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Reviewing Jeff Samardzija’s Inconsistent SF Giants Tenure

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Jeff Samardzija #29 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Oracle Park on September 1, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The San Diego Padres defeated the San Francisco Giants 8-4. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Jeff Samardzija #29 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Oracle Park on September 1, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The San Diego Padres defeated the San Francisco Giants 8-4. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, Jeff Samardzija
SF Giants RHP Jeff Samardzija. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Jeff Samardzija made his final appearance with the SF Giants yesterday. Now that his 5-year contract has come to an end, Kyle Foster reviews his inconsistent tenure.

It once seemed like a match made in heaven. At least, that’s what many thought when the SF Giants signed Jeff Samardzija to a 5-year, $90 million contract in the 2015-16 offseason. However, his time in San Francisco didn’t go as smoothly.

While he could have been a valuable option out of the bullpen, the Giants brass decided to end Shark’s tenure in the City by the Bay short on Saturday when they designated him for assignment.

Now that it’s officially over, it’s an opportune time to evaluate one of the larger free-agent moves in recent Giants history.

In five years with the team, he racked up about 7.1 wins above replacement, which is the highest of any teams he’s been with per Baseball-Reference. However, he’s been far outpaced by many of his peers, including teammate Johnny Cueto.

Sure, injuries have plagued him, but when compared to other starters who were available at the time, it’s clear he’s underperformed. That’s just the business of baseball. Not every move is going to work out. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t contributed.

During his Giants career, Samardzija has a 33-45 record with a 4.24 ERA in 653.2 innings pitched. He made a total of 110 starts where he struck out 548 and walked 165. He’s limited traffic on the bases as shown by his 1.19 WHIP in his time in San Francisco.

His first season with the team was solid, posting a 12-11 record with a 3.81 ERA over 203.1 innings. Then his best season came in 2019 when he went 11-12 with a 3.52 ERA. The other years didn’t go as well.

In 2017, Samardzija led the league with 207.1 innings pitched, but it came with an inflated 4.42 ERA. It wasn’t just ineffectiveness, but health, that would derail his 2018 and 2020 seasons. Over both seasons, he combined to make just 13 starts.

The Shark was way more productive earlier in his career with the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, and Oakland Athletics. Ultimately, the Giants severely overpaid for his services. On top of that, there were multiple times when Samardzija had trade value the organization chose not to take advantage of. Had they pulled the trigger, we might view the deal quite differently

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In the end, Jeff Samardzija’s contract wasn’t the underperformance of Barry Zito’s with the SF Giants, but it still left a lot to be desired. Samardzija is coming off the books this year, which should give the front office even more wiggle room this offseason. Still, the team would surely prefer to have Shark pitching at his best heading into a potential postseason run. Instead, he’s heading for free-agency before anyone expected.

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