jeff samardzija gatorade showerIn the weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline this year, the unthinkable happened: Jeff Samardzija’s name popped up in multiple, credible trade rumors. Outside of the front office’s willingness to discuss any player in trade – you always at least listen – there were reports dating back to Spring Training that discussions between the Cubs and Samardzija on an extension were not proceeding well, and the Cubs might be looking to cash in on his value while they could.

Fast-forward to October, and the Cubs did not trade Samardzija, who is now coming off a 4.34 ERA season (but which looks quite a bit better by the advanced metrics). The Cubs have control over Samardzija for the next two seasons via arbitration, but have made no secret that they’d like to lock him up to a longer-term deal. Talks on such a deal are expected to pick back up this offseason, but sources tell Gordon Wittenmyer that an extension is a “long shot” at this point, given the gap in the two sides’ positions. If an extension doesn’t happen this offseason, and if the Cubs struggle out of the gate next year, we’ll once again hear multiple, credible trade rumors involving Samardzija next July.

I recently wrote about the implications of exploding salaries and the recent trend of mega extensions for in-house stars. With more and more money available to had to marginal talent in free agency, I wondered at what point the pendulum would swing sufficiently far that young, star players are more willing to risk injury or ineffectiveness on the way to a huge free agent score.

Might Jeff Samardzija be such a player?

In some ways, Samardzija could be the perfect player to resist extension overtures in the era of exploding salaries. He’s already banked more than $15 million in salary, so there isn’t the same impetus to get that first big score. His baseball card stats look far worse than his advanced stats, and as appreciation for the latter expands, he might be in a better position to cash in two years from now than today.

You can’t blame a guy for betting on himself, and you also can’t blame the Cubs for being unwilling to pay free agent market price for a guy with two more arbitration years left (and a relatively limited track record of success as a starter). For my part, I’ve long seen the five-year, $55 million Matt Harrison extension as a comparable for Samardzija talks. That extension came after two successful years as a starter, and two years prior to Harrison reaching free agency.

Having made $2.64 million in his first year of arbitration in 2013, I’d think Samardzija would be in line for a raise to something in the $5 million range for 2014. Another successful year, and he could be around $8 to $10 million in 2015. From there, it’s hard to project what kind of salary Samardzija would command in free agency, given the steep rise in market rates over the last two years, and given the uncertainty of Samardzija’s performance.

If Samardzija got $55 million for the next five years, he’d be getting, essentially, $40 million or so for those first three years of free agency. Market price? No. But, given those uncertainties, and the fact that the Cubs would be committing that cash years in advance, it’s a perfectly reasonable deal for both sides. If Samardzija is demanding considerably more than that, I could understand the Cubs’ hesitation.

  • BD

    I could also see the Cubs at least exploring a trade this winter. The two full years of control could potentially net the largest return.

  • TC

    So what does this do for a possible David Price trade? Do you bother trading for Price when you’ve gotta dump JefF7? All that surplus value you (assume) you’d be getting from Price before the extension kicks in would be wasted on a team that is looking for another starting pitcher… (note: Im against a Price trade anyway, but Im wondering how the lack of Samardzija extension might effect the FO’s plans)

    • jh03

      (Also against the Price trade, but going to play devils advocate)

      Couldn’t you argue that trading Shark would be more of a reason to get Price? Because you would lack an Ace without either of them. Obviously both of them would be ideal, but can the Cubs really afford to give big extensions to BOTH and pay the huge price it would cost to aquire Price?

    • Voice of Reason

      David Price missed starts this year because of arm trouble.

      If we traded for him we would have to sign him to a BIG extension. Like a minimum of $20 million dollars a year over a minimum of 5 years.

      I’m not handing out that kind of bread to a man who didn’t make it through the season because of arm trouble.

      Because of that required contract extension, I wouldn’t take him in exchange for a bag of balls!

      • Norm

        Do you think Price is any more likely to be injured in the next 5 years than say Samardzija?

        They are all the same roll of the dice.

        • Voice of Reason

          Based on the fact that Price missed starts this season with arm trouble, I would say YES, he is more likely to be injured over the next 5 years than Shark.

          And, Shark isn’t going to be asking for at least $20 million dollars a year. Big difference in terms of investment vs. injury probability, too.

  • North Side Irish

    I’ve also seen reports that Samardzija is demanding a full No Trade Clause and the FO isn’t giving that to anyone. There have also been quotes from Dempster about Samardzija wanting to stay in Chicago, but I think it’s far more likely he’s wearing a different uniform in Spring Training. The front office isn’t going to overspend on him and they’re not giving him a NTC, so if Samardzija wants to stay, he’s going to have to adjust his expectations,

  • Brian Peters

    In my eyes, Shark is not a star on a winning team. More like a 3-4 starter. I say dump him and collect what you can collect.

    • Voice of Reason

      A star on a winning team? What does that mean?

      It all comes down to what he wants money wise.

      If we could get him at a reasonable price we don’t need him to be a star! We just need him to be a solid #3 or #4 starter!

      • Brian Peters

        It means Shark is nowhere near as good as Wainwright, Verlander, Wacha, Lester, Sherzer, Lackey. That puts him at #3.

        • Brian Peters

          But he thinks he IS, and he’s gonna ask for that kind of money. He’s not worth it.

        • Voice of Reason

          You make no sense.

          • aCubsFan

            He makes perfect sense. Shark is demanding, based on the reports I’ve read, star (#1 or #2) money with NTC. He’s no where near a #1 or #2 pitcher even on the Cubs, so he has over valued his services.

            Furthermore, a report out yesterday said that Shark wants to win while he still young enough to enjoy it. Are they Cubs going to be able to satisfy this need?

            So it’s best to trade him now and get something of value in return.

            • D-Rock

              I also totally agree with Brian Peters. Shark is at best a 3 on a good team. Trade him now while we still can.

            • YourResidentJag


    • On The Farm

      I agree, after watching the post season, I am pretty confident that I would already feel defeated if game 1 and game 5 matchups were Shark vs. Wainwright. I think he would be a find guy to go to in game 2, but if the Cubs make the playoffs with him as the ace, it will be a short post season.

      • Patrick W.

        Absolutely not indicative of anything but interesting: In the last two seasons Jeff Samardzija started against Adam Wainwright twice, and the Cubs won them both.

    • Jamie

      …and all the people said, “amen.” Couldn’t agree more; plus, don’t like his locks. Certainly, not a plausible reason for exploring trade possibilities, but adds to my reasons for not being crazy about Shark. Primarily, I think he’s way overhyped. We all are too desperate to look to him as the anchor. He’s not a staff ace. Frankly, don’t ever see him being a legit staff ace.

      Wasn’t he one of the Hanson brothers? [img][/img]

  • Ben

    Given the Cubs current timeline, at best they have Shark for 1 year when they are “trying” to compete. I’d rather see them deal him for a some players who could come up in the 2015 season, and help us the next 5-6 years after that. Given that competing in 2015 (in our division) seems unlikely, that would be an ideal scenario, in my opinion.

  • Voice of Reason

    I wouldn’t be opposed to locking in Shark. Do I think he’ll ever be a #1? NO! He’s more of a very solid #4 or a good #3.

    If the extension can’t be worked out in that 8-10 million dollar range annually then definitely move him this winter. 8-10 million bucks is the going rate for a good #3 (see Edwin Jackson).

    Also, Shark has heart. Something you can’t say about all players these days.

    That would give us Jackson, Shark and Wood in the middle of the rotation. We’ll still need an ace and a #5. That number 5 starter can be marginal and that starter you take a chance on.

    BUT, if they deal Shark because he declines the extension, we’ll get something nice in return for him!

    • X The Cubs Fan

      Yeah tell that to his 200-200 season and the advanced metrics.

  • Aaron

    Samardzija currently has a no-trade clause in his contract, so he is in the driver’s seat on where he would be willing to go in an actual trade. The guy wants to be on a winning team that will compete for a championship year in and year out. The Cubs are not quite there yet.

    But do the Cubs sit there and wait out the next two years and Sharks trade value gets lower due to his available time left on his original contract? It’s a game of chess with Shark, his agent and the Cub’s FO.

    If the Cubs try to trade shark…and he rejects the trade…Shark is put into an even higher power position and the team could look like fools again in the media. If they wait for two more seasons, his trade value will go down, but more importantly, the price for starting pitching may sky rocket and the Cubs can’t afford him. Tough call on the next move here.

    • X The Cubs Fan

      I think it expired already.

    • Cubbie Blues

      “Samardzija currently has a no-trade clause in his contract”
      Where did you hear this? That is the first time I have heard that. Now, it’s rumored that is one of the items that is holding up an extension, but I’ve never heard about him having one now.

    • mjhurdle

      He does not have a no trade clause in his contract.
      He signed a 5 year deal with a NTC with two option years that the Cubs declined to pick up in 2012.

    • hansman

      “Samardzija currently has a no-trade clause in his contract, so he is in the driver’s seat on where he would be willing to go in an actual trade.”

      So you posted this incorrect information yesterday, you were corrected and now you are back posting it again?

      • On The Farm

        The most important parts of a lie is that you are committed and can say it with confidence.

      • Chef Brian

        He’s devoted to his ignorance…

  • Blackhawks1963

    I wish where all this David Price chatter derives from. To acquire Price would mean trading 3 frontline prospects. Sorry, but I’m not willing to trade a combination of Baez, Soler, Almora, Johnson, Edwards, Alcantara to get a high mileage David Price. I’m just not.

    • Dumpgobbler

      This. I was in favor or trading Baez and friends for Price last year. But with the explosion of Baez, the troubles Price has already, the price both money and prospect wise to get Price.. too much now IMHO. I’d think the rays ask for Baez, Almora + for Price. We cant afford to pay that, + the money for Price.

    • ssckelley

      Baez with maybe some fringy pieces would be enough to get Price. It would have to be contingent on negotiating a contract extension. Last off season it would have taken more than just Baez, obviously he has increased his value and the Cubs might be selling high in this situation. If Price is past his arm issues TOR pitchers are rare and the Cubs would be getting him in his prime.

      • YourResidentJag

        I’d rather see them trade Shark for a potential TOR like Sanchez of Toronto or Zach Lee of the Dodgers than go after Price.

        • SenorGato

          I think I would be more interested in Price if they traded Samardzija. Replaces Samardzija quickly with a superior talent.

          I’d like a three way trade with the Tigers and Blue Jays to come away with the Tigers’ black sheep SP, Rick Porcello, and some of the Blue Jays’ prospects. Then turn around and trade for Price and Sean Rodriguez.

          That said, imagining anything good happening this offseason is hard to do. Not supposed to because of #PoorTomRicketts.

          • YourResidentJag

            It’d be interesting…but that’s a lot of trading. The GM staffs of today just don’t seem to do a lot of that. It’d be fascinating to watch that scenario play out though because it would make this offseason much more exciting.

  • cms0101

    I’m not in favor of moving him just yet. 2 more arbitration years, and then the threat of a qualifying offer, they have time to negotiate. I know his value is potentially greater now than later. But look at the package they got for Garza, with half a season left. They could easily wait another year before having to make the decision to trade him and still get a decent package, provided he doesn’t get injured or regress significantly. While I am, overall, happy with the rebuild plan, they need to start putting stakes in the ground with players that will be here to compete for the playoffs, not just trade away for prospects. And his value will be more at a trade deadline coming off good starts than during an offseason after a so/so year.

  • Aaron

    This is the time to make the move. The cubs will be competitive in the next couple of years. This will give the prospects in the trade time to develop and be mlb ready.

  • MightyBear

    Shark doesn’t have a NTC. Extend him or trad him now. Don’t wait until July. IF the FO waits until July, Shark will be hurt in June. Think Matt Garza.

    • Dumpgobbler

      This is all I can think of. The FO received a good deal for Garza, but they traded him at the wrong time IMHO. They failed to get what could have been full value for him. They should have traded him before the start of 2012, and they didn’t. Hopefully they look back and don’t make the same mistake with Shark.

      I’d be all for extending him, but reading various reports about his situation, I really don’t think hes too keen on being here. He wants to win, and he wants to test FA for a situation that suits him better. Can’t blame him for that, but we need to cash in while his value is at a high point, instead of waiting like we did on Garza.

  • Aaron

    Samardzija signed a five-year deal to play baseball with the Chicago Cubs. The deal has a no-trade clause and a club option for a sixth and seventh year.

    • On The Farm

      It has already been mentioned that those options were DECLINED (i.e. the contract is no longer valid, which means the NTC is longer present since it is not tied to his current contract).

    • Cubbie Blues

      His current contract:

      $2.6m / 1 Years (2013) (Edit)
      signed by Chicago Cubs on 1/18/2013 (Avoided Arbitration)
      2013: $2.6M

    • Kyle

      Those five years expired in 2011.

  • CubsFaninMS

    I believe if a somewhat team-friendly contractual agreement cannot be worked out with Samardzija, the optimal time to sell him is the trade deadline in 2014. Samardzija, thus far, has been a very low injury risk. Will his ERA be worse the first couple of months in 2014 than his 4.31 ERA of this year? Possible but not likely. First, we are selling SOMEWHAT low on Samardzija if we trade him this offseason. Second, what will be the difference between how much talent we acquire from a Samardzija trade this off season as compared to the trade deadline? The Garza trade indicates.. probably not much. In addition to that, if the front office is serious about at least ATTEMPTING to make a run for the playoffs next season (yes, you never know), they have to at least keep Samardzija around in case that happens. If we flop like we did in 2013, then trade him. Little is lost. For the Garza sweepstakes, you had many smart GM’s not biting on a rent-a-player. For Samardzija, the team acquiring him would have him for an additional season. IMO, this would most likely bring more trading partners to the surface and inflate the value some. Saying all of this, my thoughts are that.. unless they get a major haul of prospects this off season, there’s no reason not to keep him around for 2014.

    • Playoffs!

      I agree.

  • Brian

    Edwin Jackson…4 years $60 million. Samardzija looked incredibly similar to Jackson in the second half of the season. Get what you can and move on.

  • Kyle

    Samardzija gets a nine-figure deal if he hits free agency. If the Cubs think getting three of his free agency years for $35m or whatever is fair, then they are deluded.

    • MightyBear

      I agree.

    • MightyBear

      And you’re still silly.

    • Andrew

      I don’t think nine figures. I think his ceiliing is Anibal Sanchez’s contract. There is way too much overreaction to this Lincecum deal.

      • Kyle

        Sanchez would get nine figures in this market too.

        It’s not the Lincecum deal. I, and others who were paying attention, predicted this sort of inflation long before that. The supply of players has contracted while the money available for them has significantly grown in recent years, possibly coming to a peak this offseason and next.

        • MightyBear

          I agree again and the new CBA was a huge indicator. Also, I think it will go on longer as other sources of revenue are exploited by other markets including our own.

    • CubFan Paul

      $40M for 3 free agent years is fair (for an arb extension) and market rate ($13.3M)

      The most Shark should get is $14M AAV ($1M more than Danks)

    • When the Music’s Over

      And if Shark thinks the Cubs are going to pay him $20M+/year for those three years, then he is deluded.

      If Shark really is going to be a $100M plus player, I’d trade him now. Sucks to say that, but paying a 31 year old (as of Jan 2016) mid-rotation starter roughly ~$20M/year for 5 years or ~$25M/year for 4 years is a rough proposition.

      • YourResidentJag


  • cubfanincardinalland

    This is a potentially toxic situation, and the front office knows it. Samardzija is weary of losing, he has that Notre Dame mentality, and not in a good way. He sees himself on a playoff team pitching in October. You could see the attitude problem develop last summer, bitching about trading Feldman, and getting into it with Dale in the dugout. It will only get worse. Got to get value and move him.
    I think back to that game in Philly last summer, that is what Jeff is as a pitcher. Staked to a five run lead, he just kept chucking fastballs in there, with no real plan of where they were going. Got more stubborn as they kept ripping him all over the ballpark.

    • Voice of Reason

      I wish every player on our team would be tired of losing!

      I like a guy with a little fire in his belly!

      • mjhurdle

        which players do you know that are not tired of losing?

        • Voice of Reason

          You’re missing the point.

          I’m glad that Shark is willing to show his desire to win. He is willing to step up and voice his opinion.

          I guess if I spin it that way then it will make sense to you?

          • mjhurdle

            i guess, but i don’t understand what it has to do with anything.
            Using that, we should just hire a cheerleading squad and play them. they would be much cheaper in payroll, they wouldn’t block any minor leaguers, and that way when we lose 100+ games, at least we can say ‘they have fire in their bellies’ and ‘they really show a desire to win every game!!’

          • cubfanincardinalland

            While I heard last year many players, even some of them who the Cubs traded, compliment the direction of the team, you did not hear that from Samardzija. Just the opposite, he criticized management for trading Feldman. I think it is pretty obvious that Jeff wants a change of scenery.
            I never thought of him as a fire in his belly kind of guy. His track record is that he wilts under pressure or crucial situations. He blew many leads last season. My biggest question with him is his mental toughness, which is surprising coming from a football background.

          • MightyBear

            Belly fire and scrappiness will bring the Cubs happiness!!

  • Aaron

    On The Farm…thanks for the explanation. Question for you…since the Cubs declined those options which then terminated his No-Trade Clause, do you that action back in 2012 has any effect on Shark and his agent NOT wanting to talk about an extension with the Cubs?

    • On The Farm

      I am assuming they declined his options because it must have been cheaper to give him arbitration money (with the added benefit of moving him to where ever they want). I would think the fact that they declined the option would not be a cause for the extension not getting done. I would say the main issue is the Samardjiza and his agent value him right arm at X, where as the Cubs Front office see his value as X-Y. So it is more of a matter of the player thinks he is an ace, and the Cubs don’t. I don’t think he cares who pays him, as long as he gets paid. He isn’t looking to take a home town discount.

      This is just my uneducated guess.

      • Jason Powers

        That, and while the Cubs “valued” him at X-Y, they attempted to sell him to a potential team as having the value of X+Y…. where that requires Z TOP prospects.

        1) Is he worth the ace-like money?
        2) Do others see him as an ace, without said track record? (67 total starts..)
        3) And what is the selling price Theo/Jed want to get?

  • Kevin

    If this FO could identify hidden talent in the draft, just like the Cardinals are able to do, then there’s no need to talk about aquiring Price. Take the money saved to purchase all the rooftops. put up revenue generating advertising, renovate Wrigley and watch the Cubs be Americas team. and better yet, watch your $845M investment turn into $2.5B.

  • Brains

    Just for clarity sake, yes we should resign him to a nice contract. At what point do you guys begin to analyze the situation in reality? Here we have a great #3 pitcher that other teams would want, and we should shore him up. AND sign more pitchers and batters. Any other conclusion makes no sense. Who would we have instead of this guy, who we cultivated in our own system and will come at a discount compared to free agency?

    • Cubbie in NC

      What if he is not willing to sign for a discount? Do you sign him, or try to trade him while you can still get more than draft pick compensation?

      • Brains

        If we don’t sign him we have no one to replace him, like with Garza. We can’t keep our auto-pilot on self-destruction. We simply need to sign him or find a genuine alternative. Since no alternative exists and we’ve reduced our opportunities from last year’s staff, this is the business. It’s how good business works. You protect your own and you protect yourself in the process.

  • Cubbie in NC

    Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute. I could go either way on keeping or trading Shark.

    If Brett’s supposition that the pitching market is about to explode cost wise based on the signing of Mitch from Dazed and Confused.

    Then shouldn’t we be drafting pitchers with our 1st pick? Guys like Price are not going to be made available in free agency and are going to be impossible to sign from a cost standpoint. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to draft and internationally get our pitchers, and then pick up position players through free agency to fill holes?

    Is anyone else becoming concerned that the FO is more interested in bargains than talent acquisition? I am starting to wonder if coming up with money ball II and not being called over spenders is not more important than filling holes at the MLB level. The only non bargain move for now was EJAX

  • CH

    Slightly off topic, but does anyone have any information on the timing of the PTBNL in the Dejesus trade?

  • Le Cubs

    Does a trade with the Diamondbacks for Bradley and maybe a lesser but still solid pitching prospect and some other positional prospects sound appealing to anyone? I just think Bradley and a college pitcher at the top of our future rotation would be awesome.

    • On The Farm

      Bradley + would be a pretty good trade for Samardjiza.

      • YourResidentJag

        I wish.

    • jt

      Don’t know if they could get Bradley but I’d like someone good from that age group.

    • Dumpgobbler

      Short answer, Yes. Shark for Bradley + a bit would be awesome.

    • CUBS

      Bradley and a lottery ticket or two for Samardizja seems like it is not that far out of the realm of possibility

  • Aaron

    I believe Shark has the potential to be a #1 pitcher on a championship caliber team in the next 2 years. If other clubs think that as well, then Shark has tremendous trade value.

    He is willing to wait out the next two seasons to strike it big in the free agent market. It’s a risk on his end…but it could be worth many millions more.

    • Cubbie Blues

      If other clubs think he has that potential, he should be traded immediately to one of those teams for a haul.

  • jt

    “The Den” yesterday mentioned a couple of potential trading partners for Samardzija that does make some sense.
    I’d like to see him included in a larger package that could really shake things up.
    Who knows? There is a potential for a lot to happen…. or nothing at all.

  • Bill

    How about a Samardzija for Bundy trade.It’s a gamble considering Bundy is recovering from tj surgery but could be a steal down the road.

    • King Jeff

      I doubt Baltimore will trade Bundy until they give him an opportunity to recover. Trading him for Shark would be selling extremely low on him.

  • Aaron

    If Shark is traded in the off-season for prospects that are a few years away from helping the big club…then the Cubs in theory will be an even weaker team in 2014 than in 2013.

    How many more losses can the fans take? What effect would this have on revenues?

  • Bill

    Samardzija is Zambrano light.He get’s all flusterd with a little bit of adversity this isn’t the type of player you want to lead your rotation.We should trade him now before it’s to late and he loses more value.

  • Dustin Smith

    Shark’s situation is a little strange because he’s hard to read. He’s publically earlier this year said it’s not about the money, that as long as he had enough for a fishing license (an enormous exaggeration on his part, but I get his point) and that as long as the Cubs win he would be happy. So that’s why it’s strange when other times he seems like he’s trying to squeeze every dime he can playing hardball on an extension.

    Are the Cubs low-balling him knowing he’s said that money isn’t the top priority? Is he just not interested because the Cubs are giving signals that winning is still > 2 years out? Or is he being a weasel and playing up not being about the money publically but then going for max dollars behind closed doors with the front office (Dempster -> ATL non-trade approval cough cough) ? If it’s the latter I’d be more than happy to see him get traded, but my guess is it’s one of the 2 former, or just bad handling by Shark’s agent.

    • Edwin

      Calling Jeff a weasel for playing the “it’s not about the money” card seems a bit harsh. Every player does that.

    • ssckelley

      Never believe a ball player when he says it is not about the money. Of course it is about the money and I do not blame them for wanting to maximize their value when they only have a short period of time that they can play at that high level.

  • BlameHendry

    Unbelievable. After the total garbage he put out on the mount in 2013 he has the nerve to demand big money from the Cubs?? The guy still has potential but I don’t think he’ll ever put it together. I want this guy gone before spring training. We need to get the most we can for him in a trade.

    Oh and since David Price is a subject in the conversation, trading for him is a pretty terrible idea. The only year we could potentially take advantage of having him in our rotation would be 2015, and think of the prospects we would have to give up for just one competitive year with him on our team

    • BWA

      Not saying he deserves big money yet, but 200+ innings with a K an inning and a 4.3 ERA isn’t exactly Garbage. He has the stuff to be a great #2 if he can just be consistent the whole season. I say the Cubs oughta see what they have in him this year and then determine what to do with him.

      • Jono

        Im not a big samardzija fan, Id rather they trade him than give him big money, but IP is the pretty important stat. It seems to be underrated

    • Edwin

      Yes, it’s terrible when players want the opportunity to try and sell their services to the highest bidder.

    • YourResidentJag

      Total garbage? His K rate was solid as were his advanced metrics. Garbage, no. Demanding too much salary, yes. But if some team is willing to extend him for crazy salary, I’d rather it not be the Cubs.

  • salesguy

    Not to slight Shark here, but let’s be honest about a couple of things. For one, he will be 30 very soon, now let’s look at the FO and their objectives from day one to lock up young cost controlled talent. I think when you look at this situation objectively, the FO views him as a good, but not great player, nearing the end of his prime years. Thus they will go to a certain point, but won’t overpay to keep him. Given the impass in valuation, I think the FO has no choice but to view him as a short term asset, and try to flip him individually, or as a part of a package for some long term assets. Personally, I’d be more in favor of this approach than the extension.