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Red Sox considering trade for Athletics pitcher Jeff Samardzija

Has Boston's search for pitching shifted to Oakland?

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox are one of several teams interested in making a trade for Athletics pitcher Jeff Samardzija according to Nick Cafardo:

7. Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Athletics - Numerous teams are trying to obtain the righthander, including the Red Sox, according to a team source. Samardzija is 29 and can become a free agent in 2016. GM Billy Beane is fielding offers as he is in a trade frenzy trying to re-create his contending team. The Red Sox have all the pieces Beane would want, including young pitching and middle infielders.

At the moment, Jon Lester seems to be the priority for the Red Sox, who would ideally be able to fill at least one of the holes in their rotation with a big-name free agent. Even after that, though, it seems clear that Boston will need more help than that, and will likely be turning to the trade market for it.

The question is whether or not Samardzija is the right man for the job, and if the Red Sox and Athletics match up on a trade.

If nothing else, Samardzija is undeniably talented. He's racked up strikeouts in volume ever since his first full season in the majors, and has managed to get his walk rate under control, with a 1.76 BB/9 in 2014 the lowest he's managed yet. He brings the sort of power arm and repertoire that should fare well enough in the A.L. East, and while he's not an extreme round ball pitcher by any means, he shouldn't be unduly punished by Fenway. The Red Sox would certainly be happy to have him in the rotation for 2015.

That being said, it's not so easy to line up a trade between these two sides as Cadardo suggests. Samardzija cost the Athletics Addison Russell, who may well be one of the ten best prospects in the game at this point. They're going to want to recoup a good portion of their losses in any offseason trade, and unfortunately for the Red Sox, it seems unlikely that they'll be interested in bringing Yoenis Cespedes back so soon after being the ones to send him away to Boston in the first place.

That leaves us with Cafardo's ominous "young pitching and middle infielders" statement. In terms of the latter, the Red Sox aren't giving up Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts for a one year rental, or at least they certainly shouldn't. And if the Red Sox would love to find a way to convert some of their young pitching into slightly older, more experienced pitching, the fact is that Samardzija is a good enough arm that the Red Sox are going to have to include some of their best young pitchers to land him. And with Samardzija a free agent at the end of the season, that means the Red Sox would just  be delaying the issue until 2016 while actually hurting their ability to solve it internally. A positive for 2015, but a negative in the long haul.

No, if the Red Sox are after a pitcher on a short-term basis--a Samardzija-type rather than a Sale-type--then their goal should be clear: find a team with one to spare that needs someone like Yoenis Cespedes. While the Red Sox have quite a few players they'll need to find homes for in the days to come, the writing is on the wall with Cespedes, who also happens to be the player most likely to command a decent return on the market. This is very much a situation where the Red Sox should be trying to kill two birds with one stone.

That's not saying "no" to Samardzija. But unless the Red Sox can find a third party to make it all work out, or the Athletics are looking for bulk to fill out a weakened farm system (unlikely), they should probably look for a better fit.