There are a number of questions surrounding the New York Yankees' starting rotation next year. Rumors have long suggested that general manager Brian Cashman is going to look to add some outside talent this offseason and it seems as if one name keeps coming up consistently.
That name has been soon-to-be free agent Jeff Samardzija.
The 30-year-old had his worst season as a starter with the Chicago White Sox in 2015 after going 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 163 strikeouts in 32 starts (214 innings). Nonetheless, he's still expected to garner interest on the open market as MLB clubs will look to take advantage of his down year and sign him to a bargain contract with other highly sought-after pitchers set to be available.
New York has endless rotation issues, beginning with Masahiro Tanaka's long-term arm health, CC Sabathia's stint in alcohol rehab, Michael Pineda's glaring inconsistency and Nathan Eovaldi's elbow inflammation that ended his season.
Although Samardzija did not appear to be the ace that many believed he could be this past year, he is still a durable option and would provide formidable depth to a starting rotation such as the Yankees'.
The latest rumors have frequently mentioned Samardzija being a good fit in New York.
"While the White Sox will offer Jeff Samardzija the qualifying bid, he has no intention of signing back with the team. No surprise there. For whatever reason, it didn't work out," writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in his most recent Inside Baseball column.
"Former Cubs GM Jim Hendry, a Yankees executive, is a big voice in the organization now, leading to even more speculation Samardzija will be on the agenda," Heyman noted and has mentioned on numerous occasions. "Hendry was the one who plucked Samardzija out of Notre Dame, and gave him a $10 million signing bonus for the Cubs (a wise call in hindsight)."
"Some Yankees people love Samardizja for his potential, and also for his interest in the big stage," Heyman added in another piece. "That Samardzija was a star wide receiver for Notre Dame adds to the interest for the Yankees, who see better results ahead for Samardzija. They also may see a possible bargain following a year in which he had a near-5 ERA, totally uncharacteristic for him."
The Yankees don't expect to be players for the big-name free agents that are going to command top-dollar, but Samardzija is no longer expected to be one of those names. Many believed he could sign a $100 million deal if he had a good contract year, but that obviously didn't happen.
"While a solid season could have landed him a huge payday in free agency, Samardzija could still be paid handsomely this winter, but not as big as once projected," writes Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com.
Samardzija had a candid response to such speculation.
"I could care less; I had enough money when I signed with the Cubs back in 2006," he told Padilla. "So, like I said before, for me it's more about a professional thing and respecting the guys that came before me that have put us in this situation in this game.
"To make the money we make, and have the fun we have, and travel the way we travel, that needs to be continued by players that are coming behind me and current players. For me, that's important. Ultimately, I want to be in a winning situation and pitching in October."
The Yankees made it to October this year after an overachieving season. If Cashman can make a few adjustments to the current roster, the Yankees could very well contend in what could be another wide-open AL East division (depending on how the Blue Jays build their pitching staff in the offseason) next year and that would likely appeal to Samardzija.