Given his ability and attractiveness overall, I’ve said repeatedly that every team in baseball would love to have Jeff Samardzija. Whether every team in baseball would want to trade for Samardzija, if the Cubs wind up making him available, as expected, that’s a separate question.
Still, just about no team popping up in Samardzija rumors is going to surprise me. The latest, via Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe, is particularly interesting: the Boston Red Sox.
Cafardo writes that Samardzija could help shore up the Boston rotation, while also marking a “preemptive strike” against the other teams in the AL East. While stopping short of saying, directly, that the Red Sox are interested in Samardzija, you can read Cafardo’s piece to imply it.
The Red Sox jumping into the fray might represent the single best “new” suitor move in the ongoing Samardzija speculation fest. Why? Well, not only would they be the fourth AL East competitor in the mix – putting pressure on the other three – but the Red Sox’s system is staaaaacked. Moreover, it’s stacked with a lot of guys that the Cubs’ front office will know well. That could make a trade dicey from the Red Sox’s perspective, but it could also possibly make it easier to come to an agreement on fair value.
Among the Red Sox’s lengthy list of top 100 types that could interest the Cubs: Jackie Bradley, Jr. is an exciting, big-league-ready outfield prospect who hasn’t quite made it work at the big league level this year for the Red Sox; Henry Owens, a stud lefty starter currently carving up AA at age 21; Allen Webster, a big-league-ready righty whom the Cubs might better be able to work with than the Red Sox (the Cubs have got time, and also, Webster is a groundball guy (Bosio!)); Matt Barnes, another quality righty starter; Blake Swihart, a 22-year-old catching prospect at AA who can hit and will actually stay behind the plate; Mookie Betts, an infielder by trade who is tearing up AA and is about to get promoted to AAA (and who could theoretically play in the outfield, too); and I could go on.
Cafardo discusses the possible trade return in a Samardzija deal this way, after saying that Owens would not be included: “The Sox certainly have other pitchers — Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, and Rubby De La Rosa — they could offer. A good guess is it would take two of them, plus perhaps a catcher.” Two of those pitchers plus Swihart is certainly a conversation, but I’m not so sure it gets a deal done. Still, it’s interesting to get a Boston perspective on Samardzija’s value. (Cafardo’s piece is also an interesting read for his thoughts on the many other teams that could be in on Samardzija – give it a look.)
In any case, if the Red Sox wanted to get together with the Cubs on a Jeff Samardzija deal, it would be pretty easy for them to pull off without depleting their farm system (nice to be in that position, eh?).
Will they actually enter the conversation? I’m not so sure. They’ve gotten hot enough over the past week to allay any concerns that they’re suddenly going to bow out of the playoff picture. But the Red Sox’s biggest need so far this year is pretty obviously in their outfield, where they’re getting no production. If the Red Sox are going to use some of their surplus chips to pick up a player, seems like that’s where they’ll focus.
Still, Clay Buchholz has struggled, Jake Peavy isn’t being very Peavy, and Felix Doubrant is pretty much a fill-in. Wanting to add Samardzija would be pretty understandable – especially considering that extra year of control that he brings.
We’ll have to keep an eye on the Red Sox over the next month.