Since their paltry first half didn’t fully convince the Chicago White Sox they were destined to be sellers at the deadline, the team’s equally paltry performance against the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals sealed the deal.
What complicates the White Sox’ buy/sell dilemma is that they aren’t willing to walk away from the group of assembled players, as the majority figure to contribute across the next several years. In short, they aren’t about to blow the whole thing up after a bad first half of season one.
But they’re apparently willing to trade Jeff Samardzija.
The problem with Samardzija is that he’s been billed as ace-caliber for the last couple of seasons. This strange phenomena started with the Chicago Cubs, who, before he actually showed it, swore he was an ace-in-the-making. And for some odd reason, the league believed it, and continues to believe it.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good pitcher. But an ace? Doubtful.
His career numbers as a starter are underwhelming by ace-standards. In 764 innings as a starter, he has a 3.90 ERA (3.64 FIP). Again, not terrible numbers (many of his peripherals are perfectly respectable), but this is not exactly a small sample size anymore, and that sample size does not indicate “ace.” At what point does Samardzija reach the “he is what he is” label?
The point to be made here is that this presumed-ace label makes Samardzija a difficult piece to stick value on. He still carries that ace stigma, and has an especially fierce competitive reputation –“The Shark,” indeed– but the numbers ultimately leave you feeling like you got the short end of the stick, which is possibly part of the reason the White Sox are willing to trade him. His 4.08 is underwhelming, he’s surrendering a .265 batting average, and his ground ball percentage is ten points lower than last year.
All that being said, there are plenty of teams who would welcome Samardzija’s services. The teams most likely to enjoy a thriving Samardzija would be ones that would keep him off of that ace-level expectations. Namely, the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As reported by Phil Rodgers of MLB.com, teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros would be logical fits as well, but Samardzija would be asked to fill a more critical role within those respective rotations.
The White Sox don’t exactly care how each team would use Samardzija; they only care about who is offering the best deal.
If recent history has shown us anything, it’s that there’s always someone willing to overpay for Jeff Samardzija.