Our focus when discussing Jeff Samardzija trade rumors tends to be fairly one-sided: what can the Cubs get, and why will they get it?
But Jon Heyman writes from the opposite perspective: why might the Cubs not get as much as they hope for Samardzija? He frames it in terms of the Matt Garza trade, and why the Cubs won’t get twice as much, but is anyone actually expecting twice as much (however you quantify that)? If you are, let me disabuse you of that notion now: the return on Samardzija, if the Cubs deal him, will be better than the Garza return. But, like, 33% to 50% better, not 100% better.
The Heyman piece is interesting, though, because he makes three points that ostensibly ding Samardzija’s trade value:
- Teams are, on the whole, more offense-needy than pitching-needy right now.
- David Price will also be traded.
- Samardzija likely won’t extend with the new team, meaning they’re getting just a year and a half of Samardzija.
I think those are valid points, and they do factor into Samardzija’s trade value. But I’m not sure they dampen things as much as you might suspect. On the first point, sure, offense is in short supply, but competitive teams just want to get better however possible – if it’s a bat, great; if it’s a pitcher, great. And there are plenty – *plenty* – of teams that need pitching. On the second point, we’ve discussed Price’s impact on the Samardzija market at length, and I don’t really think it’s a big issue. On the third point, although it’s nice to dream on extending a guy you’re acquiring, it’s less of a concern when he’s still coming to impact two pennant races.
Individually, these don’t seem like major issues. But, as I said, collectively, they do impact Samardzija’s trade value. None, however, are new considerations, and have long been baked into the price.
(Heyman’s piece, by the way, also has some positive signals, including naming the many teams that are interested.)
Buster Olney writes about a separate potential problem for the Samardzija market: there are teams out there that are looking to pick up a young, long-term-controllable starter (a la when the Tigers surprisingly picked up Doug Fister from the Mariners a few years ago). Guys mentioned include Diamondbacks lefty Wade Miley (not yet arbitration-eligible, though having a very down year) and the Padres’ Tyson Ross (in his first of four arbitration years). The price tag on those types could be comparable to Samardzija, but, in exchange for rolling the dice on a potentially lesser pitcher, you get more control.
It’s an interesting idea, but it is hard to get teams to deal guys like that, even if they’re rebuilding – that’s why we rarely see guys like Miley or Ross, just as examples, dealt.
For now, I wouldn’t be too worried about the impact to the Samardzija market on either of these fronts. Teams know that Samardzija is available, and they know he has emerged as a front-of-the-rotation arm. They know he’ll be hard to extend (though the Cubs are rebuilding, and an acquiring team will not be – how might that impact Samardzija’s calculus?), but the opportunity to extend in the current pitching climate is of debatable value. And, most importantly, teams know that Samardzija – much more than a lesser arm – could positively impact their stretch run and then the playoffs this year. When you’re already in the race come late July, and you’re scraping for every incremental win you can possibly get, you’re not going to mess around with a roll of the dice.
If the Cubs trade Samardzija, it will be for a quality return – and the team that gets him will be plenty happy to give it up.