From the first moment that Jeff Samardzija was mentioned in a trade rumor this season – a thin one, involving the Diamondbacks wanting him – we’ve had to do a bit of a dance. On the one hand, we recognize that this front office is smart enough to entertain offers on any player. And if a team wants to blow the Cubs away for Jeff Samardzija, well, then that’s the right thing for the organization to do. On the other hand, it was pretty plain that no team was going to meet that kind of ridiculous asking price.
And, according to Jon Heyman, the Cubs have decided – for this Trade Deadline – that no team is going to come forward with an absurd offer, which means that Samardzija will not be traded today. That’s not a surprise.
Heyman adds that the Cubs will instead take another run at extending Samardzija this offseason, and, if their efforts are unsuccessful, they’ll consider trading Samardzija at that time. The benefit of that approach is two-fold: (1) to the extent Samardzija wants to stay in Chicago, the Cubs would be applying just a touch of leverage toward landing an extension; and (2) trading a cost-controlled player like Samardzija in the offseason, as opposed to the Deadline, could open the Cubs’ market of potential buyers up to virtually every team in baseball.
Ultimately, I still think Samardzija is so important to the Cubs in 2014 and 2015 that they won’t dump him at the drop of an extension hurdle, even if that hurdle comes in December. I expect the sides to re-engage in extension discussions near the end of this season. If nothing comes from it, the Cubs will probably start 2014 with Samardzija at the front of the rotation, and will re-evaluate at the 2014 Trade Deadline. Otherwise, they could shop Samardzija this Winter, and see who’s biting.