News hit the wire Wednesday night that Theo Epstein and Jeff Samardzija were seen together in public. With the Cubs being linked to Samardzija on a regular basis as the front office focuses on adding pitching to the roster, the public meeting only added to the rumors he could re-sign this winter.
Bruce Levine explained Thursday morning that Epstein and Samardzija met over dinner. And Samardzija’s agents consented to the meeting. Samardzija flew from Arizona to Chicago just to talk with Epstein and flew back Thursday.
Levine reported that Samardzija “wanted to sit down with Epstein to talk about the future, with the hope on both sides that the meeting could help grease the skids for Samardzija’s possible return to his original team on a mid- to long-term contract.”
According to Levine, “Samardzija’s return to the North Side of Chicago seems more probable than not.” And a tweet from 670 The Score indicated the Cubs are “a favorite to land right-hander” Jeff Samardzija.
Levine reported the Yankees, Giants and Diamondbacks “have a deep interest” in Samardzija. The Tigers, Blue Jays and Dodgers have also been linked to Samardzija by the mainstream media.
Samardzija will likely sign a three to four-year contract, according to Levine, with a $15-16 million AAV and incentive clauses.
Jim Bowden recently predicted Samardzija would ink a four-year, $62 million deal ($15.5 million AAV) because despite the bad season with the White Sox “all indications are that teams are lining up to sign him.” Based on the information Bowden has gathered, Samardzija “should get a decent long-term deal.”
In 32 starts for the White Sox this past season, Samardzija was 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 4.23 FIP. Samardzija struck out 163 batters with 49 walks while allowing 122 runs, 118 earned, on 228 hits (29 home runs) in 214 innings. Multiple reports have indicated Samardzija could not get on the same page with White Sox’s pitching coach Don Cooper. There was a noticeable difference in Samardzija’s mechanics last year.
Samardzija and Chris Bosio have a very good relationship that was maintained after the front office traded him to Oakland in July 2014. Samardzija pitched well for the A’s before it all went south for him in 2015. Samardzija was 5-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 16 starts (99 strikeouts, 12 walks, 92 hits and 13 home runs allowed in 111 2/3 innings) for Oakland.
During his two-plus seasons (2012-14) with Chris Bosio as his pitching coach, Samardzija started 78 games and posted a 19-33 record with a 3.83 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 3.55 FIP. Samardzija allowed 232 runs, 211 earned, on 466 hits with 165 walks and 497 strikeouts. Samardzija surrendered 52 home runs in 496 1/3 innings.
Jeff Samardzija turns 31 in January and has taken the ball every five days for the past four seasons. Samardzija has struggled with consistency throughout his career and he would seem to fit better in the backend of a rotation on a contending team than as the top of the rotation starter he’s been billed as for the last three seasons.