It’s status quo as far as the Jeff Samardzija story goes: he wants to stay long-term, the Cubs want him to stay long-term. But he probably wants to be paid more handsomely than the Cubs are prepared to pay right now (primarily given the two years of cheap control remaining), and he definitely wants the Cubs to show that they’re going to actually be competitive in the near-term if he’s going to hitch his wagon.
That latter thought came courtesy of a fantastic interview by Patrick Mooney just before Christmas, and he recently revealed a little more of what Samardzija had to say. Once again, it’s very much worth a read.
The bit that’s getting the most play is a comment from Samardzija, essentially saying that the odds that he would sign a long-term extension with a team that trades for him are very slim. Possible, and he’d have to cross that bridge when he came to it … but very slim.
You could read this as damaging to any future effort by the Cubs to trade Samardzija, but I can think of at least three reasons that isn’t so:
- Samardzija, by virtue of being under control for two cheap years in his prime, still provides plenty of value to a trading team, even absent an extension (I once again point to what the Cubs were able to get for two months of Matt Garza, without even a hint of a promise at an extension);
- Teams trading for Samardzija already knew that there was a hiccup with the Cubs trying to extend him (if a trade happens, that is), so why would it be easier for a team to which Samardzija has no personal ties whatsoever?; and
- Would you expect a guy in Samardzija’s position to say anything different? He has publicly said that he wants to stay with the Cubs, if that’s possible. Otherwise – or if the numbers don’t work out – he knows he can hit free agency, and could end up doing very well. Why would he say, “But if I’m trading to a team I may not have wanted to go to in the first place, I’ll definitely sign an extension!”
Until the Masahiro Tanaka situation is finalized, and the rest of the free agent market sorts itself out, we aren’t going to get much more clarity on how the Cubs will proceed with respect to Samardzija.