Jeff Samardzija Rumors

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..


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.