Jeff Samardzija for Stroman or Sanchez? Come on.

With the Blue Jays looking to add starting pitching this offseason, the hot stove has been churning out a number of names.  Bronson Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco, Matt Garza have been linked to the Blue Jays in recent weeks, but the name getting the most attention currently is the Chicago Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija.

According to MLB’s Bruce Levine, the Blue Jays are putting a package together of young prospects in order to obtain the right-handed Samardzija.  Not long after, the twitterverse began to explode with speculation:

Stroman is an undersized right handed pitcher, picked 22nd overall with the Blue Jays’ first pick of the 2012 draft.  Don’t let his size fool you, however.  Stroman has big league stuff right now.  This season, playing in AA New Hampshire, Stroman put together a very strong season: 111.2 IP, 129 K, 27 BB, 99 H for a 3.30 ERA.  He finished up 2013 in the Arizona Fall League, holding opposing hitters to a .186 average while striking out 10.03/9IP.

Kyle Boddy of the Hardball Times had this to say about Stroman:

I assume that Stroman will spend a few months in Triple-A in 2014 with the idea of delaying his service time in addition to getting him some extra work as a starter.  Not that he really needs it.

My bet is on him proving that the detractors who talked him down in 2012 were wrong. His stuff and his command were comparable to anyone in the draft—even Kevin Gausman and Michael Wacha (who had seriously diminished stuff and looked nothing like he does now, I might add).

Stroman dropped because of myths he’s about to shatter. The issue, of course, is that Lincecum already did this and we haven’t yet learned our lesson. Fortunately, lessons that go unlearned allow for market inefficiencies to be exploited by teams who are willing to see the truth.

Sounds pretty good, no?  Even the cranky Keith Law thinks Stroman is ready for the bigs:


So let’s compare Stroman to Jeff Samardzija.  The hard-throwing Cubs righty put up decent numbers in 2013 – a 9.0k/9IP with a 3.3BB/9IP.  With that said, Samardzija plays in the National League, therefore facing the pitcher in the #9 spot usually, at least, two times through the order.  Though his fastball routinely sits at 95mph and touches 97, it’s straight and flat – how will that play in the AL East in the homer dome?

His ERA+ (park adjusted, 100 is the league average) in 2013 was 91.   That makes him a below average pitcher. In the NL, no less.  Sure, I’d like to have his 200+ IP, but is it worth giving up Stroman for?  I don’t think so.

In addition, Samardzija is eligible for free agency in two years. Stroman’s service clock hasn’t begun to tick yet.

I’m not saying I’m not willing to give up Stroman, but Stroman alone would garner a bigger get than just Samardzija.  If the Cubs were to add Dioner Navarro (correction: Navarro is a free agent) and the Jays added a few complementary pieces, only then could I see this trade as having legs.


Jays fans are not above panicking and who can blame them.  Giving up Sanchez for Samardzija is a bit much, however.  Aaron Sanchez is the Toronto Blue Jays’ #1 prospect with ace potential.  Ranked #4 on MLB’s AFL Top 20 prospects ranking (and #1 starter), Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo had this to say about the 6’4″ right-hander:

The best starter in the AFL, Sanchez dominated hitters. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff and is ready for a move to the upper levels of Toronto’s system.


So no, I don’t see the Blue Jays giving up Sanchez for below-average Samardzija. Carry on.

Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Arizona Fall League) – October 17, 2013 from Jason Cole on Vimeo.

Featured image courtesy of Stephen Green.  Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise indicated.

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  • Stephen

    Just a nitpick. Correct me if I’m wrong, but era+ accounts for the league factors as well, so that pitchers with 100+ in both league are equivalent (by the statistic), and the NL pitcher likely has better peripherals, since he gets to face easier lineup.

    Also, Navarro is a free agent. Otherwise: hear, hear.

    • Adjusted ERA+, often simply abbreviated to ERA+ or ERA plus, is a pitching statistic in which a pitcher’s earned run average (ERA) is adjusted according to the pitcher’s ballpark (in case the ballpark favors batters or pitchers) and the ERA of the pitcher’s league. In this case, Samardzija is stacked up against his NL comrades.

      Good catch on Navarro being a free agent. Kudos!

  • sourbob

    Samardzija has looked far by better by xFIP than ERA. It’s fine if you don’t want to put too much stock in that. But considering that many teams may believe it’s a better indicator of talent than ERA, and considering that explains why he’s being valued the way he is, it certainly bears mention.

    • You’re right. While I don’t put too much stock in that, it certainly does bear mention.

    • Jeremy Russell

      xFIP is known to favour extreme ground ball pitchers, which Samardzija is. Better to look at his actual results, 4.34 ERA.

  • Micheal Malcolm

    Callum, great post – As one of those persons who believes in young talent I don’t believe that the Jays should be trading any more young pitchers than they already have. (wasn’t a fan of the Marlins trade from the beginning) at this point we should be acquiring players that provide strong defense at the critical positions such as 2B and C (perhaps non-tender catching candidate Ryan Hannigan) I truly believe Sanchez and Stroman will be good players – Sanchez especially. It would take a great trade (young player for young player type of trade) before I would want to trade either pitcher.

  • While you must obviously take these things on a case by case basis, there are plenty of highly touted prospects that don’t pan out. There’s something to be said for 1 in hand vs. 2 in the bush (league…see what i did there?).

    • Yes, it’s true that there are plenty of highly touted prospects that don’t pan out. Yet there are many highly touted players acquired in trades (Josh Johnson) or via free agency (Melky Cabrera) that don’t pan out. All things being equal, the value that both Stroman and Sanchez have is greater than Samardzija. All I’m saying is, the Jays should be able to do better from a sheer value standpoint than Samardzija alone if they were to offer up one of either Stroman or Sanchez.

      • Jensan

        Trade for Trevor Cahill similar pitcher longer potential contract, (2 Plus 2 options) Solid #3 Pitcher and has pitched in AL, KC sniffing around for W. Smith LHP plus Bubba Starling, Jays offer Cecil + Goes or DJ Davis or Sierra.
        Expand the offer to Cecil+ JPA+ Goes+ Sanchez= Cahil+ Tyler Skagga+ Montero. You are taking on 18 million dollars this year and giving up 4 million dollars for a net of 14 million dollars. However, you receive a #3 Pitcher and a quality Catcher.

  • Jensan

    Would you trade Sanchez+Davis+ Drabek for Chris Sale of the CWS

  • Jensan

    After all these trades would you not trade Sanchez and Stroman plus Cecil plus Pillar for Sale. Though not as talented as Price, he has a 6 year contract including options commencing next year at the age of 25. Dickey, Sale, Buehlre, Morrow and Hutchison. Is it not worth the loss of two high end prospects plus an All Star reliever for a controlled Starter at reasonable monies till 2019 through his premium years of pitching. Replace your pitching loss through 2 picks in the draft one being a University Grad who is taller than Stroman.