Braves could supplement rotation with Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija
The Atlanta rotation saw a deep subtraction when Tim Hudson left for the Giants; though Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen are not a demoralizing top four. The fifth spot will belong to somebody out of camp, like Gavin Floyd or Freddy Garcia or Alex Wood. Unless, of course, the Braves make a real pursuit of Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija.
Samardzija is coming off a full year of work with the Cubs, in which he started 33 games, going 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA in 213.2 innings; one of two guys to hit the 200 inning threshold for Chicago and the only one to cross it. Samardzija had the second best SO/BB ratio on the team (2.74) behind Matt Garza (3.10), who appeared in a third of the amount of games as Samardzija. In May, he allowed 22 hits in 35 innings with 33 strikeouts.
The 29-year-old righty would be a hell of an addition to the Braves' rotation. However, as we learned in December, he would cost them Jason Heyward or Justin Upton, a price Atlanta was not willing to pay. Still, ESPN reports that scouts from teams interested in Samardzija from the offseason (Which could include the Nationals, Blue Jays, and D-backs) were watching him pitch as late as the Cubs' first Spring Training game, and the Braves have been making it clear just who they plan on keeping around. Any spare - albeit large - parts could be seen as necessary losses to gain ground in a weak area.
A good player on a bad team, Samardzija, like all pitchers, "wants to win," and would welcome a deal that took him to a contender. The Braves, whose deal with Floyd was meant to stabilize the back of the rotation instead of overpaying for an ace like Samardzija, could find themselves wanting as the season goes on, and if he remains an option, Jeff Samardzija could be the intimidating addition their rotation needs to put them over the top.