By Bruce Levine–
(CBS) Former Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija will be on the move again this offseason and the Chicago White Sox may be one of the teams that kicks the tires on a deal.
The 29-year-old power pitcher will enter 2015 one year from free agent status. After he was dealt from the Cubs to Oakland, Samardzija continued to impress the baseball community, becoming one of the more durable starters in the game.
The White Sox will be seeking right-handed starters this offseason. This is due to the fact they project four solid lefties in the rotation headed toward spring training. Chicago also doesn’t have a top quality right-handed arm in their system to promote in 2015.
It appears Oakland baseball boss Billy Beane will be moving many contracts this offseason after failing to get past the wild-card game this October. Beane spent money and traded for veterans in the attempt to win the World Series in 2014. Beane’s small market club can’t sustain big payroll spending for any sustained period of time. That presents a situation in which Samardzija and others making big money will be dealt for younger, less expensive talent.
The White Sox are just doing their due diligence in asking the price for a one-year rental of Samardzija. The Northwest Indiana native and his agent, Mark Rodgers, have made it clear that the pitcher will be waiting until he is a free agent before he signs a long-term deal. He was traded on July to the A’s after turning down what he considered to be more than one under-market offer from the Cubs.
A five-year deal that exceeds $100 million will be the starting point in any conversation for Samardzija’s services beyond this season. Samardzija has yet to have a winning season as a starter, but most of that is based on playing for sub-par clubs. His stature, however, has grown in the eyes of scouts and baseball executives who have seen him command new pitches and develop a mound presence that screams No. 1 starter.
An example of Samardzija’s newfound aura is based on his numbers, which have continued to belie the won-loss record. He has struck out 200 or more hitters while throwing more than 200 innings in his first two years of full-time starting. (The Cubs cut him short in September of 2012 by not pitching him the last three weeks of the season). The most telling numbers were a combined 3.14 ERA and an astounding ratio of almost 5:1 in strikeouts over walks. A lack of run production during his starts followed him from Chicago to Oakland after the trade.
The White Sox are unlikely to trade young talent for a one-year rental of a player. They’re is building up their organization for a more extended run, with an added emphasis on the draft, minor leagues and international free agents.
Samardzija, by all comparative charts, should be making close to $10 million in his last arbitration-eligible season before free agency. The pitcher made $5.34 million in 2014.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.