After weeks of speculation that a Jeff Samardzija trade was inevitable, the 30-year-old right-hander is still here at U.S. Cellular Field, readying himself to start for the White Sox on Sunday against the Yankees.
Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline passed with the White Sox standing pat, choosing to hang on to Samardzija and continue a playoff push that gained legitimacy after a seven-game winning streak last month. Samardzija said he’s relieved to not have to uproot himself from Chicago for the second straight year and isn’t disappointed to currently be playing for a team that’s over .500 and closer to a playoff spot.
“I think we’ve always thought of ourselves as contenders,” Samardzija said. “I think we just need to go out and do what we’re capable of doing and that’ll take care of most of it. I love this team and think we have a great group of guys and we just need to keep playing like we’ve been playing.”
Entering Saturday, the White Sox owned a 49-52 record and were three and and a half games behind a Minnesota Twins team that appears to be fading fast for the second American League wild card spot. But as winners of seven of their last 10 games, the White Sox went from probable sellers to possible buyers at the deadline, and instead of flipping their biggest trade chip for a few minor leaguers decided to keep Samardzija for a playoff push.
A year ago, the Cubs were clear sellers and shipped Samardzija to Oakland in a blockbuster deal that landed them top infield prospect Addison Russell. The A’s wound up blowing their lead in the AL West and Samardzija didn’t appear in a Wild Card playoff loss to Kansas City, leaving him with only one postseason appearance in his career (one inning of relief for the Cubs in the 2008 National League Division Series).
The White Sox are hardly guaranteed to make the playoffs this year, but manager Robin Ventura said he hasn’t seen Samardzija sulk over not going to a club that looks like a lock to play deep into October.
“I think if he doesn’t like his team there could be disappointment, but I haven’t sensed any disappointment from him,” Ventura said. “Even when he was pitching in Boston he was all for it and going. I haven’t seen any change from him being disappointed. He likes being here, he’s a competitor and I have no doubts or anything of sending him out there that he’s not going to be giving his best effort or committed to this.”
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Samardzija, a free agent after this season, won’t entertain any thoughts of his next move until he’s done playing this year. But the distractions that come with trade rumors are gone, and Samardzija said he’s relieved to get past the deadline and stick around Chicago instead of uprooting his life for two or three months.
“Yeah, it’s nice to not have to get all that help from my wife picking up and moving (to) a house here and there,” Samardzija said. “All the things that go with it, it’s tough. It’s definitely a big adjustment when you get traded. It’s nice to be able to take a deep breath and really get back to concentrating on that five-day routine and getting ready to pitch again.”