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Arizona Diamondbacks: Why They Need to Steer Clear of Jeff Samardzija

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COMMENTARY | Major League Baseball insider Buster Olney recently tweeted that the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs are in talks regarding pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Not only would that continue to clog the Diamondbacks' pitching staff, but it would also likely be a short-term rental.

The main reason the Cubs are looking to unload Samardzija is that he's going to hit the free-agent market in two years. The Cubs wanted to sign him, but as CBS Sports Jon Heyman notes in that piece, they'll look to trade him if they can't work out a new deal.


The Diamondbacks ended 2013 with Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy and Randall Delgado in the rotation. In addition to that, they've got Daniel Hudson recovering from injury and Tyler Skaggs waiting in the minors to jump in.

Simply put, there's not a lot of room. Samardzija would have to bump someone out of his spot. He put up a record of 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA in 2013, which would only best Brandon McCarthy's 4.53 ERA.

He would bring a new wrinkle as a strikeout guy, but the Diamondbacks play solid defense and shouldn't be concerned with that. Outs are outs, whether it's a 6-4-3 double play, a strikeout or a deep shot to the warning track.


Anyone who watched the Diamondbacks regularly in 2013 knows they need help late in games. But that poses a bit of a problem, because Samardzija has spent the last two seasons as a starting pitcher. He'd be going back to the role he thrived in for the 2011 Cubs.

As a middle-to-late innings guy, he went 8-4 with a 2.97 ERA and a sparkling 64 hits allowed in 88 innings. He also walked 50 batters during that time, but with the good comes the bad.

The major hangup here is that relief guys aren't generally a big money spot. Does Samardzija deserve a large extension to be next year's David Hernandez? Absolutely not. In fact, he should really be a middle starter for a team, but the Diamondbacks simply don't have the space.


It's not a terribly relevant stat, but Samardzija has converted one save in six attempts throughout his career. The point isn't that he blew five saves, but more that he has next to no experience in the role. Being a closer takes a special kind of player, and we simply don't know if Samardzija is the guy.

Having a power pitcher or at the very least a strikeout guy as a closer sounds great, but consider his walk totals. He walked 78 hitters, which was second most in the National League. His 11 wild pitches placed him No. 9 in the NL. For some reference, nobody on the Diamondbacks walked more than 66 hitters in 2013.

It's easy to say he'd be an upgrade over Heath Bell or J.J. Putz, but due to his lack of experience, we can't even say that. The Diamondbacks would be best served to steer clear and use those funds for a proven player that can help them in the spots they need most.

Michael Dunlap is the author of the "Daily NBA Fix", an all-encompassing daily column that covers the NBA. He is an NBA credentialed writer who is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the NBA site He also covers high school sports for The Arizona Republic.

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