Adding a pitcher makes sense for the Orioles because their rotation is ranked #9 in innings per start, #12 in ERA, #11 in xFIP and worst in the league in WAR. Bud Norris boasts the best ERA with an unimpressive 4.04 while Wei-Yin Chen is the only starter with an FIP or xFIP below 4. For a team with playoff aspirations this simply isn’t going to work.
It has also been rumored that the Cubs want at least one and possibly two of the following prospects: Gausman, Bundy, Harvey or Rodriguez. It makes sense that the Cubs would want a lot for Samardzija because last year they were able to trade Garza for C.J Edwards, Mike Olt, Russ Grimm and Neil Ramirez. Edwards was ranked #28 by Baseball America this year and is a promising pitching prospect. Grimm and Ramirez are promising reliever prospects and Olt is currently the Cubs third baseman. Despite the Rangers GM stating that he regretted the trade and thought it could come back to haunt him the Cubs probably feel that if they were able to get that much for half a season of Garza then they should get more for a season and a half of Jeff.
In order for the Orioles to know how much they should be willing to trade for Jeff it would be helpful to know the value of their two top prospects.
Bundy and Gausman were ranked #15 and #20 respectively by Baseball America in 2014. Harvey is doing well in LoA and has a chance to be at the range in 2015. From 2007 to 2013 there have been 40 pitching prospects ranked at one point between 10 and 25. Of those forty prospects all but eight have played in the majors. Archie Bradley, Jameson Taillon and Kyle Zimmer are three of those eight prospects and were ranked by Baseball America in 2014 and therefore don't belong in the sample. One of the forty prospects, Nick Adenhart, was pitching well for the Angels when he was killed by a drunk driver early in his career and therefore will be taken out of the sample. That leaves 36 pitching prospects of which 31 made it to the majors. Here’s a list of the 31 prospects that played in the majors as well as Jeff.
|Name||Year Ranked||Excess Wins|
The excess wins stat converts players’ fWAR into dollars by using the retrospect value of a win for each year as developed by Lew Pollis. Then I subtract his salary from the value of his production and reconvert it back into wins. I use wins instead of dollars because a win in 2013 is more valuable than a win in 2009.
Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo, David Price, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale, Matt Garza and Rick Porcello have each produced over ten wins in excess value. Note that Rick Porcello, Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale had less than six years of service time entering this season. Porcello and Garza haven’t been as good as the rest of the group but they’ve all been at least solid. It is likely that all of these pitchers will be more valuable than Jeff. Other pitchers like Trevor Cahill and Mike Pelfrey have been mediocre. They’ve had a few good years in their careers with a few mediocre years.
Gerrit Cole, Shelby Miller and Martin Perez haven’t had much experience as starters but they’ve each shown TOR potential. We won’t know whether they’ll become TORs for another few years but so far they’ve been good to great. Likewise, it’s too early to judge Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Tillman, Tyler Skaggs, Michael Pineda and Zack Wheeler but they all seem to have a chance to be average starters. Michael Pineda had an excellent rookie year in 2011 but was injured for all of 2012 and 2013 and has had injury issues in 2014. He will be arbitration eligible in 2015. Arlodis Chapman is one of the best closers in the majors while Neftali Feliz was good for a few years before becoming arbitration eligible. Wade Davis struggled as a starter but has been amazing as a reliever and is probably one of the best relievers in the majors. Andrew Miller and Jake McGee are solid relievers while Brian Matusz put together one strong season as a starter and a few decent ones as a reliever. This is disappointing but they are helping their team.
Dylan Bundy and Taijuan Walker have both been injured. Each of them has plenty of time to come back and have a solid major league career. It is worth noting that Michael Pineda, Martin Perez, Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson are also currently injured. Trevor Bauer and Jacob Turner have been unimpressive so far but have spent limited time in the majors.
It appears that Casey Kelly and Kyle Drabek are going to be busts. Adam Miller, Danny Hultzen, John Lamb, Mike Montgomery and Tyler Matzek are the five prospects that haven't made it to the majors and are no longer rated by Baseball America. Adam Miller and John Lamb have been disappointing and may never make it to the majors. Mike Montgomery and Tyler Matzek have struggled in the past but have shown some promise in AAA and may still make it to the majors. Danny Hultzen suffered a severe shoulder injury and it is questionable whether he will ever pitch again. I wouldn't be stunned if Danny Hultzen, Mike Montgomery or Tyler Matzek ended up being successful in the majors in some role but at the moment they look like busts.
Out of the 36 prospects ranked between 10-25 from 2007-2013 there have been 8 stars, 3 potential stars, 2 average starters, 3 excellent relievers, 3 solid relievers, 10 unknowns and 7 busts. That probably means that one-third will become stars, one-third will be either average starting pitchers or good relievers and the other third will either be decent relievers or busts. For every Casey Kelly or Kyle Drabek there is a Clayton Kershaw and David Price.
If I were a Cubs fan I would want better prospects in a Samardzija trade then the ones they received in the Garza trade. But after looking at the value of a Baseball America pitcher ranked between 10 and 25 from 2007 to 2013 I wouldn’t be willing to trade one of Gausman or Bundy for Jeff. Many of these prospects ended up being considerably better than Jeff at a considerably lower price. Even if Gausman or Bundy don't end up being better it is likely that they will be worth more due to their minimum salaries and the six years of service time.