Extending Jeff Samardzija Remains Something the Cubs Want to Do – How Much Will It Cost?

Jeff Samardzija is Inigo MontoyaWith rumors about Jeff Samardzija swirling at the Trade Deadline, I can understand how some folks might not believe the big righty remains an important part of the team’s future.

But, to those folks, I would reiterate what I said throughout the month of July: pitchers like Jeff Samardzija are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire externally. Given his improving ability (to say nothing of how good he looks to the eye test), the relatively low mileage on his arm, and the Cubs’ desperate need for top-line starting pitching, the Cubs would trade Samardzija only if they were absurdly blown away. It would have required an offer so extreme that you would have questioned what they other team was thinking.

No such offer came, expectedly, and now Samardzija is with the Cubs for at least another couple months. But what about after that?

Well, Jed Hoyer says the Cubs still want to extend Samardzija, because obviously.

“It is something we would like to do it for sure,” Hoyer said of signing Samardzija to a long-term extension, per ESPNChicago. “We love having him on the team. He brings the right competitiveness to the club. I think he will keep getting better. We want to acquire a lot more pitchers like him. It is hard to rank it on a priority list, but it is very high on things we would like to get done.”

Interestingly, when reporting on Hoyer’s comments, Bruce Levine says the extension discussed this offseason with Samardzija was for just three years and $27 million. Since 2013 was Samardzija’s first arbitration year, that means the “extension” wouldn’t actually have extended any team control – it would have merely locked in cost certainty. Then again, this front office is all about tacking on team options, and I wonder if maybe the offer was a three-year deal with a guarantee of $27 million, but with a couple team options at the end (which came with a buyout that was built into that guarantee). That would square with other reports we’ve seen where a five-year extension is referenced, and would also explain why Samardzija would be getting $27 million for three arbitration years in which he’s projected to make closer to $20 million.

The other possibility is that the “extension” didn’t kick in until, say, after 2013 (so it would have bought out a year of free agency, and the price tag starts to look more understandable). Or maybe it was three years after his arbitration years, but, if so, three years of free agency for just $27 million would have been a steal (even if the Cubs were taking the risk of him being injured in the three years before it kicked in). I suppose what I’m trying to say: without more context, an offer of a three-year, $27 million extension to Samardzija is impossible to evaluate.

As I’ve referenced before, the Matt Harrison extension with the Rangers before this season is a near perfect comparison for a Samardzija extension:

The Rangers just signed lefty Matt Harrison to a five-year, $55 million extension (with a vesting option on the end), which is most notable from the Cubs’ perspective as they consider extending Jeff Samardzija long-term, most likely after the 2013 season. Harrison, like Samardzija, is 27, and had two more years of arbitration remaining (just as Samardzija will have after this season). After becoming a full-time starter in 2011, Harrison put together back-to-back dominant seasons for the Rangers (which could be the case for Samardzija after this season), and made $2.95 million in 2012.

If Samardzija is set to make, say, $17 million in arbitration over the next two years (just a ballpark), such an extension would net Samardzija $38 million over his first three free agent years. A good price for the Cubs? Sure. A huge discount that Samardzija shouldn’t even consider? Nah. It’s pretty reasonable.

Harrison’s two-year lead-up to the extension was probably a little bit better than Samardzija’s, so, even adjusting for inflation, 5/$55 still seems like the appropriate range. Getting a team option or two on the end would be the real cherry.

For Samardzija, however, the question will continue to be: how much is the $15 million he’s already earned in his career going to embolden him to take this all the way to free agency? A $55 million guarantee is great, but he might feel like he’s already playing with house money.

Even without an extension, Samardzija remains under club control for 2014 and 2015. Given how important those seasons will be for the long-term success of the organization (a better team drives more revenue, drives a better team, drives more revenue, and on and on), Samardzija’s value to the Cubs even for just those two seasons – in which he’ll be cost-controlled – is enormous.

But if the Cubs could lock in the rate for those two years, and buy out a few free agent years at a reasonable rate? All the better.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

76 responses to “Extending Jeff Samardzija Remains Something the Cubs Want to Do – How Much Will It Cost?”

  1. On The Farm

    Does Samaradzija happen to have six fingers on his left hand?

    1. DReese

      The six fingered man?

      1. On The Farm

        Inconceivable!

        1. EQ76

          Maaaawwage… mawwage is what bwings us toooogevah today.. and wuv… twue wuv..

          1. On The Farm

            -”Are there rocks ahead?”
            -”If there are, will be dead!”

  2. aCubsFan

    As JD put it during his appearance on CSNChicago’s SportsTalkLive, Samardzija seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth, but acting as though he wants to hit free agency.

    With $10 million already in his pocket, I can see why Samardzija said all he needs is $25 for a fishing license.

    Based on previous comments and Theo’s/Jed’s actions, I don’t see them giving any pitcher 5 years. With the recent ESPN investigation on pitching and players who threw far too many pitches in little league, high school and college are more likely than not to elbow and shoulder issues, I don’t believe it is wise to give pitchers anything more than 3 years. Scott Baker is an example of how difficult it can be to come back for arm problems.

    1. Noah

      Giving Samardzija a 5 year deal, though, would be akin to giving him a 3 year deal beyond his current team control. And the Cubs were attempting to sign Anibal Sanchez to a 5 year deal last offseason, which leads me to believe that the Cubs are more than willing to sign pitchers to deals that long, if they think the pitcher is worth that and has shown enough of an ability to stay healthy.

      I don’t think 5 years and $55 million will do it though. I’d think it would have to be something like $8 million in 2014, $11 million in 2015, then in the $15-$16 million range for 2016-2018. If I’m the Cubs, I attempt to throw in an $18 million team option for 2019. This means that if Samardzija becomes a flat out 1 he becomes a bargain, if he stays near where he is now he’ll be about worth that much at that point, and if he hits injury issues the Cubs can get rid of him on a buyout at that point. If we put the 2016-2018 years at $15.5 million and say there is a $3 million buyout on 2019, that gives him an AAV of $13.7 million on a 5 year deal, and an AAV of $13.92 million on a 6 year deal.

      1. Mike W

        15-18 million for 4 maybe 5 years for a #2 and by that time may drop to a #3 starting pitcher seems to be a handful of money, I sure hope the cubs dont spend on him. Jeff is good I have seen him pitch 3 times this year and he has his ups and downs. But hes no Ace so he doesnt deserve that much. I dont see Jeff improving now hes 28, but he is still very good. Just not the Ace the Cubs are looking for.

        Next year starting pitching going into spring training

        #1
        #2 Jeff Samardzija
        #3 Travis Wood
        #4 Edwin Jackson
        #5 Chris Rusin?

        Cubs need an Ace someday before they become competitive.

        1. cubsfanforever

          I pray we do not see Rusin in the group. You may have Baker and any other possibility.

          1. On The Farm

            Baker has yet to hit 90s on a consistent basis and if Rusin is going to continue to give you the production he has been this year, why spend $5 million on a TJS SP when you can have a pre-arbiration SP? Also, Arrieta and Grimm will push for rotation spots by next year.

            1. Eternal pessemist

              This sounds like the right way to go to me…and by the way, its possible to win games with great offense, not just with great pitching. Based on the cubs minor system they may be best set up to win in the next couple of years by putting up lots of runs.

        2. Mike Taylor (no relation)

          The time to “buy an ace” is in 2015. Whomever isn’t extended gets a big contract:

          Homer Bailey
          Josh Beckett (35)
          Johnny Cueto
          Kyle Kendrick
          Clayton Kershaw
          Justin Masterson
          Max Scherzer

          1. DARRRRRR

            Justin Masterson, Kyle Kendrick, and Josh Beckett are certainly not aces. Cueto is scary as hell with the injuries though I would say he is an ace when healthy.

            1. On The Farm

              But Masterson would be a good get in my opinion. Not an ace, but a very solid arm. (Also helps Theo loves him)

          2. Noah

            The only guys on there that I’d spend ace money for are Kershaw, Bailey and Scherzer. I would be shocked if Kershaw isn’t extended before the end of next season. I’d also bet the Reds will extend Bailey, and choose to let Cueto, an injury risk, hit FA. Someone will spend big money on Cueto, but considering he’s thrown more than 200 innings just once in his career (last year, and he got hurt in the playoffs after doing that), I’d hope it’s not the Cubs. Scherzer could reach FA, but if Illitch is still alive at that point I wouldn’t be surprised to see them keep opening up the pocketbook.

    2. DARRRRRR

      You don’t see them giving a pitcher a 5 year deal? They gave Edwin Jackson 4 years and while he has been awesome, hes still wildly inconsistent and older than Shark. Perhaps more importantly, Shark better be getting paid more than Jackson when all is said and done.

    3. Alex

      Absolutely agree thought JD really brought up an excellent point of view. smardzija claims he doesn’t need money so he’s comfortable building his value into a bigger contract, which honestly if you don’t care about money you’d take a team friendly discount for the long term security. Sorry Jeff but obviously your looking to get PAID, even though no one could blame you for wanting it. However then, the orioles would be a good destination with a package around Bundy, since we’ve heard now they’re willing to offer him in the right deal.

  3. Rich

    Would Garza not get a little better than Edwin Jackson on terms of dollars ?

    1. Noah

      I’d say Garza will be closer to Anibal Sanchez than Edwin Jackson. He might not get the 5/$80 million Sanchez got from the Tigers, but I’d bet he gets at least very close to the 5/$75 million the Cubs were offering Sanchez.

      1. DARRRRRR

        I wish we had given him $5MM more

  4. CubFan Paul

    “We want to acquire a lot more pitchers like him”

    and “We want more Matt Garzas”

    1. gocatsgo2003

      Huh?

  5. CM

    He’s no idiot. He’s going to get $7 and $10 million in arb the next two years and all he needs is 2015 to be a great season and he’ll get $20+ by then for at least 4-5 years. No one likes that idea but frankly he’d be dumb to do anything but that.

    1. Noah

      There’s still a lot of risk in that. If he gets injured, he leaves a lot of money on the table. If he doesn’t take that next step, he’s probably looking at a max contract in the Anibal Sanchez range. Yes, COULD Samardzija take the next step in the next 2 years, become a surefire ace, and then be set to get a huge contract? Sure. But it’s just as likely that Shark stays who he is right now (a guy that some say is a 1/2 and others say is a 3), and pitcher health is extremely volatile. That’s what all of these deals where a team who still has control for multiple years and extends a player to buy out a few free agency years are. It’s saying that the team will take the risk of the player falling short, and still guarantee him that he’ll retire with tens of millions of dollars. And it’s also saying that the player will risk that he becomes worth more than he is being paid, and might be leaving some money on the table.

      1. CM

        I’m not saying I agree with the thought process, but I’m guessing the mentality of the athlete with a good measure of financial security is closer to what I’ve suggested vs what the reality may be.

        1. Norm

          All Samardzija has to do is look at Tim Lincecum to see how far and how fast his stock can drop.

          1. Noah

            And aside from the home run issues, Lincecum has been quite good this year. And I’d be shocked if Lincecum gets anything more than 3/$30 million, and I certainly would not want to be the GM to give him that deal.

  6. BD

    “(to say nothing of how good he looks to the eye test)”

    It’s the hair, isn’t it?

  7. RizzoCastro

    I think its a win-win for the Cubs this offseason. He either signs a close to team friendly deal or they find someone to trade him to that will give up a good amount for him. If not then he stays with the Cubs and we try and sign him or trade him by next years trade deadline so I think the Cubs hold most of the cards here. If he gets hurt then that’s just a chance each side takes. I say if he turns down 5 or 6 years for 55 to 70M, he’s crazy and just money hungry. That’s crazy for anyone to turn down. I would love to even see 1M let alone those numbers. Baseball players get paid to much and its getting a little nuts if you ask me. That’s why it cost so much to go to a game and all the food, clothing, hats, and anything to do with pro sports is outrageous.

    1. TonyP

      Does your quality of life really change if you sign for 70,000,000 vs 100,000,000? FFS it is 70 million dollars.

      Maybe there is an ego component of wanting the biggest contract possible.

      1. Hansman1982

        That’s certainly part of it; however, that $30M extra would get turned into $225M by the Tim he hits retirement age at a 7% annual return. After taxes and inflation, that’s $54M in money today

  8. On The Farm

    Wellington batting cleanup today. Interesting

  9. jj

    I like Samardzjia, but the price point for his value should somewhere around $10-12 million/yr depending on the number of years, once you factor in injury-risk. Harrison and Samardzjia are decent comparisons — Harrison’s stats (IP ERA) were better, Samardzjia’s xFIP was better — except that Harrison signed the extension in advance of his age-27 season (where he promptly hurt his back). Samardjiza will be 29 before next season. Yes, he has a ‘younger’ arm, but I think his future value is about what we have seen in 2012 and 2013, and only for the next four years or so, when the risk of decline greatly increases. If he won’t sign for $10-$12 million for 3-4 years, trade him.

  10. Peter

    samardzija is nothing great, sale is far superior and making less money if he does get a 55 million deal. They should arbitrate him in 2014 and 2015, he will show he is at best a 3 starter and get way less money, would not even say he is worth 55

    1. Noah

      Apples and oranges. Sale is a better pitcher, but signed his deal far earlier in his career. Sale wasn’t even into arbitration when he signed his deal. Sale had 4 years of team control left to buy out. Shark has 2, both of which are at the top end of arbitration.

  11. Noah

    Harrison doesn’t have anywhere near the upside Samardzija does. Harrison doesn’t strikeout people, essentially limiting his ceiling to a 3. And before anyone says “Greg Maddux didn’t strikeout a lot of hitters,” please stop. Maddux walked less than 2 hitters per 9 innings over the course of his career and induced ground balls to an absolutely insane level for a starting pitcher.

    The VAST majority of 1s and 2s in baseball get Ks.

  12. Patrick G

    I think what he does the next half season will determine where the Cubs want to be in terms of dollars. No doubt his stuff is nasty, but has been inconsistent all season. If he can finish the season on a hot streak, I’m sure hell be pushing the money upwards

  13. Tom Gifford

    19891_283794148427157_1926592220_n.jpg

  14. Josh t

    If Samardzija refuses to sign and will only sign for #1 money I think we should shop him next deadline and trade him. He good pitcher but not elite and not worth what he or his agent probably think he is.

  15. Jason Powers

    Given his low mileage, and possibly his ability to age well, He might from a pitching aging perspective be more like a 25 year old than his current age. By that I mean, he will hopefully retain most of his velocity, and therefore should be a guy we can lock up for 5 years. A guy like Jake Arrieta has to be in the mix for 2014 Starting rotation. The guy has improved velocity also. Pitcher_Curves_Starter-Reliever-Comp-K9.png

  16. Kyle

    Samardzija would be bat-poop crazy to consider any sort of team options that delay his first real free agency. That’s just awful from his perspective.

    If I’m Samardzija, I have absolutely no interest in signing one of those “add a few years” extensions. I’ve already banked millions, so I can handle the injury risk. If keep my head down and pitch well for two more years, I’m in line for Greinke money as a free agent. I’m doing everything I can to hit free agency just before I turn 30.

  17. The Show

    2015 rotation
    1)
    2) Samardzija
    3) Jackson
    4) Wood
    5) Hendricks/Vizcaino

    1. On The Farm

      **5) Arrieta/Grimm

      Setup man Vizcaino. My two cents

    2. Kyle

      Samardzija
      Jackson
      Garza
      FA/trade target with mid-level salary
      Winner of internal competition (I’d guess Arrieta)

      1. On The Farm

        Woah, Jackson over Garza? and no Wood, interesting.

      2. The Show

        You’re banking on Garza coming back? I don’t see that happening. I see the Rangers meeting all his demands because of what they gave up to get him.

    3. The Show

      Completly forgot about Arrieta, he will very well be in the mix.

      1. The Show

        …and apparently I completely forgot how to spell completely.

    4. TonyP

      1)
      2)
      3) Jackson
      4) Wood
      5)

  18. marc

    Villanueva?

    1. TonyP

      If he is still starting in 2015 we are in deep shit.

  19. Funn Dave

    “Given how important those seasons will be for the long-term success of the organization (a better team drives more revenue, drives a better team, drives more revenue, and on and on)….”

    Doesn’t this run completely counter to what Brett was saying about how ensuring a top 10 draft spot far outweighs any benefits that could be obtained from more success/wins? In fact, didn’t he say in the comments yesterday that, for a .500 or sub-.500 middling team on the Cubs, adding a few more wins here and there would have an infinitesimally minimal effect on revenue?

  20. Rich

    5 for 75

  21. TulaneCubs

    Personally, based on nothing, I think he’d laugh at anything like a Harrison type deal.

    I think he’s looking for a big deal, with Sanchez type years AFTER his arb years are up.

    Something like arb value for 2 years and then 5 year, $85M.

    Signing a Harrison-type deal is stupid for him. It delays his FA so that he’d be 34 in his first free agency year, which would likely kill his chances of signing another big contract. Not to mention that the new TV deals would seem to signal that we have some salary inflation coming in the next couple of years that he’d miss out on.

    So, sounds like too much for the Cubs’ front office, right? I agree. That’s why I think it’s more likely he’s traded than extended. Shark seems more than willing to wait to sign a deal so he can get closer to market value. And I don’t think this front office wants to go on that ride.

    Hope I’m wrong and he signs for a team friendly Matt Harrison deal, though.

  22. Cubbieblue29

    Jeff
    6/$70

  23. Die hard

    After unloading Soriano and dumping Garza last thing they need is an extension of anyone’s contract… Unless its not guaranteed like in NFL… Can’t believe it’s even being considered… Locking up Castro was mistake as was Rizzo– both went downhill

    1. Jed Jam Band

      I’m trying hard to find a redeeming quality in you. Trying so hard.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Don’t try just enjoy the ironic rhetoric.

      2. Die hard

        🚖 Cab fare should be only guarantee

    2. Drew7

      Rizzo hasn’t gone downhill, Gramps.

      1. Die hard

        Rizzo is not worth the 💰

    3. MichiganGoat

      Wow now we’ve added emoji to the insanity?😱

  24. Erica

    I’m pretty sure Jeff once said that he sees himself as being very similar to Wainwright. Maybe he thinks he’s good enough to get the 5year- $97.5 million the Cards gave Adam. Hopefully he’ll be fine with a number much less than that. I love Jeff and do not want him to leave! I’m praying they can negotiate something! I, personally, would give him whatever he wants. The Cubs will make the money back by having him on the team. And we just go $7mil relief by trading Sori… so why not put that towards keeping Jeff? Anything to have that man stay!

  25. Die hard

    Yep– extending the shark who is sushi 🐡🐡🐡against good hitting teams would be another bright move by the FO

    1. wilbur

      Not sure what sushi means, but Shark is closer to a middle reliever than he is to an ace. He’s improved over the last year but has never been better than a mid rotation guy on a bad team. I think he is lucky he’s been able to make the jump from reliever to starter, I don’t blame him for wanting to cash in on that progress, but projecting him as a TOR now is more dreaming than sense at this point. He is much more likely to regress back toward his long reliever stage as he is to make another quantum leap to being a number 1 or even a 2 pitcher. This FO isn’t going to pay a long reliever a TOR contract. Their computer program won’t let them. I’d package shark with castro and go after Price. That is how you secure your TOR arm. Otherwise Shark is about the same guy as Jackson is in 3 or 4 years from now, if he stays healthy. And that isn’t a bad thing, Jackson is a solid guy who is going to take the ball and pitch every time it’s his turn. can’t say that about many guys these days.

      1. Scotti

        “Shark is closer to a middle reliever than he is to an ace.”

        That’s just silly.

  26. Mick

    Many yrs ago a young man was driving his new Ford and it broke down. An elderly man came by and asked him if he needed help. The kid smarted off to the older man, “yeah, But no old man like you could help. As a result, the designer of that auto, Henry Ford drove away. I have suggested that Fergie Jenkins or Rick Reuschel work with Smardj. Jeff needs their knowledge on changing speeds and keep pitch counts down so he can stay in the game longer. Such a wonderful resource for Cub pitchers every spring training for the asking.

  27. Jones

    That’s true never thought about that, their hasn’t been a left handed 3b All Star ever in the majors…….Well if you can get Abreu and he only wants to play 1st you trade Rizz or Castro for a Major League 3rd Basemen, Point is the Cubs need major League ready talent now, enough with getting prospects

    1. ssckelley

      You don’t see lefties playing 3rd, SS, or 2nd base.

  28. Jones

    @Mick , Stay on point in the conversation, I know its hard for kids to stay focused with the Lack of Attention span tied to ones age but please try……..We are talking about getting a Stud Player from Cuba,,,,,,Nothing else…….

    1. Mick

      o.k. I will take my Ritalin. But you are humorous.

      1. DarthHater

        I’m trying to work all night right now, so if you could please send some of that Ritalin my way, I’d be grateful. :-P

        1. Mick

          Drug of choice is probably Adderall.

          1. N.J. Riv

            The official drug of Jonathan Gray.

    2. DarthHater

      I fear that, with their current stadium revenue and debt situation, the Cubs are not going to be willing to spend what it’s likely to take to land Abreu. I find that annoying and I wish it were not the case, but I fear that it’s true. Of course, the official story is likely to be that we just don’t need a 1B because we already have Rizzo.

  29. Lukewarm Stove: Cano, Samardzija, Kemp, More | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] Cameron says a reasonable extension for Jeff Samardzija is about five years and $60 million – that’s the range I’ve been saying for about a year now. Cameron knows what he’s talking about, and the Cubs would be wise to stick to that range. If […]

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