If it feels like there’s been a lot of big name players on the move after the trade deadline, you’re right. Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, and just today Mike Leake are some of the players that have found homes for the end of the 2017 season after being placed on revocable waivers.
And we may not be done yet. Earlier this week Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported that journeyman pitcher Jeff Samardzija, currently with the San Francisco Giants, has cleared waivers and may now be traded.
This doesn’t mean Samardzija will finish the season somewhere else. He has a pretty hefty no-trade clause, allowing him to veto a trade to all but eight MLB teams. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that those eight teams include the Dodgers, Mets, Nats, and Cubs in the NL and the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, and Athletics in the AL.
Samardzija could waive his no-trade clause and go to another contender that needs starting pitching, such as the Houston Astros. However, Samardzija has expressed his desire to remain in the Bay Area, so there is some doubt whether he would accept a trade to Houston, even if it increases his chance to pursue a ring.
Would teams still be interested in the Shark? His ERA stands at 4.43, just a touch above league average and over half a run higher than his 3.81 mark last season. But the peripherals show a different story. He’s striking out batters at a slightly higher clip (24.1%), and walking batters far less (just 3.6%). His WHIP is actually down from the previous two years. Samardzija seems to be the victim of some bad luck; his BABIP is fairly high at .315, and his FIP is nearly a full run lower than his current ERA.
Samardzija’s contract may turn off some interest; he’s owed an additional $58 million through 2020. Samardzija is an above-average pitcher, and realistically is the best option remaining on a depleted market for 2017, but investing $58 million in a pitcher that’s had ups and downs over the last three years may be a questionable business move.
Given his desire to remain in San Francisco and his higher-than-ideal cost, Samardzija will in all likelihood remain with the Giants. San Francisco seems keen on contending next year, evidenced by their decision to hold onto most of their assets at the deadline. But if Samardzija does head to a new team, where would he go? Let’s break it down.
Boston Red Sox
Out of all the teams absent from Samardzija’s no-trade list, the Red Sox are the contender most in need of starting pitching. Chris Sale has been dominant, and Drew Pomeranz has put together an impressive campaign. But disappointing campaigns by reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (a 4.57 ERA with a 1.65 HR/9 rate) and David Price (just 11 starts in a season where he’s had numerous feuds with the Boston media) suggest that GM Dave Dombrowski might consider other options heading into the postseason. However, they don’t have many pieces to give up after a blockbuster offseason deal with the White Sox and the call-up of Rafael Devers, so Dombrowski may consider the price too high for the payback on Samardzija.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels sit just one game out of the second wildcard spot in the American League, and Fangraphs gives them a 25% chance of making the postseason. They could certainly use another starter; the ERA of their starters stands at 4.35, just sixth in the American League. Their de-facto number one Ricky Nolasco has an ERA north of 5 this season, and just one of their current starters has an ERA under 4. The real question here is whether the Angels are willing to gamble on a chance at October baseball this season. They have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, so things aren’t going to get any better anytime soon. Then again, should they make the wildcard game and win, does anyone give them a puncher’s chance against the Houston Astros, let alone a chance to win the Series? Speaking of the Astros, though…
Even though they’re on Samardzija’s no-trade list, GM Jeff Luhnow should reach out to the Giants and see if Samardzija would be willing to come to Houston. Their offense makes them legitimate World Series contenders, but the rotation could use another quality arm. Dallas Keuchel has been strong when healthy, but he’s lost time to the DL. Lance McCullers hasn’t been the same since he went down with injury in June. Charlie Morton, Mike Fiers, and converted reliever Brad Peacock have carried the load, but how reliable will they be in the postseason? The Astros don’t have a lot of leverage in this situation, but if they’re smart they’ll check in with the Giants and see if they can make a deal work.
If any deal happens, it’ll have to happen tomorrow; August 31st is the deadline for waiver wire deals. Watch this space.