jeff samardzija gatorade showerRight now the debate amongst Cubs fans seems to be whether the team should extend Jeff Samardzija or trade him. Those who have been following the story know it’s much more complicated than just picking one side or the other. From what I’ve learned, it appears the Cubs preference is to extend Samardzija. Of course, as with everything this front office does, they want to make sure that extension comes at what they deem as proper value.

We all know that Samardzija is quite confident in his abilities. While this is a great attribute to have, and Samardzija certainly has many great attributes, this confidence has likely kept these extension talks from getting very far. Samardzija believes he’s worth a lot of money. He’s right – look at what Jason Vargas just got (four years and $32 million), and consider that Samardzija would likely double the AAV of that contract on the open market. But the Cubs have some leverage here, since Samardzija isn’t hitting the open market for at least another two years. Thus, they hold the cards and Samardzija has to decide whether he’d prefer the security of a long-term contract, or if he’d rather spend the next two years in Toronto (or wherever).

And that’s where we sit now. The Cubs want to extend Samardzija, but talks haven’t moved far enough yet. Maybe when Samardzija realizes they actually are willing to part with him, he’ll be more open to listen to their hopefully reasonable offer (I’d say something in the five year, $60 million range is very fair). We can debate just how valuable Samardzija is, but I think he’s firmly entrenched himself as a number three* with upside for more, so a reasonably-priced extension would really be the ideal resolution to this situation for the Cubs.

*I won’t get into this too in depth right now, because it’s not the point I’m trying to make, but his peripherals the last two years lead me to this conclusion. His higher than normal BABIP last year led to the numbers that have some believing he regressed, but the issues for Samardzija remain the same as they were in 2012: if (and of course that’s always a big if) he can slightly reduce his HR/9 and BB%, he has huge upside.

However, as I mentioned on Twitter, I have a gut feeling the two sides won’t come to terms on a deal, and Samardzija will be traded in the next two weeks. If that happens, it leads to a very interesting point for the Cubs. Since Theo Epstein and company came aboard in November of 2011, many of us have pointed to 2014 as the year the Cubs take a small step forward, and 2015 as the year we can look to as a realistic point for when this team can contend for a playoff spot. We can debate whether that’s still a realistic goal, and if they’re actually on course to contend in 2015, but that’s not what I’m trying to do here.

My question is twofold. If Samardzija is dealt, does that change the message that’s being sent by the organization? And how does a potential deal alter, if it does at all, the timeline many of us have set for the Cubs?

Samardzija has been viewed as part of the core going forward since his breakout 2012 season. He’s someone who was supposed to blossom into a star alongside Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro and help ease future stars like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and C.J. Edwards into the fold.

That was the plan, right?

Well, maybe not. We have to remember that this is all fluid. The front office is well aware that nothing is guaranteed. Castro isn’t a lock to bounce back and become the hitting machine we all expected. Baez may eventually be derailed by his aggressive approach both at the plate and on defense and never reach his superstar potential. And Samardzija may not be willing to sign an extension that the Cubs deem makes sense.

And that last point is the key here. The plan has always been to acquire young talent and keep said talent under control for as long as possible. Samardzija is part of the core only if he’s willing to take the financial security that the Cubs are offering. Otherwise, he becomes another valuable asset that the Cubs can flip for high-end talent that they can control for the next half dozen years.

At first blush, a trade of Samardzija may look like a step back in the Cubs rebuild. Dealing an established starter who has logged less than 600 innings and possibly has more to offer seems like an odd decision. But we’ve gone over why the organization believes they may be forced to do so. And the fact is, the timing may be perfect for the Cubs to put Samardzija on the market.

Right now, teams are spending insane money on the free agent market. Having the chance to acquire a pitcher like Samardzija, who is under control for two years at a cheap rate (in this market, whatever Samardzija will make in arbitration is insanely cheap), and who immediately upgrades a Major League rotation is something any team with ambitions to contend in 2014 would like to do. Add in that two of the teams reportedly interested in acquiring Samardzija (Arizona and Toronto) are coming off disappointing seasons and seem rather desperate to upgrade their rosters, and things may be lining up nicely for the Cubs.

We ultimately won’t be able to properly judge a Samardzija trade until we know the return, but the Cubs appear to be in a pretty enviable situation as far as having a highly desirable asset in a seller’s market. Just like the front office won’t settle for signing Samardzija to an extension they don’t view as a smart value, they won’t settle for a trade that’s not maximizing Samardzija’s worth.

In the end, the message hasn’t changed. But ultimately, it’s not the message that matters to many fans, but whether the Cubs are really on a timeline to start contending in 2015. Does moving Samardzija for prospects change that goal? Of course we don’t know what that return will be, but looking at solely this potential move, it’s tough to argue that it wouldn’t downgrade the Major League roster in the immediate future. Even if the Cubs can manage to snag an elite pitching prospect like Archie Bradley, assuming he’ll offer equal or greater performance than Samardzija by 2015 is optimistic.

Again, we’re down to what other moves the Cubs can make in addition to moving Samardzija. Can they surprise many and win the bidding, if it ever happens, for Masahiro Tanaka? Will they be spending big next offseason? At some point over the next year, will they put together a package of prospects to get an under control, front of the rotation-type arm to anchor the staff? And what if a trade of Samardzija nets multiple players who can impact the club in the next two years*?

*For example, does acquiring Bradley, Adam Eaton and Randall Delgado add as much value or more than Samardzija would have in 2015? At first glance, that seems like a pretty crazy return to me, but as I mentioned, this market has me reconsidering exactly what front offices consider fair value.

If Samardzija is moved, there will be much written about how the Cubs are once again pushing back their timeline for future contention. It’s hard to envision a realistic scenario in which a Samardzija trade makes the Cubs a better team over the next two years. However, we can’t judge the Cubs future solely on if Samardzija is dealt or extended.  Getting the answers to the above questions is the key to determining whether the Cubs timeline of contending in 2015 would still be on track.

  • duke

    Samardzija is not irreplaceable. Trade him, keep him the message remains the same. Until the ownership/ FO, has the capability or willingness to take some risks and spend , expect mediocrity in the near term and possibly quite some time if prospects don’t pan out

  • Oswego Chris

    Great piece….

    • Hyde


    • Wilbur

      Agreed …

    • Funn Dave

      Definitely. Addresses all the angles without making premature judgements.

    • MoneyBoy

      Very much so!!!

  • cubsin

    I don’t see it as a setback to 2015 if they get multiple prospects who I’d expect to get to Chicago by the 2014 trade deadline. Trading him for prospects who haven’t even reached AA yet would be at least a one-year setback, and could easily be two years, depending on the players involved. Others feel like we have to get Sanchez if we trade him to Toronto, but I feel like we have to get Strohman (although both would be nice).

    • Kyle

      Getting nearer prospects means getting worse prospects, generally.

      • MightyBear

        Not necessarily but this is generally true.

  • Rich

    I don’t care if they trade him or keep him personally. Brett mentioned 5 / 60 as a contract. I will leave it to him and the rest of the really smart people on this board to analyze that. I think that is a steal for him. The market every year in baseball goes nuts. But, I can easily see him getting 75 million by next season. But what the heck I am just guessing.

    • Rich

      The Complexities of the Jeff Samardzija Situation, and Impact of the Outcome

      By Sahadev Sharma on November 26, 2013

      oops sorry CREDIT TO THE AUTHOR..

  • Drew

    I am fine with trading Shark. It’s been great to see him come along the past few years and turn into something after the huge investment the Cubs previous FO made in him. It’s hard to believe that he will become a “true ace” of any pitching staff let alone a high no. 2 on a pitching staff. If the Cubs can add more arms to their system that are of high quality and cost controlled I would prefer that. Shark has made it clear he wants big money and wants to take care of himself which he is in his right to do. The Cubs have their own right to maximize his value now and get a return on their investment.

  • Jeff

    Spending lavishly on Tanaka to win this bid but refusing to extend Samardzija seems hypocritical. How can you have money for one but not the other???

    • CubFan Paul

      “Spending lavishly on Tanaka…refusing to extend Samardzija…How can you have money for one but not the other???”

      Refusing to overspend on an arb-eligible extension isn’t the same as acquiring a pitcher through the posting-process.

    • Blublud

      Disagree. Either you value one more then the other. There is pre arb value to consider in Sharks case. Or, you value them the same, but you realize you can sign Tanaka for money only, trade Shark for tons of prospect, not take a step backwards on the big club while still improving the farm.

    • bbmoney

      It’s not necessarily about having money to extend Shark. It’s not being able to agree on an extension. Just because the two sides haven’t agreed doesn’t mean it’s because the Cubs don’t have the money it just means Shark wants more (assuming he’s willing to sign an extension at all) than the Cubs are willing to pay.

    • Chef Brian

      Would you rather have Tanaka and a few to a handful of top prospects or an extended Shark? I don’t t think as we sit right now they will be able to win a Tanaka bid and pay the kind of extension Shark wants.

    • Isaac

      Because Tanaka could represent 6-7 years of control, while Shark only has two. The point is maximizing Shark’s value (probably by trading him), and adding in more control with Tanaka, plus the prospects acquired for Shark.

    • BJS

      I think this depends on how much the Cubs value each of Tanaka and Samardzija. And that’s not me saying they value Tanaka more. Value can depend on a large number of factors, and can obviously be different from one team to the other… so I’m not about to debate who the Cubs value more between the two.

      Aside from that, if you’re the Cubs and feel as though you could sign Tanaka for what you consider quality value (essentially replacing Shark to some level (granted, not the same level)), and also trade Shark for a reaping of prospects that could be difference makers in a few years when the Cubs figure to be truly competitive, I’m not sure why you don’t make those moves.The Cubs shouldn’t extend Samardzija just for the sake of extending him. if he’s not willing to sign for what the Cubs consider something reasonable, they should trade him. Whether in the form of Shark or not, the Cubs need to get the best value possible.

      Not to mention, we don’t even know how much the Cubs are willing to spend on either of the two at this point.

    • Rich H

      No one has said affording Shark is a problem. But to be honest I would rather have a Tanaka type talent than a Samardzija type talent all things being equal.

      If we trade Shark and get Tanaka our timeline does not move. We just change TOR guys now and add an impact arm.

      I do not think we are getting Tanaka though so this is just an exercise in what if’s.

    • Jono

      they can get long term, young, assets by trading samardzija. They don’t get anything by not signing tanaka.

      • Jono

        oops, there wasn’t a single response when I started typing this out. I don’t mean to pile on. Sorry.

        • hansman

          Meh, it’s what we do here.

  • Jason

    Just set a price that you think he’s worth signing to an extension, if he refuses to come down trade him. Shark is a good #2 pitcher, but he’s not an ace, his control limits him and inflates his ERA. I prefer to trade him myself just because of what would come back. My own personal opinion puts him more like Carlos Zambrano, tons of talent, but the wildness that comes out is going to limit him.

  • The Dude Abides

    Samardzija obviously wants to be paid but he also wants to win and reading some of his comments about the revolving door of players for prospects seems to be wearing on him more then others. In two years he will be 31, while hopefully we are better I doubt we will be heading into the next season as a favorite to make the playoffs.

    Hopefully they get back pitching prospects that are closer to big league ready than our current top tier minor league pitchers.

  • davidalanu

    I realize this is just one small part of the article, but if the Cubs could pry Bradley, Eaton and Delgado away from AZ, I don’t care what point in the rebuild you call it, that trade would have to be made. They can take Schierholtz, too if they want.

    Eaton is a guy I would love to see come back as part of a package. If he can come anywhere close to the OBP he put up in the minors, he could help change the look of the lineup in a hurry.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Plus there is the added benefit that Eaton was injured for much of the year last year.

      • davidalanu

        Added benefit in what sense?

        • MightyBear

          In that you’re buying low as opposed to him coming off a 300/420/700 over 600 ABs year.

          • davidalanu

            Ok, thanks. Started to wonder if it was a reference to his elbow injury, which obviously, the cubs are partial to.

  • Rcleven

    The Cubs are reaching the perfect storm with Samardzija. Samardzija wants to be with a winning organization. Theo can’t promise that. Jeff will get his pay day no matter where he goes. There will probably will not be a so called Cub discount.
    The Cubs may be able to sell the future to the fans (and rightly so) but he is worth more to a contending team than the Cubs.
    The time is ripe to move Jeff to a contender who will meet the Cubs terms.

    • CubFan Paul

      All signs point to a trade this week. Maybe there’s an artificial deadline, but reading between the lines of the Jays’ & DBacks’ GMs, they have until Thursday. Then maybe the Cubs start talking to other clubs as part of their plan B or leverage.

      • Rcleven

        Don’t think anything will happen this week.
        Much prefer a trade with AZ than Toronto. Heard AZ knows what it will take to get a deal done but is balking for a later date to see if they can fill other needs.
        Wouldn’t break my heart to hold him till the trade deadline when teams are more desperate..

        • YourResidentJag

          I’d prefer Toronto if Skaggs is centerpiece. This is a trade that should be about the acquisition of SP. Trahan would be a nice piece to obtain, though.

          • Rebuilding

            Skaggs is a better prospect than Sanchez. The only reason he would even be available is because he struggled just a little in the PCL (actually had a better than league average ERA) as a 21 yo

            • YourResidentJag

              I’m thinking more like Stroman. I’ve cooled on Sanchez after seeing what Keith Law had to say and watching video.

        • CubFan Paul

          “Wouldn’t break my heart to hold him till the trade deadline”

          see Matt Garza

          • Rcleven

            Garza was a whole different story. Ya he made everybody sweat but am still happy with the return.
            Even if Spellcheck were to get hurt there is sill one and a half years of control.

            • CubFan Paul

              “Garza was a whole different story”

              How so? Short term assets are short term assets with diminishing value, no?

  • LER

    I don’t think that trading Samardzija and acquiring Tanaka is hypocritical, but it’s surely counter-productive (maybe anti-productive). The number of pitchers who are really good is a pretty small number, as the upward creep of EAs across the leagues suggests. Do you remember the names of people with average stuff (Porcello and Hughes are the top of that list0 who are touted as really good deals? Samardzija would be foolish to trust his stuff enough to bet his career on the bigger-than-big payday somewhere else, but the Cubs would be foolish to offer him a subpar home-favoring deal. Offer 5/75, and consider him nuts if he doesn’t accept it, but don’t try to finesse him.

    • CubFan Paul

      “Offer 5/75…nuts if he doesn’t accept it”

      That’s too much for a guy with two years of team control left. 5yrs/$75M is open market value, he’d accept that in a heartbeat

      • bbmoney

        Yeah Shark will probably make $15M or a little less combined the next two years if he goes to arbitration (projected ~5M this year). So 5/75 puts his three FA years at 20M per. That seems a bit rich.

        At the same time, given that Shark has made real money (by MLB standards) already because of how his rookie contract was set up. I can understand why he wants to get every dollar he can and isn’t as worried about the security an extension offers (Castro and Rizzo were in somewhat different situations in that regard). If he think’s he’ll be worth $20M per year in two more years, there’s a lot less incentive for him to sign for less now than for a normal player heading into his second arb year.

        • CubFan Paul

          “given that Shark has made real money…because of how his rookie contract was set up…he wants to get every dollar he can and isn’t as worried about the security an extension offers”

          I think this can be remedied with a sizeable signing bonus

          14: $5M
          15: $8M
          16: $12M
          17: $12M
          18: $12M = $49M add in a $10M Signing Bonus = 5yrs/$59M = $11.8AAV
          Club Options – $5M Buyout would make the deal 5yrs/$64M, $12.8M AAV
          19: $16M
          20: $16M = $32M more = 7yrs/$91M = 13AAV

          That’s a fair arb-extension for a guy with two years remaining. Matt Harrison got $11M AAV, Danks got $13M AAV. $14M average annual value is the most Theo&Co are probably offering.

          • bbmoney

            Yeah, I think somewhere between 5/59 and 5/64 would be a reasonable offer. No clue if he thinks so though.

            I’d hate those club options though if I’m Shark. Contracts may have exploded by that point and if the Cubs keep him through 2020 he’d be 36 with likely no real chance to sign another meaningful contract. He might be able to cash in pretty well one more time if he can sign a deal at 34.

            Of course all super speculative for a pitcher who could blow out at any moment, but probably the kinds of things players facing these questions think about.

            • Bret Epic

              Considering his talent and even his growing potential, he’ll end up getting paid. I highly doubt he’s willing to settle for a yearly salary that’s less than Edwin Jackson, especially with how much the market has changed this offseason. Even if he doesn’t “deserve it,” I think he’ll end up with a 5/75 or maybe even 5/80. A bit much in my opinion, but if the Cubs could keep him for between a 4/64 and 5/70, it’ll be worth it. Only way I see him making less a year than Jackson is if the contract is highly incentive based and he doesn’t reach his goals.

      • TulaneCubs

        The Cubs shouldn’t be in the business of signing Jeff Samardzija for a market level deal.

        They can get market level guys through free agency. If Samardzija wants a market value deal, trade him for prospects and then sign a guy similar to Shark for market value.

        Hate to keep beating this drum, but the math is simple.

        Shark at market value < a bunch of prospects + a Shark caliber player at market value

        It'd take a pretty big discount to the left side of that equation for that < sign to flip.

  • Kyle

    So what you are saying is that trading Samardzija doesn’t push back the timeline as long as one of several really, really unlikely scenarios occurs.

    Agreed. But for practical purposes, we can assume it does unless one of those remote scenarios becomes a real possibility.

    • DarthHater

      No, what Sahadev is saying is what he actually said: “It’s hard to envision a realistic scenario in which a Samardzija trade makes the Cubs a better team over the next two years.” Sounds pretty much like what you just said.

      • Kyle

        I was agreeing with him. I gotta admit, it didn’t sound like it the way I put it.

      • itzscott

        I’m trying to understand your rationale implying that the Cubs would be any better team in two years if they keep Shark…. unlikely scenarios or not.

        I really don’t think the Cubs will be any better or any worse in two years whether they trade Shark now or re-sign him.

  • Stevie B

    Unless you are privy to closed door meetings with Jed and Theo, then no one has a clue as to what is going to happen.
    We could sign Cano, Tanaka, extend Samardzija, and sign Garza….bring Baez and Bryant up mid season and good grief, you have a really solid team on your hands. Fill in as needed and its contention time.
    Or we could trade Jeff and wait 2 more years and do nothing…..

    Do YOU know what is going to happen….?? I dont!

    • willis

      Your second option, trading Shark and doing nothing.

    • Funn Dave

      Unless the FO’s statement that they can’t afford more than one impact player this offseason was a misdirection, then yes, I do know that they won’t sign all three of Garza, Cano, and Tanaka. Even if they hadn’t made that statement, I would consider such a scenario highly unlikely.

  • trust me

    What about Jeff and baez for bradly skagg and maybe delgado?

    • On The Farm

      Shark and Baez could be their own center pieces in two different trades. Adding them together should net a lot.

      • Kyle

        Bradley Skagg and Delgado *is* a lot. I wouldn’t do it, though

        • Jono

          apparently not “a lot” enough

        • When the Music’s Over

          I wonder if Skaggs can get his FB velocity back. If not, he’s likely middle of the rotation material.

        • On The Farm

          I would still think the pair would fetch more than those three. I was using “a lot” relative to the situation, I realize those three bring a lot of value.

        • YourResidentJag

          I would do your previous scenario of Syndergaard though.

      • Jono

        And I wouldn’t want to trade Baez for minor league pitching unless it’s such a ridiculous steal you have to do it, especially after he rips up AAA in 2014 and proves that he’s ready for the bigs.

    • CubsFaninMS

      I like Samardzija/Soler for Skaggs, Delgado, Bradley and a wild card upper Top 20 prospect. Sounds like a crazy return but I believe the market may be conducive to such a deal. This Cubs fan can only hope.

    • Isaac

      Baez is in the same conversation as Bradley, as far as prospects are concerned; which leaves us trading Jeff for Skaggs and Delgado. No thanks.

      • On The Farm

        Throw in Homberg or Stryker Trahan and my interest beings to peak again.

      • Rebuilding

        Bradley will never happen. If I had to put money on it Bradley will outperform Samardzija THIS YEAR. I’m not sure why Skaggs has become such chopped liver to people. Prior to last year he was a back end Top 10 prospect in all of baseball. He struggled a little in the PCL, but as a 21 year old in a tough, tough league for pitchers. Then struggled in his call-up. That’s when you try to acquire these high end pitching prospects because otherwise, like Bradley, they are unavailable. A deal of Skaggs, Eaton and another arm (Holmberg, Spruill) or an upside guy like Trahan should be accepted immediately. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that Skaggs is just as good as Samardzija this year either

        • YourResidentJag

          His fastball is a major issue in reading scouting reports. Good enough for AAA, yes. Flattens out though, so went he got to the majors, his HR rates rose dramatically. Combine that with not much in the velocity department, and you could have problems. I’d rather have Stroman. Don’t believe any truths to undersized guys and TOR projections. As has been pointed out here already, just not true. Plus we could get Drabek to fill back end of rotation. Rather see him than Rusin.

  • Tim

    Where is Assman? Haven’t seen him on here in awhile. Does he still post? Does he offer any insight into which way the Cubs are leaning? Trade him or keep him? Which is more likely?

    Also, I’m pretty sure there is no way the CubS get Bradley from the dbacks, Skaggs would be the headliner IMO. Eaton would be nice, as would Delgado.

    • On The Farm

      He posted last night on this story

      Go towards the bottom. There is more than this

      November 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thus far Nats have offered the best package for Shark…Cubs FO holding out for an additional prospect…Jays have made a good but not great offer that’s very similar to the Garza return…still a strong possibility Shark signs extension…asking for $18+ AAV as of a month ago…

      • Tim

        Thanks for posting this On the Farm! 18 mil a year is crazy, nice knowing ya Jeff

  • Funn Dave

    “Castro isn’t a lock to bounce back and become the hitting machine we all expected. Baez may eventually be derailed by his aggressive approach both at the plate and on defense and never reach his superstar potential. And Samardzija may not be willing to sign an extension that the Cubs deem makes sense.”

    Enough Brett! It hurts too much to read!

    • On The Farm

      It’s Sahadev Sharma. Just a FYI

      • Funn Dave

        Yup my bad there. Still not used to non-MiLB articles that aren’t written by Brett.

    • Funn Dave

      Oh wait. Enough Sahadev!

    • Professor Snarks

      Yeah, if that is the scenario that actually occurs, we will be increasing our streak of top 10 draft picks into 2017/18 or so. Yikes.

  • BlameHendry

    As much as I want to see the Cubs actually spend some money on their team again, I’d rather that money be spent on somebody other than Samardjiza. He’s simply not worth what he thinks he is.

  • You got bats, we got Wood. Travis Wood.

    I think you have to really value the control aspect of Samardzija- that’s the key. Think about what Theo said with respect to some of their trades….”we traded half a season of Garza for prospects a,b,c, & d.” If you’re going to give a team two years of control for Shark, I think the package becomes significantly higher than a half year rental like Garza. Throw in the ridiculous market for starting pitchers and yeah, I think a Shark trade becomes too good to pass up regardless of where he and the Cubs both stand.

  • http://BN Sacko

    I don’t see a trade in the near future as I’m sure Theo is asking alot for 2 years of service compared to the Garza trade. In addition they have not done anything to this point about starting pitching with what we have in addition trading Shark might mean looking for 2 starters. They are going to get some use out him before he is traded like another crap season that we are about to endure and then Shark will not extend for sure and he will go to a playoff team.

  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Trading Samardzija now makes more sense, because you can fill his spot in the rotation with another flip candidate like Scott Feldman last year (that’s a best case scenario, because Arrieta and Strop performed better than advertised) while the return on Samardzija will be getting the “seasoning” in AAA, ready in 2015… and that’s just one prospect; I’m sure we’ll be receiving more than just one.

    • http://BN Sacko

      They are already looking for a flip this year meaning they would need another flip if Shark goes. And I’m sure you are talking about getting more then a 3A ready for 2015. Arrieta is shaky to look at a full season from him as a starter.

  • TSB

    Side bar: As a baseball fan for over 50 years, I am amazed at how much interest there is in salary/contract issues. Maybe it’s because of the end of the Reserve Clause, but I don’t recall Cubs’ fans caring how much Banks, Santo, or for that matter Adolfo Phillips was making.

    • Funn Dave

      I think it just gives people something baseball-related to think about besides how awful the Cubs are.

    • hansman

      The worries about how much these guys are making correlates with how much they are making.

      (Also, the players you listed didn’t have a choice about how much they were paid or where they played)

    • Professor Snarks

      In this day and age, fans have come to realize contracts are important. It’s not our money, so in that sense we shouldn’t care what a player costs, but since we’ve all seen our teams hamstrung with bad contracts, we get concerned.. I, for one, would hate it if the Cubs couldn’t afford the final piece to the puzzle because we all our money is spent on a 40 year old guy at the end of a 10 year deal. Think Albert Pujols in 9 years.

  • YourResidentJag

    Jon Heyman ‏@JonHeymanCBS 3m
    catcher George Kottaras has been traded to the #cubs

    • Tony_S

      No shit?! I’m really happy with that, and I think Brett pegged it… Go Brett!

  • cubmig

    Early on in Samardzija Cubs career, he looked very “iffy”. I wondered if he’d ever master control of his pitches. A lot of questions came to mind about why the hell the Cubs were sticking with him. Slowly he came around to be what I posted (on a former site) as “the most improved” Cubs player. He didn’t disappoint.

    Now he climbed to where his success (and–yes–his self-confidence) is threatening his stay. He wants his best deal. The FO wants its best deal. Whatever the dialogue is between the two, one cannot discount the fact that Samardzija is a pitcher who’ve the org (and fans) have seen progress into an asset for building on the strength of a team in transition. It’s a devil you know analogy. Why the FO is not making more of an effort to keep Samardzija—who fits all plan criteria—is beyond logic. Am I to assume they are willing to trade (at this point int time) for a more unknown quantity at the risk for a better outcome? Which option offers the greater risk in that comparison? And what are the factors that the FO sees a Samardzija trade adds to guaranteeing a better outcome? Sure money is a factor in “the business”, but we need to keep in mind that assets (as in this case) that make “the business” succeed outweigh arguments to the contrary.


    Question: Does the FO want to build on strengths it has, or does it want to mickey-mouse around with dog-patch finds on the cheap and hope a fine-tuned team can be leveraged out of them?

    • Funn Dave

      Look what they did with Feldman: picked him up for cheap, demonstrated his improvement, and then dealt him for more value. Think of trading Shark as a similry situation but on a much larger/longer scale.

      • cubmig

        “Think of trading Shark as a similry situation but on a much larger/longer scale.”

        Feldman is no longer here. Shark is. THAT says a lot about the future perceptions of the two. Plus, there is no guarantee that those a Shark trade brings in will pan out in the long run. How much risk is the trade gamble worth? And when is building on strengths going to be honored by the FO? How long is the musical chairs circular game to continue? The issue as I see it is: Rebuild on what assets are strengths (IF rebuilding means that) vs. Money talks — player strength walks.

    • jj

      Samardzjia is a “strength” the Cubs have only for 2014 and 2015. He’s not anything beyond that because he’s not under contract beyond 2015. Of course, money is a factor. By all reports, Samardzjia wants a substantial increase (up to $18M per year) and is willing to wait two years to get the increase he believes he deserves. That latter point is key – Samardzjia is willing to wait out the Cubs. The Cubs, however, cannot afford to wait for Samardzjia to develop into the $18M per year pitcher he sees himself as. In the interim, Samardzjia – the asset – could be injured, pitch ineffectively, or decide to leave via free agency. Brett’s whole analysis is the weighing of Samardzjia vs prospects that could help in 1-2 years.

  • Funn Dave

    Just throwing this out there: I don’t think Shark really wants an extension. I had the impression last year that he really wanted to try his hand at free agency. As his numbers got worse over the course of the season, he probably became more amenable to an extension, but I still inexplicably have the impression that he would rather test free agency or be traded to a contender. I also think that as a player who’s gone relatively under the radar throughout most of his career (he initially had a little name recognition from his football days, but that didn’t last long), he would value the media attention & a new fanbase of fans that would accompany a trade or free agency.

    • bbmoney

      I don’t think it’s that inexplicable.

      Unless the Cubs are offering him a deal that pays him what he feels the market rate is for his FA years (’16 and beyond) he’s got a lot less reason to sign an extension than a normal Arb 2 guy. Shark’s made a lot more money because of his rookie contract (~17.5M) than most guys with 4 years service time. Makes it a lot easier to bet on yourself and try to really cash in once you get to free agency.

      • Funn Dave

        Good point. Thanks for providing a logical basis for my mingled mindset.

  • LER

    We gave Baker the difference between a home-friendly offer to Samardzija and a market-average offer that Samardzija likely would accept. And we got ten or so innings and some good will (from him) for that money. I’d chance similar money as extra throw-in bucks on a pitcher like the Shark rather than pick up another almost .500 pitcher or two with no higher ceiling in the future. He’s a flawed pitcher some times, but someone like Hughes will light up the lives of the ballhawks out on the street. (I feel the same way about Castro vs. any of the other available shortstops in the majors or high minors.)

    • Tony_S

      While I like the parallel, would you make the same decision if the difference were a little higher than Baker’s salary, and that might be the difference in whether or not your bid wins for Tanaka?

      Not picking, sincerely curious. I think it’s a legit question, and I think it’s possible it would be the difference, and I think Tanaka is more valuable, so I’m not sure I would.

  • AdamAE24

    Kottaras to the Cubs per Heyman’s twitter.

    Great call Brett!

  • Aaron

    Samardzja will be an excellent addition for a team that is close to winning a pennant and a championship. Jeff has ace stuff and will win many games if he’s with a team that can score runs on a consistent basis.

    The Cubs aren’t going to do anything over the next two seasons. If Shark is traded, the FO will have single handily decreased the overall quality and competitiveness of a major league baseball team over the course of 3 seasons, which is unheard of.

    • willis

      I agree, I think he could excel with a contender and on the big stage, somewhere he isn’t going to be seeing as a Cub. Maybe his demands are two fold, an attempt to get paid a lot while watching this organization continue to be putrid at the major league level, or more so push hard enough to get traded so he can pitch for a team set to be worth a crap during his prime years.

  • woody

    For those speculating that if the cubs trade Samardzija that they will go all in on Tanaka. I think that may be the plan. Basically the posting fee will be steep, but it achieves a couple of the goals that this FO wants. First it strengthens the system with some high caliber pitching prospects which the cubs are in desperate need of. Secondly if the cubs go all in on Tanaka nobody is going to miss the shark next year. If the FO trades him for nearly major league ready talent and the starting rotation is left with only Wood and Jackson at the top to start the year I believe that the cubs will be out of contention early and headed for another 100 loss season. I personally think the FO doesn’t want to be in that position come July. Attendance has slid downward for the last several years and the appearance of trading a front line starter and not making an acquisition to replace him will not sit well with the fans. If you look at all the quality starts from last year with no run support and the blown saves from Marmol and Shawn Camp combined with a little luck and you can see how at least another 15 wins could be added in the win column. And if Rizzo and Castro come around and let’s say junior lake has a breakout season the cubs could actually be hanging within 5 games of the lead and the FO will be in a position where they make some upgrades thinking that they will compete in 2015. I watched the cubs almost every game and to tell the truth they weren’t getting blown out very often. The lack of run support and and the damage done by Marmol and Camp added 15 to 20 losses to that team. But signing Tanaka will send a message to the fans and the team that we are not going to be like the Astros and compete for the 1st round pick in the 2015 draft.

    • Funn Dave

      I don’t think it’s feasible that that’s entirely the plan–or, at least, I hope it’s not the only one. Due to the nature of the posting system (as I understand it), since the bidding is blind, the Cubs are far from guaranteed the right to even negotiate with Tanaka. So I don’t think trading Shark would mean that they’re necessarily going “all in” on Tanaka, since doing so would be a pretty big gamble.

  • JR

    First, he’s basically a home town (Valparaiso, Indiana) boy, so you would think that has some value to him. The opportunity for friends and family to come and see him play has to have some meaning. Also, if you trade him and acquire players. It really doesn’t mean that you have to keep all of them. With the inventory that they are stockpiling, they could pull of several trades and receive some potential top line players to go with the up and coming talent that they already have.

    • BWA

      Trust me, being a home town boy doesn’t add $15 million worth of value

  • waittilthisyear

    a ton of well-constructed opinions in both the piece and the comments, so i’ll offer an opinion constructed merely from my “gut,” something not warmly embraced here.

    keep shark swimming in Cubbie blue

    • Funn Dave

      I def don’t speak for everyone, but I love gut reactions when they’re identified as such. Not all opinions are grounded solidly in tangible facts–many of the best managers often make decisions based in part on their gut instincts.