Is Jeff Samardzija a Smart Trade Target for the Blue Jays?

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Tom Loxas of Chicago Now and John Arguello of Cubs Den are both reporting that the Toronto Blue Jays are speaking to the Cubs about RHP Jeff Samardzija(along with the Washington Nationals). The 28 Year Old Samardzija had a solid 2013 for the South Siders,putting up a 3.77 FIP and striking out 23.4% of the batters he faced, on his way to being worth 2.8 wins above replacement according to Fangraphs.

The question arises of whether or not the Jays should target Samardzija assuming the price is fair. Is he the type of pitcher that would fit well in the Blue Jays rotation? Let’s find out…

There is no doubting Samardzija’s talent. His strike out rate is phenomenal, and his fastball averaged the 6th highest speed among qualified Major League starters in 2013 at 94.5 MPH. His control is average, but has been getting better of late. The only question mark with regards to his stats/stuff is whether it will play in the Power Friendly AL-East, specifically Rogers Centre, where he would hypothetically be making half of his starts. For his career, Samardzija has allowed 0.98 HR/9 innings, which isn’t bad, it’s actually quite good, but his Home Run/ Fly Ball rate has been 11.1%, poor according to FanGraphs standards. Now Samardzija is a ground ball pitcher, meaning the 2nd number shouldn’t be so worrisome, but coming over to the Rogers Centre, those numbers should rise a bit. Wrigley Field is also a hitters ballpark, and the AL Central also has teams like the AL East who can hit long balls, so the home run increase likely wouldn’t be so bad. I would feel comfortable with Samardzija, as the home runs don’t bother me so much. In fact, having below average fielders at 2nd base and shortstop unsettle me more than the home runs do, but that is a discussion for another time.

The 2nd question, which is the biggest because of what has transcribed with the Blue Jays pitchers over the past couple of seasons is his mechanics. Does he possess the ability to stay healthy? So far in his career, he does. He has not missed a day of the season according to Baseball Prospectus due to injury. But, do his mechanics say that it will stay that way? From what I’ve seen, it’s complicated. Throughout his motion his mechanics are pretty solid, but according to Chris, our resident “Mechanics Expert” the problems arise in his shoulder area, where he has similar problems to the Jays very own Sergio Santos, and Mets Ace Matt Harvey. Because his elbow is solid, and he hasn’t had an injury riddled past, I’m going to say that Samardzija would be a pretty safe move health wise. The shoulder is definitely a problem, but if you don’t take any risk, you won’t get any reward.

Samardzija will be eligible for arbitration for the 2nd time in his career this coming off-season, and barring an extension, he is under club control for another 2 seasons. The main reason why the Cubs are listening on him is because if they can’t work out an extension with him, they would seemingly like to trade him. Two years of club control is good for the Jays, although an extension that buys out a couple of his free agency years would be nice too, if he were to be acquired.

To put it in simply, Jeff Samardzija is an ideal candidate for the Jays to pursue this off-season. He has the stuff to be a solid #3 or even a low-end #2, his injury history is non-existent and his mechanics suggest there’s a chance it will stay that way, and he’s under team control until after the 2015 season. I’m not going to speculate on what it might take to acquire Samardzija. I find that exercise to be useless, because nobody really knows what the asking price is at this point. Via Tom Loxas of Chicago Now, we do know that the Cubs are looking for an outfielder from Washington, specifically top prospect Brian Goodwin.

It would be reasonable to assume that a Jays-Cubs trade would have to start with Anthony Gose. Beyond that, like I said, I don’t want to speculate. It’s great to hear (at least in rumour form) that AA is talking to Theo Epstien and Jed Hoyer about Samardzija, and hopefully, if a fair price is worked out, a trade can happen. Let’s hope for the best.

Slider picture courtesy of CrispyTeriyaki via Flickr.

  • Steve-O

    He would be a great target, if the Jays Farm system wasn’t so depleted. Also, there is no strong indication that the Cubs are TRYING to deal him. More likely they are just listening to offers in case someone is desperate enough to blow them away.

    A more interesting target for the Jays should be Ubaldo Jimenez. After a great second half, he is a lock to opt out of the final year of his contract. Cleveland is unlikely to be able to afford to offer him the 14 million dollar qualifying offer they would need to retain him. Since he has started 31+ games for the past SIX (!) seasons, he’s the perfect fit in a rotation constantly plagued by injuries. He knows what it takes to pitch in the AL, and has ace upside. He’s younger than most of the free agent class, and should get an affordable contract (maybe 9-12 million per season, over 3-4 years).

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