Rumors of a Jeff Samardzija deal have been simmering since the first moments of the Friday night Brett Lawrie was traded to the Athletics for Josh Donaldson. Saturday morning, four teams had called the A's asking about Samardzija according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, citing a major-league source. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted on Friday evening before the Josh Donaldson deal was completed that as many as 10 teams were interested. So far, I have read Samardzija as connected to the Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox, and Atlanta Braves.
Chicago White Sox
The largest chatter has involved the Chicago White Sox, a team with several middle-infield options that could fit the bill against a single season of Jeff Samardzija. Saturday evening, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes that "the White Sox's interest in Oakland starter Jeff Samardzija is real, but whether they would deal to or three of their top prospects to the A's remains to be seen."
Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times writes one of his sources speculates talks "were at a 'serious' stage on Saturday." Shortstop Alexei Ramirez has two years of control left at $10 million per year, including a 2016 team option.
The field of trade targets could also include minor league shortstop Tim Anderson, who played in Double-A last year, or utility infielder Marcus Semien, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Boston Red Sox
"Numerous teams are trying to obtain the righthander, including the Red Sox," says Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe in his Sunday Notes column, citing a team source. Three weeks ago, Cafardo mused about shortstop prospect Deven Marrero as being part of a potential deal involving Samardzija. Marrero is Boston's ninth-ranked prospect according to Baseball America's 2015 prospect rankings:
Marrero stands a good chance of being an everyday big league shortstop for a number of years. Marrero will likely get most of 2015 to establish himself in Pawtucket before starting a very interesting conversation about the Sox' shortstop position for 2016.
The Red Sox also have 22-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts at their major league club, but a deal for him would probably involve a lot more than just Jeff Samardzija.
Atlanta Braves appear to be out
After Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle got the ball rolling on the Donaldson news with a source that said that deal involved Samardzija, John Hickey of the Oakland Tribune followed up that evening with a tweet that the Atlanta Braves were shopping Justin Upon and Evan Gattis to the A's.
It appears for the moment, however, that Jeff Samardzija won't be on his way to Atlanta, with Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Constitution and John Hickey tweeting that there does not appear to be a Samardzija deal on the table.
Mystery team(s) and timing
The trouble with dealing Samardzija right now is the robust market for free agent pitching. With Max Scherzer and Jon Lester still shopping their services around, teams that might be interested in Samardzija could be waiting to see where they end up in those competitions before moving to the trade market, says Ken Rosenthal.
You might particularly blame the bottleneck on Jon Lester, writes Buster Olney of ESPN. Scherzer's contract talks headed by Scott Boras are expected to "carry over for weeks," but Lester is considering offers right now from several teams. Once Lester establishes the price ceiling, the rest of the market, including Samardzija, should follow.