With the draft and trade deadline approaching in the next couple of months, the baseball rumor mill seems ready to heat up after a couple of quiet early-season months. We are less than two months away from the trade deadline, and rumors about starting pitchers who could become available are starting to fly. The latest from around the league:
Don't rule out Samardzija extension

The top name on the trade market at this point is Cubs' ace Jeff Samardzija, who has been linked to the Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and pretty much every other team who could use a front-end starter. Samardzija is under contract for next season as well, making him a very attractive candidate for teams who could use a jolt this season and are trying to contend in the near future. But it's not a foregone conclusion that the Cubs will deal Samardzija, especially considering how is a homegrown talent and viewed highly by many within the front office.

Samardzija is not Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza or Scott Feldman, who all pitched elsewhere before joining the Cubs midway through their careers. He has played his entire career with the North Siders since being drafted in 2006. He is viewed by many as the face of the franchise, and at 29, could be a rotation cornerstone for years to come. That's why, as sources have mentioned since trade rumors about Samardzija started last summer, the Cubs are still considering an extension for him. Word is that the club has had "continued dialogue" with Samardzija about an extension despite the possibility of a trade, and would still love to keep him in Chicago if the sides are able to reach a middle ground in talks.

Oh, and about that rumor from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that the Cubs could deal Samardzija before Thursday's draft in exchange for a competitive balance pick: I'm told that it's "possible, but unlikely" at this point. I bet the Orioles wished they had their 37th pick (which they traded to Houston as part of the Bud Norris trade last summer) right about now.