The Kansas City Royals should be looking to add one more arm for the rotation, and they should be seriously eyeballing the Chicago Cubs right hander Jeff Samardzija. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Samardzija’s name has come up in trade rumor with several teams.
The Royals could still use another known quantity in their rotation. Right now, James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, and Danny Duffy most likely have spots nailed down. Other in-house options include Yordano Ventura, Wade Davis, and Luke Hochevar. It seem unlikely the Royals will pluck anyone from the free agency pool at this time, unless a deal can be worked out with Ervin Santana, a scenario that probably would not play out until closer to spring training.
Samardzija is a tall (6’5″), slender (225 pounds) hurler with some pretty good strikeout numbers. In the past two seasons, he has emerged as a nice starter for the Cubs. In 2012 and 2013, Samardzija has 61 starts, a mediocre 4.10 ERA, a decent 1.290 WHIP, 394 strikeouts, 134 walks, all in 388.1 innings of work.
His walk rate is slightly elevated at 3.3 Per 9 Innings but he more than makes up for it with a 9.1 K/9 Ratio. With a nearly 3:1 K/BB ratio, he has developed into a solid strikeout pitcher. He has given up 45 home runs in those two seasons while pitching half his games in Wrigley Field. Last season, nearly as many ball were hit on the ground against him as were it in the air (.97 GB/FB).
All of these things would make him a good fit at Kauffman Stadium with the Kansas City City Royals.
Samardzija, who turns 29 in January, is also affordable in the grand scheme of things. He is arbitration eligible this season, and after $2.64 million in 2013, it is not unreasonable to see him get a raise to to around $5-$6 million dollars for 2014. He would be under team control for 2015 as well.
The biggest cost to the Royals would be in players. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Cubs asked for the Blue Jays’ top two pitching prospects, Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, plus a third prospect for Samardzija. If that indeed is the asking price for Samardzija, then forget it, but it could just be posturing by Chicago.
Samardzija’s ERA and WHIP do not say he is a staff ace, but he certainly could be considered at number two starter, or an outstanding number three with those strikeout figures. He would be a nice fit behind Shields in the rotation, and in front of the easier throwing Guthrie or Vargas.
If the Royals could convince the Cubs to come down a bit on their price, and take one of the Royals hard throwing bullpen arms, plus a possibly a couple of top prospects that may be a few years away, then maybe a deal could be had. The Royals probably shouldn’t consider including Duffy, Ventura, and Kyle Zimmer in the deal though it may prove difficult for Kansas City to have both Duffy and Ventura in their rotation at the same time.
It would be better for the Royals future to spend money (Hey, it’s not my money!) than prospects. If they can re-sign Ervin Santana that would be terrific. If they can throw a dart on someone like Johan Santana without breaking the bank, they should seriously consider it for the short term.
The point is, the Royals still appear to be a piece or two short of what they need to have to challenge for the AL Central. One of those pieces (a power hitter is the other) is a solid number two starter. Jeff Samardzija could be that guy to push the Royals over the top.
It will be interesting to see if the Royals will make one more big move, or will they just tread water with what they have, and hope to get lucky in 2014.