Jeff Samardzija’s name has come up frequently in recent trade rumors, but the 32-year-old right-hander’s five-year, $90MM contract allows him to block trades to all but eight teams. Moreover, Samardzija tells Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that if approached by the Giants about a trade to one of the teams over which he has veto power, he wouldn’t be interested in waiving the clause.
“I love being here,” said Samardzija shortly after praising the Giants’ core players and suggesting that the team fully believes it can turn the tide next season. Samardzija smiled yesterday when telling Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he “[doesn’t] remember” the eight teams to which he can be traded without his approval (Twitter link), but Baggarly now reports the full list in a separate column.
According to Baggarly, Samardzija can be traded to the Red Sox, Cubs, Mets, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Athletics and Nationals without his consent. All other teams — including the Astros, who have been the team most frequently connected to Samardzija on the rumor circuit — require Samardzija’s consent, and it doesn’t sound like he’s interested in green-lighting any proposals.
Samardzija is owed $18MM annually and has struggled in the estimation of traditional metrics this season. He’s sporting a 5-11 record with a 4.85 ERA, but most other statistical means of evaluation are rather bullish on the righty. He’s averaging 9.7 K/9 against 1.1 BB/9, both of which would be the best marks of his career, and leading the Majors in K/BB ratio. His 43.3 percent ground-ball rate is only a tick below average, and he’s inducing more swings at pitches out of the strike zone than he ever has before. Samardzija’s fastball velocity has also held strong at an average of just over 94 mph, and he’s averaging nearly 6 2/3 innings per start. Metrics like FIP (3.49), xFIP (3.13) and SIERA (3.28 prior to today’s strong outing) all view him much more favorably than earned run average.
Samardzija has struggled with men on base, in part due to the fact that he’s one of many pitchers throughout the league that has seen his HR/9 rate and HR/FB ratio spike as balls are leaving the yard at a higher rate than ever before in MLB history. And while his durability and K/BB numbers are impressive, some teams will no doubt express some skepticism that Samardzija would be able to better keep the ball in the yard by vacating the spacious AT&T Park as his home stadium. The remaining money on his contract also figures to be a concern to come clubs, as he represents a fairly sizable commitment to those that are near the luxury tax threshold.
All of that sounds to be mostly a moot point anyhow. Among the teams to which Samardzija can be moved, the Red Sox don’t seem likely to pursue a starter, while the Mets and A’s aren’t contending. The Angels are a fringe contender at best and have luxury tax concerns, while the Nationals are said to be more focused on relievers and may shy away from the money remaining on his deal. It’s at least possible that one of the other teams listed shows some interest, but the Yankees are presently focused on Sonny Gray, while the Cubs have already added Jose Quintana and the Dodgers have been most heavily linked to Yu Darvish (to say nothing of the longstanding Dodgers/Giants division rivalry).