The second and final game of the series between the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs will present the Bronx Bombers with a taste of Jeff Samardzija, who figures to be a certain trade target this summer before the 2014 MLB trade deadline passes.
Samardzija and the Yankees met in 2011 when he came out of the bullpen and allowed one run on two hits in 1.1 innings pitched.
Samardzija is in a very different position now as a successful starting pitcher and is in the midst of a fantastic season with the lowest ERA in all of baseball at 1.62, but his 0-4 record shows exactly why he would want out of Chicago immediately.
The Cubs are a dreadful team and their 16-27 record shows it. Despite the fact that they hired Theo Epstein to right the ship, the Cubs are still in the process of rebuilding and won't be competitive for a few more years at best.
— Phil Rogers (@philgrogers) May 21, 2014
At 29 years old, Samardzija wants to play for a contender and use the elite level of pitching he's displayed this season to help a team make a run in October. The Yankees would be a perfect match for him, although it will take a serious amount of young talent in the form of prospects to acquire the Cubs' best pitcher.
Whether or not the Yankees have enough remains to be seen.
There will be plenty of competition for Samardzija because of the combination of talent and youth. He is arbitration eligible in 2015, which creates a temporary security blanket for his potential new club since they don't have to worry about him flying the coop that quickly after giving up good prospects.
Samardzija has made it clear he wants to be paid well, though, as was reported by Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
“Without a doubt,” Samardzija said. “I’ve said it before: Personally, numbers and money don’t really drive me. What does drive me is protecting and setting up the players behind me, the future generations, so that I’m not signing any of these crummy early deals for seven or eight years.”
“When you’re hitting your prime and you’re hitting free agency — like it’s supposed to be done — then that’s the way it sets up for guys behind you,” Samardzija said. “I definitely have a responsibility to the players that are younger than me and approaching arbitration or approaching free agency to keep the numbers where they should be.
“And rising as they should be, in accordance to the economy and the state of the game. That’s more important than anything else — what you owe the players that did it for you and then the players behind you.”
Whoever wins the Samardzija sweepstakes better plan on paying the man handsomely for a long time in order to keep him if he sustains these numbers. That may deter some squads from going after Samardzija, or at least the deep-pocketed Yankees would hope so.
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