It’s been well-documented since the end of the Cubs’ season, the front office plans to add pitching, pitching and more pitching to the roster this winter. The Cubs would preferably acquire at least a top of the rotation arm and a veteran starter that can supply innings in the middle of the rotation.
The Cubs have been linked heavily to David Price and Zack Greinke, plus there appears to be some level of mutual interest in Jordan Zimmermann. As for a mid-rotation veteran starter, the Cubs could turn to a pitcher the front office traded, Jeff Samardzija.
According to multiple reports, there is mutual interest between the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija in him coming back to the North Side. Samardzija received a qualifying offer from the White Sox that he is expected to reject. Samardzija had a bad year with the Sox and did not see eye-to-eye with pitching coach Don Cooper. Anyone that watched Samardzija pitch this past season could see a change in his mechanics which some think led to his struggles and poor year.
By all accounts Samardzija and Cubs’ pitching coach Chris Bosio have a strong relationship. And many feel a reunion with Bosio could be what Samardzija needs to get back to pitching like he did prior to this past season.
Before the Cubs traded Samardzija along with Jason Hammel to Oakland for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and cash, the front office attempted to sign him to an extension. But the offers were deemed low and Samardzija was set on becoming a free agent.
The Sun-Times reported, “If Samardzija’s price is closer to the five-year, $85 million offer they made him before trading him in 2014 than the $100-million-plus his agent sought, look for talks to get serious.” The Tribune reported the Cubs might be able to sign Samardzija to a short-term deal.
Saying Samardzija had a rough season on the South Side is an understatement with the only real positives being he completed more than 200 innings for the third season in a row and stayed healthy. Samardzija tried to pitch his was out of Chicago again. He was 3-1 in five starts in July with a 2.27 ERA and 0.81 WHIP (10 runs, 25 hits, seven walks, 23 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings). The White Sox appeared to be on the verge of selling off the players they could move before the trade deadline but the team won too many games and Samardzija was stuck for the remainder of the season.
In 32 starts for the White Sox, Samardzija was 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 4.23 FIP. Samardzija allowed the most hits (228), runs (122) and earned runs (118) in baseball while tying four other pitchers in the American League by serving up a league worst 29 home runs, the most longballs he’s surrendered during his career. Samardzija struck out 163 batters with 49 walks in 214 innings.
Samardzija was the Opening Day starter for the Cubs in 2013 and 2014. In his first 17 starts of the 2014 season, Samardzija was 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 3.09 FIP. Samardzija earned a spot on the NL All-Star team and was introduced with the squad before moving to the AL dugout.
Samardzija pitched well after he was dealt to Oakland. Samardzija was 5-6 with a 3.16 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 3.30 FIP in 16 starts (99 strikeouts, 12 walks, 92 hits and 13 home runs allowed in 111 2/3 innings).
Combined between the Cubs and A’s in 2014, Samardzija was 7-13 in 33 starts with a 2.99 ERA. 1.07 WHIP and 3.20 FIP. Samardzija allowed 86 runs, 73 earned, on 191 hits with 43 walks and 202 strikeouts in 219 2/3 innings.
During his two-plus seasons (2012-14) with Chris Bosio as his pitching coach, Samardzija started 78 games and posted a 19-33 record with a 3.83 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 3.55 FIP. Samardzija allowed 232 runs, 211 earned, on 466 hits with 165 walks and 497 strikeouts. Samardzija surrendered 52 home runs in 496 1/3 innings.
Jeff Samardzija turns 31 in January and has taken the ball every five days for the past four seasons with mixed results. Several teams that include the Yankees and Giants have been linked to Samardzija. It will be interesting to see which club bites on Samardzija.