The Chicago White Sox have acquired right-hander Jeff Samardzija from the Oakland Athletics in a six-player deal. Reports last night said the two clubs were close to a deal and they officially announced the transaction today.
The White Sox will also be receiving Michael Ynoa. In return, the Athletics will be receiving a package of prospects, including middle infield prospect Marcus Semien, who will be their answer at the shortstop position in 2015. They also will be receiving Josh Phegley, Rangel Ravelo, and Chris Bassitt.
This is the second time Samardzija has been traded in the span of about five months. The Athletics acquired him and Jason Hammel from the Cubs in early July for Addison Russell and others. Now he is a part of the rebuilding effort in Oakland, which has already led to deals of Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss this offseason. It's been an insane few months for Billy Beane and the Athletics' front office.
Samardzija will be joining a White Sox rotation that already looks good enough to contend next year. Chicago already boasts Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and John Danks in their rotation, and could receive help from the pipeline in Carlos Rodon, their 2014 first round draft pick (3rd overall). They could easily contend in an AL Central division that no longer contains a powerhouse in the Detroit Tigers. It's wide open.
The 29-year-old Samardzija established himself as one of the better young pitchers in the game last season. He pitched his way to an All-Star appearance, going 7-13 with a 2.99 ERA and a 126 ERA+ in 219.2 innings. Samardzija struck out 202 and walked just 43.
By acquiring him in the offseason, the White Sox will be able to offer Samardzija a qualifying offer at the end of next year, as he becomes a free agent. Or, if they are not contending, they could deal him to a contender as a three-month rental in July. A third possibility, perhaps the best possibility for the White Sox' long-term success, would be to lock Samardzija up to an extension, something the Cubs nor the A's could do, being forced to unload him.
The University of Notre Dame alum was selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB Draft. In seven big league seasons with the Cubs and Athletics, Samardzija is 36-45 with a 3.85 ERA in 777.2 innings pitched. He has struck out 738 in that time as compared to 277 walks.
The Athletics will be receiving an interesting package for Samardzija. First is Marcus Semien, who will likely fill the shortstop position for them in 2015. The 24-year-old Semien hit .234/.300/.372 with six homers and 28 runs batted in over 255 plate appearances this year with the White Sox. He has played second base, shortstop, and third base during his brief big league career.
They also receive Josh Phegley, a 26-year-old catcher and former first round pick. Phegley has slashed .207/.221/.553 in 251 big league plate appearances, hitting seven homer and driving in 29. He still has some fading potential that Billy Beane and the Athletics are usually really good at bringing out.