Will the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija Avoid Arbitration?

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer say they value what Jeff Samardzija brings to the Chicago Cubs and Samardzija says he wants to pitch for the Cubs. So why can’t the two sides come to an agreement on a contract for the upcoming season?

As of last Friday the two sides were reportedly $100,000 apart on a contract to avoid arbitration. If the Cubs and Samardzija cannot come to an agreement before next Monday (Feb. 10) they will have to go before an independent arbitrator and state their cases on why the 29-year old right hander should either be paid $6.2 million or $4.4 million.

Jeff Samardzija said Friday that he and the front office are on good terms and talk all the time. Samardzija was optimistic a deal would get done before the hearing.

Samardzija has top of the rotation stuff with relatively low mileage on his arm. Samardzija is coming off his first full season in a big league rotation and put up solid peripheral numbers while not pitching with the consistency teams would like to see from their number one starter. Samardzija surrendered 210 hits in 213 2/3 innings with 214 strikeouts and 78 walks and at times showed flashes of being a dominant pitcher. Samardzija says he learned a lot last season and knows he must be more consistent from start to start.

Jeff Samardzija told Comcast SportsNet, “As a starter, complacency is a big issue. Especially if you have success and you have three or four good games in a row and you’re feeling really good, sometimes you tend to fall back a little bit. So you gotta stay consistent. I’ve learned that even through the heart of the summer, it’s tough, it’s hot, you don’t see the front end or the back end of the season, you’re kind of stuck in the middle. You really need to kick yourself in the butt to do everything you need to do to stay consistent. It’s also just the mentality of every day is the same. When you come out, a lot of games early in the season are different than they’re going to be in the summer and so on and so forth. I just want to stay more consistent and play week-to-week a lot better rather than looking at the whole season.”

While the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija work to avoid an arbitration hearing, teams are believed to still be checking in with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer on what it would take to add Samardzija to their rotation. The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks remain interested in Samardzija but neither team appears to be willing to pay the price for him.

The Cubs and Blue Jays have discussed a deal that would send Samardzija to Toronto. The talks reportedly started with Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, which was too much for Alex Anthropolous. The Jays’ GM does not want to send his top two pitching prospects to the Cubs for two years of Samardzija. Anthropolous is trying to upgrade his starting rotation and could still sign Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez. But he has yet to pull the string on either free agent starter. Toronto’s two first round draft picks are protected and it would only cost a second round selection for Anthropolous to sign either starter to try to keep up with the rest of the AL East.

The Diamondbacks on the other hand have tried to pry Samardzija away from the Cubs since last season. And that was after Samardzija’s verbal dust-up with Kirk Gibson. Kevin Towers likes what he’s seen from Samardzija, but like Anthropolous, he does not want to pay the asking price.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been asking a lot in return for Samardzija all winter and many feel the Cubs’ front office will just hold onto him until July. As long as Samardzija remains healthy, the Cubs should receive a nice return for him prior to the deadline … that is if they cannot work out a contract extension before then.

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  • Tony_Hall

    I find the report from Bruce Levine that the Cubs and Samardzija are just a 100k apart and can’t come to an agreement, well a joke. 100k is pocket change on a MLB budget and there is no way that both sides would go to arbitration over pocket change. NONE!

    Honestly, for a SP, the $1.8M difference between $6.2M and $4.4M is not all that much either, but this is not about just this year, it is all part of the negotiations on a longer term deal, and the trade talks that keep happening.

    They will settle somewhere near the mid-point of $5.3M, with my guess at $5.5M.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I saw a story on Max Scherzer saying something similar and it was suggesting that it was because an extension was being hammered out. Maybe the same here?

  • Tony_Hall

    David Schoenfield is ranking the teams starting in the cellar (with his predicted record)

    30. Houston Astros 61-11
    29. Philadelphia Phillies 66-96
    28. Minnesota Twins 67-95
    27. Chicago Cubs 68-94
    26. Chicago White Sox 71-91
    25. Miami Marlins 73-89

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/44022/ranking-the-teams-30-through-25

    “The final word: Like the Astros, the Cubs have benefited in building up their farm system by essentially accepting that losing is OK. The Cubs could improve with a more effective bullpen — they lost 14 games they led heading into the seventh inning and eight they led heading into the eighth — but I still see a team with holes in the rotation past Wood, Jeff Samardzija (who could get traded) and the mediocre Edwin Jackson and a lineup counting on big improvements from Castro and Rizzo. But wait ’til next year, Cubs fans … wait ’til next year.”

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      I think White Sox will be better than that…they made a lot of nice moves, and don’t have a bunch of stopgaps like Cubs. Not world-beaters, but easily average I think.

      I can see Cubs doing that poorly. I think they will have 2 good months and 4 really bad months.

      I think they will do ok in June then unravel in July after trading Shark and maybe others for picks. Then September they are ok with callups like Bryant/Baez, and maybe Pierce Johnson and others. The rest of the time I see a long struggle.

  • Tony_Hall

    Schoenfield also took a look at what seems to get way more talk among Cub fans then it should. NRI

    “Here’s a look at some of the interesting non-roster invites to National League camps. OK, mildly interesting. Even if these players don’t crack the big league roster out of spring training, many will wind up as Triple-A insurance during the season.”

    He listed the key names from each NL team.

    “Chicago Cubs — Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Ryan Roberts, Chris Coghlan, Ryan Kalish, Casper Wells, Darnell McDonald, Jonathan Sanchez, Tsuyoshi Wada.

    There are two groups. There is Baez, Bryant and Almora, the three guys Cubs fans care about. Then there is the group that is actually fighting for a roster spot. There is probably room for an outfielder behind Nate Schierholtz, Ryan Sweeney, Justin Ruggiano and Junior Lake. My lord, Almora and Jorge Soler can’t arrive soon enough.”

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/44011/a-look-at-non-roster-invitees-nl

    I love the last line.

    • Dorasaga

      The Cubs fan don’t care about any of these guys, until any of them play the World Series. The Cubs fan care about all of these guys, the Faithful knows what to expect from prospects.

      I want to see where will Hoyer & Co. play the 2011 draftee, outfielder Dunston Jr., and from the Class of 2012, pitcher Underwood. They can convert either one of these players, as they did with Junior Lake, to a better position SO THEY CAN CONTRIBUTE to a win.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Samardzija and the Cubs are going to arbitration over $100,000? I have the solution.

    Why doesn’t the most expensive team president in all of MLB just toss it in from his salary? If you want to talk about being overpaid, Theo heads the list. And I mean, way, way, way overpaid.

    • Tony_Hall

      If you believe Bruce Levine.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I don’t think the Astros will have the worst record in baseball in 2013. They have some talent in AAA that is going to make the team, and the FA signings are going to give the team a boost as well.

    • Tony_Hall

      So you see light at the end of the tunnel for the Astros? Maybe one day you will see the Cubs are doing the same thing the Astros are doing, yet you feel that Jeff Luhnow and the Astros are on the way up.

      “Like the Astros, the Cubs have benefited in building up their farm system by essentially accepting that losing is OK.”

      “When Jeff Luhnow took over as general manager, the Astros set up a long-term plan that gutted the entire organization and basically started over as an expansion team. It’s led to three miserable seasons on the field but has helped the team rebuild its farm system.”

      • Ripsnorter1

        Luhnow made a small market rebuild.
        Theo is trying to make a small market rebuild.

        Chicago is a big market.

        • Tony_Hall

          Houston is the largest market with only 1 team.

          1 New York 8.3M – 2 TEAMS
          2 Los Angelas 3.8M – 2 TEAMS
          3 Chicago 2.7M – 2 TEAMS
          4 HOUSTON 2.1M Just 1 TEAM

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population

          • Steve rock-Vegas

            I love it when facts trump emotion :)

          • cubtex

            That is not an accurate census for sports teams. San Antonio a bigger market than Dallas? Are you kidding me? I will post a link later. Chicago is double Houston. And Houston is not a crazed baseball city. The 3 top sports in Houston are college football(aggies) high school football and pro football.

          • Tony_Hall

            This list is by market size. Houston is still 5th.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Metropolitan_Statistical_Areas

            Not a sports census, but a listing of population.

          • Tony_Hall

            Attendance by year for the Astros. Over 3M quite a few years…pretty good considering how the people love football.

            http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/housattn.shtm

          • GaryLeeT

            In Texas, it’s all about football, and any other sport is a small afterthought. Plus,
            Houston did not get a professional team until the 60s, so you don’t have that multi-generational family tradition, that can keep a fan base more solid through the lean times.

          • cubtex

            they will support the team IF it wins.

          • cubtex

            http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/baseball_markets.shtml

            Now this is accurate. Notice Chicago is twice the size as Houston and Dallas is a MUCH bigger market than San Antonio. That link you posted is worthless.

          • Tony_Hall

            Only you would call something accurate that is using data from the year 2000. My numbers from both posts (one by market areas and one by city limit) are accurate numbers from 2 years ago.

            LOL 14 year old data!

          • cubtex

            lol, yes it is old but it is baseball related. The data actually changed dramatically in those 13 years. Chicago has dropped down to 2 mil people like you say and San Antonio is way bigger than Dallas. You are correct and current.

          • Tony_Hall

            From the market link I provided.

            1. NY/Newark 19.8M
            2 LA area 13.1m
            3 Chicago area 9.5M
            4 Dallas/Ft Worth 6.7M
            5 Houston area 6.1M

            Any way you slice it, Houston has more than enough people to go to baseball games, as evidence by their many years of 3,000,000+ attendance.

            Don’t believe I ever said anything about San Antonio, the list you are referring to is based on city limits population.

            Market population.
            25th San Antonio 2.2M

          • Dorasaga

            In defense of Chitown, LA is a divided and rifted market. The area is too big, amalgamated new towns and broke up with towns, and there has no “metro” in the traditional sense when all actions happen in one smaller area. Locally speaking, it’s easier to feed a big market sport team in Chicago than LA. Of course, there has been an international market hooked with immigration.

        • cubtex

          What a country when you just copy another teams blueprint rebuild plan and make millions a year!

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Shark is 29……..this is “make it or break it” year if Shark wants to tell the League and the FO he is the pitcher he claims to be…….but at this point, I trade him and the roll the dice on younger upcoming prospects we can get in return…..the future ( top Cubs prospects ) will all be here by 2016….not in 2014……besides, Shark says he wants to win now……and this team is not in the “Now” stage.

    • GaryLeeT

      I agree. There is no reason to keep him if the Cubs are not competitive through his peak years. I am hoping the Jays are feeling the pressure to keep up with the Joneses.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    BREAKING NEWS…….THEO & JED has picked their PIZZA for 2014……….Giordano’s.
    Should have been Ron Santo’s pizza.