A little more than two weeks ago, Jeff Samardzija was shipped to the Athletics by the Cubs in baseball's first big deal of trading season. The Athletics, who also acquired Jason Hammel, had to surrender a package of prospects, including the team's No. 1 prospect in Addison Russell, in order to make that trade.
Fantasy owners have followed suit in the wake of that deal, making Samardzija fantasy's most-traded player over the last two weeks, with the pitcher being dealt 644 times in CBSSports.com leagues over that timeframe. Not only does he top the most-traded chart, the player who has been traded the second-most, Justin Verlander, doesn't come all that close, with the Tigers pitcher being involved in 524 trades.
What is it that makes Samardzija so tradeable?
Part of it may be the fact that he was dealt at all. Hammel is tied for the 14th-most traded player in the game over the last two weeks. Russell has been involved in at least 150 trades over the last two weeks, and he's only owned in 22 percent of all leagues.
Another part of it may be that Fantasy owners are having trouble properly valuing Samardzija after he changed teams. Do you knock him for moving to the tougher American League? Or do you put less stock in that aspect of the deal with the Astros and Rangers presenting little threat to talented pitchers this season?
Could some Fantasy owners be overvaluing win potential now that Samardzija has the potential for better run support? Though the sample size is incredibly small, Samardzija is just 1-1 over his first three Oakland starts despite surrendering only eight earned runs in 22 innings for a 3.27 ERA.
How much does the park change play a factor? O.co Coliseum has been an extreme pitcher's park in recent years, while Wrigley Field has leaned toward hitters. But Samardzija hasn't shown major splits when he pitches at Wrigley and when he doesn't, posting a 3.84 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 2.42 K:BB ratio at Wrigley that compares well to his career 3.95 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 2.45 K:BB ratio overall.
The only thing that's clear is that it's pretty difficult to make a definitive statement about how the move will affect Samardzija's stats over the remainder of the season. The ambiguity lends itself to the increased number of trades for the new Oakland pitcher, as trading partners both feel they have reason to value Samardzija a little higher or lower than his value with the Cubs. I'm on the side that says he's slightly more valuable with the A's, but I wouldn't overpay to acquire him if his owner agrees.