Now that the Chicago White Sox have lost 4 out of 5 games coming out of the All-Star break, they seemed more destined to become sellers at the deadline.
The issue with that is that they do not have a lot of pieces to sell. One of those players that is almost certain to be moved by the end of the month is starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
Samardzija, a northwest Indiana native and lifelong Sox fan, had a rough start to begin the season that lent a hand to this team being in the position they are in right now. After a promising winter has led to a disappointing summer, there are many places to place blame, and there are underlying factors which may actually boost the former Notre Dame standout’s trade stock.
While his ERA sits at 4.08, his FIP of 3.60 suggests he has been a better pitcher than that in 2015. With even a league average defense behind him, that would lead to a much lower batting average against and therefore better ERA, which is what teams will be banking on should they try and acquire the right hander.
Plenty of teams will be interested in him as a half-season rental, perhaps being the fourth- or fifth-best starting pitcher being made available in trade, behind Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, David Price, and maybe Scott Kazmir in no particular order. Among teams that could be interested in Samardzija include the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals.
The Astros have made it known they want to acquire starting pitching first and foremost, and have scouted the Sox pitcher on a few occasions already this season. For a team deep with prospects there is a good chance they would be able to make something work in exchange for a couple months of “The Shark Cage” moving to Minute Maid Park.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, despite having two of the best pitchers on the planet in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, could use rotation depth, and the ownership group will spend the money in order to bring a title back to Tinseltown.
While top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias would be 100-percent off the table for a rental, I would imagine almost anyone else could be in play for Magic Johnson and Co. over in the City of Angels as they look to beef up the rotation behind the studs that are Kershaw and Greinke.
Up north of the border, the Toronto Blue Jays sport the dubious distinction of the longest playoff drought of any of the teams in the four major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) at 21 years. (To put than in context, that season saw Darrin Jackson as the White Sox’s every day right fielder, Ron Karkovice behind the plate, and Roberto Hernandez closing games out on the South Side.) The Blue Jays have the offense needed to make a run in October but have no pitching whatsoever this side of Mark Buehrle, who continues to amaze me with his effectiveness.
While dealing Shark to the division rival Royals may seem like a terrible idea, remember this team probably won’t make a run this year, and he probably won’t re-up in KC following his contract’s expiration at year’s end.
The Sox would actually help themselves in the long run by plucking one or more of their prospects for a rental in Samardzija while the Royals try and avenge last season’s Game 7 loss in the World Series. With Yordano Ventura having been sent down to Triple-A Omaha earlier this week, there is even more evidence Kansas City needs pitching and will be willing to spend to get it.
With this season likely going nowhere fast, trading Samardzija for some prospects would certainly give more optimism heading into next year, especially if said prospects are major league- or near major league-ready.