Jeff Samardzija Rumors

AL Central Notes: Tigers, Samardzija, Swisher

The Tigers will have a significant amount of money coming off the books with nine player set to hit free agency this coming winter, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. With David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, Joe Nathan, Joakim Soria, Alfredo Simon, Alex Avila, Rajai Davis, Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny all ticketed for free agency, Iott looks at each player and the likelihood that he’ll return. Iott feels that Price could land a $200MM+ contract on the open market next year. I agree that there’s a chance of that with a typically strong season, making it difficult for the Tigers to retain him when considering the long-term commitments already guaranteed to Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and, to a lesser extent, Victor Martinez.

A bit more from the AL Central…

  • Unlike some big-name free agent hurlers heading into their walk year, White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija hasn’t taken out an insurance policy on his arm, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. For example, Max Scherzer recently revealed that he paid $750K for a $40MM insurance policy on his arm that protected him against shoulder and elbow injuries in his walk year. Samardzija could be in line for $100MM+ next winter if he can repeat last season’s success.
  • Samardzija’s best case scenario is to remain in Chicago for the rest of his career, he recently told Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. However, Samardzija also feels a responsibility to the Union and other players to keep salaries in line with the $9 billion industry that is Major League Baseball, writes Levine.
  • While Nick Swisher‘s goal is to be ready for Opening Day, there’s no timetable for when the Indians switch-hitter will be ready to make his Cactus League debut, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Swisher, who underwent surgery on both knees on Aug. 20 last year, is still working on running drills, performing serpentine and ribbon runs to get his body used to running in something other than a straight line, Hoynes writes. Swisher’s timetable bears monitoring, as it’s been speculated previously that a healthy Swisher and Brandon Moss (who is returning to action today) could mean that David Murphy will end up being traded.

AL Notes: Craig, Street, Samardzija

The Red Sox shouldn’t be in any rush to trade Allen Craig, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. Craig gives them depth at first base, DH, and both outfield corners, all positions where the Sox have injury and age concerns. He’s not an obvious fit for the Red Sox’ lineup right now, but after a miserable stretch run (Craig hit .128/.234/.191 in 107 plate appearances after Boston acquired him), he doesn’t have trade value either, so it would be best for the team to wait before dealing him. Here’s more from the American League.

  • It’s not often wise for players to represent themselves, but Angels reliever Huston Street is an exception, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Street, who is about to exchange extension figures with the Angels, is a real-estate investor in Austin who’s capable of handling contract negotiations. (If Street hits the free-agent market next winter, though, he’ll trust Austin lawyer Bill Stapleton to represent him.) “There’s mutual interest,” Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says regarding extension talks. “He understands where we are, and we understand where he is. He’s a big part of what we’re doing. But it’s not going to happen today or tomorrow.”
  • White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija is trying not to focus on his impending free agency, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. “When you step back and look at your situation from afar, it’s a pretty intense situation with a lot on the line,” says Samardzija. “But … I like to think what I demand of myself each time out is more pressure than what a contract or what situation my career is in (can bring).” The White Sox hope to retain Samardzija, but it doesn’t appear that any extension is imminent.

No Extension Talks Between White Sox, Samardzija

The possibility of a contract extension between Jeff Samardzija and the White Sox “hasn’t even been a topic of conversation,” the right-hander tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  “We haven’t come close to crossing that bridge. We’re all working on getting the team where we want. That’s our main goal.”  Like most players, Samardzija would prefer to avoid negotiations once the season begins, as those talks “can become a distraction.”

Samardzija is heading into his last year under contract and will be one of the most sought-after names on the open market next winter; Tim Dierkes currently has the righty ranked ninth in the initial edition of the MLBTR 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings.  Samardzija’s case is somewhat unique since, as Heyman notes, he’s already made a significant amount of money in his career.  This could mean Samardzija would prioritize choosing a comfortable situation and winning team over a suitor that simply offers the biggest salary.  On the other hand, Samardzija also said that “it’s nice to see guys getting compensated for their work” in reference to other pitchers landing expensive deals and hinted that he’s looking for a contract that will cover his “next six, seven years.”

This next contract could still be with the White Sox, as Samardzija made it known that he is very “excited” by the team’s offseason moves and their promise for 2015.  He said he is “on great terms” with the club and there is similar interest on Chicago’s side, though it isn’t known whether the Sox have even brought up the topic with Samardzija since acquiring him from the A’s in December.

Whenever there’s a next deal with Jeff Samardzija, hopefully, it’s with the White Sox,” GM Rick Hahn said.  “The guy’s a competitor. He wants to win, and he’s a tireless worker who’s succeeded on the big stage. He’s a leader in the clubhouse, and a nice complement between Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.”

Given that Samardzija is only a year away from testing the market, however, it’s very unlikely that he would take an extension now unless the Sox greatly overpaid him — a move that, Heyman writes, would be very uncharacteristic of the club.  Along those same lines, it may be hard to see the White Sox spend the $100MM+ it will likely take to re-sign Samardzija next winter, though I’d argue that the team could indeed be suitors given how aggressive the Sox have been under Hahn.  Sale and Quintana are locked up on through (at least) 2018 and 2019 on what are looking like very team-friendly deals, which could Chicago to splurge on another front-of-the-rotation arm with a bigger price tag.



AL West Notes: Hernandez, Andrus, Crisp, Athletics

Astros righty Roberto Hernandez has finally received his visa an is set to report to spring camp for a physical, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets. Hernandez has a bit of catching up to do if he hopes to make the roster after inking a minor league deal earlier in the offseason.

Here are some notes from the AL West:

  • A rough 2014 season for Elvis Andrus of the Rangers has left some looking askance at his eight-year, $120MM extension, which officially kicks in this season. As the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com), Andrus says that he is ready for a better campaign after reporting out of shape last year. “This year I took it a thousand times [more] seriously than I did the year before,” he said. “… That was an offseason that I hope never happens again. In spring training I wasn’t ready.” A turnaround from Andrus would go a long way toward restoring the once-promising trajectory of the Rangers, to say nothing of his own. It would also increase his appeal as a trade chip, though Texas no longer has quite the middle infield logjam it once did.
  • Coco Crisp is set to play left field this year for the Athletics, manager Bob Melvin tells reporters including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). That shift, which was occasioned by a desire to protect the team’s investment in Crisp by reducing the toll on his body, will result in Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld platooning in center. In turn, that probably also puts an end to the notion that Oakland could look to acquire a second baseman and move Ben Zobrist to the outfield.
  • While it is hard to deny (and not entirely surprising) that the Athletics got less back for Jeff Samardzija than they gave to acquire him (along with Jason Hammel), the team feels good about the young players that it picked up from the White Sox, MLB.com’s Phil Rogers writes“Look, both of those deals are difficult,” said assistant GM David Forst. “You never like trading a guy like Addison [Russell], but Jeff and Jason filled a particular need for us at that time. Then to turn around and lose Jason and feel like trading Jeff is the best option is never an easy decision to make. Jeff is a guy who has his best years ahead of him still. He’s right at the age you want to get a pitcher. He knows his game. His stuff is without question. It was not an easy decision to make. It was part of the balancing act we are forced to make.”

AL Notes: Shields, Samardzija, Moncada, Rangers

James Shields, the top free agent still available, has lost his leverage and is in the worst possible spot as most teams have exhausted their payroll space and are more willing to identify reasons to dismiss an available player, opines ESPN’s Buster Olney in an Insider piece (subscription required). The longer a premium free agent like Shields remains unsigned, Olney notes, the more his negotiating strategy and leverage position are picked apart. Along those lines, a National League GM tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, “It’s hard to project a team would go five years.

In today’s news and notes from the American League:

  • Agent Mark Rodgers told MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette (audio link) he will listen to any overtures from the White Sox to extend Jeff Samardzija, but his client will most likely find out what his “ultimate value is in the open market, which is what free agency is all about.
  • The Tigers hosted a private workout for Yoan Moncada, reports Lynn Henning of the Detroit News. MLB.com’s Jason Beck adds the workout was held last week at the team’s facility in Lakeland. Both Henning and Beck believe this was simply due diligence on the Tigers’ part because of the signing bonus Moncada will command.
  • In today’s mailbag, a reader asks Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer why the Indians allowed J.D. Martinez to slip through their fingers and join their divisional rivals last year. The Tigers, he explained, needed depth in the outfield late in Spring Training. The Tribe, on the other hand, had more than enough with David Murphy, Ryan Raburn, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and Michael Brantley. At the time, they didn’t know Raburn would struggle and both Swisher and Bourn would be hindered by injuries.
  • Matt Harrison told reporters, including Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News, he expects the Rangers to place him on the 60-day disabled list to open the season. Harrison also acknowleged a minor setback in his rehab, but the issue had to do with his mechanics rather than his health.
  • Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar told reporters, including FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro, he is pleased with the results his throwing program has had on his right shoulder. Profar, who is slated to take some dry swings from the right side this week, said his goal is to play in all of Texas’ Spring Training games.
  • In a nod that today is Super Bowl Sunday, Rangers GM Jon Daniels confirmed Russell Wilson will participate in the club’s Spring Training camp, Andro tweets. To illustrate the quarterback’s love of baseball, Rodgers, who also represents Wilson, told MLB Network Radio (audio link), if Wilson could figure out a way to play both sports, he would.

White Sox Avoid Arbitration With Samardzija, Flowers

The White Sox have avoided arbitration with righty Jeff Samardzija and backstop Tyler Flowers, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago reports on Twitter. This pair, along with the already-signed Dayan Viciedo, represented the largest expected arb payouts for Chicago.

Samardzija, acquired earlier in the winter from the Athletics, will earn $9.8MM in his final pass through arbitration, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. That represents a near match for the $9.5MM projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz. His relatively manageable pay rate, in spite of an excellent 2014, shows the importance of having a high first-year arb salary to build from.

Flowers will earn $2.675MM according to Mike Perchick of WAPT (Twitter link), while Swartz had pegged him to earn a shade over $2MM in his first season of eligibility. He had a solid overall year at bat in 2014, slashing .241/.297/.396 in 442 plate appearances and swatting 15 home runs.

Remember to check MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker for the latest updates.


Rick Hahn Talks Jeff Samardzija, Future Moves

The White Sox have been among the most active teams in baseball this offseason, and at the Winter Meetings in San Diego today, general manager Rick Hahn discussed the now-official acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and minor league Michael Ynoa from the A’s.

Rick Hahn“This is the guy we wanted,” Hahn stated when asked why the White Sox preferred to trade a package of four players — Marcus Semien, Chris Bassitt, Josh Phegley and Rangel Ravelo — to acquire a pitcher with one year of control as opposed to pursuing any of the multiple free agent starters on the market. Though the Sox are acquiring one year of Samardzija at a projected $9.5MM (per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz), Hahn was quick to explain that the White Sox will “try to make this a long-term relationship” with an extension, though he recognized that may be easier said than done. “I think the calculus of the trade is that we’re acquiring one year of Jeff Samardzija — obviously, the prospect Ynoa plays a role in that too — and the exclusive ability to talk to him for 10 months. Although we may want to extend him we can’t count on that.”

Hahn likened the deal to the 2004 Freddy Garcia trade — a midseason deal that netted the team a rental player who was eventually extended and contributed to Chicago’s 2005 World Series victory. Conversations with the A’s about Samardzija, Hahn said, dated back to October. The two sides also spoke about Samardzija at the GM Meetings in November before finally pushing the deal across the finish line in San Diego.

The offseason moves made by the White Sox thus far indicate a clear desire to win in 2015, and Hahn stated multiple times that more moves will be coming. “We know we’re not done,” Hahn said. However, he also acknowledged that the financial commitments they’ve made thus far have used up a large portion of the team’s budget and that he may have to get “creative” to address the remainder of the team’s offseason needs.

“There’s a few areas on the position player side of things where we want to make sure we’re as athletic as we can be,” Hahn said when asked what those specific needs entail. “We want to make sure our lineup’s balanced. Defensively, I think we haven’t been quite as strong as we want to be.”

While Hahn of course didn’t mention any specific positions or name any players, one area that the White Sox could look to get more athletic and improve defensively would be in left field. Dayan Viciedo is coming off a .231/.281/.405 season and has long graded out as a poor defensive outfielder. The trade market features a large number of outfield bats ranging from a platoon option like Matt Joyce, David DeJesus or Daniel Nava to an impact corner bat like Justin Upton. Shane Victorino, should he stay healthy, would be a definitive defensive upgrade, though he’s owed $13MM and coming off a season in which he played just 30 games.

Catcher seems to be another area of potential need, as Tyler Flowers‘ 36 percent strikeout rate and .355 BABIP suggest that his .241 average and .297 on-base percentage are likely to regress. The trade market currently features names like Yasmani Grandal and Evan Gattis. And, of course, with the trade of Semien, the team lost an option at second base (though they have internal options in Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson).

One widely speculated move that seems unlikely to come to fruition is a trade of the veteran Alexei Ramirez. Hahn told the group that he didn’t think the likelihood of a Ramirez trade “was ever great,” and of course moving Ramirez after the Sox’ series of win-now moves would seem counterproductive.

Hahn and his staff have already signed lefty setup man Zach Duke (three years, $15MM), first baseman and now-DH Adam LaRoche (two years, $25M) and reportedly agreed to terms with David Robertson on a four-year, $46MM contract. Further additions in the outfield, behind the plate, in the bullpen or perhaps at the back of the rotation can continue to improve the club and give the Sox an even stronger shot to make a run at the AL Central.


White Sox To Acquire Jeff Samardzija

It’s official: the White Sox and Athletics have agreed to a deal that sends Jeff Samardzija back to Chicago, though this time with the South Siders. Righty Michael Ynoa is going with him in return for infielder Marcus Semien, righty Chris BassittJosh Phegley and Rangel Ravelo.

USATSI_8058200_154513410_lowresThe deal continues a huge offseason for the White Sox, who also recently agreed to terms with David Robertson and have also acquired Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke to bolster a team that won just 73 games in 2014. The 29-year-old Samardzija had his best MLB season last summer, posting an outstanding 2.99 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 while pitching a career-high 219 2/3 innings. He’ll augment a strong-looking White Sox rotation that also will include Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.

For the Athletics, the deal continues an offseason of adjustment — the Athletics are set to lose Jon Lester, Jed Lowrie and Luke Gregerson to free agency, and they’ve traded key position players Josh Donaldson (to the Blue Jays) and Brandon Moss (to the Indians).

Semien, 24, had a terrific half-season for Triple-A Charlotte in 2014, then hit .234/.300/.372 in 255 plate appearances in the Majors, playing mostly second and third base, although he can also play shortstop. He boasts an excellent batting eye and reasonable power. The Athletics could use him in their middle infield next season.

The 25-year-old Bassitt made his big-league debut in 2014 despite missing much of the year with a broken hand. In four minor-league seasons, Bassitt has a 2.97 ERA, 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 ranked Bassitt the White Sox’ 15th-best prospect heading into the season.

Phegley, meanwhile, is a 26-year-old backstop who goes from a crowded group in Chicago to one in Oakland. He has seemingly mastered the Triple-A level, putting up back-to-back high-power, high-OBP campaigns. But he failed to take advantage of a big league opportunity in 2013 and will need to earn his way into another.

Ravelo, the only true prospect going to the A’s, is a 22-year-old corner infielder.  Last year he was promoted to Double-A and the former sixth round pick slashed .309/.386/.473 in 551 plate appearances.  Ravelo has past experience at third base but has played mostly at first base over the past two seasons.

Samardzija was born in Indiana, grew up a White Sox fan, and of course played most of his previous big-league career with the Cubs, so his return to Chicago will represent a homecoming. He is projected to make $9.5MM in 2015 through the arbitration process, and will be eligible for free agency following the season.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com (on Twitter), and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (links to Twitter) all reported pieces of the deal. David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com (via Twitter) and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter) both contributed to the reporting on the deal’s progress.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


A’s, White Sox Near Jeff Samardzija Deal

11:27pm: The two sides agreed to the parameters of the deal several days ago, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).

11:14pm: The deal is on hold for the moment but will likely happen Tuesday, tweets John Hickey of the Oakland Tribune.

9:53pm: Even if a Samardzija deal is close to being finalized, it doesn’t sound as if the A’s are planning to announce anything tonight, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).

9:22pm: The White Sox are close to acquiring Samardzija from the A’s, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

9:12pm: The A’s are close to a deal involving Samardzija and it appears likely he’ll be heading to the White Sox, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

There was speculation that the Red Sox were also involved, but the White Sox have been the most interested of anyone and they’re the likely winners here.  The White Sox have several young infielders that could make sense for the A’s.  If the White Sox complete the deal, that would give them a strong right-hander to join Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and John Danks.

8:10pm: The White Sox are among the favorites to acquire A’s starter Jeff Samardzija – assuming he’s traded. If a deal does happen, the A’s would receive Marcus Semien and prospects, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (two tweets). Chicago doesn’t want to trade top prospects like shortstop Tim Anderson or pitcher Francellis Montas for Samardzija since he has only one season of club control remaining.

If the A’s do acquire Semien, he would play shortstop. The 24-year-old hit .234/.300/.372 in 255 plate appearances last season, although there is some room for optimism. He struck out 27.5% of the time, but his minor league rates have been considerably lower. Perhaps an adjustment or two will allow him to put more balls in play and post a higher average.

The Red Sox have also been connected to the 29-year-old but it’s the White Sox that appear to have won out.  The A’s were intent on finding a promising young shortstop in exchange for the right-hander and reportedly would have wanted to get prospect Deven Marrero in a swap with the Red Sox.

Teams that spoke with the A’s also got the impression that Oakland would not greenlight an extension negotiation window as a part of any deal.  That stance makes sense as the pitcher seems intent on testing the open market after the 2014 season.


Trade Notes: Tulo, Swihart, Hamels, Marrero, Samardzija, Swisher, Upton

Here are the latest pieces of information on the trade front from the morning’s action at the Winter Meetings:

  • The Rockies approached the Mets today to gauge interest in discussing star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Martino’s sources tell him a deal that would send Tulowitzki to the Mets is “not happening.” On the other hand, Colorado’s actions obviously suggest that there is at least some possibility that the club would consider dealing him.
  • The Phillies would not demand that the Red Sox include top catching prospect Blake Swihart in a deal involving Cole Hamels, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports on Twitter.
  • Were the Red Sox to make a push for Jeff Samardzija, however, the Athletics would insist on the inclusion of shortstop prospect Deven Marrero, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
  • Nick Swisher of the Indians is available in trade, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, but there has been minimal interest to date.
  • The Mariners could “circle back” to the Braves regarding Justin Upton if the team does not land free agent Melky Cabrera, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But Seattle is highly unlikely to sacrifice one of its prized young arms in a deal for Upton, he adds.