Blue Jays Trade Targets: Is Jeff Samardzija the One?


The Toronto Blue Jays are right in the thick of things in the American League East. And, they’re in a position they’ve not been in for quite some time. This team could be in a position to be “buyers” this month. While they haven’t exactly been “sellers” over the last few years, there has been a frustrating holding pattern. Things may be different this time ’round.

As such, the rumors are flying. Just this morning, we heard that the Blue Jays have a list of players they may be seeking and Jeff Samardzija is on it. This might be just a case of good old fashioned rumor mongering, but it might actually make sense. Here’s why: 

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

The market for one of the top pitchers on the market might simply be too pricy for the the Blue Jays. With rumors out there as to whether Cole Hamels is open to coming to Toronto, or not. Blue Jays fans may be looking elsewhere for excitement. The likelihood of Hamels coming here seems to be dwindling. That, and the financial commitment it would require over the next few years make it more of a pipe dream. That is not even mentioning the prospect package required to land such a starter. The type of package is likely enough to make the Blue Jays back off. 

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And, landing Johnny Cueto might bring similar concerns, at least as far as handing over prospects. Given that Cueto will surely test the free agent market this coming fall (which brings up a whole host of problems for the Blue Jays), the club may not be interested in paying premium prices for the rental.

With that in mind, perhaps picking up Jeff Samardzija is more palatable. He could be seen as a lesser commodity given his year thus far. His 5-4 record and 4.56 ERA are not overly appealing. But, don’t let that fool you. The Shark has been worth 1.7 WAR in 2015. No Blue Jays starter can say that. But, there’s more.

Hitters are hitting .281 off him, but are relying on a .329 BABIP. Then, there are some numbers that have more to do with him as a pitcher. He’s striking out 19% and only walking 4.3%. And, let’s not forget that he’s giving up just under 1 HR per 9 innings. That’s 12 HR in 16 starts. That’s something that we should take into account when looking to bring him in to Rogers Centre. Here are a couple of things that might mitigate this concern. His HR/FB% is just 9.5%. Opponents are making 26.1% hard contact off him. Batters are hitting 39.6% ground balls off him this season. That is down from 50.2% last season. But, if he can increase the amount of ground balls, he might fare better than he is right now in Chicago.

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Samardzija has been the recipient of rather poor defense. They’ve committed 50 errors, which puts them 12th in the American League. According to, the White Sox defense has been worth -42 runs above average. Compare all of this to the Blue Jays. They’ve committed 44 errors, which is not great, but it is good for 9th in the AL. And, they’ve been worth 23 runs above average. A move to a defense that saves more runs per game is only going to help Samardzija. Which means, maybe making a move for him isn’t such a flyer.

At 30 years old, Samardzija will be a free agent this fall and will likely look for a big pay day. But, unlike Cueto, his price tag may be more comfortable. It would be even better if the Blue Jays could work something out when they have a window of time to negotiate. Because of his impending free agency and his rental status, it mightn’t cost that much in prospects to reel in this Shark. This would certainly be more appealing for Toronto. For a rental who’s having a down year in a field of possible appealing July 31st Trade Deadline targets, the Blue Jays just might be going after a steal in Jeff Samardzija.

Next: Does Matt Boyd Have the Same Value as Sean Nolin Did?