another sturdy arm to the New York rotation at a reasonable price (he's expected to make around $5 million after arbitration), which would be quite helpful in the club's efforts to remain below the luxury tax threshold.
Atlanta has a solid core of young arms in their rotation, and several potential starters that have contributed out of the bullpen, but general manger Frank Wren might decide he'd like to bring those players along slowly and make a move to bring a veteran. Samardzija would be a good choice. He hasn't been an ace by any stretch of the imagination (a 4.10 ERA in 388 innings since 2012), but he's been solid. A few of his advanced metrics -- ERA predictors like his career 3.94 FIP and 3.85 xFIP -- suggest he could improve as well.
Chicago's minor-league system is loaded with talented position players, so they might be in search of some young arms in return for Samardzija -- this would seem to give Atlanta the edge between the two teams mentioned in Levine's report. There is a reason the Yankees are spending so much on free agency, you know.