It is no secret the Royals could use another starting pitcher, particularly a front-line one to upgrade the second-worst starting rotation in the league. For the second time in a week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports the Royals are scouting Jeff Samardzija of the White Sox, presumably for a trade. On the face of it, this makes sense. Samardzija is a pretty good young pitcher, on his way to another fWAR season. Despite an underwhelming ERA of 4.33, his FIP has been quite good (3.50) as he's been hurt by a very low left-on-base rate. While his strikeouts are down a bit, his flyball tendencies could play very well with Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain behind him, rather than Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia. The Royals reportedly took a look at Samardzija last year, so it shouldn't be a surprise that they're interested in him again. With the White Sox seemingly out of the race, it makes sense they would look to move him.
Oh but wait, there's this.
Samardzija has a bit of a history with the Royals, possibly stemming from his time with the A's in the Wild Card game last year. He plunked Lorenzo Cain - almost certainly intentionally - on Opening Day. He then yelled at Christian Colon for reasons that escape pretty much everyone. Not long after that, the Royals and White Sox brawled, with Samardzija seemingly an instigator, specifically looking for Lorenzo Cain again.
So there's no way the Royals bring that guy into their clubhouse, right?
For all the bad blood that appears to be in the history between Samardzija and the Royals, hatchets can be buried. The Royals have some strong leaders on their club now in Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer, and you never know when a Raul Ibanez may stop by for a pep talk. The thing about clubhouse chemistry is that we outsiders have no idea how it works, so its impossible to predict. For all we know, Lorenzo Cain and Jeff Samardzija could hash it all out over a beer and discover they both have a love of velociraptors and John Stamos and become best friends.
If the Royals do make a move for Samardzija, I have to think that Dayton Moore would do his due diligence and get the reaction from the clubhouse first. As much as players may not like a guy, they want to win more. Baseball is also a bit different than football or basketball, where a pitcher is only on the field once every five days. Its not like Lorenzo Cain is trusting Samardzija to block for him or pass him the ball on a weekly basis. Players don't have to like each other so long as they're performing. Dayton Moore has stressed clubhouse chemistry in the past, but he has also acquired potential problem players like Jose Guillen, Kyle Farnsworth, Rick Ankiel, Yunkiesky Betancourt, and he had a trade for king of the malcontents, Milton Bradley, nixed by Bradley.
I still think its a long shot for the Royals to pursue Samardzija, but its hard to see who else they would be scouting during his starts. Avisail Garcia? Alexei Ramirez? Perhaps Dayton Moore is sending a smoke screen as he pursues another pitcher, but if they are really interested I think its a good sign that the team is more concerned with talent and winning, rather than silly tiffs and grudges that help no one.
Bring on "The Shark", and afterwards, give Salvador Perez the Nobel Peace Prize.