Jeff Samardzija, a candidate to join the Chicago Cubs’ rotation next year, is headed off to Mexico to play winter ball. The Cubs are hoping he can continue to develop, and will put himself in a much better position to compete for a rotation spot than he was this year.

Jeff Samardzija didn’t get much of an offseason. The right-hander was scheduled to start Friday night for Mexicali against Hermosillo in the Mexican League opener. Iowa manager Bobby Dickerson is the Mexicali skipper, and Samardzija will have three other Cubs Minor Leaguers on the roster in Brian Schlitter, Matt Camp and Brad Snyder.

Samardzija’s last start for the Cubs on Oct. 1 was rained out. The right-hander gave up three runs over three innings before nature intervened. He finished 1-3 with a 7.53 ERA in 20 games, including two starts. Muskat Ramblings.

The Cubs, of course, did not make it easy on Samardzija, jumping him from Iowa to Chicago, from bullpen to rotation. For his part, Samardzija will presumably be working on developing a ML-caliber third pitch. He got by on two in his first relief stint with the Cubs in late 2008, but this year, it simply wasn’t enough.