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Thursday, December 1, 2022

What Would the Jeff Samardzija Trade Look Like For the Pirates?

Yesterday the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics made a trade that sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland. The Cubs ended up getting shortstop Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney, and pitcher Dan Straily. There have been a lot of people wanting the Pirates to trade for a pitcher like Samardzija. Here is a look at what the recent trade would have looked like if we substitute Pirates prospects for the guys the Athletics gave up.

Addison Russell – He’s one of the top prospects in the game. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus both have said he will be in the top six of their mid-season top 50 rankings (BA will have him number five, and BP six). The only guy for the Pirates who would rank that high would be Gregory Polanco. He would probably rank a few spots higher than Russell if he was still in consideration for those lists. The fact that he’s off to a good start in the majors means that his value goes up. I don’t think Polanco for Russell is a 1-for-1 swap at all. But the Pirates would have a bigger downgrade going to one of their next prospects and trying to match Russell’s value.

Billy McKinney – McKinney was a first round pick last year, as was Austin Meadows. However, Meadows had a higher value coming into the year, and probably still has a higher value. From an age and position perspective, I’d say that Harold Ramirez is comparable. They’re both 19 and outfielders. From a value perspective, I think Josh Bell would be comparable to McKinney.

Dan Straily – He’s had some time in the majors, posting a 4.11 ERA in 230 innings. He’d probably have the same value as one of the depth options for the Pirates, like Brandon Cumpton.

One thing to consider here is that the Cubs would be trading in their own division if they dealt to the Pirates. It would probably take more from the Pirates to get a deal done. I’m not sure that means they’d have to give up Polanco, Bell, and Cumpton for this deal, as the Polanco factor might be too much. The trade value for a top 10 hitting prospect is $42.2 M. I’m assuming Tyler Glasnow will be a top 25 prospect ($18.89 M) and Austin Meadows will be a top 50 prospect ($18.12 M). That would still leave the Pirates short, about the value of a Grade B hitter. That would be someone like Harold Ramirez.

Considering the difference in value between Polanco and Russell, I’d say a similar trade value for the Pirates would be Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Josh Bell, Harold Ramirez, and Brandon Cumpton. That would be four of the top ten prospects in the system, all for a year and a half of Samardzija, and half a year of Hammel.

The point of this isn’t to say whether the Pirates should have or shouldn’t have made this particular trade. This is to get an idea of what a top of the rotation pitcher would cost. The Hammel part of the trade complicates this a bit, although that’s only going to take off from the back end of the deal. The price for a top of the rotation pitcher with 1.5 years of service will be high, likely costing at least three of the top ten prospects in the Pirates’ system.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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“NO thank you”, were the price to include Glasnow, Meadows, Bell and Ramirez, ALL of whom MAY have the impact of Samardzija.


Actually just by using the QO, you have Samardzija under 2 1/2 year control.


IMO, The A’s got a good deal in this trade, I think the Cubs should have gotten a lot more for 2 starters, one a 2 and the other a 4. I don’t think much of McKinney or Straily. This trade was about two pitchers and one top prospect. These two pitchers will be a big boost to the A’s going down the stretch and next year they could pay Hammels what he is worth and keep him and trade Samardzija and get back everything that they just traded away this year. So they get a real shot this year and get back as much talent next year as they gave away this year. In no way would the Pirates have traded more than one top prospect for Samardzija and Hammels. If you think about it Bell and Meadows have the upside of allstars and Glasnow has the upside of a NO.1, Only one player in this deal has the upside of an allstar and that is Russell.

Simon Weaver

I can’t imagine anyone is untouchable. Obviously, Theo doesn’t like Castro so he’s posturing. He has too many bonehead plays to make up for his flashy plays. How about Kris Bryant and Addison Russell. What does that cost?


I would imagine they would need Glasnow in any deal. He’s given up 29 hits in 12 starts.

Simon Weaver

There is no way McKinney who hasn’t looked good this year is in the same league as Josh Bell. I think Roldy is fair value


If the Bucs don’t win it all in next three years, the FO could be looking at a similar situation come 2017, Cutch’s final year before the team option kicks in. All Beane did here was address the problem that a sabremetrics-driven team has – post-season pitching success. They have a definitive window – this year. Several of their “surprise successes” (e.g. Moss, Donaldson, et. al.) will be due some big raises. The A’s haven’t been able to succeed in post-season primarily due to starting pitching, and going in to this post-season counting on guys like Gray and Chavez who will both be wildly exceeding prior innings pitched totals, makes this trade seem like a smart move, despite costing a top prospect and a guy who may or may not pan out.

Bonds Top Hand

Granted, this is the premiere site for Pirates Prospects. But too many people fall too deeply in love with these prospects. Just shows that if you want David Price, you will have to pay. But 1.5 yrs of Price ( with a QO at the end) nets you a guy who can go head to head with Wainwright and Kershaw. Then, the first round pick when he signs elsewhere. Tallion and Glasnow can be off limits. But Kingham ( don’t moan, he’s going to be a #3 ), Bell, Hansen ( yes we have other SS’s), and Cumpton would get it done. And for 1.5 yrs of an ace you do it all day long. Remember what CC did for the Brewers? Not even Cole at this point can go toe to toe with Kershaw or Wano. Even throw in cash or a PTBNL if necessary. Next year Price could make a monumental difference on this team. With Cole, Morton, Locke, and Taillon perhaps mid season. Price and Cole back to back in an NLDS with Morton as filler would be able to contend. Eye on the ultimate prize


I have a hard time evaluating prospect trades, since I get attached to our prospects. You follow their struggles and triumphs, and you’re always looking at the upside. Still, I have a really hard time seeing how giving up Glasnow, Meadows, and Bell would be worth it for a year and a half of Sam. . . . . It’s a gamble on this year and next, vs. a pretty likely substantial sacrifice for the years 2017-23, even if Meadows or one of our other outfielders will eventually have to be traded.


Thanks Tim – I was curious to hear what you thought the Buc equivalent deal would look like – and you covered that nicely…

I think that this trade made a lot of sense because of the position both teams find themselves in.
1. The As had a really desperate need to upgrade the rotation – JS by himself would help – but now they have a pretty solid top 4 going into the post season baring further injury.

The Cubs loaded up on offense with the return – they did not try and get a pitching prospect – taking instead a guy they can trot out there the rest of the season – they had two holes to fill.

I have heard from friends in Chicago that Hammel really like playing for the Cubs and has indicated a willingness to resign with them at the end of they year making him a short term rental.


The pirates don’t need a top of the rotation pitcher, they do need a solid mid rotation guy like hammels. Think arizona when looking for a good trade partner.


The Pirates should go after Hammels in FA this winter.


One has to think the Cubs may look to move a shortstop (most likely Castro) after this deal unless they plan to convert Russell to an outfielder.


You are right logically – but Castro’s very team friendly extension complicates things – the details can be seen over at his player page on Baseball Reference.

And yes he can be a bonehead – but he is still VERY young [24] and new to the US and the language and culture. I may be wrong, but I tend to cut that sort of player a bit of slack – it goes away over time – but we all did pretty stupid things in our early 20s I think.


There’s not going to be a big market for Castro, considering his contract and a sub-zero dWAR. Although I can see the Yankees biting, giving Castro some time at 3b and using Jeter as DH more often. I was just in CT and listened to a couple of Yankees games. Their offense is pathetic.


If I calculate correctly and he continues to perform he is generating about $50M in surplus value over the remainder of his contract – he is limited defensively – but is on track to get back to 3+ WAR [ZIPS projects him at 3.3] this year – and costs just $5M each of the next two years. Remember he is just 24.

Lee Young

I don’t want Castro myself. Mercer is doing well. He is hitting better and is actually tied with Andrelton Simmons in Defensive runs saved.


And knowing Theo, it would cost a fortune to trade Castro or Baez inner-division.

Lee Young

Now Baez I could handle, since he is supposedly going to have to move to 3b eventually. Of course Baez, while still having potential, only has a .749 OPS IN THE PCL!

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