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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  • The Dude Abides

    Edwin Jackson – Three off seasons in and the only free agent signing to date for Theo that is not openly discussed as a flippable piece.
    Who would have thunk that when Theo came on board?

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Seems the Cubs & Samardzija don’t want to compromise on his salary, and Shark will go to arbitration……

    Heard a Roof Top Owner Rep on Score Baseball talk today…….they feel they have a valid contract……Bruce Levine told the RT rep to advise his clients to “Sell” their property to the Ricketts LLC group……..word on the street that several of those RT owners will be foreclosed on this year……..if fans will boycott RT, their revenue will dive………….look for a long legal battle in the court system.

    Hammel most likely will slide behind EJ for the 4th spot……Arietta is #5 starter……Rusin is #6….Cabrera #7……Villanueva #7…..Grimm #8…….Vizcaino #9…….

    Looks like Marshall will get cut from the 40 man roster…….but I rather see Fujikawa get waived.

    Only 62 more days until Opening Day at Wrigley with E Jackson starting……

    So the pitching staff might look like this barring any trades, injuries…..

    Smardzija
    T Wood
    E Jackson
    Hammel
    Arietta

    Veras
    Strop
    Russell
    Grimm
    Cabrera
    Wright
    Rondon

    If Rusin, Rosscup or Parker want to make this team, trades need to happen……

    this pitching staff will look much different by August 1st…..by then, Vizcaino, Beeler, Hendricks, Ramirez and others will be in uniform.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Here is the story from the Trib on what was said this morning on the Score with the Roof Top Owners Rep……

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-cubs-rooftops-battle-20140201,0,3434454.story

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Multiple reports will be posted later today about the interviews on The Score this morning.

  • Sonate

    Don’t object to the Hammel signing but…..$6 mill? Hammel is, at best, an average pitcher. A lifetime ERA of 4.80 (but in fairness that includes 3 seasons in Colorado). His lifetime ERA+, which adjusts for park factors is 94, slightly lower than average. He has had only one good year (2012), has never pitched more than 178 innings in a year, and is also on the wrong side of 30. OK, it’s only for one year. But what would a truly average pitcher cost?

    • cubtex

      I agree but you have to entice players to go to a last place team. He probably had other offers for less money from better teams. I understand the O’s wanted him back but wouldn’t promise him a rotation spot. Cubs probably had to give him 6 mil plus promise him a rotation spot.

    • Dorasaga

      Believe it or not, average free agent salary had driven up this year.

      http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/01/free-agent-contract-trends-2007-08-to-present.html

      It’s bound to drop a bit now on, but still, $7-$8 million. That’s enough for me to venture two small companies and turn one into a mega-chain.

      • daverj

        They are thinking that they tons of money to spend from the new TV deals.

        • daverj

          I think the free agent salaries are going to rise even more (and faster) over the next few seasons.

          • Dorasaga

            It would be the speculative part of baseball clubs to assume that their next deal will be closer to what the Dodgers and Phillies got, instead of what they already had.

            It’s a bubble that baseball operation is living on. Broadcast can fold. Who are going to pay for the entertainment when American middle class is dwindling?

            Rise of player salary is good for baseball, when it made sense. It’s out of line of an inflation rate now. Since 1981, when free agent became guaranteed with salary increase, it jumped to the height of a star celebrity, then slowly became a smooth trend.

            It’s never supposed to be 3% like the rest of the growing economy America had, I know. But since the late 90s, it’s becoming a monster of its own. Free agent salary and collective bargaining of 6-year servitude had witnessed 30% rise since 2007.

            That’s ridiculous, but not unprecedented. Baseball GMs are now creating a mess out of hand by giving out record new AAV the past two offseasons.

  • Tom U

    It appears that this front office has the Rangers well scouted. I just recently ran across a list of the Rangers’ top prospects for 2010, and here are the ones now in the Cubs organization:

    Mike Olt, 3B (6)
    Barret Loux, RHP (11)
    Neil Ramirez, RHP (15)
    Justin Grimm, RHP (17)
    Carlos Pimentel, RHP (27)
    Pedro Strop, RHP (49)
    Christian Villanueva, 3B, (65)

    The Cubs also had Guillermo Moscoso, RHP (55) at Triple-A Iowa last season. The Cubs have also briefly had Max Ramirez, C (35) and Jacob Brigham, RHP (40) recently in their system (although Max Ramirez was brought in by former-GM Jim Hendry).

    • daverj

      And wasn’t Brigham exchanged for Loux after Brigham was determined to be injured following the Soto deal?

      • Tom U

        That is correct.

  • cubtex

    Cubs and Shark are $100,000 apart? Really? $100,000? That is the hangup? Split the difference or give him $75,000. If you really want to try and extend the guy this is not how you do it.

    • paulcatanese

      It appears that this is a “matter of principle” with both sides. But since the Cubs hold the purse strings, it would be up to them to bend if they really want him. IMO it has to be more than the dollar amount, that would be ridiculous if it was just that. Would not be surprised though. Has to be something like a no-trade clause.

      • cubtex

        This is just for this year Paul to avoid arbitration not an extension

  • cubtex

    This is pretty cool. Ernie Banks scouting report from 1953. Needless to say….scouting reports have come a long way since then.

    https://twitter.com/BeschlossDC/status/428980902132080640/photo/1

    • No Baseball In Indiana

      Negro American. Nice.

  • cubtex

    Jon Heyman
    ‏@JonHeymanCBS
    i like cubs pickups of hammel & jmcdonald. 1 of these days, tho, i’d like to see the northsiders really spend their big $

    Me too Jon. Me too!!!

    • CubbyDenCritic

      offering big $$$$$$ is one thing….
      getting a major free agent to be on this club is another.

  • cubtex

    Watching Texas Exes vs Current Longhorns alumni game. Great to see baseball again! Jordan Danks just missed hitting one out!

    • cubtex

      I don’t think James Russell has gotten a haircut since the season ended.

      • cubtex

        Lefty Andrew McKirahan lefty A ball pitcher in Cubs organization on the hill.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        do you think James & Shark use the same hair products to produce that long hair?
        btw, what is the temperature?

        • cubtex

          Low 70′s. It’s a cool game. I try to make it every year. Texas #2 ranked recruiting class in nation. Roger Clemens kid Kacy and Lucas Schiraldi(Calvin) part of the freshman class. Drew Stubbs played….amongst others.

          • daverj

            The mere mention of the name Calvin Schiraldi still gives me nightmares after the horrible Lee Smith trade.

          • cubtex

            Lucas is going to be a starter. Kacy Clemens has a lot of work to do. Left hand batter with a lot of movement in his swing. I don’t see him getting much playing time.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Then “cut” him.

        He needs to be released or traded.

        • TheWrongGuy

          He needs to be used properly.

          Something Sveum didn’t do.
          Russell was over used and exposed the last 2 seasons because the pen had no other lefties to turn to.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Russell is way overrated by Cubs’ fans. All the scouts I’ve read don’t like him much.

          • cubtex

            they should have traded him 2 years ago imo

          • cubtex

            Russell is a situational lefty who has never been able to get righties consistently out….all the way back to college.

          • cubtex

            right hand batters are hitting .293 against him with a .356 OBP. He is not Sean Marshall and never will be.

  • cubtex

    Cubs, Royals have discussed Emilio Bonifacio for Darwin Barney…

    • cubtex

      Bonifacio skillset fits Cubs well- plus baserunner, able to play
      multiple pos;Barney would provide KC w/some of same but more importantly
      >$

      I would do that deal. Cubs are very slow and could use more speed. He could start at 2B until Alcantara is ready and then be a good person off the bench.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Ty is a good man, good to see you following him on Twitter.

        • cubtex

          What do you think Neil? Would you do that deal?

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            The Royals have been interested in Barney for quite some time. Remember who is now on Yost’s staff.

          • cubtex

            hahaha. Yes…my favorite ex Cubs manager.

          • daverj

            Deal makes sense for both teams. I could see it. Bonifacio would give the Cubs a real (though not great) lead-off hitter.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Emilio Bonifacio just got DFA’d.

      Great. This FO is ……

  • triple

    I’d like to see the Cubs make Samardzija an offer to buy out the last 2 years of his arbitration. Maybe show him some good will by going above what he wants for 2014 and pay him $8mil, and then pay him $6mil for 2015, and a $1mil signing bonus. This essentially gives him a $7.5mil AAV, just think how valuable he could be in a trade either this year or next if the buying team is only on the hook for $4mil this year and $6mil next year. It would even make him available to smaller market teams who are in a win now situation and has the prospects to mortgage the future.

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