Jeff Samardzija stayed in the headlines this past week, and will continue to do so until the day he is either traded or signs an extension to stay with the Cubs.
It was leaked that the front office made another contract offer to Jeff Samardzija … and Samardzija rejected the Cubs’ offer. The team’s latest effort was reported as a five-year contract worth $85-plus million. That would have been at least a $17 million AAV for the 29-year old pitcher. Samardzija is reportedly looking for an extension closer to the one Homer Bailey signed with the Reds along with no-trade protection in the contract. According to a report from Bruce Levine, Samardzija could be looking for a contract extension with a $20-plus million AAV that he figures to land on the free agent market in two years.
Gordon Wittenmyer reported the Cubs significantly increased their offer to Samardzija “after considering what it would take to replace him with a similar quality pitcher from outside of the organization.”
According to the Sun-Times report, when “Samardzija proposed $100 million earlier this year, and the Cubs were nearly $40 million below that, his camp talked about coming down by $20 million. The Cubs huddled and countered by raising their offer by $500,000. Samardzija hung up the phone and started pitching.”
The Cubs were not thrilled the details of the negotiations with Samardzija got out. Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein remain consistent in the fact the Cubs would like to keep Samardzija.
“We were pretty disappointed to be candid that anything got out about the offer and their reaction to it or any of that stuff,” Jed Hoyer told Connor McKnight and Todd Hollandsworth on the Ballyard Show (87.7 The Game) Saturday morning. “Because it doesn’t really help either side to have any part of your negotiation made public. So we are going to stick to that and we are not going to really comment on it. As I’ve said all along he’s a guy that is competitive, he’s durable, he’s got great stuff and in a perfect world I think that’s a guy who you retain. As far as where the contract negotiations stand, we’ll probably just keep that to ourselves.”
Jed Hoyer addressed where the team stood with Jeff Samardzija and the rumors surrounding both the team and Samardzija during his weekly spot on the Kap & Haugh Show (87.7 The Game).
“We’ve made a pact to sort of keep the negotiations internal and we’ve certainly done that. I think a lot of stuff out there is speculation about what’s happening,” Hoyer told David Kaplan and David Haugh. “We’ve said all along that he is a guy we’d love to build around and if we can obviously reach the right agreement for both sides then hopefully we can do that. We will keep trying but the fact is this is something we are going to keep internal and I don’t see any benefit, for either side, of really discussing it publicly.”
David Haugh asked Hoyer about the comments James Russell made about the failure of the organization to sign Samardzija to an extension would “be like taking one step forward and 10 steps back.” A common sentiment in the clubhouse according to a report from the Sun-Times.
“That is why the goal is to keep everything internal and not to talk about it,” Hoyer said. “Because once some information comes out, whether it is true or not, people will start speculating on it. I guess I look at it like everyone is entitled to their opinion, including James Russell, ultimately Jeff is going to have to make the best decision for him and his family and we are going to have to make the best decision for the Cubs. And if those two things meet up, that’s wonderful and I hope that happens. But, yeah James Russell’s opinion or anyone else’s opinion is certainly not going to change the way we look at it or frankly I don’t think it’s going to change the way Jeff looks at it.”
Theo Epstein talked about the rumor season with the beat writers prior to Friday’s game. Epstein pointed out “there’s more trade conversation about players such as Jeff Samardzija outside the front office than from within … at least right now.”
Teams do not rush into trades, according to Epstein, and right now “there is more speculation this time of year than actual trade talk” and deals “take time to develop.” According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Epstein will address trades with the team or player when they need to.
And when asked if the recent play on the field would change the team’s direction, it doesn’t sound like it base on what Epstein told Bruce Levine and Wayne Randazzo on Inside the Clubhouse (670 The Score) Saturday.
“I think realistically if there are opportunities to improve the organization you have to take a hard look, but I am a realist. I think the play of late has been great and outstanding, more so than just the regular, I think it has been how we’ve been winning games that are the pluses,” Epstein said. “The pitching has been incredible. Our starting rotation has been really consistent. The bullpen led by some very impressive young arms has really stabilized and become a weapon for us. And really two 24-year olds are leading the offense and leading the way, guys that are going to be here at least until they are 30 in Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. So those are great signs for the future. Were it not for the really difficult start we had to the season, the same real dynamic in 2012 and 2013 where we had such a tough start and started playing better, but it was too late by the trade deadline. Were it not for that start I think we would be looking at things differently, but you know we’ll see. Hey, if we want to get hot and win about 20 in a row or 15 in a row that can certainly change things in a hurry. We are thrilled with the way the team has been playing and hope we keep it going for a while.”
The Royals interest in Jeff Samardzija created quite a buzz Thursday. Kansas City is playing very good baseball and rode a 10-game winning streak to the top of the AL Central. Ned Yost and Dale Sveum have the Royals moving in the right direction, which could force Dayton Moore to pull the trigger on a major deal in order to add a pitcher to his rotation.
The addition of Jeff Samardzija would not only help the Royals for the remainder of this season, but Samardzija could move to the top of Kansas City’s rotation next year if James Shields leaves via free agency.
The Royals have watched Samardzija’s last two starts according to multiple reports.
According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi, Dayton Moore would likely have to use lefty Danny Duffy in a deal for Samardzija. Duffy is 4-6 in 15 games, nine starts, for the Royals this season with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. Duffy has given up 41 hits and 2 walks with 47 strikeouts in 61 innings.
One name that surfaced Thursday that the Royals could use in a deal for Samardzija was Kyle Zimmer, but the former first round draft pick is dealing with injuries this season and it is believed the Cubs are not interested in acquiring any pitchers with a significant injury history this time around. Zimmer was shut down with a lat injury at the end of May, and he wasn’t expected to throw again for six to eight weeks at the time. Another possibility from the Royals could be Kansas City’s first round pick from last year’s draft. LHP Sean Manaea is healthy and pitching for High-A Wilmington in the Carolina League. Manaea is 2-6 in 13 starts with a 4.89 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP. The southpaw has given up 61 hits with 27 walks and 73 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings this season.
The Cubs do not appear to match up with the Royals in a deal for Samardzija. Position players are the strength of Kansas City’s system and it is doubtful the Royals would have enough pitching to trade the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija.
Other Samardzija Rumors
The Braves are interested in Jeff Samardzija but might not have enough in their system they are willing to part with in order to acquire Samardzija according to a report from Ken Rosenthal.
David Kaplan spoke with an AL scout that told him he talked to the Cubs about Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but not Edwin Jackson or Jake Arrieta. A report from Jon Paul Morosi indicated the Cubs were willing to listen to offers for Samardzija, Hammel, Arrieta and Jackson.