Trade Value of Jeff Samardzija

Cubs’ fans are suddenly feeling some deja-vu this season. At this time last year, Matt Garza could not reach an extension deal with the front office in Spring Training and the trade rumors started flying once he started dominating on the mound. Thanks to the sudden epidemic of Tommy John surgeries, many MLB teams are seeing their pitching depth stretched to the limit and making them more desperate. The time has come for Jeff Samardzija to be the Cubs next trade chip to further rebuild their farm system. So what kind of value can Cubs fans expect back for their ace pitcher?

Like Garza, Samardzija has a similar skill set as he can dominate games, strike out batters and can unravel at a moment’s notice. Samardzija though carries more value than Garza did at the same time last year thanks to being younger, not having an injury history and being able to be retained the following season for the acquiring team. The control is the key in any potential trade as the team may be able to negotiate an extension with Samardzija and therefore may be willing to give up more in terms of young talent. That was the original goal for the trade of Garza in 2012, but he hurt himself and necessitated the Cubs hanging on to him for a year longer than they wanted to.

Speaking of Garza, the deal that sent him to the Cubs from the Rays is a good first example of potential return for Samardzija. At the time of the trade, Garza had three successful and promising seasons under his belt, was 27 years old and had three years of control left. After a disappointing 2010, the team was looking to rebuild their pitching staff with a young star to staff that included Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs mortgaged much of their farm system for Garza and gave up prospects SS Hak-Ju Lee, RHP Chris Archer, C Robinson Chirinos and OF Sam Fuld and OF Brandon Guyer. Too bad the Cubs did not hang onto Archer or they might be in a completely different place with the rebuild.

Another deal that comes to mind when evaluating potential returns for Samardzija is another Rays pitcher, James Shields. Shields was shipped to the Royals along with RHP Wade Davis and INF Elliot Johnson for INF Patrick Leonard, LHP Mike Montgomery, RHP Jake Odorizzi and OF Wil Myers. The reason that this trade makes sense is that Shields at the time of the deal was 30 and although he had more years of experience, like Samardzija, he also has been durable, has the ability to miss bats and brought two years of control to the Royals. This control may have made it easier for the Royals to give up the headliners of the deal in Montgomery, a former top pitching prospect reclamation project, Odorizzi, a promising and close to the majors starting pitching prospect and Wil Myers a potentially 20 home run bat.

Because of Samardzija’s great start to the season and the fact he is the number one starter on the Cubs staff, the deal that the Brewers made for Zack Greinke from the Royals can be cited. Sure, Greinke had a lot more Major League experience and arguably more talent than Samardzija has, but at the time of the trade, Greinke was like Samardzija, by far the best player on a weak team. The trade along with INF Yuniesky Betancourt sent OF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar and RHP Jeremy Jeffress and RHP Jake Odorizzi to Kansas City. The deal brought some close to the majors talent in a toolsy centerfield prospect in Cain, a starting shortstop in Escobar, a talented project in Jeffress and a quality starting pitching prospect, in Odorizzi, that would end up being a headline player in another deal.

The most recent trade for young pitching has the lowest return and may signal what teams are more willing to give up at the deadline this season. Doug Fister, who has just two years of control left was swapped by the Tigers to the Nationals for utility INF Steve Lombardozzi and LHP Ian Krol and LHP Robbie Ray. Krol immediately stepped into the Tigers bullpen as an effective lefty arm while Ray has moved into the rotation and dominated early. Lombardozzi didn’t even break camp with the team before he was sent to the Orioles for SS Alex Gonzalez, but has been a good bat off the bench for Baltimore.

Any of these deals discussed have a recurring theme, controllable young talent and this season, so far, is showing that it’s something the Cubs sorely need. The team does have some intriguing names like Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant in the minors, but many of these guys are some years away and what the Cubs need to be successful is some decent players to fill in the blanks. Right now the front office is spending their baseball dollars on reclamation projects and free agents looking to rebuild their value to fill holes (and use as potential trade chips) instead of using young cheap talent and saving their baseball money to use on better players. The above trades show what can be obtained for a top flight arm, here’s hoping the Cubs can obtain the players they need in a deal for Jeff Samardzija to accelerate the rebuild.

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  • TheWrongGuy

    Good stuff Chris K.!
    Nice report.
    2 thumbs WAY UP!

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  • BillyFinT

    I wouldn’t say Fister has “just” two years of control left. He had a WHOPPING BARGAIN of 2 years control left.

    You see, Fister is a much better pitcher than some described, a sabermetric fantasy, a solid #2, good reputation, Big Pitcher in postseason. The Nats believed they got him cheap. He’s more valuable than Samardzija if we go by those stats, but that’s not real world thinking.

    I think Shark will be a more valuable trade chip. I also believe that Shark will not garner enough return as the Cubs would want in a long run. Best to sign him long deal and make him call Chicago home.

  • Ripsnorter1

    My view: any efforts to sign Samardzija is just a smoke screen to keep the sheople hopeful. Theo will let the sulking Samardzija really apply himself to get the big dough he wants, and will continue to hold him until some big trade partner steps up. Samardzija is pitching the best he can under these circumstances.

    Meanwhile, let’s hope he doesn’t blow out his arm and we get a DeJesus type of return, ie, “the Cubs got $2.5 million is salary relief. Fans should rejoice!”

    • Tony_H

      Smoke screen yes if he wants $18-$20M range for 5+ years. But he could have said yes to their offer when he still had 2-3 years left of control and this would all be done.

      • Eugene Debs

        But he wisely held out for more money. He’ll get paid.

    • triple

      So you are implying that the fans that are positive and behind what the FO is doing are sheep…. Classy.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I never said that. Read it again. Pretty please with sugar on top.

        I said that the offer to Samardzija was not sincere in that the intent was not to sign him, but to incentivize him to pitch better to max out his value, and to encourage people with “Blue Hope” that things are going to turn around quickly–when they are not going to turn around quickly.

        • triple

          Sheople and people with “blue hope” are two very different connotations. Sheep are followers, they do whatever the masses are doing. It’s popular to hate on the Cubs and this FO, so maybe I’ll go with “sheeters” to describe your side of the fence.

          Oh and by the way, from the urban dictionary: Sheeple- People unable to think for themselves. Followers. Lemmings. Those with no cognitive ablilities of their own.

          So I don’t think you make a very good case on calling people sheeple and and claiming “I never said that,” while it is still in your original post.

    • Neil

      Please read the site’s commenting policy. Name calling is not allowed on the site. Thank you.

      You are welcome to disagree and post your opinion. I ask that everyone be respectful of the other. I missed you snide remark earlier and just received notifications that brought this to my attention.

      Thank you for following the commenting policy.

    • Eugene Debs

      Yeah, but that $2.5 million was “rolled forward.” Whatever that means. I think it means “into the owner’s pocket.”

  • Tony_H

    Nice job Chris!

    One more part of Samardzija’s value to a team is with that extra year of control, they will be able to do a QO on him and get a draft pick back if he doesn’t resign, where if a team waits until next year at this time, they won’t have that option.

    • J Daniel

      He will be dealt this off season. Someone will pay what appears to be a high price as that is they way it always goes. Then it is just a matter of if the prospects are suspects or they are MLB players. Let’s hope they are players. Like the Garza deal, and even more, this one may end up defining Theo and boys Cubs legacy.

      • Tony_H

        Very likely he is traded in the next 2 months, but we all thought that with Garza as well.

      • John_CC

        If healthy, he will not be a Cub by August. And I can see it taking that long if no partner steps up early with a can’t beat offer, just to get it done. And Bowden’s fantasy of a couple single A pitchers and one position player from Toronto is not going to happen. So if they have to wait till the deadline to put pressure on teams, so be it. It might be what it takes. But in the end there will be a team desperate enough, with a GM nervous enough about his job, to get a trade by August 1.

  • GaryLeeT

    This ones for Triple

    From Hendry’s stable, and I am ONLY looking at the players used in the Garza trade, and NOT at the trade itself:
    Hak-Ju Lee AFA signing, will be soon be in a MLB uniform for the Rays. Robinson Chirinos, AFA signing, starting catcher for the Rangers. Chris Archer added to the Cubs MiLB system through a trade, SP for the Rays. Sam Fuld plays for the Twins, and even Guyer is a utility player for the Rays.

    • triple

      Hahaha… This is absolutely hilarious that you mention these guys in your pursuit to prove that JH didn’t leave the cupboards bare and that we had a good farm system:

      Hak-Ju Lee still hasn’t made a start in the majors, but behold, he is batting .188 in AAA.

      Robinson Chirinos is 30 years old and starting for the Rangers with a .212/.280/.318 slashline.

      Chris Archer is now in his 3rd year in the majors and he’s settling in nicely with a 4.59 ERA and 1.451 WHIP. HOLD THE PHONES!!! This guy is almost pitching as good as Edwin Jackson!!! Hahahaha…Seriously?

      Sam Fuld, he’s past 30, and is great defensively in the OF, but doesn’t provide much else, not even gonna bother looking him up.

      And finally Brandon Guyer, now at age 28 is settling in as a utility player for the Rays, but it doesn’t look like his .209/.227/.302 slashline is helping the Rays put any runs on the board, much less getting them into the win column.

      Seriously, why did you waste your time on this? I asked you to show me who the successful guys are in the big leagues that JH had in the farm system that you were so adamant about being ranked 16th was not bad. Currently, out of these 5 players, I’d have to say that Sam Fuld has had the best career, but he is not up to the standard that most would have for a quality major league successful career. If there wasn’t expansion back in the 90’s and 4 extra teams to fit 100 extra players, I think Archer is the only guy who would actually be playing in the majors.

      Also, you failed to realize, as now you obviously are behind these guys and think highly of them, how would you like these 5 guys on the Cubs current roster? But of course, we’d have to take away Mike Olt, Neil Ramirez, and Justin Grimm because essentially, Theo and the other front office Gods have turned those 5 losers you mentioned into one offensive player who has out-homered all of them combined (while their AB’s more than double Olt’s), and given us two pitchers for the bullpen (possibly future starters) who look to have as much hope, or more than Archer.

      The really sad thing, is it took you 3 days to come up with this… I think you should apologize for wasting my time.

      • GaryLeeT

        I just named 5 MLB players from a list that was right in front of my nose, and like said, I found those without even trying. Before, I showed how Hendry was directly, or indirectly responsible for most of the talent on the MLB roster, and in the MiLB system. Listen, you are either hell bent on disparaging Hendry as a GM or can’t stand me. Either way, I couldn’t give two shits what you think, because no matter how many Cashners, Donaldsons, Castros, Samardzijas, or Baezs I point out, it’s never going to be good enough. I usually ignore 99% of what you write anyway, because you have a little boy’s avatar. So I will hardly notice the difference, when I move it to 100%

        • No Baseball In Indiana

          I’ve been saying “I could give two shits.” Which is it, could or couldn’t? I can’t believe that I’ve been saying the wrong thing for so long.

          • GaryLeeT

            For me, it’s a derivation of ” I couldn’t care less”, but to each his own.

        • triple

          Sorry you still have not pointed out someone from a JH farm system who has had a successful career. Your strange fascination with “little boys” is very frightening by the way. Your posts are full of FAIL.

  • WidespreadHisPanic

    Hey nice article! Thanks

  • Theboardrider

    If Shark keeps his ERA sub 2 or right around 2 and it gets to the deadline, someone will meet our price. The key will be to get more than one team bidding on him. The guy is a stud pitcher. Can go be an ace or #2 on most teams. You don’t give him up for anything less than a stellar package. Theo so far has made good things happen in trades, I expect it will continue.

    Sabathia out until July, do the Yankees have any pieces that could get them involved?

  • Eugene Debs

    The Cubs should get a good package for him, but why not pay him to stay? We keep hearing how the Cubs are avoiding multi-year deals for guys 30+, that they would want “guys in their prime.” Well, here’s your chance to prove you will spend money. It’s been 3 years, boys, let’s pay up.

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