Every contender needs rotation help and there are plenty of big-name starters potentially available.
If your favorite team is at or above .500, odds are you think they should add starting pitching help before the trade deadline. And they probably agree. As part of the Cubs’ surprisingly difficult fight to rise above .500 and properly defend their title, they kicked off the festivities by acquiring left-hander Jose Quintana (and his team-friendly contract) from the White Sox for a four-prospect package led by Single-A slugger Eloy Jimenez. Which other rotation-boosting arms may be on the move? Here’s my best guess at the top starters who could realistically be available before the trade deadline, and the pros and cons of each.
Discussing the eleven players that make up the qualifying offer bubble.
In the excitement and immersion of the playoffs, some extraneous news tidbits can go fly under one’s radar for a while. Things affecting teams not playing on into October do continue to happen during the month; they just get less attention. So it was that Jon Heyman reported, a week ago now, that the qualifying offer (QO, from now on) teams will need to offer free agents hitting the market next month in order to get a draft pick if they sign elsewhere will be $15.8 million. I didn’t catch wind of that news until Thursday afternoon.
It’s interesting information, though, and it makes for some interesting analysis. Consider the progression of the QO since its first winter in 2012:
Many modern baseball fans are accustomed to making generalized assumptions about players based upon their statistical profiles. Guys with above-average strikeout rates have great stuff (hey, Joe Kelly) or a swing-and-miss repertoire. Similarly, a low walk rate is commonly used as evidence for someone having plus command. If a pitcher has both qualities, common sense suggests that he’ll be a quality arm.
Nearly any way you slice it, Jeff Samardzija’s story is one of repeatedly proving the doubters wrong. The right-hander has gone from hyped prospect—more due to name recognition than his performance on the field—to disappointment, to nearly being released, to having a strong season out of the ‘pen, to succeeding and sticking as a starter, to eventually emerging as one of the better ones in the game last summer. Every step of the way, there were few who believed he'd find his footing, and every step of the way, Samardzija added more believers. After spending his entire career with the Chicago Cubs organization, Samardzija found himself traded for the second time in the span of a few months this offseason, returning to Chicago, this time on the South Side.
Acquiring the former Notre Dame football star was supposed to give the White Sox quite the imposing front of the rotation, with Samardzija slotting in nicely between perennial Cy Young candidate Chris Sale, and Jose Quintana, who has his own surprising success story to tell. But seven starts into his Sox career, Samardzija has not been close to what most expected: A 4.80 ERA, 4.27 DRA, 102 cFIP (the latter two indicate he’s not just getting bad lucked), with a couple of career-worsts as a starter: a 17.7 percent strikeout rate and 35.1 percent groundball rate.
Deciding between the new South Sider and the new Padre.
For this week’s Tale of the Tape, we have two pitchers who were among the biggest acquisitions for a couple of the most active teams this winter. Jeff Samardzija joins a White Sox rotation that now has one of the better one-two punches in the game with him and Chris Sale. James Shields joins a Padres team that made a trade approximately every ten minutes this offseason. They placed 19th and 20th, respectively, in our rankings and will be a couple of the most intriguing pitchers in the league in 2015.
Scouts' quotes about Jeff Samardzija, Maikel Franco, Michael Lorenzen, and other players of interest.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike.
These five starters saw a lot of the balls hit against them land for hits, but was it bad luck or a sign of things to come?
A lot of the time, batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is used as a shorthand for luck, and while that can be the case, it’s not necessarily the case. Today I’m going to look at the top five BABIP pitchers in the National League with a minimum of 150 innings pitched to see what, if anything, connects them, and if that means there is hidden value in these players.
Rick Renteria's lineup has a few intriguing bats, but you'll probably have to look elsewhere for pitching.
Last year was yet another tough one for Cubs fans, even if the Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod-led front office continues to stockpile assets. The win-loss record is a nagging source of frustration for the fans, and the on-field lineup might just be as frustrating for fantasy owners. With the potential to sport a platoon in the outfield and a defensive specialist in the infield, as well as a patient front office that will keep its drool-worthy prospects at bay, this Cubs tree isn’t likely to bear much fruit in the early going.