Jeff Samardzija Rumors

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.

AL Notes: Moss, Samardzija, Yankees, Tigers

Here’s a morning links roundup from the American League:

  • The Athletics are still “inching” toward a deal with the Indians on Brandon Moss, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. A swap is likely to go down over the next few days, Sherman adds.
  • Clubs that have spoken with the Athletics about Jeff Samardzija have been left with the impression that Oakland would not be willing to grant an extension negotiation window as part of the deal, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. That is perhaps not terribly surprising, as Samardzija does not appear particularly likely to forego a chance at testing the open market.
  • For the Yankees, one side benefit of adding Martin Prado (last summer) and Andrew Miller (just a few days ago) is that it conveys leverage in talks with now-free agent third baseman Chase Headley and closer David Robertson, Sherman writes. While New York is now willing to put a fourth year on the table for both players, says Sherman, it will not match the reported four-year, $65MM offer out to Headley or the $50MM+ asking price of Robertson.
  • While there are several intriguing possibilities for the Tigers at the Winter Meetings, the odds are that the team will make only smaller moves,  if any, per Chris Iott of MLive.com. Iott takes a look at Detroit’s various options for improvement, concluding that most are rather unlikely to take place.

AL West Links: Cashner, Samardzija, Kazmir

Here’s the latest from around the AL West…

  • Padres righty Andrew Cashner “remains the top target” for the Rangers in trade talks, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Cashner comes with two years of control and with a modest price tag (MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects him for a $4.3MM salary in 2015 through arbitration) that would provide the payroll space for the Rangers to make further moves.  Cashner, a Texas native, has reportedly told friends that he would like to pitch in his home state.
  • The White Sox look like the favorites to acquire Jeff Samardzija from the Athletics, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  The two sides were known to have recently discussed a deal involving the right-hander.
  • One AL executive predicts to Joel Sherman of the New York Post that “Billy [Beane] is going to move at least one, maybe both” of Samardzija and Scott Kazmir since both pitchers will be free agents after the 2015 season.
  • The Mariners have had modest payrolls in recent years but that has changed thanks to an influx of local and national TV revenues, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes.  The club has been aiming for 2015 as its “Holy Grail” season when all the new TV money would be in place and the team can freely spend.  Robinson Cano‘s mega-deal last winter was the first step, of course, and this offseason has seen the M’s make two more expensive moves in extending Kyle Seager and signing Nelson Cruz.
  • MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth shared some more AL West Notes yesterday evening.

Stark’s Latest: Zimmermann, Scherzer, Tigers

Only three free agents make Jayson Stark’s list of the top 10 players to watch during the Winter Meetings, reflecting the feeling from several baseball executives that the trade front could be much busier than the free agency front in the coming days.  Jon Lester is the key domino in the process, as in the words of one NL executive, “he sets the free-agent market and kick-starts the trade market. Depending on when he signs, he could create the greatest Winter Meetings in decades or the most boring.”  Here’s some more from ESPN’s Stark…

  • “The most widespread front-office conspiracy theory” sees the Nationals trading Jordan Zimmermann and then signing Max Scherzer.  This scenario is “so obvious it makes me question if it’s real,” one GM said.  Clearly a lot of factors would have to fall into place for the Nats to pull this off, though they’re known to be listening to offers for Zimmermann, who will be a free agent after the 2015 season.  Scott Boras, Scherzer’s agent, is known for waiting until deep into the offseason to find a preferred deal for his clients, which could give Washington more time to line up a Zimmermann trade.
  • Beyond Zimmermann, the Nationals are also listening to offers for Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Tyler Clippard.  All of these players can hit free agency after 2015, making Washington the “team with the potential to make the biggest deal of the offseason. And maybe not just one,” Stark writes.
  • The Tigers are “listening intently” to offers for David Price and Rick Porcello, though they’ll only deal one of the two, and Detroit would only move Price if they can re-sign Scherzer.  “The Tigers have made it clear they aren’t subtracting any starting pitchers unless they have a replacement lined up,” Stark writes.  I’d note that the newly-acquired Shane Greene could be such a potential replacement for Porcello, who Stark says is the more likely to be traded than Price.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has told teams interested in Cole Hamels to make an offer if they wish, but the Phils are waiting to see where the big free agent arms go before they seriously start exploring a Hamels trade.  Several teams have said the Phillies’ asking price for Hamels is far too high, and one rival official tells Stark that the pitching market is too deep for the Phillies to expect both top prospects and Hamels’ entire contract to be absorbed in a deal.
  • Jeff Samardzija is likelier to be dealt before Hamels, one executive predicts, since the Athletics are more aggressively shopping their right-hander.  We’ve already heard that the White Sox, to name one team, have discussed a Samardzija trade with the A’s.  One exec warns that the A’s could have trouble finding their desired return for Samardzija, since “it’s just hard to give up a lot of value for a one-year pitcher.”
  • The Red Sox are open to trading any position player except for Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rusney Castillo and Christian Vazquez, Stark writes.  It also goes without saying that David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia won’t be dealt, not to mention the newly-signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.

Arbitration Breakdown: Jeff Samardzija

Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.

Jeff Samardzija enters his third year of arbitration eligibility this winter following an excellent season in which he struggled to get run support. Samardzija threw a total of 219 2/3 innings with a 2.99 ERA and 202 strikeouts, but the Cubs and Athletics each failed to score runs behind him, and he finished with a 7-13 record (and remember that for all the problems with the Win statistic, it’s still a notable component of arbitration valuation).

MLB: New York Mets at Oakland Athletics

It is rare that a player has a sub-3.00 ERA in over 200 innings yet fails to win more than seven games. However, that type of odd case is what my arbitration model is designed to handle. By putting the right weight on the right statistics, the model strives to match players like Samardzija up with the comparable players that are likely to come up in a potential arbitration hearing. The model has projected a $3.85MM raise for Samardzija in 2015 to take him from a $5.35MM salary up to a $9.2MM salary.

Trying to find actual comparables for Samardzija was tricky. There were no Arb 3 starters with an ERA under 3.50 who had single-digit wins at all in the last eight years, at least among those with 180 innings pitched. There were also no pitchers under a 3.30 ERA with under 13 wins either with that number of innings either. No one with an ERA under 3.50 with less than 13 wins had more than 210 innings. However, three pitchers were close to these criteria.

David Price got a $3.89MM raise last year with a 10-8 record and a 3.33 ERA in 186 2/3 innings. Homer Bailey had an 11-12 record with a 3.49 ERA in 209 innings last year too, which got him a $3.65MM raise. A couple years earlier, Matt Garza had a 10-10 record with a 3.32 ERA in 198 innings, which got him a $3.55MM raise. Each of these three guys had more wins than Samardzija’s seven, but they also had fewer innings and higher ERAs. Samardzija also passed 200 strikeouts, something that none of those three did (though Bailey had 199 and Garza had 197). With the extra innings and lower ERA, it seems likely that Samardzija could pass this group. One potential roadblock is that Price’s track record and the fact that he was over .500.

In cases like these, it can be helpful to try to establish a floor and a ceiling player. In other words, players that are likely worse than/better than the player in question, whose salaries are close enough together that you can find a solid range for the player.

One reasonable floor for Samardzija could be Brandon McCarthy from 2012. He had just a 9-9 record with a 3.32 ERA in 170 2/3 innings and struck out only 123 batters. Although he did have two more wins that Samardzija, it’s unlikely that a 9-9 record bests a 7-13 record by enough to offset the 49 extra innings and 79 extra strikeouts. McCarthy got a $3.28MM raise that year.

A potential ceiling for Samardzija could be a pitcher with a sub-3 ERA with a similar number of innings, but double digit wins. However, finding such players was tricky. Max Scherzer went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 214.1 innings last year, which is obviously better. It did net him an $8.8MM raise. Carlos Zambrano way back in 2007 got a $5.9MM raise after a 16-7 season with a 3.41 ERA in 214 innings. But his case was obviously better than Samardzija’s, so he does not look like a useful comparable.

Justin Masterson’s case last year could be appropriate to establish a ceiling, but he falls short of Samardzija’s case in a few ways. He had a 14-10 record with a 3.45 ERA in 193 innings, and he struck out 195 batters. Masterson got a $4.07MM raise. Doubling up Samardzija’s win total is probably enough to offset to extra innings and lower ERA after Samardzija, but he doesn’t quite work like a typical ceiling.

Using McCarthy and Masterson as a floor and a ceiling leaves a pretty wide window between a $3.2MM and $4.07MM raise for Samardzija to fit in. All three of the aforementioned comparables (Price, Bailey, Garza) fell in that window. In the end, there’s a strong case for Samardzija to get a raise somewhere in the $3.55MM to $3.89MM raise range from those three players, and the $3.85MM that the model projected fits in there as well. It’s possible that Samardzija’s record hurts him enough that he ends up with a good deal less, or that his ERA and innings place him above this group, but a safe midpoint is probably the model’s projection.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: A’s, Rockies, Morales, Albers

With the Winter Meetings just a week away, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the top ten Hot Stove storylines heading into December. How the top-tier starting pitcher market shakes out heads the list, according to Castrovince, who notes the trade market for the likes of Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija will heat up once free agents Jon Lester and Max Scherzer sign. Among Castrovince’s other top headlines this month are whether the Braves trade Justin Upton and how the Red Sox and Dodgers deal with their surplus of outfielders.

Elsewhere in baseball on the final day of November:

  • After A’s GM Billy Beane signed Billy Butler to a $30MM deal and traded third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com isn’t sure what the plan is in Oakland.
  • The best way for the Rockies to become contenders is for Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki to be healthy and productive, but it would be daring for GM Jeff Bridich to trade the duo in search of salary relief to address areas of concern, opines MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby.
  • The market for Kendrys Morales has been quiet to date with only the Indians being linked to the free agent DH. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweets, besides Cleveland, the Rangers and Royals are also taking a look at Morales while the Mariners and Blue Jays are possibilities, as well.
  • Left-handed starter Andrew Albers recently became a free agent and has drawn interest from a number of big league clubs, an industry source told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Albers became a free agent when South Korea’s Hanwha Eagles declined the 2015 option on his one-year deal. The Canadian pitched to a 5.84 ERA in 146 1/3 innings, though he did make 27 starts and led his team with 102 strikeouts. BN-S writes Albers appears to be seeking a split contract with incentives.

AL Central Rumors: Hunter, Royals, Samardzija

The latest from the AL Central..