St. Louis Cardinals: Five Free Agent Pitchers the Team Can Reboot

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Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Samardzija

What a precipitous fall for the Shark. In 2014, Samardzija was the prized trade chip of the Chicago Cubs. The ace of the staff before Jake Arietta caught fire. The Cubs cashed him in for a bevy of prospects, including starting shortstop Addison Russell, and Samardzija pitched capably for Oakland in what was ultimately a losing effort.

The 6-6, 215-lb. righthander was about as close to a sure thing for the Chicago White Sox when GM Rick Hahn signed him at last year’s winter meetings. Samardzija was coming off his second straight 200-strikeout season and had lowered his ERA by more than a run. A bonus? He grew up rooting for the Sox.

Then he went out and gave up more hits, earned runs and homers than any other pitcher in baseball. Woof. Even so, the Yankees are in pursuit, making St. Louis an unlikely landing spot. Which may be the best thing for both parties.