It’s a sellers’ market as the trade deadline approaches, so now is as good a time as any for the White Sox to deal Jeff Samardzija, who might be making his last start for the team when the Sox play the Indians in Cleveland on Thursday night.
Samardzija could make another start in Boston on Tuesday, which falls three days before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He also could stay, finish out the season, receive a qualifying offer from the Sox and decline it before heading into free agency for the first time in his career, which would give the Sox something — a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 2016 draft — but they can get more by dealing him now.
While it’s difficult to define what the Sox can get in return, they will want more than a Class A pitcher. It’s safe to say general manager Rick Hahn, who needs talent for a farm system that isn’t producing much of it, is looking for something like a top-line Class A pitcher or a Class AA pitcher packaged with a decent minor-league position player.
What the Sox have going for them is a commodity in Samardzija, who rates behind Johnny Cueto (and David Price if he is being shopped) among two-month “rental” pitchers who can push the bevy of teams contending for the postseason over the top. Names are being exchanged, but Samardzija may not be dealt until the pitcher or pitchers above him are traded, not unlike the way the dominoes fall in free agency.
Nobody has moved yet because, as one American League executive said, “sellers ask for too much, buyers offer too little, and as you get closer to deadline, they all edge toward where the deal will wind up. Everyone wants to make the deal of the century.’’
The Sox, who lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday to fall to 42-50, would be tempted to keep Samardzija in a rotation that would be something to build around with Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon — all of whom are under control for several years. But that would take a monster contract extension offer, and would take Samardzija passing on his chance to test the free-agent market.
That could be the upset of the year.
“Samardzija is an extremely competitive guy, and for the first time in his professional career, he’s in control of his destiny, the first time he has a choice since he signed a letter of intent with Notre Dame,’’ the AL executive said. “That’s the last time he had a choice. He can pick his spot. That means a ton to a guy like him.’’
With the worst offense in baseball, the Sox are hardly a destination of choice for any pitcher. Fifth starter John Danks produced the latest wasted start with 6 2/3 scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 2.25 for the month and 4.66 for the season. That didn’t prevent the Sox from losing for the fourth straight time and sixth time in seven games.
Change draws nearer with each passing loss.
“I would hate to see somebody go,” Danks said. “It’s part of it and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.’’
The Cardinals rallied on Yadier Molina’s three-run triple into the right field corner in the eighth inning against closer David Robertson, who was going for a four-out save. The Cards loaded the bases against Zach Duke with a single, hit batter and catcher’s interference call on Tyler Flowers.
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