Astros: Let’s Trade for a Starter Week (Samardzija)


When approached with the idea of “Trade for a Starter Week” by the Climbing Tal’s Hill editor Eric Huysman, the first name that popped into my head Cole Hamels.  Now, that is the fairly obvious name for all teams looking to add a starter, especially a young team like the Astros, who are looking for a front line starter.  The second name that came to mind was  Johnny Cueto.  So, that should tell you a little something about what I thought about Jeff Samardzija coming into this post.  He is a big name with lots of talent, but not my top option.  Probably not even in my top 3.

While Dallas Keuchel has proven himself to be a force at the top of the rotation, the staff really drops off after him and Collin McHugh.  The Astros were planning on leaning heavily on the veteran arm of Scott Feldman to lengthen the rotation and eat innings.  However, the starting pitching questions only deepened on Friday after Feldman underwent right knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.  He’ll miss six weeks.  My argument for needing a trade was going to be the lack of potential big game pitchers for the young club, but depth just became the number one reason.  The Astros need pitching help – Not just about depth, but also quality.

Scott Feldman (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

Fans first got to know Jeff Samardzija while watching him play wide receiver for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the mid-2000s.  He was excellent in that role, but wisely chose baseball for his career path after school.  Drafted by the Chicago Cubs, the big 6’5″ right-hander was selected as a pitcher.  I must admit that I did not watch him play much college baseball, so I was unsure of how good he really was.

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It did not take long to see that he belonged in the Major Leagues.  In his first taste with the Cubs in 2008, he posted a 2.28 E.R.A. with nearly a strikeout per inning average (25/27.2) over 26 relief appearances.  He did not become a full-time starter until 2012.  He posted a respectable 3.81 E.R.A. while striking out 180 in 174.2 innings pitched.  His record was just 9-13 that season, but he was playing for a bad Cubs team that became infamous for not providing Samardzija with decent run support.

While a well-established player by the time 2014 rolled around, it seemed that this was the year he gained the notoriety that he deserved.  He was finally traded out of Chicago’s north side to the Oakland Athletics.  This deal propelled the A’s to a favorite to win the World Series as they also acquired Jon Lester.  While a championship was not in the cards that season, he did post a sub 3 E.R.A. and struck out over 200 batters.

May 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) throws against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Samardzija is now just 30-years-old and is currently pitching for the Chicago White Sox.  He is due to become a free agent after the season, so immediately alarm bells go off if I’m an Astros fan.  Like Cueto, Samardzija could easily leave for another team desperate for pitching in the offseason.  The bidding to acquire either of these big arms could also be high.  I think that Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow is very hesitant to trade some of his prized prospects for a pitcher that is free to leave at the end of the season.  The impending free agent status is why Cole Hamels, who is locked up for several more years, is a more attractive option.

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Still, the Astros could get outbid on a deal for Hamels, and if the Astros are still in first place at the trade deadline, Luhnow may have his hand forced.  Go out and get a big arm to bolster your stretch run and potential playoff rotation.  At 22-24 and in 4th place in the A.L. Central, the White Sox are looking for more of a pretender than a contender.  That could change, but if they are still in 4th in July, it may behoove them to move Samardzija for a potential bonanza in prospects.

Ultimately, I think Jeff Luhnow and the Astros will push for either Hamels or another pitcher that is less likely to A) walk at the end of the year or B) cost a fortune to retain.  Still, the possibility that Jeff Samardzija is wearing the Houston star at some point in 2015 is very real, and we’ll just have to see how the season plays out.  Everything could change for the Astros and White Sox alike. Therefore, it has never been truer to state “That’s why they play the game.”

You want a trade idea, a trade for Samardzija would have to include 2-3 of the Astros top-30 prospect going to the south side of Chicago. Who those three players are, I’m not sure. One player that will not be included would be Correa, the Astros will hold onto their star shortstop.

The Chicago White Sox trade (RHP) Jeff Samardzija to the Houston Astros for (RHP) Vincent Velasquez and (C) Max Stassi

Part 1: Let’s Trade with the Oakland Athletics

Part 2: Let’s Trade with the Phillies

Part 3: Let’s Trade with the Reds

Part 4: Let’s Trade with the Reds Part 2

Part 5: Let’s Trade with the Brewers

Part 6: Let’s Trade with the someone with Rasmus

Part 7: Let’s Trade with the White Sox

Part 8: Let’s Make no Trades

Part 9: Let’s Trade with the Phillies (Harang)

Next: CTH's Interview with RHP Joe Musgrove

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