White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija has new representation just six weeks or so before he’ll hit the open market for the first time time in his career, reports Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal (via Twitter). Samardzija is now represented by agent Adam Katz of the Wasserman Media Group.
The 30-year-old Samardzija entered the year poised to be one of the top free agent arms on the open market after posting a stellar 2.99 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent ground-ball rate across 219 2/3 innings between the Cubs and A’s in 2014. Aside from his strikeout rate, each of those marks represented a career best.
However, Samardzija hasn’t performed well following his trade to the White Sox, working to a 5.04 ERA in 207 innings this season. He could still set a career-high in innings pitched and looked better in his latest outing, throwing a dominant one-hit shutout that helped stop the bleeding in what has been perhaps the worst five-week stretch of Samardzija’s career. Prior to that gem, Samardzija had surrendered a staggering 51 runs in his previous 49 2/3 innings.
Despite his struggles, the expectation here is that Samardzija will still do reasonably well as a free agent. The Sox seem almost certain to make a qualifying offer, and though he’s struggled in 2015, Samardzija will probably reject the offer. No player has accepted the offer to this point, and the downside for Samardzija would be taking a one-year deal worth $10MM+ (probably in a more pitcher-friendly setting than U.S. Cellular Field), whereas the upside is a perhaps a four-year deal with an annual value in excess of $15MM. Samardzija’s velocity has held throughout his struggles, and his raw stuff still impresses scouts. He also has the benefit of a relatively low-mileage arm due to his time playing football and his work as a reliever early in his career.
Samardzija will add to a free agent class for WMG that also includes Hisashi Iwakuma, Bartolo Colon, Brandon Morrow and Bud Norris, among others. The change has been reflected in MLBTR’s Agency Database, which contains representation information on more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players. If you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: [email protected].