In an expected procedural move, today the Chicago Cubs declined a $3.25 million 2012 option on reliever Jeff Samardzija, which option was included as a part of the original Major League deal he signed when he was drafted back in 2006. The team, however, is expected to re-sign Samardzija – he has only a hair over two years of service time, so he’s not even yet arbitration-eligible. That means the Cubs can “renew” his contract for an amount they decide (which will likely be a bit over $2 million).
In case you’re wondering why we haven’t discussed Samardzija’s option here – while discussing the Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez options ad nauseum – it’s because Samardzija was always expected to return to the Cubs, but the option was unlikely to be picked up. Because Samardzija remains under team control for 2012 either way, there wasn’t a whole lot of drama (I can only assume the option was built into his deal as a hedge against Samardzija becoming a superstar – that way, the Cubs would have had a way to recoup some of the value they gave up by giving Samardzija a $10 million, Major League contract out of college).
Samardzija became one of the team’s best relievers this year, posting a 2.97 ERA and 1.295 WHIP in 88 innings of work. He struck out 87 batters in those 88 innings, and was dominant in the second half of the season. He’ll go into 2012 either as one of the Cubs’ top setup men, or with a chance to win a rotation spot – as he’s been hoping to do for years.