Despite a terrible second half following up what had been an already underwhelming season, multiple executives tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that they expect White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija to do just fine in free agency. As has been said on many occasions, scouts love Samardzija’s raw stuff and competitive nature, and as Heyman points out he’s a relatively low-mileage arm due to his days as a wide receiver and time spent in the bullpen early in his MLB career. Two execs told Heyman they expect Samardzija to top Ervin Santana’s four-year, $55MM contract, with one saying he should “blow it away.” Unsurprisingly, Heyman hears that the Sox will extend a qualifying offer to Samardzija. I’ll join Heyman and the execs to whom he spoke in saying I’d be shocked to see Samardzija accept.
More from Heyman’s latest Inside Baseball column…
- Frank Wren is seen as a likely hire for Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, though Heyman notes that Wren may receive a role other than GM. Turning to other GM openings, Heyman lists Jerry Dipoto as the favorite for the Mariners’ GM gig and calls current A’s assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz a favorite for the Brewers. Milwaukee is said to be seeking someone who is extremely analytical, and they’ve felt that some who have interviewed haven’t fit that description well enough. Billy Eppler is still the favorite for the Angels’ slot, Heyman writes. He doesn’t list a favorite for the Phillies, though he again connects Angels AGM Matt Klentak and Royals AGM J.J. Picollo to the position. Also according to Heyman, Ben Cherington turned down an interview with the Mariners, as his current plan is to take some time away from the rigors of GM work.
- Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald recently wrote that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is very open to trading Marcell Ozuna, but president of baseball operations Michael Hill expressed a desire to keep the talented-but-struggling center fielder when speaking to Heyman. “He’s extremely talented and very much in our plans moving forward,” said Hill, although such a line is to be expected from an on-record executive anyway. Even if the intent is to shop Ozuna, Hill wouldn’t come out and say it.
- Nationals skipper Matt Williams is “all but assured of a pink slip” following the season barring a miraculous playoff surge, per Heyman. On the opposite end of the spectrum is interim Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, who looks like he’ll be given a chance to shed the “interim” portion of his title in 2016. Brad Ausmus is indeed expected to be let go by the Tigers following the season, he also writes, and Ausmus could find himself in the dugout for the Padres if that comes to pass.
- The Giants hope to add at least one, if not two starting pitchers this offseason, and a run at retaining Mike Leake appears to be one possible scenario. San Francisco is expected to work out a reunion with Tim Lincecum as well, he adds; the two-time Cy Young winner had hip surgery that ended his season earlier this month, though his surgeon strongly believes that the operation will help Lincecum restore some of his disappearing velocity.
- Mariners ownership and those remaining in the front office want Hisashi Iwakuma back, so much so that they told other clubs at the deadline that they wouldn’t even consider trading him, Heyman writes. Iwakuma is keen on returning to Seattle as well, he notes. Of course, a run at Iwakuma would have to align with the thinking of whichever new executive steps into the GM’s chair.
- Not that there should’ve been any doubt, but Heyman notes that the Blue Jays intend to pick up the club options on Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. That’s hardly a surprise, as the respective $10MM and $14MM options on the right-handed sluggers are probably two of the easiest option decisions you’ll ever see.
- Joel Hanrahan isn’t in a rush to return from his second TJ surgery and may not attempt to pitch in the Majors again until 2017. Best of luck to Hanrahan, who has seen injuries destroy the past three seasons of his career.