New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has done an excellent job of addressing lineup issues this offseason, but the starting rotation has still yet to be tinkered with. With the winter meetings coming up, Cashman has the opportunity to acquire a quality arm.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reinforced that report with this tweet:
Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein wants to work out a long-term deal with Samardzija, but trading him may be the best move for the organization at this point. Chicago could presumably bring back a talented pitching prospect as well as a talented position-player prospect in return.
Cashman would be wise to give Epstein and Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer a call, as the Yankees have a real need in the rotation.
CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are the only locks for 2014. Hiroki Kuroda may or may not return, there's no guarantee that Masahiro Tanaka will be a Yankee and the rest of the free-agent market isn't exactly the most attractive.
In-house candidates like David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren and Michael Pineda will make a run at a rotation spot, but a guy like Samardzija would presumably be an upgrade over each of the four.
Samardzija owns a career ERA of 4.19 in 189 games. He has only been a starter for the past two seasons and his 17-26 record over that time is more of a reflection on the team he has pitched for than his own performance.
His numbers as a starter are solid. His WHIP of 1.321, SO/9 of 8.9 and SO/BB of 2.74 are all good enough to be the No. 3 starter in New York.
He was the ace in Chicago out of necessity, but could develop into a real ace with the Yankees.
Samardzija is a power pitcher, and that's always something valuable to have in a rotation. According to FanGraphs, he has struck out 24.1 percent of the batters he's faced since becoming a full-time starter in 2012, ranking 11th in all of baseball.
Should the Yankees target Samardzija?
The 28-year-old right-hander would be a nice addition to the Bombers' rotation and wouldn't be all that expensive to bring in. He won't command the package that the Tampa Bay Rays' David Price would, but it would cost a bit more than the Washington Nationals had to give up to acquire starter Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers.
Cashman could dangle left-handed pitching prospect Nik Turley or right-handed pitcher Jose Ramirez and left-handed outfielder Ramon Flores to get conversations started. He could also throw in a low-level middle infield prospect to sweeten the deal if he needs to.
Samardzija would be under team control through the 2015 season and the Yankees would obviously have the funds to lock him up long-term if he performs well in New York.
This deal makes too much sense not to explore. In an offseason of lineup adjustments, it's time to start looking at the starting rotation.