Cardinals Rumors: Could Jeff Samardzija be a trade target?


Although the St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff has been amongst the best in the game, could a midseason trade be in the works to add more depth to the mix?

After earning a place in history by notching their 50th win in the last week, the St. Louis Cardinals are flying high, to say the least.

That being said, if we’ve learned one thing from this team’s front office, headed by GM John Mozeliak, is that sitting pat without contemplating alternatives is not going to happen.

Recently, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe linked St. Louis to former Chicago Cubs and current Chicago White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija, as well as Boston Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz.

"His affordability as a rental and the fact that he’s not a No. 1-caliber starter in the eyes of most scouts but a good second or third guy in a rotation make him worth looking at. But the White Sox likely wouldn’t receive a great return. That’s why the same teams looking at Clay Buchholz are looking at Samardzija — the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers."

When you want to break down exactly why the St. Louis Cardinals would even have interest in a player like Samardzija, you really don’t have to go much further than the points noted by Cafardo above.

First, and foremost, the righty isn’t someone who is going to be a significant long-term investment.

Samardzija, who was traded from Chicago to Oakland last summer around this time, is set to hit free agency for the first time after the season and appears poised to test the waters.

This winter, after he was traded from the Athletics back to Chicago – this time on the South Side – there were rampant rumors that he was likely to sign a long-term deal with the White Sox, his favorite team growing up.

But with Robin Ventura’s club playing poorly through the season’s first few months, it stands to reason that Samardzija may want to go to a contender.

And, to be frank, it’s hard to be more a contender than the Cardinals.

With the only double-digit division lead in baseball, St. Louis already has a rotation that includes breakout right-handers Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez and left-hander Jaime Garcia, who, at long-last, appears to be healthy.

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The trio has combined to go 22-9 with a sterling 2.42 earned run average, by-far the best 1-2-3 punch in the National League, rivaled only, perhaps, by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

So what would it take to land Samardzija?

The former Notre Dame football standout has an ace repertoire. That much is abundantly clear.

However, he’s failed to live up to expectations in his first season with the White Sox, pitching to a  4.50-plus ERA in 16 starts. Simply put, he’s just not missing bats, leading the league with 123 opponent base hits so far this year.

Samardzija racked up 13 losses in 2014, despite pitching to a 2.99 clip, splitting the campaign between the Cubs and Athletics.

If the White Sox are indeed sellers, St. Louis will almost certainly check in on available pitching.

Entering this season, he’d pitched to a 3.70 ERA and 3.50 FIP as a full-time starter, but, like we noted above, any trade is getting you three months of the right-hander – nothing more.

Don’t expect a haul like the Cubs got last summer when they dealt Samardzija and fellow righty Jason Hammel to Oakland, in return receiving top prospect Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney and righty Dan Straily.

It all comes down to whether or not the White Sox front office decides to dismantle a team that was supposed to compete with Kansas City and Detroit for an AL Central crown.

If they do, don’t be surprised to see Mozeliak and the St. Louis Cardinals pounce with their sites on October.

Next: Could St. Louis get Wainwright back this season?