Despite having a sub-par season, Chicago White Sox right-hand pitcher Jeff Samardija is expected to draw a lot of attention during the 2016 offseason.
In fact, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that two execs told him they expect Samardzija to do better than Ervin Santana did when he got the Minnesota Twins to give him $55 million over four years this past offseason.
Samardzija is in his first season with the White Sox, where he is currently 9-13 with a 5.27 ERA and has allowed opponents to hit.281 against him. The 2014 All-Star, who has three starts left, has struggled mightily in the second half of the season, posting a 3-9 record and 7.43 ERA in 12 starts. He got rocked in his last start against Oakland, surrendering 10 runs on 11 hits in three innings of work. Samardzija also walked three, struck out three and gave up his 27th home run in the game.
For his career, the 30-year old is 45-61 with a 4.14 ERA in 252 games. He has given up 108 home runs and has allowed opponents to hit.251 against him. Samardzija also has thrown six complete games, including two shutouts.
Samardzija was acquired by the White Sox along with RHP Michael Ynoa in exchange for SS Marcus Semien, RHP Chris Bassitt, C Josh Phegley, and 1B Rangel Ravelo. He is currently making $9.8 million this year.
So, given all of Samardzija’s recent troubles, why is it expected he will hit the lottery jackpot this offseason?
First, Samardzija is relatively young and has a pristine health record. Plus, Samardzija has very little wear and tear on his right arm — he has thrown just 975.2 major league innings — as he was a star wide receiver at Notre Dame and initially came out of the bullpen before being moved to the starting rotation.
Samardzija also has really good “stuff” featuring five pitches. He throws a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, cutter, slider, and splitter.
In addition, Samardzija hasn’t been horrible the entire season. He posted a 6-4 record to go along with a 4.02 ERA prior to the All-Star break. Samadzija also went a combined 6-1 in May and April, giving up 15 runs (12 earned) in 75.2 innings of work. In 13 of 14 starts between May 17 and July 28, he pitched at least seven innings.
Where Samardzija will end up is anyone’s guess at this point. But the White Sox are expected to be in the mix as they will likely to extend a qualifying offer to him. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports believes the Pittsburgh Pirates or New York Yankees could be a “good fit” for Samardzija as they have had success at helping struggling but talent pitchers recently.
Pittsburgh’s starting staff currently consists of RHP Gerritt Cole (16-8, 2.60 ERA), LHP Jeff Locke (8-11, 4.48 ERA), LHP Francisco Liriano (10-7, 3.45 ERA), RHP A.J. Burnett (8-5, 3.15 ERA) and RHP Charlie Morton (9-8, 4.26 ERA). RHP Vance Worley (4-6, 3.80 ERA) has made 22 appearances, including eight starts this season. Burnett will likely retire after this year so the Pirates will have an open spot in the rotation next season.
The Pirates top-prospect, per MLB.com, Tyler Glasnow (RHP) could also earn a spot in Pittsburgh rotation while the team’s No. 5 prospect James Taillon (RHP) may also make his major league debut next season, though he missed this season due to Tommy John Surgery.
The Yankees starting pitching staff looks like it needs a little overall as RHP Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.38 ERA) and RHP Nathan Eovaldi (14-3, 4.20 ERA) leads the staff. LHP C.C. Sabathia (4-9, 4.93 ERA), RHP Michael Pineda (11-8, 4.10 ERA) and RHP Ivan Nova (6-8, 5.11 ERA) round out the staff. RHP Adam Warren (6-6, 3.33 ERA), RHP Chris Capuano (0-4 7.91 ERA), RHP Chase Whitley (1-2, 4.19 ERA) and RHP Bryan Mitchell (0-2, 6.04 ERA) as well as the team’s top prospect, RHP Luis Severino (4-3, 3.12 ERA), has made starts this year.
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/ Getty Images]