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Trading for Samardzija at that Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

Trading for Samardzija at that Corner of Carnegie and Ontario
January 22, 2014
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I’m daydreaming again here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

It’s not a hard thing to do when you’re a Cleveland Indians’ fan floating through an offseason, because they tend to be about as exciting as watching the Browns play football, Anthony Bennett set a pick, or perhaps more appropriate to the baseball conversation; it’s been as exciting as watching MLB’s top free agent pitchers sign contracts.

In all seriousness, there’s been a legitimate lack of movement from the Indians this offseason, which truly is the norm here on the North Coast. Now I’m not necessarily knocking the moves that they have made; they’ve been solid acquisitions to be sure. But after the major moves made last year, this one feels a bit like a dud, even if it’s not. Let’s put it a bit in perspective:

I suppose that this exercise was to hopefully showcase that while the Indians haven’t as of yet made a big-splash signing, that they did manage to utilize their resources to acquire several needs. While all of these players have their flaws, they were all very pointed signings that addressed specific holes in the roster. All of the holes aren’t as filled as I’d like them to be, but there is still three weeks left (or longer) to make that move.

The truth is that the in the past, the Indians’ front office rarely had the money to make substantial moves to improve the team, especially when in comparison to the rest of the AL Central. While that may be true in a sense this year, there is clearly a different message and feeling coming from 2401 Ontario Street as the Indians have meandered through the 2013-2014 hot stove season.

The Indians actually didn’t have much that they had to do.

The needed a closer and they got one, after getting rid of Perez. They needed a lefty out of the bullpen, and they got one. They wanted a change in the outfield, and the made it. They also added potential “Ryan Raburn” acquisitions to supplement the major outfield move. They even addressed a potential hole in the rotation with a starter with questions, but one that has performed in the past.

The Indians are also counting on a minor league system for the first time in years, as players such as Jose RamirezDanny SalazarFrancisco LindorC.C. Leeand Jesus Aguilar could all make a Cleveland landing this year. That’s not to mention Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, who could play a major role as well.

They could do more, and they still may, but it’s not the same situation that we’ve seen in the past.

What’s likely enhanced the feeling of offseason emptiness is that all four of the Indians AL Central-mates have made major deals. What has made me smile though is that most of these moves have been excessively reckless.

I’m not going to tell a lie. I think Dave Dombrowski, the President and GM of the Tigers is a witch. Year-after-year, I look for the Indians’ rivals in the Motor City to make a major blunder, but it rarely ever happens. It may have this year, when they dealt away Doug Fister and Prince Fielder, then lost Jhonny PeraltaJoaquin Benoit and Omar Infante to free agency. Sure, they brought in Joe NathanIan Kinsler and Rajai Davis, but are they even close to as good as they were last season? Don’t forget, they lost Jim Leyland as well, and as good as I think Brad Ausmus will be, it will take time for the never-before-manager to find his way. Of course there is a prospect or two in there I like, and that Dombrowski-witch thing I mentioned before.

Many rave about the Royals bringing in Infante, Jason Vargas and Norichika Aoki as putting them “over-the-top.” I’m not going to slaughter these moves, as they clearly should help them. But, Infante signed a four-year, $30 million deal. I mean, he’s a nice player, but he had a career-year in 2013, and is 32. Vargas just got overpaid in a big way. No, he’s not Brett Myers, but there is no upside there. He was a just below-average pitcher in parks pitcher’s parks. Now he’s in a better park to hit in. I do like Aoki, who is a real nice right fielder…who is going to be 32 and hits a boatload of singles. They’ll be good, but their pitching will likely not be as good, and did their offense really get better?

The Twins literally spent a billion dollars on Ricky Nolasco, Phil Huges and Mike Pelfrey. They didn’t really lose anyone of not, but they didn’t really have much to begin with. No moves made me scratch my head more than the Twins. The White Sox, however, have made the best moves in the division up to this point. They brought in outfielder Adam Eaton and Cuban defector Jose Abreu, and also acquired Matt Davidson, a young power-hitting third baseman, who really could be an interesting sleeper. I’d be worried about this Sox this year, but they still have a ways to go, and I’m not sold on Robin Ventura.

So while the Indians haven’t made that big splash as of yet, I’m not sure that the Central did anything to get better. Time will certainly bear that out though, as the season gets closer and we can begin to see this players perform on the field. My opening monologue has already gone the route of way-to-long, so let’s get back to the Indians, my daydreaming, and that splash.

The Indians haven’t made that big move yet, and while the Indians could still sign a free agent (especially after Hoynsie broke this major, MAJOR tidbit when he said that “the Indians still have some money left to spend for the upcoming season,”), I do wonder what the Indians are planning after they low-balled Masterson by $3.75 million with their arbitration proposal. It appears as though the Indians are likely to end up going to arbitration with a player for the first time since Greg Swindell in 1991.

The Indians have been in talks with Masterson this offseason, but his “fair-market value” has likely increased by the bundle after all of the offseason signings. How legitimate his value is remains to be seen, but with Clayton Kershaw nabbing a seven-year, $215 million deal and Masahiro Tanaka likely to sign a six or seven-year deal in the realm of $140-$160 million, Masterson could be holding out for more years and money than anticipated.

Masterson will likely want a seven-year deal, hoping to settle for a five-year deal. You can argue whether or not he gets it, but there is no doubt his agent is going to likely hold firm there. How much per year? I would have to imagine that he’s going to be asking somewhere above $15 million, and somewhere below $20 million. Again, I don’t think he’ll get that from the Indians, but I do think that’s what he wants.

The Indians are clearly sending a message to Masterson if they take him to arbitration. While money will always talk, I would certainly have to believe that they are letting him know in no uncertain terms that he won’t be back.

Does that mean they are going to sign Ubaldo to a deal? It may, but it could also mean that they are just going to ride out the year with Masterson until they can make him the qualifying offer next year. The hope would be that Masterson would pitch well this year and help the Indians to the playoffs, and would likely force the Indians to go a different route long-term.

They could sign Ubaldo to a deal knowing that Masterson comes off the books next year, but my daydreaming has really gotten the best of me today, as I just can’t get trades out of my mind.

With or without Masterson, the Indians need to address their starting rotation. While some think the depth of Shaun Marcum, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer andJosh Tomlin are enough to fill the #5 spot and depth, I am a lot more spotty than most. The Indians need to get another good, quality starter. The only other legitimate hole on this team is at third base. Can the Indians make a move to get what they need?

Here’s a look at a few moves that are likely out there, or could be as we roll towards spring training.

The Indians trade for the Cubs Jeff Samardzija

The biggest pitching prize in the trade market right now is the Tampa Bay Rays left-handed ace, David Price, along with his two years of control for Trevor Bauer and Francisco Lindor. What would the asking price be for Price? I’ll get into that in a minute, but it’s certainly going to be a lot, and should be a lot more than Jeff Samardzija. I think the Cubs starter is simply a more cost-effective option that could net the same result as Price…or better.

The Chicago Cubs are far apart with Samardzija with regards to their submitted arbitration figures, although not close to how far apart the Indians are with Masterson. Samardzija submitted $6.2 million, while the Cubs submitted $1.8 million less, at $4.4 million. The gap isn’t excessively substantial, but enough to cause concern for the pitcher and his agent.

Samardzija, like Masterson, has been unable to sign a long-term deal. While he wants to stay with the Cubs, the fact that they haven’t come to terms on even a one-year contract could boost his chances of being dealt as we close in on the start of Spring Training.

The biggest issue facing the Indians so far in any deal for the big righty is that the Cubs are asking far too much in return based on both his upside and his club control. The former Notre Dame wide receiver won’t become a free agent until after the 2015 season, which would give any team dealing for him two more seasons under contract.

This move would be perfect for the budget-conscious Indians though, who still need to find a cost-effective way to improve their team. Samardzija might also sign a long-term deal that’s slightly less substantial than Masterson, although that’s debatable. Samardzija has already reportedly turned down a five-year, $55 million deal, so it may be that they end up closer when it’s all said and done.

How good is Samardzija? His normal statistics aren’t going to jump out at you, although he did manage to throw well over 200 innings last year. But his peripherals are phenomenal, especially considering his last three seasons.

Year Age W L ERA G GS GF IP H R ER HR BB SO FIP xFIP WAR ERA+ BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2011 26 8 4 2.97 75 0 18 88.0 64 35 29 5 50 87 3.66 4.27 0.6 132 5.1 8.9 1.74
2012 27 9 13 3.81 28 28 0 174.2 157 79 74 20 56 180 3.55 3.38 3 107 2.9 9.3 3.21
2013 28 8 13 4.34 33 33 0 213.2 210 109 103 25 78 214 3.77 3.45 2.8 91 3.3 9 2.74

In Samardzija, you get an elite level K/9, with substantial control. His 9.13 K/9 over the past two seasons is the fifth-highest among pitchers with 300 innings or more during that same timespan. The other four pitchers are Chris SaleYu DarvishStephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. His ERA has climbed up over the past three seasons as he’s thrown more innings, but his FIP and xFIP suggest that he’s pitching much better than his basic stats would indicate.  Wrigley also tends to be one of the worst hitter’s parks in the league, so moving to Progressive Field could be beneficial, although his home and away stats do fluctuate to the point that that’s questionable.

If the Indians were to make a move for the Cubs right hander, he would slot in that #2 or #3 spot, depending on how good you think Danny Salazar is. Here is what the rotation would look like:

#1: Justin Masterson

#2: Danny Salazar

#3: Jeff Samardzija

#4: Corey Kluber

#5: Zach McAllister

Not too shabby.

Unfortunately for the Indians, Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer are looking to rebuild their team, so the price won’t be cheap. While I think Samardzija is better than most, I’m not sure he’d ultimately be worth what the Cubs would ask for.

What will the Cubs want?

They’ll want a pitcher first, and start with Danny Salazar, and likely a secondary starter such as Dylan Baker or Dace Kime. They’ll probably want a bullpen arm as well, such as CC Lee or Austin Adams, and one of the Indians up-the-middle players like Joe Wendle or Jose Ramirez. If I’m a betting man, they’d ask for Salazar, Baker, Lee and Ramirez, since Tony noted in a Smoke Signals last year that they had shown interest in the Indians middle infielder.

I wouldn’t touch that deal with a ten-foot pole.

What would be a fair offer? I’d consider Cody Anderson or Trevor Bauer, Lonnie Chisenhall or Joe Wendle and any reliever you would want to throw into the equation. That’s asking a lot, but you are getting back a potential high end starter about to enter his prime with two years of control, and won’t cost more than $10 million in any of the next two seasons. They are probably asking for more than that, and would possibly take less. By the way, I’d also include Bauer or Baker in lieu of Anderson, who is our top pitching prospect.

I think a side benefit of this deal is that it would also give the Indians leverage with Justin Masterson, who they then could deal with on their terms. No, I don’t think that it would give the Indians bargaining power in that Masterson will come down in value, but I do think that the Indians will have more options to potentially deal their #1 starter should things align. It’s not something that I would want, and it would likely open up a rotation issue, but it would buy the Indians sometime in the grand scheme of things

I’d then immediately sign him long-term, even if “long-term” meant only one extra free agent season. I don’t know how much sense that would make for Samardzija, but that all depends on what sort of “three-year deal” that the Indians offer him to buy out his final two arbitration years.

Oh, and by the way. The Cubs are definitely in on Masahiro Tanaka. If they sign the free agent from Japan, the floodgates could come pourin’ from the Cubs. Of course, I’m not the only one that’s going to note that Samardzija may be clearly on the block at that point, and many teams who lost in the Tanaka sweepstakes will be in the mix for the righty.

The Indians could still make a very competitive offer, and he would definitively be the type of pitcher the Indians would look at long-term.

The Indians trade for David Price

I want to preface this part of Corner by saying unequivocally that I don’t want to deal for Price, and I certainly don’t think that it would happen. Sure, I’d love to have him and I wouldn’t mind paying a prospect sum to get him, but not what would likely be asked for.

There are two takes on prospects.

The first take is that you build a phenomenal minor league system as your foundation, set up the bulk of your team, then begin to maneuver those prospects for other players across the league to better suit your roster.

The second take is that you foster your prospects as commodities to acquire major league ready players.

There are grey areas in the middle for organizations, of course, but you can generally point to an organization and fit them into one category or the other.

Of course, there are the Indians, who rarely seem to have enough impact prospects to do much of anything. Think about it. When they dealt Drew Pomeranz andAlex White, arguably two of the top four prospects in the system at the time, the realistic depth was gone as far as impact goes once you looked past Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall.

The Indians system is better now, although you could still argue that there just aren’t enough “high impact” players to get a deal done for Price, and you can REALLY make a case that the Indians shouldn’t even if they did.

Price is a 4-WAR player, and while some point to potential diminishing returns over the next few seasons, others will point to the fact that he’s about to enter his prime years. His FIP and xFIP are elite, and regardless of expectations, Andrew Friedman is going to sell him as a legit, power-lefty who will be the ace of whatever staff he’s in for the next two season. Regardless of what you think of Price, the numbers trendy Friedman’s way.

So, what will it take to pry away David Price?

Friedman will need a minimum of two starters back in this potential deal, and likely a position player. My best guess here is that he’ll ask for either Salazar/Anderson/Lindor or Salazar/Bauer/Lindor. I wouldn’t do either.

I don’t think the Rays will come off of Salazar and Lindor, and I don’t think the Indians would offer both. Would the Indians make a deal involving Lindor and Bauer or Anderson? I think they would, and they’d run far away giggling hysterically. But Friedman is a shrewd GM, and he will never in his right mind settle for that.

Settle.

Now, I’m not trying to devalue Lindor here, and you can counter with his value long-term being more than Price. The problem with that assessment is that he’s a prospect, and as can’t-miss as he seems, he’s never played an inning of regular season, Major League baseball. That makes him less value. Bauer is tainted goods, so the two don’t equal a Price return. What do you add after that?

Do you add Frazier?

Do you add Jose Ramirez?

Do you add Dorssys Paulino?

Would the Rays even want any of those players?

My guess is no.

Steve Kinsella, who covers both the Indians at Wahoo’s on First and the Rays at D Rays Bay was throwing names back and forth with me on twitter yesterday, and ne noted accurately that “the Rays don’t have to trade Price,” and are “willing to carry risk into the season.”

Where does he think that the Rays would start with the Indians if trade talks commenced? He thinks it would be in the ballpark of Salazar, Anderson, Ramirez andCarlos Moncrief. That may or may not be a “first-volley” from the Rays, but I doubt talks would move far from there, and I’m not sure who would balk first. Likely both. I really believe that Salazar is as much as an untouchable “prospect” as the Indians have had in years.

Never say never, but I just don’t see a Price trade happening, and I’m really okay with that.

The Indians trade for Chase Headley

This is a deal that my compadres at www.clevelandsportsinsiders.com have bounced back-and-forth over the past year. Much like the Price thoughts, I want to preface this deal with a couple of things. First, Headley just signed a one-year deal with the Padres for $10.25 million, so it wouldn’t be a cost-effective move, unless the Indians sent Michael Bourn or Asdrubal Cabrera over in the deal. Neither of those make much sense. Second, Headley will become a free agent after the 2014 season, so he wouldn’t be a prototypical Indians’ “trade-with-control” type player.

I have always loved the 29-year old third baseman, and first talked of trading for Headley in the offseason between 2010 and 2011, when the Jack Hannahan era began. My goodness, what a steal a deal for Headley would have been back then. Now, his 2012 season really skewed his money numbers going forward.

Here are Headley’s stats over the past four full seasons.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2011-2013 415 1738 1505 197 413 94 5 48 209 38 12 205 391 .274 .366 .439 .805 129
Average 138 579 502 66 138 31 2 16 70 13 4 68 130          
Year G PA Rbat  Rbaser  Rdp  Rfield  Rpos  RAA WAA Rrep  RAR WAR waaWL% 162WL% oWAR dWAR oRAR Salary
2011-2013 415 1738 59 -5 2 3 7 67 7 54 121 12.3 0.517 0.516 11.8 1 118 14,375,000
Average 138 579 20 -2 1 1 2 22 2 18 40 4.1     3.9 0.3 39 4,791,667
Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2011 27 SDP 113 439 381 43 110 28 1 4 44 13 2 52 92 .289 .374 .399 .773 120
2012 28 SDP 161 699 604 95 173 31 2 31 115 17 6 86 157 .286 .376 .498 .875 145
2013 29 SDP 141 600 520 59 130 35 2 13 50 8 4 67 142 .250 .347 .400 .747 116

Just to comp Headley’s stats, here’s Lonnie Chisenhall’s numbers.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2011-2013 203 682 643 73 157 36 1 23 74 4 1 32 132 .244 .284 .411 .694 94
Average 68 227 214 24 52 12 0 8 25 1 0 11 44          
Year G PA Rbat  Rbaser  Rdp  Rfield  Rpos  RAA WAA Rrep  RAR WAR waaWL% 162WL% oWAR dWAR oRAR Salary
2011-2013 203 682 -1 1 -1 0 1 1 0.3 25 26 2.6 0.501 0.501 2.6 0.3 26 492,900
Average 68 227 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 9 0.9     0.9 0.1 9  
Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2011 22 CLE 66 223 212 27 54 13 0 7 22 1 0 8 49 .255 .284 .415 .699 94
2012 23 CLE 43 151 142 16 38 6 1 5 16 2 1 8 27 .268 .311 .430 .741 107
2013 24 CLE 94 308 289 30 65 17 0 11 36 1 0 16 56 .225 .270 .398 .668 88

Obviously it’s an unfair comparison on many levels. Here’s where you have to balance performance and control. In Chisenhall, you have a kid who has been all about potential for three years, but hasn’t reached that level because of injuries and really bad splits. In Headley, you’d get one-year at $10 million, but would get one of the best defensive third baseman and lock yourself into a season with a player who bats from both sides of the plate pretty well.

If you would want him in a trade, I’d have to believe that Josh Byrnes is going to try and get a bunch out of him. I also believe it would likely be players who was major league ready. In the past, GM Byrnes had made overtures for the White Sox Jose Quintana, should the Sox be interested. What would that mean for the Indians? Perhaps it means a guy like Corey Kluber, or perhaps it could mean Trevor Bauer.

I’d consider Bauer, or even a starter like Zach McAllister, but that would be predicated on signing or trading for another starter. There’s no way I’d touch Kluber in any deal for a one-year player, and I truly don’t think I’d deal Bauer at this point either. They’d also likely want to include Chisenhall in the deal to fill Headley’s old spot.

I love Headley and think he’s a definitive upgrade over Lonnie Chisenhall, but with Byrnes willing to keep him heading into 2014, combined with his unwillingness to acknowledge 2013 as a permanent and significant regression, compounded by the trade being a one-year rental, I’m not sure this deal makes as much sense as it did a year ago.

There are other deals out there to be had, but you can see that there aren’t many realistic, obvious game-changing trades to be made that the Indians might be willing to make. There are some interesting days ahead though, especially with Masahiro Tanaka close to picking his team. His signing will single-handedly begin the push for free agent pitcher signings, and could also springboard a couple of trades as well, depending on the team he goes to.

There are five teams in the running for Tanaka right now, and any one of those teams could look at Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana as a consolation prize in the Tanaka sweepstakes.

There will also be another line of teams looking to make a trade, and the Indians may not have the desire or willingness to get in a prospect-bidding war to acquire an impact player. But things certainly don’t feel finished just yet.

One last thing. With the news that the Los Angeles Dodgers may in fact be in the running for Tanaka really showcases the fundamental issues with Major League baseball. The Dodgers signed an $8.5 billion dollar deal with TW Cable, and will keep over $6 billion of that money, while sharing $2 billion over the length of the contract. I’ve seen varied reports to what the ultimate cut is for the Dodgers from year-to-year, the “low” figure I’ve seen is $150 million per season, with the high in the $280 million.

The Indians make $40 million a year with their TV deal.

Ponder this for a moment. The Dodgers have Zack Grienke at six-years and $147 million, Adrian Gonzalez at seven-years and $154 million, Matt Kemp at eight-years and $160 million, Carl Crawford at seven-years and $142 million, Josh Beckett at four-years and $68 million, Hanley Ramirez at six-years and $70 million, Andre Ethier at five-years and $85 million, Chad Billingsley at three-years and $35 million and Clayton Kershaw at seven-years and $215 million. That’s not to mention Dan Haren and Brian Wilson, who also have one-year, $10 million deals. Tanaka would give them six players making over $100 million total, nearly half their roster making $10 million or better per season.

In the NFL, there aren’t any local TV contracts to worry about.

Take that for what it’s worth, but the Indians are going to have a lot of boring offseasons if the TV revenue gap continues to grow in the coming years.

Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as  the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at jpete@indiansprospectinsider.com.

User Comments

Joe Chengery
January 25, 2014 - 1:20 AM EST
Hermie13:

I still wouldn't do Anderson for Samardzjia for the following reasons:

-Both look to have comparable ceilings.
-Samardzjia would be a downgrade to Masterson, Jimenez, even Garza.
-Samardzjia probably isn't here beyond 2015.
-That improved rotation isn't here beyond 2014 if Masterson and Jimenez leave.
-There is little impact pitching beyond Anderson on the radar, as Kime and Brady are still too far away, and lately, most college and/or high profile picks have not developed as expected (Guthrie, House, etc).
-Result would be that you'd marginally improve your chances for 2014 only, while shortening your window beyond 2014-2015, unless at least two emerge and excel form Bauer/Carrasco/Colon/Kime/Brady.
-With Indians' recent track record of developing pitching, I want a stronger upgrade if I'm trading Anderson than Samardzjia, who didn't start living up to the hype until last year, with that being in the NL and weaker lineups. Change to the AL, and I think he's a #3 starter at best.
-Add in that the Cubs will want two more solid pieces for him (maybe three), and I'd look elsewhere- sign Jimenez or Masterson (Jimenez is a likelier bet), trade Cabrera if necessary to do it, since you have other pieces and i'm not convinced on a strong bounce back year for him in 2014.
Hermie13
January 23, 2014 - 12:07 PM EST
If they want a guy like Lindor or Salazar for Samardzija then he's simply not being traded. No team is that dumb....well maybe the Mariners.

I actually wouldn't be opposed to dealing Anderson though. Not sure his ceiling is really any higher than Samardzija's and is really still a year away, probably more. Samardzija gives you a better chance to win in 2014 and 2015 than Anderson. Not saying I want to deal Anderson but to get any solid pitcher you're gonna have to give up something of value.
Joe Chengery
January 23, 2014 - 10:32 AM EST
I'm not convinced Samardzjia would be able to duplicate or improve upon those numbers in the AL- facing DHs regularly will likely be tougher than facing a pitcher 2-3 times or 1-2 times and a relatively weak pinch hitter off the bench.

I think, at best, he MIGHT be a 3 starter in the AL, not a 1-2. I'd put Masterson and Jimenez higher. I might even put Garza higher, or at least on par with Samardzjia, and being that you can spend money rather than prospects for Garza, I'd look into signing Jimenez (1st choice) or Garza (2nd choice) rather than trading for Samardzjia.

I don't think the Indians are in a position to be trading prospects from an improving farm system without it being a substantial, noticeable upgrade. Personally, I don't think Samardzjia qualifies- can you say he's at the level of a Salazar? Likely not. Is he at Anderson's level? Maybe. Is he as good as Kluber or McAllister? Debatable (Right now, I'd say he's just behind Kluber and about even or maybe slightly ahead of McAllister, keeping in mind the differences between the AL and NL and how I think the change in leagues would affect Samardzjia).

In fact, in my opinion, it affected Garza to some degree, as he hadn't pitched in the AL for several years, and didn't really excel for the Rangers after they acquired him, and he had had regular exposure to the AL before (AL East, no less). Samardzjia hasn't faced AL lineups regularly night in and night out, which is why I think his production and performance would decline a bit.

Add in the fact that the Cubs will probably want at least one premium prospect for Samardzjia (i.e. Lindor, Salazar, Anderson) for him (maybe two of them), and I'd say that the Indians' farm system isn't strong enough to take that kind of hit for the marginal upgrade Samardzjia might bring. If he's replacing Masterson, I'd say it's a slight downgrade; signing Jimenez or even Garza would be better - how the Indians fit that into the budget is the question, but not totally out of the question as long as they remain out there.

Then, add in you probably only get Samardzjia for two years- I'd look elsewhere. Good idea to consider, but likely would be too high a cost and not enough return on a guy who is unproven in the AL.
Hermie13
January 23, 2014 - 9:54 AM EST
@Seth

I guess I just don't think the return on Garza was all that special. Olt was a top prospect heading into the 2013 season but his stock dropped. Was still a top 50 according to BA (ranked him 41) but Sickels dropped him out of his top 75. Grimm has talent/potential but never did much at AAA (bad K-rate, high ERA). The others could turn out well (Edwards has some legit potential), but I don't think anyone in that deal is close to being on par with a Lindor. Maybe the Cubs hold out for him, and agree move on if that's the case. I'm sure that's what the Cubs asked the Indians for (if the Tribe ever inquired that is)....why not at least ask, but I would hope that's not exactly what they are expecting. Shields did get Myers...but Shields was also a top 15 pitcher in baseball. Samardzija is talented but not even close to those levels.
Hermie13
January 23, 2014 - 9:41 AM EST
@Walter

I wouldn't mind Travis Wood either. He definitely had a solid year putting up 200 innings. Debatable if he was really better than Samardzija (both had a 2.8 fWAR). Problem with getting him is he has 3 years of control as opposed to 2 like Samardzija. Highly unlikely the Cubs move Wood yet.
yourtribe
January 22, 2014 - 8:16 PM EST
Stop comparing what Kershaw and Tanaka got to Masterson. Kershaw is in another world compared to Masterson. His contract and what Tanaka got do NOT impact Masterson.
Walter
January 22, 2014 - 6:57 PM EST
I believe there #2 starter in Travis Wood had a better year than Samardzjia. I prefer to Wood instead. It would cost a lot less to get Wood and I believe Indians would few years of control over Wood. I think he had breakout year last year.
Seth
January 22, 2014 - 6:57 PM EST
That's the thing, the Cubs would look to maximize their return trading him now, as would anyone, and what would the Indians be able to give them that would be a maximum return? Their return for a couple months of Garza was probably better than Cody Anderson and Jose Ramirez. The Indians don't have a high-ranked, "can't miss" type prospect other than Lindor, which is what you should be getting for 2 years of a good starting pitcher. You can't expect get the ridiculous return the Royals gave up, but you should have a top prospect back. If the Cubs want to give him up for Anderson, Jose Ramirez and some other fodder, would take that deal in about as long as it took for the Nats to accept the Tigers offer, i.e roughly 1 second. On the other hand, I wouldn't under any circumstance trade Lindor, because his value as an Asdrubal replacement is extremely high. If Lindor were a free agent like Tanaka right now, he'd probably get a $100 million contract too.
Hermie13
January 22, 2014 - 5:18 PM EST
@Seth

I may be wrong, but for me the logic behind the Cubs dealing Samardzija this winter is to potentially maximize the return. He has 2 years left, which makes him more enticing to many teams than say a Homer Bailey who only has 1 year left. Also coming off a year where he struck out over a batter an inning and threw well over 200 innings, so even with the higher ERA he'll look very attractive to other teams.

Cubs also don't (at least not IMO) project to compete in 2014 and even 2015 could be tough. Got some great specs coming up but 2016 very well could be the year they have a team capable of competing. Shark will likely be gone by then.

At least this is my thought process behind it....may be way off though. Definitely still think the Cubs could hold on to him and look at dealing him this summer. Still would have 1.5 years left and the team getting him could be desperate and overpay, especially if he gets off to a hot start. Could even wait til next winter as he'd still have a full year left, meaning any team that gets him could get a draft pick still.

Cubs probably held on to Garza too long though and it ended up hurting them in their return in the long run (imagine if they'd have dealt him after the 2011 season), and seeing what the Rays got for Shields with 2 years left...
Chip
January 22, 2014 - 4:07 PM EST
To include Salazar in any deal would be stupid. I wouldn't part with Kluber either. McCallister, Bauer, Tomlin, or any minor league pitcher not named Anderson can be in play. With the quality infield depth they have Lindor is expendable too. If none of those players can get you what you want then take what you've got and go with it.
Seth
January 22, 2014 - 3:56 PM EST
I would question how available Samardzija is. He was connected to trade rumors, but really only because he's a good pitcher on a bad team. There's no immediate reason for the Cubs to move him, it's not like he's expensive. I'm sure he's available in the sense that anyone is available if you blow them away with a deal, but I don't see the Indians having any ammo to blow someone away. Their only impact upper-level prospect is Lindor, and you wouldn't want to trade Lindor for Samardzija. I would trade any prospect other than Lindor for him (or Salazar obviously, who's graduated from prospect status), but I don't see the Cubs falling over themselves for Cody Anderson, or a guy years away like Frazier.

You never know though, the Nats were able to get a pitcher who's been a lot better than Samardzija for the equivalent of Cody Anderson and Nick Hagadone, but that's probably only because Dombrowski placed a hex on Fister and blessed the arm of Robbie Ray prior to making that move.
Hermie13
January 22, 2014 - 2:38 PM EST
Interesting...the Padres just traded Forythe (and a few others) for two pitchers, mainly Torres. They just made an already thin infield even thinner...

Even taking Headley off the table, think the Padres are a potential trade fit as they could definitely use some help on the infield. Only 1 top 10 prospect according to BA is on the infield. And not only are they thin in the minors....the only backup infielder on their projected big league roster is Alexi Armista...who actually played more OF last year than infield and barely had an OPS over .600...
Halifax
January 22, 2014 - 1:31 PM EST
I'm wondering if Jeff's more talent or hype. His K numbers look good, and I know you can't go by wins because the Cubs have been horrible. I'm a tad concerned that the more the league sees him his ERA continues to rise. That being said, he could be the Doug Fister of the off-season if the Tribe could land him.
Rick
January 22, 2014 - 1:19 PM EST
Sorry, just got a bit carried away. Samardzija is ALMOST perfect, since I got it wrong and he throws right. My bad.

Still, with a name like Jeff he would transition quite well from Chicago Brautland to Perogi-ville seamlessly.
BrianM
January 22, 2014 - 1:08 PM EST
"Dave Dombrowski, the President and GM of the Tigers is a witch"

Classic
Rick
January 22, 2014 - 1:06 PM EST
Really good post Jim. Samardzija is perfect and above all else realistic.

Price is just a bad idea. The Indians do really well dealing with a rebuilding club like the Cubs. NOBODY, AND I MEAN NOBODY, takes the Rays. No matter what they dangle, they always fleece a trading partner.

Ditto Headley, but for entirely other reasons. I live in the NL West in Phoenix, and believe it or not a lot of people see the Padres as the long shot sleeper - and more importantly Buddy Black and GM Brynes do as well - so any price would be through the roof.

But there are so many ways that the Cubs and Indians could make this trade work. I would NOT - having read the other post here IBI on Anderson - include him. But if talks ever got going we shouldn't need to.

They got holes everywhere and Epstein is putting the faithful's feet to sleep. For one don't think Castro is the 'star' SS everyone pegged him for. Besides ACab, we are arguably the deepest organization beyond just Lindor as you have noted.

Secondly, we didn't take up the Cubs offer on Garza last year in part because of Chiz. For Jeffry the Lefty I would also agree on him now (Love the Chiz but am sick of waiting) & Bauer as well.

Just one caveat; my deal breaker in this multi player swap?

I want Hector Rondon back. No Hecky no necky. Epstein broke a fine line in taking a wounded duck of ours and I want him back, period. It wasn't exactly cheating, but it was very, shall we say, what white trash call falling in the meat isle when going shopping.

I'm not just kidding. Rondon should be an act of contrition in order to deal. Teams deal in good faith and they violated that.

With this kind of a deal, even if the Chiz finds it and turns into another Greg Nettles, at least he does it in the NL.

And I believe that Jeff is a solid starter with a good career in front. This is a Dave Burba like possibility; no homer for the hall of fame, just a Left Hander who can give 14-17 wins a year in the middle of the RO.

That is what a fan in Cleveland REALISTICLY should hope for.

The FO gives us that this year and we have a chance to improve on a 92 win season and challenge the Tigers.

Which makes it worth giving up even Bauer for - as much as I want to believe he has Kenny Rogers like potential.

Carrasco would be better in my view - unless he's slated for the Pen. Just would love to hear this deal struck.



By the way, your Royals and Twins part of the post are likewise dead on. All though I'll give Terry Ryan a bit more understanding - they were after all LAST in every critical category when it came to Pitching last year. The fact that he had to throw that much down a rat hole to effect some semblance of an upgrade just shows how crazy the price of pitching is.

Which again shows why the only hope the Tribe has is what they are banking on - developing within - and smart trades.

They only time we as fans should expect another windfall on money spent on the Free Agents is when we have moved attendance into the top ten.

Right now the Cleveland Tribe Fan is getting essentially what they pay for - TV rights money only. Show up in numbers at the games live and we'll get Free Agents. It's simple economics - and there is no conspiracy.

Again, great post Jim
Discollama
January 22, 2014 - 12:26 PM EST
I would love to see a deal for Samarzdja that would see the Tribe trading Bauer and Jose Ramirez. I'm not sure how much of a future Bauer has, but he could be intriguing enough on top of all the control that he comes with for the Cubs to be interested as part of their rebuilding, and Jose Ramirez just doesn't seem like he'll fit in as an every day player on the team. I think with a third 'throw in' type, that it would be a fair trade for the Cubs. They would be getting lots of control, a guy who can spell Castro, could easily be an every 2B for them and even play some 3B (all needs for the Cubs), if you don't feel that Chisenhall has what it takes to be an quality ML 3B, you could toss him in and have a combination of Aviles/Santana/Cabrera play 3B and give Lindor some time at SS.

Trading for Headley, though I like the idea of him playing for the Tribe, just doesn't make sense. Trading for Price is too expensive (both monetarily and in talent). So trying to get a second tier player who can upgrade our rotation is our best bet.
Hermie13
January 22, 2014 - 12:23 PM EST
Agree that Headley just doesn't seem likely....but I disagree some that Cabrera to the Padres doesn't make much sense for the Padres. 1 for 1 he makes no sense, but he actually would be a good fit on the 2014 Padres (in place of Headley).
Hermie13
January 22, 2014 - 11:36 AM EST
I don't know if the Tanaka signing will have that much of an effect on Samardzija. Rumors had Shark on the trade block long before it was even determined Tanaka would be posted.

I definitely agree he's a guy we should target. Solid #2 in this rotation. Would leave us without a true "Ace" but you could make a case that we'd have potentially four #2's in the rotation with a Shark addition.

I also would love to see the Tribe pursue Jon Niese. Haven't seen any real rumors that he's avaialbe, so pure speculation on my part...but think the Mets could move him with the right offer. 2014 is a bust for them without Harvey, but are set up to make some noise in 2015 and beyond. Their 2014 rotation looks like this right now: Colon, Niese, Gee, Wheeler, and Lannan or Mejia.

In 2015 though....Harvey, Colon, Niese, Wheeler, Gee with Syngaard, Meija, and Montero there too. Niese could actually end up the #4 starter in that rotation potentially.

Two biggest holes the Mets have are up the middle on the infield, SS and 2B...the one area the Tribe is loaded at in the minors. They also lack a leadoff hitter...
Joseph Devito
January 22, 2014 - 11:11 AM EST
This is the utterly depressing fact of the Indians. The Yankees get Tanaka, a pitcher who is a potential ace and star. We are talking about a Samardzija(whatever that is) A guy who stunk for the Cubs who by the way also stink. And the sad truth is we couldn't get him even if he was desirable.Being an Indian fan is even a worse fate than being a Cub fan.
Jim
January 22, 2014 - 10:52 AM EST
I want to preface this piece by saying that trading for Samardzija just got a whole lot more difficult with the Yankees signing Tanaka. My guess is that the Cubs will either sign him long term in the next week, or try and line up a ridiculous deal for him that nets them a couple major league legits...

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