Over a month ago I wrote about a report from Bruce Levine telling us how the Arizona Diamondbacks were interested in Jeff Samardzija after losing Patrick Corbin for the season. It was a move that made sense then, as Arizona basically put all its chips in the middle of the table this winter in the hopes of making a run in the NL West.
Then the season started and things haven’t gone according to plan for Arizona since. The Diamondbacks are currently the owners of the worst record in baseball at 8-20. But don’t go thinking a terrible start would cause them to change course, now. According to another report, Arizona is still just as interested in Samardzija, and may be even more desperate to get him now.
While things haven’t gone well for Arizona, they’ve gone swimmingly for the Shark. In his five starts this season Samardzija has an ERA of 1.53 while striking out 27 and walking only nine in 35.1 innings. In other words, he’s been great. It’s just that according to Tom Loxas at Cubs Insider, Samardzija’s great start has done nothing on the contract front. Loxas reports he was told there’s “like a 2% chance” the Cubs and Samardzija could agree to a deal, and that the two sides aren’t even talking.
So if that’s the case, then a trade is the likely outcome here, and Loxas also reports that the Diamondbacks are still considering him.
The one team that could make a move sooner than later would be Arizona. GM Kevin Towers is on the hot seat from what I hear. He may need to pull a Shark out of hat to save his job.
I’m not entirely sold that Samardzija is job saver material, yet Arizona may have enough offensively to compete, or that’s what at least one talent evaluator tells me to get back in the race.
It’s the pitching that has led to Arizona’s awful start, they believe. So why not just bring up stud pitching prospect Archie Bradley? Some think Towers is afraid to put that much pressure on the kid, for fear that he may falter.
The question here is, if the Diamondbacks really are looking to do this, what would they give the Cubs in return? Would Archie Bradley be in play, or how about Braden Shipley?
It’s easy to dismiss those two as possibilities, but let’s look at what Arizona has done to put itself in this position. Kevin Towers has already been incredibly friendly to Chicago baseball this season.
Over the winter the Diamondbacks decided they absolutely had to have Mark Trumbo, so they worked out a three-team deal that landed Trumbo, but also sent Adam Eaton to the White Sox in the process (while also sending a top pitching prospect to the Angels). That trade has worked out very well for the White Sox, as Eaton has ignited the offense from the top of the lineup, and has already been worth 0.6 bWAR while getting on base 36% of the time. Meanwhile Arizona would tell you Trumbo’s been great — he does have seven homers and 19 RBI — but he’s actually been worth -0.2 bWAR because, you know, WAR actually includes defense and baserunning. And there is no designated hitter spot to hide Trumbo at in the National League. Instead, this happens.
Then there was the other trade that saw the Diamondbacks get Addison Reed for Matt Davidson. Addison Reed has actually been pretty good for Arizona, it’s just that a team that wins only 29% of its games doesn’t really have much need of a closer, does it? You need to get the lead to him first, and even though Reed’s striking a lot of guys out, and limiting walks, he’s currently at -0.2 bWAR. Davidson, meanwhile, is off to a very slow start in Charlotte this year, but he’s come on lately, homering twice this weekend. Still, he’s a potential every day starter at third for the White Sox for years to come, which is always worth more than a closer.
The point is, Arizona and Kevin Towers made a couple short-sighted decisions to try and make themselves a contender in a very tough decision this year, and they have blown up in their face so far. Now, in order to fix it, Arizona might just be willing to make more short-sighted decisions, as Kevin Towers worries about his job.
So maybe Towers would be willing to part with more of his team’s future in order to land a player like Samardzija who could possibly help turn things around. After all, we’ve seen what having a great pitcher like Samardzija has done for the Cubs this season.
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