Do The Toronto Blue Jays And Jeff Samardzija Make Sense?

by Brendan Panikkar | Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2014
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Jeff "Shark" Samardzija and the Blue Jays talks are sure to heat up if the Blue Jays keep 1st place into mid June

Jeff “Shark” Samardzija and the Blue Jays talks are sure to heat up if the Blue Jays keep 1st place into mid June

The Toronto Blue Jays sit in first place in the AL East on May 23rd, 2014. Yes, you read that right. Everything is clicking for a team that is currently playing like they were supposed to in 2013. They’re hitting, pitching, and playing defense. A winning combination that is stirring up excitement as the Blue Jays begin a stretch of 16 of their next 19 games at home.

The starting rotation was considered the team’s biggest weakness but it has been a surprising strength, as the rotation ERA leads the AL East. Mark Buehrle is having one of the best, if not the best, season of his career to this point, R.A. Dickey has pitched a lot better than his surface numbers suggest, and Drew Hutchison is evolving into a nice middle of the rotation to top of the rotation type arm.

The last two rotation spots are currently filled with J.A. Happ who has pitched well enough to get the overrated win stat in three of his four starts, and would be a nice fifth guy if he develops consistency and continues throwing like he has thus far. Liam Hendriks starts for the Blue Jays tonight against the Oakland Athletics left hander, Scott KazmirHendriks has been great in AAA and the Blue Jays are hoping he continues throwing the ball like he has in Buffalo.

There is no doubt the Blue Jays have the offense and the bullpen to compete. The rotation has been exceptional but many feel if the Jays add another quality arm, they might be able to keep this lead in the AL East.

The name that continues to surface is Chicago Cubs ace Jeff SamardzijaSamardzija was linked to the Blue Jays this off-season and there is definitely some interest as Blue Jays scouts have been seen at his starts. The question now becomes, does Samardzija, or “Shark” make sense for the Blue Jays?

There are definitely two sides of the coin to that question. Obviously, a power arm that Samardzija is would bolster the rotation and would make sense for the club but the other side of that coin is the steep price it will cost. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez were the reported asking price for Shark in the off-season and given how he has thrown in 2014, that price will only go up.

Samardzija features a fastball (93.9 MPH), two seam fastball (93.7), cutter (91.8), splitter (84.8), and a slider (84.0). A lot of hard stuff is thrown by Shark and he has experienced success with his repertoire. He currently is throwing to the tune of a 1.46 ERA, 2.87 FIP, and 3.47 xFIP. His defense is definitely playing a key piece in his success but his FIP and xFIP are still solid numbers.

Shark is currently throwing a K/9 of 7.15 (19.9 K%), which is down from 9.01 (23.4 K%) in 2013 but despite the drop in K’s his other numbers have improved. He is walking fewer batters (2.78 BB/9) and is inducing more ground balls at a nice 51.6%.

The most impressive number that Samardzija has cut down on is the home runs. His HR/9 is at a minuscule 0.26 compared to 1.05 in 2013 and 1.03 in 2012. That number is key considering if the Blue Jays were to add Samardzija to a home run hitter’s ball park, they would hope that trend continues. Buehrle and Dickey have both cut down on the home runs allowed which has contributed to their 2014 success, much like Shark.

The only thing stopping the Blue Jays is the price. Stroman and Sanchez is an extremely steep price to pay, especially considering the amount of young prospects they gave up in 2013 trades.

If the Blue Jays are to pursue the Shark, the time is not quite ripe. With a chance to truly take a comfortable lead and begin to pull away from the rest of the AL East with 16 of the next 19 games at home against quality opponents in the Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals, a quick three game road trip against the Detroit Tigers, and back home to face the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Minnesota Twins. The  Blue Jays would be very smart to see where they sit in the standings after this stretch.

After the big stretch of home games, they take to the road to play the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, and Cincinnati Reds. If the Blue Jays are still in first before the stretch of road games, I would expect dialogue between the Blue Jays and Cubs to heat up.

The time is not quite ready for the Blue Jays to pursue Samardzija. They can still see what they have in Hendriks and likely Stroman in a few turns through the rotation, to truly evaluate where they sit in the standings and if such a drastic move is necessary.

Shark definitely makes sense, but the situation needs to be monitored carefully and the price has to be right. Expect talks to heat up even more if the Blue Jays are still in first place come mid-June after the crucial stretch of home games.

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Brendan Panikkar
About the Author

Brendan Panikkar is a graduate of Brock University's Sport Management program. Currently, he is the Vice-President, Customer Service at North Aware. He loves all sports but baseball and football take precedent over hockey and basketball. Teams: Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Argonauts, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Raptors

  • Mark

    Good article, but I disagree. If they’re going to go after him, I’d prefer to have him pitching for us during this important stretch rather than wait and hope things work out before deciding

  • P

    Rasmus and Sanchez for the Shark….done deal.

  • Patrick

    As a Cubs fan, I would love for the Blue Jays and Cubs to get together for a trade. Toronto has good pitching prospects, which the Cubs need, and Shark can provide top of the rotation stuff for a team that doesn’t have that #1 pitcher. Over the past few years as a starter, Samardzija has been inconsistent, but this year I’ve noticed that he isn’t just throwing the ball as hard as he can to get strikeouts. He has lowered his MPH on his FB and become more of a pitcher rather than a thrower.

  • Brendan Panikkar

    Hey all, thanks for the comments!

    Mark- Definitely understand where you are coming from. It would be nice but we still need to see if they can either get it done the way the roster currently is, and to see if they’re legit. If they are going to make a big move, they need to know they can be in it all year. If we make the move and we falter, we have mortgaged some big prospects.

    P- I’m starting to think Rasmus is becoming a trade chip. But depends if the Cubs want him since his contract expires at the end of the year. Might scare them off Colby.

    Patrick- Thanks! They definitely match up as potential trade partners. I think the decline in velocity is helping him get more ground balls, and walking less. I 100% agree with you Patrick.

    Thanks for the comments guys! Appreciate it

  • Michael

    IMO now is the time to get the deal done, Theo is only going to raise the price as Samerdijza continues to have a break out year. Sanchez cannot find the strike zone nor repeat his delivery which will only make his stock drop. And not to mention the rest of the AL east is having their own issues, thus the BlueJays should take advantage of this before the AL east figures it out.
    On the comment that includes Rasmus, he is a free agent at the end of the year. Theo will not take him. So as it sits the trade chips to get this deal done are Stroman whom will only be a reliever maybe even a closer and Sanchez will be a #3 pitcher in any rotation.
    So AA better pull the trigger before it’s to late.
    If the Jays can sign Rasmus to an extension and Gose can continue to improve I think Rasmus will be a DaimondBack by the trade deadline. We get a 2B in return.
    This is what I see but then again, no GM is going to take a deal that improves our team and does not improve their own team, that is how GM’s get fired. So hang on guys it’s going to cost us to win. With that said if we pay and get the guys the BlueJays WILL attract free agents this offseason.

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  • Javier Bryant

    Supposedly the Cubs want Hutchison back in a deal and the Jays aren’t willing to give him up. Sanchez, Stroman, another top guy and maybe Anthony Gose make sense. The Cubs could include a bullpen arm and or Darwin Barney in the deal as well.

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