Before we go into Samardzija’s time on the South Side, let’s quickly rehash how he spent the last 2 seasons. In June of 2014, and only after about 70 career Major League starts, the Cubs reportedly offered Samardzija a contract extension in the range of 70-80 million dollars. Though those numbers were not confirmed, Samardzija rejected the offer, as he reportedly was seeking a 9 figure contract in a similar range to the 105 million dollar deal Homer Bailey previously signed with the Reds.
Samardzija, in the midst of the most dominant stretch of his career, was eventually dealt to the Oakland A’s for Addison Russell, a consensus top 5 prospect in baseball. The A’s, who were in complete “win now” mode, also traded for Jon Lester, but eventually lost the KC Royals in the AL Wildcard play-in game. Later that offseason, Billy Beane agreed to trade Shark, who was in his last year as an arbitration-eligible player, to the Sox for Marcus Siemien, Josh Phegley, and others.
Cut to the 2015 season. The Sox, winners of the 2014 offseason pennant, were excited to team Shark up with Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and eventually rookie Carlos Rodon in what on paper would form the most formidable starting rotation in the AL Central. Though Shark had publicly stated he wanted to reach free agency in hopes of signing that magical 9 figure contract, the Sox had exclusive negotiating rights with him and would definitely look to extend him after the 2015 season.
There were three possible ways this acquisition could work out. I’ll name them in order of best case to worst case.
1. Shark and Sale form a great 1-2 punch, the Sox extend him for 5+ years, and everyone is happy, and they start a dynasty Chicago baseball has never seen before.
2. The Sox suck, but Shark dominates the first half of the season, leading the Sox to trade him to a contender who overpays with a wealth of prospects for his services that were worth WAY more than the very average SS and backup catcher they traded for him in the first place, rebuilding their shitty farm system.
3. The Sox are kinda contending, but not really at all, they don’t know if they want to buy or sell, Shark sucks, his trade value plummets, and the Sox hold on to him through the trade deadline because no contender in baseball wants to give up anything for a sinker baller who’s sinker doesn’t sink for 8-10 starts just to lose him in free agency anyways.
I’ll let you guess which scenario played out.
Seriously, Shark’s one year on the South Side couldn’t have gone worse. He had a league high 4.96 ERA, gave up the most hits in baseball, the most home runs in baseball, and so on and so forth. Yeah, I could go into advanced analytics and blame the defense, park factors and yada yada yada as to why he had a bad year, but I’m not gonna. He flat out stunk, and there’s no two ways to put it.
Now, with the Sox already holding onto the 10th pick in the June 2016 draft, they’ll *hopefully* be drafting right around 30th as well due to the loss of Shark, so not all is bad. With a solid crop of young pitchers in the farm, starting with Fulmer and extending through Spencer Adams, Frankie Montas and Tyler Danish, they now how the opportunity to draft two polished, hopefully fast rising positional depth. Please God, don’t fuck these two picks up. Basically what I’m saying is a year of Jeff Samardzija turned into what will probably be a hyper-athletic junior college outfielder who’s only played baseball for 2-3 years and a power hitting HS kid who will strike out 200 times a year in MiLB. Fan-fucking-tastic.
Whoever pays whatever X amount of money for Shark’s services, have fun. I promise you, the return on the investment will not be good. He’s a glorified innings eater who’s going to clog up payroll for 5 or more years. I’ll take my chances with rotation of Sale, Quintana, Rodon, Johnson and eventually Fulmer all day, every day instead one with Shark.
That said, he’ll probably go to the Cubs and be a key cog on a World Series team. If that does turn out to be the case I’ll throw a rock through the glass window thing on the skydeck of the Sears Tower and promptly follow it.