jeff samardzija beardExtending Jeff Samardzija, who remains under team control through 2015, has been a regular discussion-point around here dating back to last August (see here, here, and here, for example). As a quality young-ish arm in an organization without many of them ready to pitch in the big leagues, the desire to keep Samardzija around for a long time is both obvious and understandable. The Cubs feel that way about Samardzija, and Samardzija wants to stick around, too. So the discussion is here to stay for a while – at least until something gets done.

Most recently, however, Samardzija indicated that the extension discussions weren’t going to go anywhere for a little while. From mid-February:

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.”

I read that as: the Cubs approached Samardzija about a long-term extension in the Fall, he wasn’t ready to sign a team-friendly deal (possibly because he doesn’t need the money, and can afford to take a chance on himself), and all sides agreed to keep talking as time goes on, with more serious discussions happening later this year.

But Jon Heyman reported this weekend that the Cubs and Samardzija were very far apart on extension talks, making it seem like the Cubs were still actively trying to get Samardzija locked down, and Samardzija was rebuffing them.

Heyman says the Cubs have “made two runs” at extending Samardzija, and suggests that the second effort came recently, with the Cubs offering “‘well above’ the nearly $30 million, five-year deal the Rangers gave Derek Holland last Spring.” Samardzija declined, according to Heyman, because he’s looking for a deal “in an entirely different ballpark.”

Samardzija, for his part, was surprised by Heyman’s report.

“Everything’s been the same from what I understand,” Samardzija told Carrie Muskat. “I haven’t heard anything since camp started and even before that, before the [Cubs] Convention [in January] …. We were under the assumption that in the offseason, we’d talk, nothing serious, we were just going to discuss things, but once Spring Training got going, they had things they needed to do and I needed to get ready for the year,” Samardzija said. “There really hasn’t been any talks.”

That sounds like status quo to me.

It’s possible that the Cubs floated a second extension idea to Samardzija agent within the last couple months, and his agent dismissed it out of hand, knowing that Samardzija wouldn’t agree to it. In that way, both Heyman and Samardzija could be correct.

Either way, it doesn’t really matter. The two sides will continue to discuss an extension when the time is right, and hopefully will find a way to meet in the middle. For me, for now, Matt Harrison’s five-year, $55 million extension with the Rangers looks like a pretty decent starting point for the Cubs’ discussions, as I’ve discussed before. But if Samardzija is confident in his ability, and feels financially secure, these extension talks might prove pretty difficult.

  • DarthHater

    Samardzija is a bit old for his relatively early stage of development. Given that fact, I don’t see him deserving a huge payday. I’d explore the trade market and see if any team is willing to make a really significant offer for him. [duck and cover]

    • King Jeff

      I think his age being what it is may actually help him, since he should have a lot less wear and tear on his arm/shoulder than any other pitcher his age. Besides, breaking out in your late 20’s doesn’t preclude getting a big deal, see CJ Wilson among others.

    • cerambam

      I agree with Darth here a little bit.
      Option 1. sign him to a team friendly or honestly just a fair extension.
      but, if thats not what he wants then…
      Option 2. Use him as biggest trade chip we have this side of Starlin castro

      • db kyle

        I see the logic of trading him, but the problem becomes one of alternatives.

        If we aren’t willing to risk overpaying to either keep or acquire some Samardzija/Garza level starters, then we aren’t going to have very many good starters.

        • cerambam

          But if Samardjza is asking for a pay level over his ability then it is a bad investment. Of course you want Garza and Samardjza quality/level starters BUT ONLY if they are at the right price. If you just want them at any price then you are being inefficient and sort of immature towards patience. (I dont mean you specifically, just a GM in general)

          • db kyle

            That’s sort of a tautology. Of course “too much” is always too much.

            But what seems like “too much” may not be when you realize how scant the alternatives are. We’re in a period of salary inflation, so a guy like Garza or Samardzija might very well command $20 million a year very soon.

            We’ve still got the fundamental problem that hoping that Vizcaino can stick in the rotation (and I still think he ends up in the pen) is the only starting pitching help on the horizon or even in the general vicinity of the horizon. Our choices are going to be pay a lot for starting pitching or have none.

            This all makes me want Appel so bad. I don’t think it’s hard at all to imagine him taking over a rotation spot in May of 2014.

            • cerambam

              For the record I am on board with selecting Appel, signing garza, signing Samardjza, and giving Vizcaino every possible chance to be in the rotation; but, if Samardjza is asking for 20 million a year after one solid season, then there may be a better way to spend the Cubs money.

              You don’t sign players to whatever they demand just because if you dont, someone else will. You make moves independently and straegically sticking to a plan, whatever that may be. Otherwise you may find yourself in a Red Sox/Yankees spending spree.

              Have the Cubs been spending less in the last several years? Yes
              Do i think that is indicative of what future spending will be ? No
              You spend when YOU think it is appropriate, not because you are pressured into it.

              • db kyle

                A plan has to be an actual *plan*, not just arbitrarily assigning values to individual players.

                Let’s say Samardzija and Garza both decide they need $20 million to sign or they won’t, so you trade them both.

                What does your 2015 rotation look like? What’s the plan?

                • Cerambam

                  Your 2015 rotation may be bleak, sure. Perhaps you are able to use the excess funds not spent on pitching on hitting or defense instead. I’m all for spending money especially when it’s not my own, but if a GM says we signed these guys for more than we wanted cause you know what else were we gonna do? Then I think we’re in a bad spot

                  • db kyle

                    If all goes according to plan, the money you can spend on htiting will be subject to some pretty severe diminishing returns because we’ll have a ton of our position-player spots filled by pre-FA farm products.

                    Ultimately, the baseball-player market is not fluid, which undermines the idea that there’s a set price you can pay a player and anything more sends you to alternatives.

                    You can’t just hit the free agent market and say “Hmm, Garza is getting too expensive. Someone give me $15 million worth of prime-year, front of the rotation starting pitcher.” You can only buy what’s there, and what’s there is getting very scarce, so the price will go up more than what it seems like it should.

                • DarthHater

                  Sure, Kyle. But just think of what a good 2016 draft pick we could get! 😉

                  • db kyle

                    #truefact #hashtagsonBN

              • King Jeff

                Where did you pull 20 million a year? Brett cited the Derek Holland contract being similar to one that Samardzija turned down, that averages 6 million a year. I don’t think it’s absurd that he wants to wait a year and leverage a good season into a 10+ million dollar a year contract.

                • Cerambam

                  Right and I think DB and myself both agree. We were kind of just talking in generalities to demonstrate a point

                • db kyle

                  It’s a mostly made up number. Holland isn’t a good comp for Samardzija, because he only had two years of service time when he signed that contract, right? Samardzija already has three.

                  Samardzija is cost-controlled right now, but if you trade him, you’ll have to replace him with somebody who isn’t.

            • jt

              that seems a pretty good view of Shark’s value.

        • DarthHater

          I agree. I think a “significant offer” for Samardzija would have to include a top-tier starter prospect. Not sure Samardzija himself is enough of a sure thing to tempt another team to part with such a prospect.

          • cerambam

            I think the problem doubles at that point, sort of in a good way i guess. IF Samardjza every becomes good enough to trade for top tier starting pitching porpsects or top tier whomever for that matter, then he may be worth extending. Ya feel me?

            • DarthHater

              Sure. Then it just depends on whether he is looking for Anibal $$$ or Felix $$$.

  • hansman1982

    I think Samardzija is looking more for Anibal Sanchez money…

    • DarthHater

      Unless Samardzija figures out a way to produce four-season’s worth of consistently good performances in a single season, he ain’t gonna deserve Sanchez money in 2013.

      • Cerambam
        • db kyle

          If I could strike anything from the Sabermetric Collective Conscienceness, it’d be $/WAR. It’s a cute toy that is kind of interesting to work with on a macro level but doesn’t really mean much for individual players and teams.

          If you think you are getting the next five years of Jeff Samardzija for $37.5 million, then good luck with that.

          • DarthHater

            Even without worrying about $/WAR, it seems significant that the Cubs already have Samardzija cost controlled through age 30. If the market dictates a high price for his post-30 years, it may well make sense to look for some other place to spend those $$$. At the moment, it probably makes sense for both sides to adopt a wait-and-see approach.

          • Edwin


            $/WAR isn’t perfect, and obviously doesn’t hold up for every single deal ever, but it’s been pretty effective in the past. And it’s pretty easy to modify the formula, if you want. It’s just one way to predict future contracts.

            Feel free to play around with the formula, or come up with your own method of predicting contracts.

            • db kyle

              Headline: Fangraphs writer defends statistical concept that more or less launched Fangraphs as more than just a cute box score graph tool.

              Not impressed with the arguments in the article.

      • hansman1982

        It’s a matter of Shark showing that he can be as good as Anibal Sanchez over the next 5 years.

  • Peter

    Well, He certainly is not worth anything north of 30 million and the fact that he had one DECENT year as a starting pitcher, the fact that he thinks he should get a huge payday is an absolute joke. This is fine, he will pitch just decent this year and the Cubs will end up winning in the end and signing him for less than what they offered originally. Nothing like a player’s ego…..

  • Kevin

    Maybe Samardzija is a rooftop owner

  • Kevin

    This is the thanks the Cubs get for giving him a $10M signing bonus. Trade him, he’s too greedy.

    • Coldneck

      This is just a moronic comment.

    • Kygavin

      Greedy because he doesnt want to sign a deal that he has no real reason to sign? He is still signed until 2015, why sign an extension that would be less than what he could potentially be worth? Not greedy just smart

    • deej34

      I don’t see how you think he’s greedy. For good or bad, he got a big contract right out the gate and so now he isn’t desperate for the money (like Castro and most young players who play for peanuts and jump at the first offer). He is confident he will play at a higher level than what we saw last year, which I am excited. I think he could be a solid front end starter so we will see.

  • Coldneck

    I think Samardzija is just willing to wait it out. When his contract expires after 3 more seasons he’ll have had the opportunity to become an elite pitcher. I’m sure he believes he will be. He also has earned a great deal of money already and that urgency to cash in that some others players with his tenure just isn’t a factor. There’s just no urgency from either side. If the Cubs were to extend him now they’d have to get it down and well below market for it to make sense.

    I always think it’s funny when fans get pissy about a player not signing or accepting a trade that benefits his or her team. Trust me, in my profession I wouldn’t sign a contract that I believe didn’t benefit or compensate me adequately.

    • Kevin

      Last I checked, the Cubs have full control of Samardzija and can trade him at any time.

      • Coldneck

        What does this even mean and how does it relate to the topic of discussion? The Cubs can trade anybody on the roster that does not have 10 and 5 rights or a no trade clause.

        • Kevin

          You brought up the trade in your post.

          “I always think it’s funny when fans get pissy about a player not signing or accepting a trade that benefits his or her team. Trust me, in my profession I wouldn’t sign a contract that I believe didn’t benefit or compensate me adequately.”

  • Kevin

    Trade value is as high as it’s going to get, listen to all offers.

    • Coldneck

      So if Samardzija is 10-2 with a sub 3 ERA at the all star break his trade value wouldn’t be higher then now? I agree we should listen to offers. But we should do that on ANYBODY. We have 3 more years of Samardzija at bargain prices. Why wouldn’t you want to just keep a pitcher like that on your roster? Is it because you’re feelings are hurt that he won’t sign a long term contract?

      • mark

        I’ll be holding my breath on samardzija having a sub 3 era at the all star break.

  • Kevin

    He can also blow out his arm and have absolutely no guarantee of any future contract. The good and bad works both ways.

  • FastBall

    I think he has stated he wants to prove himself which he has not done at this point in time. I am sure he has a dollar figure in mind if he does prove himself to be worthy this season. I think he could be great but he could also not be great. If I am Shark my asking number is going to be up there. He has to start high in the negotiating process. Folks shouldn’t take that as him being greedy. An asking price isn’t a signing price. Now if he goes out and pitches lights out all season the Cubs are going to have to pay up. If he has another season like last year they won’t. He was good but not great last year. Time tells all.

    • DarthHater

      No, I think he should be booed for being greedy at his first Wrigley start. That would help the situation countless ways… 😛

  • another JP

    It’s just business in today’s baseball world. If Shark performs he’ll get a market value contract from us or someone else. The guy has talent and has been paid accordingly until now, but given what’s happened with Garza and Dempster this FO isn’t going to just hand him an A. Sanchez level contract based on one good season. If he wants EJax money and puts up his 2012 numbers this year, I think that would be a fair contract- anything more would be an overpay. Plus the Cubs have 3 more years of control, so this shouldn’t be a big deal now for a team with as many question marks as we have.

  • Mike Taylor

    I believe if Samardzija had a change up, we wouldn’t be talking about an extension. I mean his curve is probably the closest to getting that speed differential, but he only throws it 1-2% of the time. Compare that to Verlander’s 17% and Price’s 12%. Jeff has to get over the fact that it burned him so badly in ’09 and work it into his repertoire if he is to become that elite pitcher (and the elite money that comes along with it).

    This seems like I’m nitpicking, because he has a plus splitter, slider and fastball, but when you’re talking extension and big money, you need to nitpick.

    • scotti

      He the the curve for much of June. He was great the rest of the season. He has the stuff to be elite without throwing anything soft.

    • cas-castro

      His splitter can act as his offspeed pitch, depending on how hard he wants to throw it.

  • scotti

    Samardzija and Vogelbach are the most under-appreciated Cubs in the majors/minors respectively. Samardzija had a fantastic season all but for one month (June) when the Cubs were trying to get him to throw a curve instead of his slider. His second half was just sick. The guy has two legitimate plus, plus pitches and his slider would be plus if he commanded it more. His control is excellent for a power pitcher.

  • Grant

    Right now, any contract extension for Samardzija is going factor in uncertainty about his ability to stick as a starter, as well as questions about whether last year was a fluke or not, both of which will drive down what he can expect in a contract. Samardzija’s smart, and has a fair amount of self confidence. He knows that if he can answer both of those concerns with a good performance this year (and his confidence tells him that he’ll be up to that challenge) that he’ll be able to ask for a good bit more in any contract negotiations than he could if he signed an extension today.

    I don’t want to villify a guy for being smart. I think he’ll sign an extension, likely one with a reasonably hometown discount, after those questions are answered this year. I’d expect he’ll get something in the $10-12 million per year range if he shows us more of what we saw last year.

  • Jp3

    I’m glad he said no thanks. I’d rather pay a little more and KNOW what we’re getting in the product than him sign another contract we can’t escape for years and have to fit him back into the bullpen because he can’t hack it as full time starter. He’s taking a big gamble but look at it as a blessing if he goes 8-14 this year with a 4.29 ERA that we’re not paying him8-10 million a year and can’t move him

  • BluBlud

    The problem with an extension for Shark is that he feels he can be an Ace, so he wants to see close Ace money in any extension. The Cubs probably feel he has that potential also. This would explain why the Cubs would be interested in locking him down now. Sign him based off last years numbers and his future potential and you can get him cheap. If Shark goes out and put up damn near Cy Young numbers this year, and he has the potential to do it, it’s going to cost the Cubs a whole lot more to get him to commit long term. Shark has made plenty of money, so he can afford to wait it out. I actually like that he wants to prove himself to be more valuable then what a current contract extention would suggest. I would love even more to get that value at the current cost as it would only help the Cubs bring in better talent in the future. in other words, I can’t blame the Cubs for trying to lock him down now, and i can’t blame Shark for trying to get his max value.

    • scotti


  • scotti

    I think Samardzija has proven he is a starter. I don’t think anyone in baseball seriously questions that.

    • Mike Taylor

      He hasn’t proven it, yet. Trick with being a starter is-you need to throw 200+ innings. He was shut down last year because that was his first time being stretched out. We don’t want to give a guy an extension if he shows up with dead-arm come September.

  • @cubsfantroy

    My stance with Shark, lets see how he does this year to prove last year wasn’t a fluke, and then go from there.

  • db kyle

    So apparently that Cuban pitcher Rivero is actually 25, not 23 or 24, and also got paid $3.1 million. For a prospect who profiles as a middle reliever.

    The Cubs know you can get actual middle relievers for that price, right? They need to stay away from the Cuban pitchers…

    • Kygavin


  • Die hard

    I say let him show how mediocre he is first

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