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Royals interested in pitcher Jeff Samardzija

Jon Morosi is reporting the Royals had a scout to watch him. What's the angle here?

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The Royals are in first place and look to be in this thing for the summer, which means they could be active buyers at the trade deadline. Dayton Moore indicated the team is willing to take on some short-term payroll to be competitive and we looked at some possible trade options to upgrade at right field and third base yesterday. So cue the trade rumors:

Wait, what?

Jeff Samardzija is a 29 year old right-handed pitcher who is 2-6 with a 2.77 ERA, with nearly a strikeout per inning in his seven year Major League career. He is not eligible for free agency until after the (EDIT) 2015 season, and currently makes $5.3 million in his second year of arbitration. The former Notre Dame receiver has been rumored to be available for a trade for the past year, with the Blue Jays showing the most interest.

It is hard to see how this makes sense for the Royals. The asking price for a young pitcher with years of club control left will be quite steep, and the Royals seem to have larger holes to fill elsewhere, namely in the starting lineup at third and in right field. And with a starting rotation of James Shields, Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, and Danny Duffy, there appears to be little room for a Samardzija unless you send the overachieving Guthrie to the pen as a long reliever. But as he is still owed $12 million beyond this year, it seems unlikely the Royals would admit that mistake and send him to the pen.

Another possibility is that either Yordano Ventura or Danny Duffy is on some sort of innings pitched limit. Duffy is recovering from Tommy John surgery and hasn't thrown 100 innings in a season since 2011. Ventura has never thrown more than (EDIT) 150 innings in a season, is of slight build, and has already had one injury scare this year. You can see a scenario where they move one or both to the bullpen, put Samardzija in the rotation, then have Samardzija slot in for James Shields next year when Big Game James leave via free agency.

Still, the asking price is steep. The Cubs were to have reported to have asked for Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, their top two pitching prospects, as a starting point for Samardzija. With Kyle Zimmer out with injury, and the Cubs already stacked at shortstop making it less likely that Raul Mondesi would interest them, it is hard to see what the Royals could offer that would entice the Cubs.