Boston Red Sox trade target: Jeff Samardzija

The Red Sox are going to acquire an ace this offseason; the only question is who it will be and whether they will explore the trade or free agent market. If the Red Sox choose the trade market, though, a new name has entered the list of possibilities as reporter Nick Cafardo states that the A’s could be willing to deal Jeff Samardzija and, if they do so, the Red Sox will be interested.

Jeff Samardzija really had his breakout season in 2014, going from a hard-throwing enigma to one of the better starting pitchers in baseball. In 33 starts between the Cubs and A’s, he posted a 2.99 ERA and his 8.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and 3.20 FIP suggest that that success was no fluke. The 29-year old Samardzija trimmed down his walk rate significantly this season, moving from a career 3.2 BB/9 down to 1.8 this season, which let his elite raw stuff play up, allowing him to turn in a dominant season.

Of course, with Samardzija coming off a career year and in the middle of his prime, he would cost quite a bit in terms of prospects. To acquire him this July, for example, the A’s were forced to trade shortstop Addison Russell— among the top prospects in all of baseball– to the Cubs. His price may have dropped off very slightly over the last two-and-a-half months of the year, as he wasn’t quite as dominant with the A’s as he had been with the Cubs and now only has one year of team control remaining before he hits free agency.

However, the Red Sox would certainly have to part with at least one of Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, and Henry Owens in a potential trade. Trading big-name prospects has been a turn-off for GM Ben Cherington in the past but with a depleted pitching rotation, he may be forced to deal a promising youngster this offseason.

Unless the Red Sox were certainly able to sign Samardzija to an extension, trading any of those three youngsters would probably be a mistake for Cherington. If they could work out an extension before the deal is official– similar to how the Red Sox extended Adrian Gonzalez as soon as they acquired him from the Padres in 2010– then Samardzija could be an intriguing possibility. If the Red Sox are not definitely able to extend him, though, don’t expect a Samardzija trade this offseason, at least not to the Red Sox.

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