Transaction Reaction Station: Samardzija & Robertson Roundtable

Tuesday, the White Sox finalized the details of their trade with the Oakland Athletics. They are as follows:

White Sox get:

RHP Jeff Samardzija

RHP Michael Ynoa

Athletics get:

IF Marcus Semien

RHP Chris Bassitt

1B Rangel Ravelo

C Josh Phegley

James: My gut reaction is that I’m fine with this. There’s no one in this White Sox group I would dare think of derailing a trade for a major piece like Samardzija for, even a rental. That none of these guys becomes a major league regular is not a bad bet, and it’s one that’s really a question of how much you think of Semien, since everyone else is as fringey as it gets. I attended a Josh Phegley multi-home run game in 2014 (in September! vs. the AL champion!) and he might be the one I have the least hesitance shipping out.

Semien is not nothing. After seeing him go be bezerk in September (.273/.333/.485 after getting recalled), he was definitely the middle infield prospect I thought had the best chance to own a permanent role in 2015. He hasn’t covered himself in any glory defensively and I think he’ll mainly have to live off being a middle infielder with a decent-to-good bat. That makes the question of whether he has the hit tool to put right-handed pitching a pretty important issue. Carlos Sanchez will be the obvious frontrunner, with some heat coming from Micah Johnson, or a recovering Tyler Saladino, in time. The chances of Semien’s performance blowing the doors off of Sanchez exist, but seem relatively slight.

And that still might be thinking things through the wrong light. The Sox are clearly 2015-focused, and the opportunity for immediate upgrade with Samardzija blots out the pettier concerns of all these fringe guys, especially if 2015 is what you care about.

Nick: They were all pet sleepers of mine at some point. I think Semien is a low end regular or high end bench player for next year with the small chance for more. They're all perfect fits for what Oakland likes - stat performers without the big expensive pedigrees, or particular things that they do well for part time.

Bassitt was going to be pretty crucial depth for next year, although obviously you gain more innings from Samardzija + Robertson than you'd get from Bassitt.

Phegley is a nice enough guy to have around, but his strengths and weaknesses are all very redundant to Tyler Flowers.

I'm not really convinced that Ravelo is ever going to be a major leaguer.

They all have value, but less to the White Sox than other teams.

Collin: I’m trying to temper my excitement but having a difficult time. As Nick noted in Tuesday’s post, this is obviously still a flawed team. But Rick Hahn continues to make sound moves and the fact that they seem to have a real plan for contention in 2015 has me eager to see what he’s going to do over the next few months. Regardless of what it is he does, it’s comforting to know that at the very least I probably won’t hate it.

Until today, I’ve never had any thoughts about the White Sox being contenders in 2015. There’s still a long way to go, but that’s changed.

Jeff Samardzija was traded a few months ago for a guy who is a legit Top 10 prospect in all of baseball. Today, the White Sox acquired him and didn’t give up a single guy who is even Top 10 in their own system. I know Semien has probably graduated from prospect status by most measures, but Bassitt isn’t even if the White Sox’s Top 20. And yes, Ravelo is pretty much nothing but a lottery ticket playing a position the White Sox won’t likely have a need to fill for many years.

Semien may be a useful every day infielder as soon as this year. Bassitt may carve out a role as an average reliever or back-end starter. But you give that up for Samardzija when you get the chance. This was a no-brainer to me.

Part of me wondered if the White Sox would stand pat for another year and continue to attempt to collect young assets. Now that they’ve made these moves, I see no reason Hahn won’t upgrade some of the other problem areas. Left field, third base, second base, catcher and more relief help could be had. I’m eager to see what he does next.

Nick: Ynoa is a name people might recognize because he was signed as a 16-year old for a lot of money at a time when that wasn’t as super common as it is now. He throws really hard, I think he already had TJS while still a teenager, and now that he’s like 21-22 everybody thinks he’s been around forever, because he has. He also pitched in the Futures Game last year.

He hasn’t made it out of A+ and is clearly going to make it as a reliever only. He still throws hard though and the White Sox have as good a track record as anybody in terms of making these types of things work.

I would treat him as a $10 bill that you left in the pocket of an old jacket you never, ever wear. Maybe one day you’ll find it and think, “Oh hey sweet - $10!”

Collin has also touched on one of the consequences of this trade and that’s second base. Obviously there are other options there in-house like Carlos Sanchez, Tyler Saladino and Micah Johnson, but Marcus Semien as of now is better than all of them*, and if you’re going to do the Lots Of Flawed Dudes to solve one position, it helps to have LOTS of them.

*If Saladino hadn’t had TJS - which, granted isn’t as big of a deal for position players as pitchers - I would feel a lot more sanguine about his chances.

I would argue that recently acquired Rob Brantly has as much of a chance of succeeding in the majors as Phegley - especially seeing as in 2012 he succeeded in the majors, however briefly, which Phegley has never done. Also, Brantly hits lefty, which pairs much better with Flowers.

Rangel Ravelo is a luxury item with Jose Abreu around (and Adam LaRoche for that matter...and it’s 1B/DH. Shouldn’t be that hard. The Indians just got Brandon Moss for a non-prospect).

Anyway, Hahn has said that he considers 10 months to exclusively negotiate an extension with Samardzija as part of the value that he has traded for here. The White Sox don’t really do free agency with pitchers. They do, however, like to trade for them and then extend them - see: Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras, Jake Peavy, and Javier Vazquez.

If the White Sox do manage to extend Samardzija, I would find that preferably to signing either Shields or Scherzer - particularly with Scherzer asking for over $200 million and being older with more mileage on his arm than Shark.

...I also think there is still room for Brandon McCarthy.

What’s the bullpen at this point? Robertson and Duke are clearly high-leverage / top options. I am pretty sure Petricka and Putnam earned jobs barring any other new additions. That leaves 3 spots to fill, and there should probably be a long reliever in there also. Go ahead, James, I’m done.

James: They never sent Daniel Webb down at any point last year, so I expect him to be in the mix. Surkamp looked competent at the end of September, so he could have a shot at second lefty status.

Nick: Oh wait - Guerra probably has a spot too, and rightfully so.

James: I really didn’t love Guerra’s stuff at all, but he’s definitely going to be around due to at least superficial success. Cleto pitched really well at the end of the year. Andre Rienzo should be a full-time reliever next season. Having all these jokers scrap for one or two slots is much more preferable than just tossing them the keys to the whole ship.

Nick: I don’t go in for the Closer stuff, but just having Robertson around shoves everybody down a link in the bullpen and replaces the worst guy in a sense. Putnam can be your 3rd or 4th option instead of your second. Makes everything look better. Adding another starter could also push Noesi into the bullpen as your long man / spot starter, although whenever I think of “Noesi” and “bullpen” I think about that relief appearance he had AGAINST the White Sox that was a lot of fun but not for Noesi.

James: He had some nice flashes with the Sox out of the bullpen before he jumped into the rotation. I think being Hector Noesi was more of his problem in Texas than his role.

Collin: Bullpens are so impossible to predict from year-to-year. While I’m happy with the Robertson and Duke pickups, I’m simultaneously terrified one/both gets hurt and/or falls on his face. But if we’re going to assume they’re going to be solid, the rest is a crapshoot as far as I’m concerned. Petricka and Putnam, as Nick said, absolutely earned roles going into 2015, but who knows what we’re going to get out of them?

James: By the same coin, random Nuke LaLoosh dude can pop up and throw 60 dominant innings. Remember when Brendan Donnelly was a chubby dude who didn’t crack the bigs until he was in his 30’s, didn’t throw hard and became an All-Star reliever?

Nick: Clearly, the conclusion to draw from this is that Cleto will be ‘03 Gagne next year. World Series locked up.

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