Jeff Samardzija isn't quite baseball's version of "Where's Waldo," but the guy gets around.
That trend isn't likely to stop now, not with the White Sox making a 9-2 stretch before the All-Star break look more like an outlier than a contender finding its stride.
Samardzija, the most likely trade piece on the roster, won't excite fans with his 4.08 ERA. But managers love his ability to pound the strike zone, and he has pitched well before multiple scouts in his last few starts. His next one is tonight, at 7:10 ET against the Indians.
Samardzija is likely headed to his fourth team in two years -- unless his original team, the Cubs, decides it needs to get him back. Then he won't even have to sign a new lease anywhere else.
Samardzija intrigues scouts for two reasons: He has a strong arm that has been lightly used for his age (30), and he possesses a competitive streak that has made him a star in two high-profile sports. He's as likely to challenge a No. 3 hitter with a 2-0 fastball as he was to go across the middle to catch a pass at Notre Dame.
With his hair flying behind him, Samardzija is one of those guys who can dial up the adrenaline when hitters aren't chasing his sliders and splitters. The right-hander threw six scoreless innings against the Indians on April 22 despite not having his best stuff that day, reflected by his 113 pitches. And even Chris Sale raves about how Samardzija can get knocked around early but still hangs in to get deep into the game.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons acknowledged there's a toughness about Samardzija that he'd love to add to his team. He just might do that, but it'll be at a cost.
So far, the count of players traded for Samardzija stands at six. That group is headed by elite infield prospect Addison Russell and outfield prospect Billy McKinney, who were dealt from Oakland to the Cubs, and shortstop Marcus Semien and catcher Josh Phegley, who went from the White Sox to the A's. Look for that total to climb to eight or nine before the non-waiver Trade Deadline passes on July 31.
Here's a look at where Samardzija could be headed:
In Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, there's a 1-2 combination in place that can carry Don Mattingly's team to the World Series. But the rotation behind the two All-Stars is suspect, in part due to a crippling run of injuries that shows no signs of relenting. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is going to be adding pitching.
Samardzija is an excellent fit, for a couple reasons. He would immediately slot in as a strong No. 3 starter, helping save the bullpen, and he could wind up staying long term. Keeping Greinke beyond 2015 is problematic, given the near-certainty he'll use his opt-out clause, and Samardzija fits the profile of the arms that Friedman will be chasing if Greinke leaves. Why not take him out for a test drive?
As a rental, Samardzija probably won't bring a top prospect in return. But the Dodgers have a variety of ways to make trades. The White Sox would love a hitter like Alex Guerrero, who remains a question mark despite terrific production, and the Dodgers also feature a deep stable of prospects that would interest the White Sox, including Cody Schebler and Austin Barnes. The return package could get bigger if the Sox add lefty Zach Duke or a young right-hander, like Jake Petricka or Daniel Webb.
Samardzija looks the part at AT&T. He's the kind of tough power pitcher that executive VP of baseball operations Brian Sabean and VP and assistant GM Dick Tidrow have always valued. Samardzija is also the swash-buckling type who could quickly become a cult hero out west. He's a serious strike-thrower who could benefit from AT&T's dimensions.
Samardzija is a good fit for the same reasons as he would be for the Dodgers. The Giants need a strong No. 2 starter behind Madison Bumgarner in the short run, and they have plenty of ways to fit Samardzija into their payroll for the next four or five years if the two parties make beautiful music together.
With Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik set for years to come up the middle, Sabean could interest the White Sox with an offer of 20-year-old Christian Arroyo, a notable bat who would fill a need in the Sox system.
There's no question that the Jays covet an experienced starter in his prime. They need a No. 1 starter to slide in front of Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada and the variety of intriguing arms in their system, and they know that they can't let another opportunity to reach the postseason slip away.
The question here is if there's a fit. The White Sox have young pitching of their own, so pitching prospects probably won't get a deal done.
Protecting their lead in the American League East is motivation for the Yankees to upgrade a rotation that ranks ninth in the league in starters' ERA. A left-hander might be a better fit for Yankee Stadium, but Samardzija brings an edge, and that could go a long way.
New York GM Brian Cashman has some bats to trade, with third baseman Eric Jagielo a name that would be intriguing for the White Sox.
Samardzija would add a veteran complement to Dallas Keuchel at the front of the rotation, and as a rental, he might be more realistic as an option than Cole Hamels. The recent surge by the Angels suggests that Houston could be headed for the AL Wild Card Game, and it could get a huge benefit from six or seven quality starts by Samardzija.
There's no shortage of inventory for the White Sox to discuss in a system that has lots of bats. Second baseman Tony Kemp, who is blocked by Jose Altuve, would be a great acquisition for the White Sox. Players like third baseman Colin Moran, outfielder Domingo Santana and catcher Max Stassi could also figure, especially if the deal is expanded.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.