In the interest of being thorough – and offering up things that are huh-that’s-interesting – I share this report from Jon Heyman that Giants righty, and former Cub, Jeff Samardzija has cleared trade waivers, and is thus freely tradable. (If you forget the particulars of making trades in August, catch up here.)
Samardzija, 32, is owed the balance of the five-year, $90 million contract he signed with the Giants before the 2016 season. He makes just about an even $20 million in each of the next three seasons, which, given the market, is not unreasonable on a three-year deal after this season.
Of course, if that’s true, it’s fair to ask why Samardzija wasn’t claimed, especially given that he could help a team with the playoff race this season. My best guess there is that teams do not believe the Giants will actually trade him right now, and they definitely weren’t going to let him go for nothing – so a claim would provide little benefit. Samardzija also has some no-trade rights, and has indicated that he’s not looking for a trade right now.
It’s also possible that teams were scared off by his 4.43 ERA despite pitching in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the game, but I’d be surprised there. This is a guy who has a 3.44 FIP – 12th best in baseball – and is largely crushed on the ERA front by two ugly starts in Colorado. His LOB rate and BABIP are both much worse than his career averages, and the peripherals otherwise look great. I’ve gotta believe he’s very attractive to a number of teams.
Assuming Samardzija isn’t dealt before September 1, I’ve gotta believe he’ll become a trade candidate this offseason, and, interestingly, he can block trades to all but eight teams: the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Nationals, A’s, Red Sox … and Cubs. Would the Cubs have interest in a reunion with a guy who pitched very well in Chicago, and who would be on a three-year, $60 million contract heading into his age 33 season?
From where I sit, I would love to see the Cubs at least explore that possibility, especially if they go into the offseason (as expected) with at least two openings in their rotation.
Between Samardzija and Justin Verlander (who’ll essentially be on a two-year, $58 million deal (but Tigers would eat some) heading into his age 35 season), I really like the idea of trading for a shorter term mid-rotation arm, rather than trying to sign a front-end guy like Yu Darvish or (with apologies) Jake Arrieta to a six or seven-year deal. If the Cubs want to play in the deep end of that incredible post-2018 free agent class, it would behoove them to retain as much flexibility in the near term as possible.