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Jeff Samardzija Trade Rumors: Astros Reportedly Exploring Move for Giants RHP

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 08:  Jeff Samardzija #29 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Miami Marlins in the top of the first inning at AT&T Park on July 8, 2017 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Houston Astros have identified San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija as a potential trade target before the deadline.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network on Saturday reported the Astros are "doing background work" on the right-hander.

Samardzija, 32, is 4-10 with a 4.58 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 2017. He's struck out 127 batters with just 14 walks in 118 innings and pitched at least six innings in 15 of his 18 starts.

The Giants were 35-56 heading into Saturday and would undoubtedly be interested in ridding themselves of Samardzija's contract. He's due $18 million in base salary in each of the next three seasons and has a limited no-trade clause, which allows him to block up to eight teams per year, according to Spotrac.

It's unclear if the Astros are on Samardzija's block list. They are 61-29 and have established themselves as the favorite for the American League pennant with a young core of talent that's likely to compete for division titles for the foreseeable future.

Houston ranks first in MLB in runs scored and leads baseball in most other major offensive categories, and it has a strong pitching staff. Its team ERA (3.93) ranks fifth, and it's third in WHIP (1.23) and second in opponents' batting average (.233).

But the Astros struggle to get their starters deep into games. Their 36 quality starts are tied for 23rd in the majors, and Samardzija has pitched nearly 25 more innings than any Houston starter. By adding an innings-eater to the back of their rotation, the Astros could avoid having a fatigued bullpen come September and October.

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