Jeff Samardzija Heading Back to the Bay Area?


In the Bay Area, there is already a shark there occupying the San Francisco Giants roster: the “White Shark” Gregor Blanco. After rumors surfacing on Monday, another shark is being discussed into the Bay Area. Or should I say, back to the Bay Area.

According to CSN Chicago, the Giants have “checked in on Jeff Samardzija, though they have reportedly cast a wide net in the search for a No. 2 starter behind Madison Bumgarner.”

Giants have also been thrown around in the David Price and Cole Hamels talks as well. But is this all a gimmick?

Samardzija was in the area just a year ago with the Oakland A’s, after a mega-deal sent him over from the Chicago Cubs along with Jason Hammel, in exchange for super-prospect Addison Russell, and other pieces. In less than one full season in Oakland, Samardzija found his way out once again by the Billy Beane trade trigger.

Samardzija was sent back to the Windy City, only this time, to the Chicago White Sox. Samardzija must really like Chicago and the Bay Area, as he could find his way being traded back to the state of California for the second time in two seasons.

What is Samardzija worth?

If he is headed to the Giants, Samardzija would once again loom in the shadows of an ace of the staff, in Bumgarner. With the Cubs, he was essentially the ace for a team who had been in the cellar of the division for quite some time. When traded to Oakland, Samardzija was behind another acquired played in Jon Lester. In the offseason, when the A’s completed a trade with the White Sox, Samardzija would once again be behind an ace and one of the game’s best, Chris Sale.

More from Golden Gate Sports

Samardzija is an interesting player.

The super athlete from Notre Dame, Samardzija chose baseball over football, where he too could have succeeded in the NFL, had he had gone the football route. He was an All-American wide receiver for the Fighting Irish. Samardzija chose baseball, and found himself up in the Cubs’ organization rather quickly.

Starting out as a reliever, Samardzija transitioned into a starter due to the need of rotation help. From there, with his mid to high-90’s fastball and solid slider, he secured a spot in the rotation and gained attention.

In 2014, Samardzija was having a magical year with the Cubs, but received a poor effort from the Cubs hitters. Samardzija was posting ace-like numbers with a record that did not reflect his play. As a result, the Cubs posted him as an ace and received nice young pieces for the future.

When Samardzija was posted by the A’s in the deal with the White Sox, Samardzija was valued highly in that deal as well.

In 2015, the White Sox were expected to compete in the AL Central and possibly slide into the playoffs after an offseason of trading and spending. That has not panned out well for the White Sox, and they appear to be in sell mode.

With Samardzija gaining interest and supposedly being put on the trade market once again, what could possibly be wrong?

Certainly, it may not be something Samardzija is doing wrong, and he has just been on teams that have under-performed. When being traded, Samardzija was highly inconsistent, since both his last teams have been in the hitter-friendly league. In the National League with the Cubs, numbers can tend to be inflated for pitchers due to seeing the pitcher bat, and essentially almost guaranteeing an out.

The American League has been a challenge for Samardzija, but lately has shaped up his game and has increased his value. Currently on the year, Samardzija has pitched on average seven innings per game (140.1 innings over 20 starts), and posted a record of 7-5 with a 3.91 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 108 strikeouts.

More from San Francisco Giants

Out of those stats, what is most valuable is the 140 innings in 20 starts. It shows he can go deep into ball games without watching his pitch count. Samardzija also has only surrendered 26 walks all season.

So do the Giants have a shot?

I think every team has a shot, only if they’re willing to part with current players and future pieces. Giants have won three of the last five World Series and know how to win, but have done so on small acquisitions (other than Hunter Pence), and building from within with their farm system.

The Blue Jays may be able to pitch for Jeff Samardzija as he would probably love to become the ace of their staff, and they already pack a postseason-ready offense. All they lack is an ace starter.

Jul 23, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Giants, they have an offense this year, and a glaring need in the middle of the rotation. Also, as I already said, they know how to win.

Returning to the Bay would not be unfamiliar for “The Shark”, so a transition would be easy for him. Also, there would be less pressure to perform and lead a pitching staff in San Francisco, rather than what he would have to do in Toronto.

This isn’t free agency, so Samardzija doesn’t have a choice. But both the Blue Jays and Giants offer enticing situations.

Giants look on pace for another postseason appearance if things go according to plan, but Samardzija would fit in very nice behind Bumgarner and a healthy Matt Cain, who is starting to show signs of consistency since the injured elbow that required surgery last season.

What would it cost the Giants to get Samardzija?

Since the White Sox would be giving up pitching, it would most likely require a couple pitchers in return and one other piece. White Sox struggle at catcher currently with Tyler Flowers with a weak back-up. In San Francisco, they’ve got Buster Posey, Andrew Susac, Hector Sanchez, and another catcher who was drafted last year, Aramis Garcia. Giants have catchers to give up, and Susac may be the guy to include in the deal.

With a system that is not deep to the looks of experts and other scouts, Giants may have to use MLB-ready players to acquire a top-notch starter. Susac, who has been up with the club since last season, is still learning, but ready to play at the Major League Level. Immediately, Susac would upgrade the backstop in Chicago.

For minor league pitchers, Tyler Beede, Ty Blach, Clayton Blackburn, Keury Mella, Chris Stratton, and Martin Agosta are names of some pitchers who could be included in the deal.

Samardzija, the 30 year-old, is a free agent for the first time after this season, and will require a nice payday. So if he has brought in, it would be on a rental.

Giants had bad luck with their previous rental in Carlos Beltran back in 2011, when it failed to get them into the playoffs. Zack Wheeler was the top pitching prospect in the Giants’ farm system at the time, and was a part of that deal for Beltran.

That trade might scare the Giants in future deals, especially on rental players.

Being a part of one of the bigger markets in baseball, Giants don’t act like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and the Los Angeles Dodgers with spending. Giants are loaded just like they are, but are precise and cautious how they spend it.

The team tends to reward the players who were developed and brought up through the Giants farm system with the bigger contracts.

With a potential boost needed, if the Dodgers go out for Price or Hamels, the Giants may be in a situation where they might have to go out and make a big time move. Giants didn’t have to do that last season, but in the offseason, the Giants have a plethora of free agents they have to sign or let go. And the starting rotation will be slim.

Going after a big time pitcher might be in the Giants best interest right now, and pushing for Samardzija and reeling a shark back into the bay may just be what the Giants need, despite it being unfamiliar territory for the front office decision-makers.

Next: Giants Pursing Deal for David Price or Cole Hamels?