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Jeff Samardzija is Inigo MontoyaJeff Samardzija’s 2013 season will be his first arbitration year, so he’s under Cubs control through 2015. But we’ve talked a bit before about the possibility of a long-term deal between the Cubs and Samardzija – he’s got a young arm, he broke out last year in a big way, and he figures to be a big part of the Cubs’ next competitive roster. Clearly he’s a great candidate to keep around.

One issue with any extension talks, though, is that Samardzija, as a guy who got a big league deal out of the draft, has already made quite a bit of money in his career. The usual leverage a team has over a first-time arbitration-eligible player (i.e., that first big-time payday) doesn’t really exist for the Cubs.

So when Samardzija told the media earlier today that he wasn’t quite ready to sign a long-term deal with the Cubs this past Fall, you can understand why.

“We were talking, and we both have the same interests in mind,” Samardzija said, per Carrie Muskat. “We both want me to be here, and we want to be a part of this team for a long time. When we feel we’re on the same page with that, then we’ll get it done. That was offseason talk, that’s what happened at the end of the year.

“I still haven’t proven myself to where I want to be as a player. I was happy with last year but I don’t want to stay there, I want to improve and get better. I think the more I show them that, the more comfortable they’ll be with getting a deal done. [Contract discussions are] not even close to the front of the burner right now. It’s so far on the back, it’s history, to tell you the truth …. It doesn’t make much sense to sit down and try to negotiate anything out when I don’t have a full season under my belt,” he said. “Now we’re just talking potential.”

Of course, locking down “potential” is what the Cubs want – that’s how you get an under-market deal, and how you preserve value that can be used elsewhere on the roster.

But Samardzija believes in his own potential, and he knows that if he goes out there in 2013 and does what he did in 2012 – or, better yet, improves upon it – his payday is going to increase substantially. With the money he’s already earned in his career, he’s in a prime position to take the risk that many players at his level of service time are unable to take. It isn’t perfect for the Cubs, but you can hardly fault Samardzija for being smart about his earning capacity.

Fortunately, he does genuinely seem interested in remaining with the Cubs long-term, and I’m quite certain the Cubs reciprocate that interest. Something will probably eventually get done – it’s just a matter of how much it will cost. Maybe, as with Starlin Castro, we start seeing extension talks picking back up in the second half of the season.

  • Spencer

    Or, if he regresses this season, he just saved the Cubs buckets of money.

  • Marc N

    I thought it was interesting that he said:

    “I think the more I show them that, the more comfortable they’ll be with getting a deal done.”

    Easy guess would be that it was a very team friendly offer meant to show that the Cubs are interested in keeping him long term but that right now there is not enough info to commit to him as a high end starter.

    I’m torn on Samardzija because I am a contrarian by nature. When nobody liked him I was saying that you can see every little year by year improvement he made in his mechanics if you could line up the video. Now that everybody likes him I have to play skeptical guy. The size, the stuff, the mechanics, the health of the arm, the peripherals, the top end athleticism for pitchers…He’s got alot going for him and could just as easily take a leap forward as he could regress.

  • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

    Doesn’t he know that BP has him posting a 4.56 ERA and 1.38 WHIP this year???

  • Jacob

    Kind of an off topic question.. but I figured you guys would have the answer. The Front Office watches and monitors what players do or say on Twitter, right? Just to make sure nothing gets out of line, I’d assume. Who is the one who watches that? Is there a person with the job of monitoring social media of the players? Do Theo, Jed, or somebody lesser in the FO have a “secret” twitter or facebook account in order to keep track? Or, do they only get on to check when they hear about something going wrong on a social media site?

    • Spencer

      They delegated that duty to Dave Sappelt.

      • Jacob

        He’s actually the reason why I came up with this question lol.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Oh, yes. They have many monitors. The top front office guys definitely have “secret” accounts, though I don’t they’re really taking the time to directly, constantly monitor the players. Someone is, though. Definitely.

      • Jacob

        It’d be cool to try to figure out the “secret” accounts.. but that’d take so long it’s not even worth it lol.

        Do you think the players are told who the “secret” account is? Or are they told that there is, in fact, a secret account? Because if they do know it, Dave Sappelt is even dumber for some of the tweets he’s made. Especially the one after Brett Jackson got called up last year.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I’m sure they’re told that everything they do on social media is watched by everyone – the front office, the fans, their parents, their friends, the media.

        • DarthHater

          I have no doubt whatsoever that “DB Kyle” is actually Theo…

          • MightyBear

            Hence his “Fire Theo Epstein blog”. It’s all a clever ruse to detract his critics.

            • DarthHater

              Hey, that’s why he’s considered a genius.

  • Rizzo 44

    I really feel like the extension talks during the year hurt players. If the Cubs are having a poor year say under .500 at the All-Star Break then I wouldn’t mind them talking to Shark. I just feel like that should be something that is done in the offseason. Thats just my opinion. Brett what do you think? I feel the Cubs could lock up both Garza and Shark. I think Garza will be first if he is going to stay with the Cubs. If Shark has a good year he is going to want to be paid very well which you can’t blame him for that. I think Garza if healthy and wants to be in Chicago will sign for 5 years and 75-80M and I feel like Shark may get 6 years with an option if he has a great year at 80-85M plus the option year.

  • Rian

    Paul Sullivan reports that the Cubs already offered Samardzija a five-year extension already this offseason (story below).

    Brett, how does that sound to you? At what price would you be comfortable with a five-year deal? Or, assuming it doesn’t get done until after 2013, a four-year deal?

    (http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/chi-samardzija-20130212,0,918738.story)

    • Rian

      Strike both “already’s”.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The 5-year, $55 million extension Matt Harrison got has to be in the calculation somewhere.

      http://www.bleachernation.com/2013/01/17/lukewarm-stove-samardzija-napoli-bourn-soriano-lincecum/

      • Rcleven

        If you are correct with 11 million a year for five years that is one heck of a insurance policy for a power pitcher.
        Arm injuries are just too common.
        Must be great to be young and feel indestructible.

      • Featherstone

        Do you feel that Matt Harrison’s extension would be fair for both sides? What do you think the Cubs offered this off-season?

    • Marcel91

      I would take anything Paul Sullivan reports with a grain of salt….

  • BWA

    Brett, as I often have, I’m gonna ask an unrelated question. I noticed that MLB.com has their player projections up here:

    http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/mlb/fantasy/preview/y2013/#team_chc

    I’ve seen a few other sources of projections as well. In your opinion, what are the best sources for projections that our obtainable already/maybe aren’t out just yet. Gotta do some studying for my fantasy baseball :)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for pointing those out, because I hadn’t seen them yet. I wouldn’t say any set of projections are my favorite, because they’re all subject to the same problems. I like PECOTA and ZIPS, and I like the idea behind FanGraphs’ crowdsourced projections. I think projections are best used if you take them all together, and kind of filter it in your head to come up with a baseline.

      I guess, ideally, someone would put together a system that takes all of the projections, weights them according to perceived value, and turns them into one set of projections. Off you go, aspiring sabermetricians …

      • Hansman1982

        Fangraphs had an article about this. Which projection system was best.

        Turns out they are all meh.

        Where’s the election predictor guy when you need him?

        • terencem

          He created PECOTA but it’s fallen behind other systems since he left BP.

          • terencem

            Oh, I see what you mean about Silver and weighing projections systems, though. I doubt he’d undermine his own system but it’d be cool if he came up with something.

        • Kirbs414

          Just wondering…anyone know how a site like this can project Castro to get 77 more ABs than Rizzo? Most places I see have them both playing almost every game this year. There isn’t really a back-up for Rizzo. Where do the extra ABs come for Castro?

          • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

            Perhaps Rizzo will walk more? Maybe Castro is ahead in the order (and over 162 games, it’s quite possible Rizzo doesn’t get that 5th AB in the 8th/9th)?

            • Kirbs414

              I suppose the walks would make sense. It does have Castro with a higher OBP, however. And it seems like most people seem to think Castro will bat 2nd or 5th, and Rizzo 3rd. So would that really equal that many more at-bats? Again, just curious.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Here are the PA’s by batting slot last year for the Cubs:
                1: 730
                2: 721
                3: 702
                4: 686
                5: 670
                6: 647
                7: 627
                8: 600
                9: 584.

                The 51 PA difference between #2 & #5 is nearly two weeks of games. So, yeah, that’s huge. (Those numbers are, incidentally, horrific, and indicative of a team with truly lousy OBP: the worst of the NL playoff teams got the #9 slot to the plate 28 more times than did the Cubs!)

                • Kirbs414

                  This makes more sense. So, using this info, where do you think Castro and Rizzo hit this year? 2 and 3? Or does Castro slide down to 5? Now it doesn’t seem smart to put your best contact hitter out 50 ABs, regardless of RBI opportunities.

              • Hansman1982

                The general rule of thumb is 20 PA per slot per year

        • truthhurts

          Silver is handicapping the race for the new Pope.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Has Karl Rove called it incorrectly yet? (Of course, he probably considers Popes to be flaming liberals, doesn’t he!)

    • Twinkletoez

      I have had great luck with www dot insiderbaseball dot com. As long as I can acquire a download key :)

      The trial version is ok

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      “Steamer” is supposedly pretty good. There was a discussion here:
      http://tangotiger.com/index.php/site/article/steamer-for-the-win-and-marcel-continues-to-place

      and can be found at fangraphs.

      I think people just take these things WAY too literally.

  • Jacob

    Brett, question about the bunt tournament. How do the Cubs do it? I know that each zone is worth points and highest score advances. But do they do different types of bunts at different levels? Like one round they do sacs, next they do squeezes, etc.

    • DarthHater

      Wouldn’t it be better to have a tournament involving a skill that actually has some connection to winning baseball games?

      • Beer Baron

        Are you suggesting something like a scrap-off to see who is the scrappiest?

        • DarthHater

          YES!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s all based on the zones and points. There’s a small 100 point zone, too, but you’ve got to call your shot on that one.

      • DarthHater

        [img]http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m0fc6fySdJ1qdqkop.png[/img]

  • Rizzo 44

    I think the Cub offense willbe better than ost people think.
    CF DeJesus 285/350/400 11HRS 55RBI 35Doubles 85R
    SS Castro 310/335/425 20HRS 75RBI 35Doubles 100R
    1B Rizzo 300/335/515 35HRS 110RBI 40Doubles 85R
    LF Soriano 265/325/500 30HRS 105RBI 40Doubles 70R
    3B Stewart 250/320/420 20HRS 75RBI 25Doubles 70R
    RF Schierholtz/Hariston 270/315/430 25HRS 75RBI 30Doubles 75R
    C Castillo 275/330/425 15HRS 75RBI 30Doubles 70R
    2B Barney 265/300/350 8HRS 55RBI 25Doubles 70R

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      WOW! Those 8 players would have been 16th in MLB last year in HR’s…and nearly 30 more than the entire Cubs roster

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        er, 9 players…

      • Rizzo 44

        Well thats my opinion of what I think they will do.

        • willis

          You’re dreaming…that’s very, very optimistic. On all accounts outside of maybe Castro. And the HRs are high on him. Otherwise none of those dudes will get anywhere near those numbers.

          • MightyBear

            That projection isn’t that unreasonable assuming no one gets hurt. Take Rizzo’s numbers with the Cubs last year and project them over 600 AB’s and the HR and RBI numbers are very close.

    • Danny Ballgame

      Not sure if that has any chance of happening, but I’ll certainly take it

    • Castro 13

      That is literally the best possible projected season for everyone on the team.

      • Rizzo 44

        I agree its going to be a good year if that happens.

  • cubzforlife

    With this scrappy team it’s a slam dunk. Mixing sports metaphors. Like Dale said, anything less than the playoffs is a losing season. Number of wins mean nothing.

  • Carne Harris

    Does anyone know if Samardzija did that crazy workout regimen again that he did last offseason?

  • CubFan Paul

    I knew and said the Cubs would try to buy low on Samardzija. But I don’t see the naysayer comments about Theo&Co that was said to me ;)

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