Yankees Rumors: Will they pursue a trade for Giants RHP Jeff Samardzija?

Jeff Samardzija #29 of the San Francisco Giants pitches (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Jeff Samardzija #29 of the San Francisco Giants pitches (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

After Luis Severino underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on Thursday trade rumors began to swirl linking the Yankees to Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman says the team plans on replacing Severino in the rotation internally but that likely won’t stop him from assessing the trade market over the course of the next month. Trade rumors have already started to spread and that will likely continue throughout camp.  However, it’s hard to imagine the Yanks pursuing someone like Samardzija.

The 35-year-old is coming off a good season in 2019 when he went 11-12 with a 3.52 ERA in 181.1 IP. After posting a combined ERA of 4.74 in 252.1 innings in 2017 and 2018 Samardzija really bounced back nicely. He had a WHIP of 1.10 which was his lowest since his All-Star campaign in 2014. Batters only hit .226 against him which was his lowest OPP BA since 2011 when he was pitching out of the bullpen for the Cubs.

2019 was arguably the best season Samardzija has had since joining San Francisco back in 2016 when he signed a five year, $90M contract. He was a below-average major league starter for the previous two seasons making ace caliber money but now it looks like he is back to being a quality third or fourth starter.

This season will be the final year of his deal and he’s set to make a hefty salary of $19.8M. He’s still overpaid based on his production but for a team that has cap room and is in need of a veteran starter, he’d be a solid addition to any rotation. With the Giants in the midst of a rebuild it likely wouldn’t cost much in terms of prospects to acquire Samardzija although I’m sure they’d want the team that trades for him to take on the majority of the money still owed to him.

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That’s why for a team like the Yankees who will enter this season well above the luxury tax threshold, it doesn’t make a lot of sense from a financial standpoint to trade for Samardzija. Because of his price tag, they’re better off letting some of their younger pitchers with high upsides like Deivi Garcia, Mike King and Clarke Schmidt compete for the final spot in the rotation.

Even though Samardzija would probably be an upgrade from a performance standpoint, that’s no sure thing and all of those guys are still extremely cheap. None of them are even arbitration-eligible yet, but they all have the ability to make a pretty big impact. Maybe down the road as the trade deadline approaches the Yanks will pursue Samardzija but now is just not the right time.

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Even Samardzija himself expressed his doubts about the possibility of a potential trade to New York when he was asked on Wednesday about the rumors. In response, he joked to reporters about the Yankees facial hair policy.