The Baltimore Orioles shouldn’t try to trade for Jeff Samardzija unless the Chicago Cubs significantly lower their asking price. Theo Epstein and the Chicago front-office are marketing Samardzija as a front-line starter, but he really doesn’t have the numbers to back it up. Sure, some team will inevitably overpay for Samardzija, but even though the Orioles are in desperate need of consistent starting pitching Baltimore shouldn’t end up being that team.
The Orioles have plenty promising pitching prospects in Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Hunter Harvey and Eduardo Rodriguez, but landing Samardzija would likely require sending at least two of those names to Chicago. If Chicago would accept one of those prospects then maybe the deal would be worth it, but mortgaging the club’s future and betting the house on an unproven 29-year-old pitching in the National League isn’t a very good idea.
I say unproven because apart from stellar 11 games this season, you really don’t know what you’ll be getting when you trade for Samardzija. The signing of Ubaldo Jimenez this offseason was a gamble that involved only money, but a gamble involving Samardzija would include the club’s future by sending away top prospects.
Samardzija has been fantastic this season. Despite a 1-4 record, he’s pitched to an ERA of only 1.68 in 75 innings of work. Samardzija hardly allows any home runs, only 0.4 per nine innings, and with a WHIP of only 1.067, he doesn’t allow many base runners either. However, taking a look at his past proves that Samardzija may not be as good as people think he is.
Dating back to 2012 Samardzija has been a starting pitcher for the Cubs, and in that time he has been the definition of mediocre. Over those two seasons he was 17-26 with an ERA of 4.10 and a WHIP of 1.290 in 61 games.
So, let me ask you this: Would trading two potential top of the rotation starters for a guy with a less than bulletproof track record seem like a good idea? No, it doesn’t. That kind of a move sounds like a team that’s desperate, and the Orioles are not a desperate organization – not yet anyway.