Cubs and Jeff Samardzija Continue to Talk and Other News and Notes

While the Cubs appear to have added two pitchers to the mix Friday, a date was set for an arbitration hearing with Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs and Samardzija remain far apart on a long-term extension and have not been able to agree on financial terms yet on a contract for the upcoming season. According to Bruce Levine, the two sides are $100,000 apart on a contract for the 2014 season that would keep the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija from going in front of an independent arbitrator to figure out what Samardzija should be paid.

The two sides were $1.8 million apart when salary arbitration numbers were filed on Jan. 17. Samardzija submitted a $6.2 million figure and the Cubs filed at $4.4 million. If the Cubs and Samardzija go to arbitration, the arbitrator will rule on one figure or the other, settling in the middle is not an option once the hearing begins. Samardzija is one of 26 arbitration eligible players throughout the league that have not agreed to terms on a contract for the upcoming season.

According to Bruce Levine, Jeff Samardzija’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for Feb. 10 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Jeff Samardzija spent time on The McNeil and Spiegel Show (670 the Score) Friday and said he and the team “remain in regular talks to get a contract done to avoid arbitration.” Samardzija described arbitration as “a process” and explained the Cubs have “their approach, and I have my approach.”

Samardzija pointed out that he and the team are “on good terms” and are “talking all the time.” He is optimistic they will agree to a contract before the hearing. During the interview, Samardzija reiterated he wants to stay and win with the Cubs. He is excited about starting Spring Training and has been working out at the Cubs facility. Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant are among the players that have also been at the Cubs facility preparing for the season. Seeing the young players work so hard has been encouraging to Samardzija and exciting for him to see.

The Cubs have avoided arbitration with eight of the ten players on the 40-man roster. The only two that remain are Jeff Samardzija and Darwin Barney. A date for Barney’s arbitration hearing has not been leaked.

Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa in 12 days …

Jason Hammel and James McDonald

The Cubs reportedly signed Jason Hammel to a one-year contract Friday that could pay the veteran right hander $7 million if he reaches all of his incentives. The contract is believed to have a $6 million base and a $1 million incentives package. The Cubs did not announce the signing or confirmed Hammel agreed to terms on a contract.

Jason Hammel must pass a physical and the Cubs will have to open a spot on the 40-man roster in order to add him. The Cubs’ 40-man roster currently stands at 40 players.

James McDonald agreed to terms on a minor league contract with the Cubs that according to Bruce Levine, includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training. McDonald must pass a physical before the contract becomes official.

If both Hammel and McDonald pass their physicals, the Cubs would have added rotation depth to a rather thin roster and in turn minor leaguers such as Kyle Hendricks, Neil Ramirez, Eric Jokisch and Dallas Beeler will be able to start the season in the minors and continue their development.

A reunion with Paul Maholm obviously did not happen and both Maholm and Joe Saunders are still looking for jobs with less than two weeks before Spring Training begins. The Angels were interested in signing Jason Hammel according to Mike DiGiovanna but do not appear to be interested in either Maholm or Saunders.

News and Notes

Edwin Jackson has something to prove according to a report from Tony Andracki … and the report points out Jackson had some bad luck last year. Jackson’s FIP and xFIP were around his career norms which points to optimism for the upcoming season.

According to Darren Wolfson, the Twins were among a group of teams that recently met with LHP Carlos Rondon. Scott Boras is advising Rondon, who is expected to be the first pick in June’s Draft, and is only allowing groups of teams to meet with Rondon at this point. The Twins have the fifth pick in the draft one behind the Cubs.

Peter Gammons reported Thursday the Orioles are “all in” on A.J. Burnett and the Rays are also interested in signing the former Marlin, Blue Jay, Yankee and Pirate. Ken Rosenthal reported the Orioles remain in contract with agents for A.J. Burnett, Nelson Cruz and Fernando Rodney. And if the Baltimore cannot sign Burnett, Dan Duquette could turn to Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez. The Blue Jays are also interested in Burnett.

According to Nick Cafardo, the Diamondbacks are kicking the tires on Bronson Arroyo. And Buster Olney reported Friday morning that within the last two weeks, Arroyo was still looking for a three-year contract.

The Marlins signed former two-time Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson to a minor league contract. Johnson will be in camp with the Fish competing for a spot on the Marlins’ Opening Day roster.

Speaking of former Cubs players, Daniel Bard signed a minor league contract with the Rangers. Bard underwent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Surgery on Jan. 2 and will not be able to pitch until early in the season according to a report from Gerry Fraley. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is a condition whereby symptoms are produced from compression of nerves or blood vessels, or both, because of an inadequate passageway through an area (thoracic outlet) between the base of the neck and armpit.

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Quote of the Day

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