Jeff Samardzija Rumors

Athletics, Braves Discussing Justin Upton, Evan Gattis

SUNDAY, 8:11am: There have not been any recent trade talks between the Braves and A’s, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter).  Meanwhile, a source close to the A’s tells John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (on Twitter) that Oakland will not be trading Jeff Samardzija to the Braves.

FRIDAY, 11:39pm: After pulling off a blockbuster earlier tonight, the Athletics are perhaps unsurprisingly exploring more deals. The team is in conversations with the Braves regarding outfielder Justin Upton and catcher Evan Gattis, reports John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter).

The precise nature, timing, and progress of these talks remains unclear; indeed, it is not even apparent that both players would be under consideration in the same deal. While it is not difficult to imagine that Oakland could make use of those players — particularly if still other moves are being contemplated — neither do they jump out as obvious fits.

The Athletics did sacrifice a good bit of right-handed power in the Jon Lester deal, of course. But the club just added an everyday right-handed bat in Billy Butler. (And with respect to Gattis, if he is viewed as a catching option, Oakland has Derek Norris behind the dish.) More to the point, perhaps, the addition of another bat that requires time in the corner outfield would raise the question of what the team will do with a mix that includes the right-handed-hitting Craig Gentry and lefties Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick.

Hickey notes that starter Jeff Samardzija could be involved in talks involving the aforementioned players. From my perspective, though, it makes little sense for Atlanta to chase after a one-year arm of that kind. Of course, a three-team scenario could be imagined that might make sense of that concept. It should also be remembered that the A’s have a stock of arms beyond their projected Opening Day rotation, with A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker readying to return and carrying plenty of excess value upside.


AL Notes: Samardzija, Donaldson

Here’s the latest from the AL as we continue to digest turkey and the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.

  • Earlier today, we learned the White Sox and A’s were discussing a trade for Jeff Samardzija. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez may be the A’s prime target, but they also like infield prospect Tim Anderson and utility fielder Marcus Semien, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Some view Anderson, 22 next season, as the second best prospect in Chicago’s system after pitcher Carlos Rodon. Semien, 24, has looked overmatched in 326 major league plate appearances, but he’s featured reliable power, speed, and position flexibility at the Triple-A level. It’s worth wondering if the Sox would deal a top prospect like Anderson for just one season of Samardzija – especially with an apparent buyers market for pitchers.
  • Donaldson credits part of his 2012 offensive breakout to studying the swing of new teammate Jose Bautista, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. According to Donaldson, he’s watched “thousands of hours” worth of Bautista swings (that’s at least 83 days of swing analysis if you want to take the hyperbole at face value).
  • The Blue Jays may feel good about their recent moves, but they won’t boast, reports Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. The club hasn’t reached the postseason since winning the World Series in 1993 – the longest such drought in baseball. While they have to feel good about the core of the lineup, there are plenty of holes on the roster. Second base, left field, and late innings relief are the most pressing areas, although the rotation and center field are notably thin too.

Quick Hits: Strop, Samardzija, Rays

Cubs reliever Pedro Strop was in a car accident in the Dominican Republic Thursday, but he didn’t suffer any significant injuries, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. Strop did require stitches in his left arm, but he is reportedly “doing fine,” according to a team spokesperson. Strop, 29, was a key part of the Cubs’ bullpen in 2014, posting a 2.21 ERA in with 10.5 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 61 innings. Here are more notes from around the big leagues. Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • The White Sox aren’t the only team interested in Athletics starter Jeff Samardzija, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Four teams contacted the A’s about Samardzija just on Saturday morning. Still, teams might not want to give up top talent for a rental, which is what Samardzija, who is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, probably would be. Billy Beane likely wouldn’t want to reach agreement on a Samardzija deal and then give his new team a negotiating window on an extension before completing the trade, and Samardzija would probably not be interested in an extension right now anyway. Another potential factor to keep in mind with a Samardzija deal is his team’s ability to extend a qualifying offer after 2015 — his new team would have that ability if a trade were to be completed now, but not if a trade were done during the season. One scenario would be for Beane to wait until Max Scherzer and Jon Lester are off the market to complete a deal.
  • The Rays have already traded three key pitchers from their 2014 staff (Jeremy Hellickson, Joel Peralta and Cesar Ramos), and they’re prepared to listen to more trade offers, although perhaps not always in earnest, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “We listen on everyone, but in many cases it’s for the comedic value more than anything else,” says team president Matt Silverman. Part of their motivation for being so active early in the offseason (also dropping Jose Molina, utilityman Sean Rodriguez and infielder Cole Figueroa from their 40-man roster in the last ten days) was the need to protect prospects from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft, Silverman says. The Rays added pitchers Jose Dominguez, Matt Andriese, and Grayson Garvin, infielder Ryan Brett, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner to their 40-man roster last week.


White Sox, Athletics Discussing Samardzija Deal

The White Sox and Athletics are discussing a deal that would bring starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija back to Chicago, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “I believe serious talks are going on,” an AL source told Van Schouwen. Yesterday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the A’s were in the midst of discussions regarding Samardzija.

The White Sox have already added first baseman Adam LaRoche and lefty reliever Zach Duke this offseason. As Van Schouwen notes, Samardzija would give them another strong starter to complement Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, and his acquisition would be another step toward building a competitive team around Sale and Jose Abreu. Samardzija pitched 219 2/3 innings while posting a 2.99 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in a terrific 2014. He’s projected to make $9.5MM in arbitration this offseason, and is eligible for free agency next winter.

Last night, the Athletics sent star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, so it makes sense that they would also consider trading Samardzija, since he only has one more more year of club control. They acquired Samardzija in another blockbuster trade last summer, sending top prospect Addison Russell, along with Dan Straily and Billy McKinney, to Chicago in exchange for Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Van Schouwen speculates that the Athletics’ return for Samardzija could include shortstop Alexei Ramirez (although the actual terms of the trade discussions are unknown at this time). The Athletics have needs at both middle infield positions. Ramirez will make $10MM in 2015, and has a team option for 2016.


Athletics In Advanced Trade Discussions

8:14pm: Then again, it is obviously possible that multiple deals are in the works, and Rosenthal further tweets that the team is in talks on multiple trades, with a source saying that GM Billy Beane is “re-working the club.” (Twitter link.)

Slusser, meanwhile, tweets that ten teams have expressed interest in Samardzija, including the Red Sox and White Sox, but that he does not appear to be in any deal nearing completion.

8:05pm: Oakland is negotiating a deal but it does not involve Samardzija, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Neither is Brandon Moss involved in the chatter, per MLB.com’s Jane Lee (via Twitter).

7:41pm: The Athletics may be closing in on a trade involving starter Jeff Samardzija, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). Oakland would receive several players in return, per Slusser, with the focus being on acquiring bats.

Samardzija is projected to earn $9.5MM in his final year of arbitration. The righty had a breakout 2014 campaign, posting a 2.99 ERA over 219 2/3 frames with 8.3 K/9 against 1.8 BB/9. Samardzija had previously posted strong peripherals and intriguing ERA estimator tallies, but finally put it all together in his first All-Star campaign.

The 29-year-old was brought to Oakland last summer in a blockbuster that cost the A’s top prospect Addison Russell, and the club currently has significant needs up the middle. In his offseason outlook piece for the A’s, MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained why dealing away Samardzija (or fellow rotation piece Scott Kazmir) could make sense for the club.


Cafardo’s Latest: Cespedes, Sale, Samardzija, Castro

Here are the highlights of the latest rumors column from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:

  • The Red Sox don’t “hateYoenis Cespedes, despite a previous report that indicated otherwise. But Cafardo suggests Cespedes didn’t do enough work on his defense after arriving in Boston, and his offense wasn’t enough to compensate for it. Cespedes has only one year left on his contract, but it’s not clear whether, or when, the Red Sox will deal him.
  • Cafardo says he got “a minute of straight laughter” when he asked if the White Sox might trade Chris Sale.
  • The Red Sox and Athletics could discuss a Jeff Samardzija trade. Cafardo speculates Red Sox shortstop prospect Deven Marrero could be a potential piece, given that the A’s appear to be about to lose Jed Lowrie (to free agency) and already lost Addison Russell (when they traded for Samardzija in the first place).
  • Now that they’ve acquired Hank Conger, the Astros could listen to offers for fellow catcher Jason Castro. Castro hit just .222/.286/.386 in a disappointing offensive season in 2014. He has two years remaining before free agency.

Athletics Will Not Trade Donaldson, Willing To Listen On Pitchers

The Athletics do not intend to deal away star third baseman Josh Donaldson despite speculation that he could be made available, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. That confirms what Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported (via Twitter) the day after the club’s season ended. However, the team will be willing to listen to trade interest in pitchers such as Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir, according to Rosenthal.

Donaldson has emerged as one of the best third basemen and most valuable players in the game. While he is undoubtedly a bargain as a Super Two player with four more years of control, he will not be cheap. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects that Donaldson will land $4.5MM this year, and that number will only continue to rise.

Donaldson’s rising cost led to suggestions that Oakland may consider dealing him. But while he would undoubtedly bring back a huge return, his departure would leave a gaping hole in any plans of near-term contention. As Rosenthal notes, A’s GM Billy Beane believes the team is still primed to reach the postseason next year.

As for Oakland’s staff, deals involving pitchers on expiring contracts are obviously more palatable, though Rosenthal hastens to add that the A’s are not shopping anyone and mentions that a trade deadline deal (if the team falls out of contention) could be the likelier outcome. Both Samardzija (projected $9.5MM arb salary) and Kazmir ($11MM salary with an additional $2MM luxury tax hit for his signing bonus) are cheap for their recent results, and the former in particular would be a popular trade target. In fact, MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained in his recent outlook for the A’s offseason that a deal involving Samardzija or Kazmir could make a good bit of sense.


Cafardo On Peavy, Martinez, Samardzija

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that Jake Peavy has gone from a likely minimal contract in free agency to a possible three-year deal.  The Giants are interested in re-signing him because they need him, and manager Bruce Bochy has gotten great work out of him.  For his part, the 33-year-old appears to enjoy being back with Bochy, his manager during his glory years in San Diego.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • A major league source tells Cafardo that Victor Martinez‘s preference is to stay with the Tigers and, therefore, Detroit will get the first crack at him. The interest is mutual and the Tigers would like to get something done sooner rather than later.
  • If A’s GM Billy Beane listens to offers on Jeff Samardzija this offseason, you can count the Red Sox as one of the possible interested parties.  The Sox inquired with the Cubs about him before the trade deadline, and they would not give up a package that included lefthanded pitching prospect Henry Owens.
  • Orioles outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz enjoys Baltimore and wants to stay, but Cafardo expects the Yankees, Rangers, and Mariners to be in on the bidding.  No matter what, the 34-year-old looks like he’ll make a bundle somewhere on a three- or four-year deal.
  • First baseman Adam LaRoche likely won’t re-signed by the Nationals, who could move Ryan Zimmerman to first base.  However, LaRoche lines up nicely as a target for the Brewers, who have toyed with the idea of Ryan Braun moving to first but will likely keep him in the outfield.  He could draw interest from the Orioles if they lose Cruz.
  • While there’s intrigue over Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, there’s still some pushback from scouts who have seen him play on whether he can translate well to MLB.  Some are worried about the pronounced leg kick in his stance that lasts deep into his swing.  There also has always been skepticism over his defensive ability, even though he won the Korean version of the Gold Glove.

West Notes: A’s, Samardzija, Astros, Diamondbacks

The Athletics made several errors in their approach to mid-season roster reconstruction, opines SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee, but trading away Yoenis Cespedes was not one of them. Overvaluing Jeff Samardzija, failing to improve at second, and giving up Addison Russell were all front office mistakes, says Brisbee, though much of the team’s recent poor play can be chalked up to some combination of bad luck and injury.

  • Samardzija said he expects to reach free agency in November of 2015, according to Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM (on Twitter).  Though Oakland obviously attributed significant value to controlling him next year at a below-market salary, giving up Russell to do so, it is hardly surprising to hear that an extension is not in the works. Samardzija went on to say that he is open to both the Cubs and White Sox as a free agent and indicated that the city of Chicago is still a priority for him (link).
  • The Astros‘ coaching staff is in limbo thanks to their managerial opening, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.  Houston likes its current coaching staff and when figuring out who their next skipper will be, they’ll have to also decide how much they value the staff and whether it’s worth getting rid of coaches they like to accommodate a new manager.
  • Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa has several avenues to pursue in his GM search, writes Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic.  Cardinals farm director Gary LaRocque and agent Dave Stewart have been heavily tied to the job and both have a history with La Russa.  Meanwhile, if La Russa truly wants to “beef up” his analytics department, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler should garner strong consideration.

Billy Beane On Samardzija Deal, Roster Construction, Further Trades

Jim Bowden of ESPN talked to Athletics general manager Billy Beane for the latest edition of his “GM’s Office” video blog, and the two discussed a number of trade-related topics, including a fairly in-depth breakdown of the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel blockbuster (video links). While the entire interview is well worth watching (and is only about 10 minutes total), here are some highlights from their conversation…

  • Beane first reached out to Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein about a month ago because he felt there was a lot of value to striking early, especially if the A’s were going to be aggressive with their prospect package, which they clearly were.
  • The Cubs were initially looking to split Samardzija and Hammel in different trades, but trade talks picked up steam when the A’s decided that they wanted both players. After a dormant period, things came together quickly in a matter of 24 to 36 hours, says Beane. He added that he and Epstein discussed some one for one swaps on each pitcher that obviously didn’t pan out.
  • That Samardzija is under control through 2015 was “critical,” said Beane, noting that he’s excited about the added depth that the 2015 roster will have with Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin returning from injury.
  • On what motivated him to make the trade, he offered the following: “I’ll be honest with you, I happen to think the Angels and the Mariners right behind us are two of the better teams in all of the game and they happen to sit in our division. So the narrative that this was a ‘postseason move,’ I think was a bit presumptuous.” He went on to say that winning the division is Oakland’s priority and stressed the dangers of getting involved in a one-game Wild Card playoff. “If you had a one-game playoff and you’re the Wild Card, one of the guys you might be facing is that guy up in Seattle, and that’s not a good situation to be in.” Beane, of course, is referring to Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.
  • Bowden asked if the A’s would have made this deal had Parker not gone down with Tommy John surgery in Spring Training, Beane thought out loud before concluding that he and his staff probably would not have had to make this deal had Parker been healthy.
  • Beane offered high praise for prospect Billy McKinney but even higher praise for Addison Russell, listing him alongside Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada as one of the best position prospects he’s ever had. The emergence of minor league shortstop Daniel Robertson, whom the A’s selected 21 picks after Russell, made it easier to part with Russell, though it was still difficult for Oakland.
  • Asked if this was the best team he’s ever constructed, Beane said he couldn’t judge that at this point and offered praise for his assistant GMs as well. One element of which Beane is very proud is that 23 of the 25 players on the Athletics’ roster were acquired via trade — a very different method of construction from the 2001 “Moneyball” A’s.
  • Asked if the A’s are done or would pursue trades for second basemen, Beane grinned as he replied: “Well, you know, there’s a lot of time left, Jim. … Whether you have needs or not, you have to take advantage of the environment. … This is a time that everybody comes to the table. And whether you’re actively pursuing something specific, you want to be a part of the conversation. … I don’t want to say we’re done. … The short answer is: I hope we’re active still.”