CLEVELAND -- Jeff Samardzija Trade Watch 2015 has unofficially moved to DEFCON 3 as of Saturday afternoon.
With rumors swirling that they continue to entertain offers for their right-handed pitcher, the White Sox have likely insured themselves for a possible trade by aligning the throw days of Samardzija and Triple-A pitcher Erik Johnson in case they make a move before the Northwest Indiana-native’s next start on Tuesday in Boston.
Johnson -- the starting pitcher in the International League All-Star Game this month -- had his next start pushed back from Saturday toTuesday.
With Johnson, who is 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 games (16 starts), already at 94 innings, the White Sox have monitored his workload over the past few weeks in case his season extends into September. Were the White Sox to trade Samardzija, Johnson could have as many 12-13 starts left before the season ends.
Johnson is the likeliest candidate to replace Samardzija were the White Sox to deal him away before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. Top pitching prospect Frankie Montas would be another potential candidate as would Scott Carroll, who is scheduled to start Monday for Charlotte.
Though the trade market is saturated with arms, the White Sox reportedly have held Samardzija in high esteem, asking for a bundle in return. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman said the White Sox want four young players in return for Samardzija while ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick suggested they’re looking for a substantial return.
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Samardzija has done nothing but looked like an ace over his past eight turns after he got out to a slow start. In those starts, Samardzija has a 2.55 ERA and he has made nine straight turns of at least seven innings.
According to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi, the Toronto Blue Jays are actively pursuing Samardzija.