As the parade of starting pitcher signings continues in the MLB, one contract stands out in particular in terms of its unjustified largesse: the five-year $90 million deal that Jeff Samardzija landed form the San Francisco Giants. It is true that Samardzija was an All-Star in 2014, and it’s true that he will add some innings to a rotation that needs a serious overhaul. He will get a more pitcher-friendly home stadium in San Francisco, but this contract shows that the Giants are betting that the 2015 Samardzija was an aberration. Could this addition better the Giants sport betting odds?
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Jeff Samardzija will turn 31 this January. His career ERA (4.09) and win-loss record (47-61) are far from stellar. He has gotten less-than-average run support, getting 3.8 runs per game in a league that averages 4.4. He has brought an average of 2.0 Wins Above Replacement to his teams, but in 2015 he really suffered. He made 32 starts and hurled 214 innings (fifth most in the American League), but his ERA was a career-high 4.96. He permitted 29 home runs and 228 hits, both the most in the American League, with the White Sox.His home record was particularly forgettable, as he permitted 1.5 home runs per nine innings with a 5.33 ERA. The last two months of the season, he had a 7.26 ERA and permitted 1.9 home runs per nine innings in his last 11 starts; that included a one-hit shutout against Detroit in his penultimate start.Samardzija had spent his whole MLB career in the Cubs organization before they shipped him to the A’s in 2014. He made his way as a mid-rotation starter in 2012 and 2013 before getting off to a stellar start in 2014, which gave the Cubs the opportunity to send him to the A’s for a pitcher and two prospects, including Addison Russell, who is now the Cubs’ starting shortstop.The Cubs and A’s both traded Samardzija away because they didn’t think they had the money for a long-term contract; they thought that he would command as much as $100 million in a long-term deal. The Cubs thought about signing him but instead inked John Lackey to a two-year, $32 million contract. The Giants spent some time pursuing Zack Greinke, who ended up going to the Diamondbacks for $206 million over six seasons. It looks like Samardzija’s contract is an example of what happens when a team with some money doesn’t get its first choice and lashes out in desperation. The hope is that Samardzija will get lightning in a bottle again in 2016.
Jeff Samardzija passed his physical, and Curry threw it in from 38 feet.— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) December 9, 2015