BOSTON — With his next start looming on Tuesday, the pursuit of Jeff Samardzija remains in full force.
Baseball sources said Monday that the Toronto Blue Jays continue to make the biggest push for Samardzija, who has a 2.55 ERA over his last eight starts and pitched at least seven innings in each of the last nine. The San Francisco Giants have also checked in on Samardzija, though they reportedly have cast a wide net in the search for a No. 2 starter behind Madison Bumgarner.
None of this continued interest makes life any easier for White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, who must determine what direction to take over the next five days.
Samardzija “loves” how the White Sox have played and understands how parity in the American League could play a role in slowing down a decision.
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“Sometimes the record doesn’t totally show the situation of the team, so I’m sure they assess that amongst themselves and go from there,” Samardzija said. “All we can do is show up and play every day. We love how we’ve been playing. ... We need to come in and handle our business, and when the deadline comes down the road, you see where you’re at.”
The White Sox are fresh off their best series of the season, sweeping a four-game series as they finally combined all three facets at once — albeit against a lousy Cleveland Indians team. An offense dormant for most of the season broke out with 24 runs in the first three games of the series as the White Sox earned their first four-game sweep since July 2010. Even though the team is 46-50, they’re only five back from the second wild-card spot, the closest they’ve been in some time.
Still, this is a team that has sent its fans, coaches and the front office on a roller-coaster ride all season. While they very well could win three of their next four games and leave Fenway Park with a 49-51 record, they just as easily could lose three of four as they have proven to be inconsistent all season.
“We are playing our best baseball at the time of the trade deadline, we’re making Rick have a lot more white hair, I’m sure,” leadoff man Adam Eaton said.
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After Saturday’s 10-3 victory, White Sox manager Robin Ventura conceded his team could get back into contention if it played exactly as it had all weekend. But even with the recent offensive revivals of Melky Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez and even Carlos Sanchez, that’s a big if for a team averaging 3.5 runs per game through its first 96 contests.
The White Sox are said to still be contemplating what route to take, but they’ve also been clear all along they don’t intend to sell off future assets for this season.
As if the picture isn’t already difficult enough, Cincinnati landed Brandon Finnegan and two other minor leaguers from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Johnny Cueto on Sunday. Some observers believe the Reds did very well in the deal, though that opinion relies heavily on Finnegan remaining a starting pitcher and not everyone is convinced he will. While Cueto is seen as a having a higher value than Samardzija, the White Sox might still be able to get back a strong return. Over the weekend, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted that the White Sox expect to receive a “significant” haul if they deal Samardzija.
Were they to not trade Samardzija and make a run at the postseason, the White Sox would almost certainly make a qualifying offer this offseason toward the future free agent, which would net them a compensatory draft pick if he went to another team.
Whether they keep him or not, it is believed the White Sox would have strong interest in re-signing Samardzija in free agency.