Jeff Samardzija is wrapping up the final year of his five-year contract with the Giants. Despite that contractual uncertainty, the 35-year-old (36 in January) is fully committed to pitching in 2021. “100 percent, without a doubt,” Samardzija replied when asked if he’s planning on playing next season (via Andrew Baggarly of the Athletic).
This surely isn’t the platform year the veteran rigthy was hoping for. A shoulder impingement sidelined Samardzija for over a month, and he’s been limited to four starts altogether. Those haven’t gone well, as Samardzija’s coughed up 19 runs (18 earned) in 16.2 innings. He’s struck out just six batters in that time while being tagged for seven home runs.
Lost year notwithstanding, Samardzija isn’t far removed from offering solid volume. He tossed 181.1 innings of 3.52 ERA ball last season. While his underlying metrics didn’t support that level of run prevention, he was unquestionably a useful part of last year’s pitching staff. Samardzija’s status with the 2020 Giants is less clear; he started last night’s game against the Padres, marking his final regular season appearance. At 29-29, San Francisco is one game up on the Phillies and Brewers for the National League’s final playoff spot with two days remaining. It’s theoretically possible Samardzija will pitch in the postseason, then, but it’s hardly a lock he’d be included on their postseason roster (should they qualify) in light of his struggles this season.
For what it’s worth, Samardzija spoke highly of the Giants’ organization and training staff, telling reporters (including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle) he’d hope to land in a similar environment on his next deal. Presumably, he’d be amenable to staying in San Francisco if the club were interested in a reunion. Regardless of his ultimate destination, Samardzija’s next contract will be a low-cost one, possibly of the minor-league variety. Having banked upwards of $116MM in his career, the amiable veteran can afford to prioritize the right fit this offseason.