Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco Giants
Five Years, $90 million
Most in baseball thought Samardzija had cost himself a great deal of money by not aggressively looking for an extension before the start of the 2015 season. At the time, Samardzija was coming off the best season of his career. Instead, the former Notre Dame wide receiver decided to bet on himself.
That bet seemed to have gone the wrong way for the tall right-hander. He allowed the most hits, earned runs, and home runs in the American League. Samardzija recorded a 4.96 ERA, but did eat 214.0 innings. Not much to say about the value of the innings he ate, but at least he ate them.
Samardzija has yet to post a winning record as a starting pitcher in his big-league career. His fastball velocity declined last year with the Chicago White Sox and his strikeout rate was a career-low 6.9 per nine. It’s now up to the Giants to reclaim some of the potential the rest of the league has seen in Samardzija for years. He just turned 30, but has less than 1,000 big-league innings on his arm. San Francisco may be the perfect, pitcher-friendly setting for Samardzija to finally excel.