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jeff samardzija gatorade showerSo far, the Chicago Cubs have avoided arbitration with all but two of their arbitration-eligible players. Those two are Darwin Barney and Jeff Samardzija, and if the Cubs hope to avoid the ugliness that can attend arbitration hearings, they’ll need to get a move on. Arbitration hearings take place during the first three weeks of February, and today just happens to be the final day of January.*

*(Hearing dates have either not yet been scheduled or not yet released.)

The good news is that the Cubs may be getting closer to avoiding arbitration with Samardzija, at least.

Bruce Levine reports that, although the two sides are “still jousting,” they are just $100,000 apart in negotiations. Presumably that suggests a deal will get done, maybe even on the eve of a hearing – sometimes it just takes that long.

The Samardzija negotiations always figured to take a little longer than the others, given the expanse in what Samardzija requested – $6.2 million – and what the Cubs offered – $4.4 million – as well as the tricky nature of Samardzija’s value. You can’t watch Samardzija pitch without recognizing the front-end stuff, and many of the peripheral stats have been fantastic since he moved to the rotation. But the results haven’t always matched the stuff, and it’s fair debate just how he should be valued going forward.

There’s also the backdrop of the long-term deal possibility, as unlikely as it now seems. The point here is only that the possibility of a long-term deal throws another wrinkle into settling on a one-year deal for 2014. The sides, since they’re negotiating anyway, might as well at least broach those talks again.

Is a long-term deal going to happen this offseason? Probably not. Jesse Rogers writes that Samardzija is looking for a salary approaching what he’d get in free agency in exchange for giving up some of his future free agent years (and signing with a team that doesn’t project to be particularly competitive in the near-term). For the Cubs’ part, that simply tends not to be the way these arbitration extensions work: the idea is that the player takes a discount on the future free agent dollars in exchange for getting the bulk guarantee up front.

As we’ve seen before, the Cubs’ and Samardzija’s perspectives on these issues are misaligned. Samardzija has already made a fair bit of money in his career, and he’s a confident guy who is willing to bet on himself now in the hopes of a much bigger score down the road. The Cubs have an uncertain near-term future, and aren’t going to give up free agent dollars to a guy whom they already control for two years at arbitration prices (and who could be traded for a tremendous return, if the need arose). I understand it from both sides. It’s just one of those things.

For now, hopefully they get that one-year deal worked out, and then we’ll see what happens.

  • Diamondrock

    What about Barney’s arbitration? Any movement there? I’m surprised there’s such a gap in that case.

  • joejoe234

    I can’t understand how anyone would actually believe that 100k is keeping a deal from getting done. If they were that close they would obviously split the difference or one would have given in by now. There is no way that is true.

    • DarthHater

      It would be unbelievable if they actually went to an arb hearing over a $100k gap. But it is perfectly believable that they might remain $100k apart for a few days before the pressure is really on to finish the deal.

      • joejoe234

        I guess that could be true, but it still seems really unrealistic to me that it wouldn’t be done by now if that was the case. I can’t see any of them wasting their time over 100k.

        • DarthHater

          Yea, I guess the fact that the two sides are apparently willing to dick around with each other over as little as $100k makes me wonder how good a negotiating relationship they have for the bigger issue of an extension.

          • hansman

            It ties in with the renovation saga. The Cubs leadership is just terrible at negotiating.

            • DarthHater

              Well, I didn’t want to say it, but they really are just terrible at pretty much everything. :-P

              • hansman

                I bet they would be good at posting memes on an online message board, then.

    • Edwin

      Maybe if both sides know they’re close, they have less reason to move off their offer, since they know that at the last minute they can just split the difference and be done with it. In the meantime, both sides are probably hoping something happens and the other side blinks. And I doubt either side wants to be the first to make the offer to split the difference.

      • joejoe234

        I just don’t see 50k being worth it to them not to get a deal done.

        • Voice of Reason

          How about picking up the phone and calling Shark and offering to pay the $50,000 difference?

          It’s not that much money.

          • ssckelley

            You don’t know how many times they have split the difference to get to this point. Perhaps the Cubs have gave him a number that they won’t pay a penny more.

            • DarthHater

              They won’t go to an arbitration hearing against a guy they want to either extend or trade this season.

              • ssckelley

                So teams always give in when it gets to this point?

                • hansman

                  I think it shows that each side is hoping to turn this into a long-term extension.

                  • ssckelley

                    Over $100K? That would be kinda neat.

                    • hansman

                      I see it as “No sense in agreeing to a 1-year deal if we are on the 1 inch line on that if we are still talking about a long-term deal.”

                      It will get done. Neither side will want to risk $1M over $100K

                    • ssckelley

                      I hope you are right.

  • Big City Mick

    This game of chicken might turn out really bad for Samardzija, this offseason’s been horrendous for FA SP’s. Teams have shown great restraint on serving up long term, high-dollar contracts to SP’s over the age of 30, a trend that could continue. If it does, what could Shark possibly expect to be paid? The market looks to be trending towards 3 or 4 years at around $13M annually. If he sustains his velocity, health, and performance over the next 2 seasons he could add a few more dollars and maybe a couple more years but is that so dissimilar to the extension contract the Cubs are currently offering?

  • TWC

    Gee, where would the Cubs be if they didn’t have internet commenters to give them contract negotiation advice?

    • DarthHater

      Hmmm. Last place?

    • ssckelley

      We will always be here for them.

  • Fastball

    Only thing I question is that the market will bear a huge return for Shark. If he doesn’t have improved numbers against last years results I don’t think his return will be all that significant. Theo needs to find a trading partner for Shark who is willing to succumb to his lofty demands. They haven’t found that trading partner to date. When the league of GM’s say the ask is to high it tells me a trade isn’t going to happen. GM’s are going to play the same game Shark is playing. He is betting on himself which is what I would do in his situation. GM’s are going to watch closely and if he trends same as last year, I don’t see the lofty return. If he comes out of ST with his long hair on fire then GM’s are going to be calling early in the season hoping to strike a deal before the ask just gets more lofty. The HUGE downside is Shark doesn’t produce improved numbers or is trending flat. I don’t think his ask is as well founded which increases Theo’s leverage for a palatable extension. Downside Theo’s ask of a trading partner doesn’t have as strong legs supporting the BIG return he might be hoping for.
    I would like to see Theo and Shark get an extension done. I am not a supporter of a long term extension though. 3 years is all I would be willing to go with Shark. He is still unproven and inconsistent. There is still significant risk in my mind. If I am Theo I don’t get serious about an extension with Shark until mid season. If he is pitching with his hair on fire 1st half I nail him down. Either way its going to cost money to keep him. He isn’t signing for a big home town discount. I wouldn’t either if I was him. He is a little older so his window to earn is shorter. I don’t care if some say he has a young arm. That’s a great sales point if your trying to trade him. If you want to keep him I throw that one out the window. Your 29 dude, you have life expectancy of 4 more years best case. I don’t pay for anything beyond that.

    • Voice of Reason

      Fastball:

      I’m with you on what we will get for Shark in return. I think the Cubs are asking for too much when you look and see what Garza got, the fact that Arroyo hasn’t signed and Jimenez and Santana.

      I understand that Shark is going to another team on the cheap, but it’s not like he is this #1 starter. Sure he’s pitched well over the past couple of years, but not great! #3 and #2 starters this off season haven’t broken the bank! Shark is a #3 on a good team at best!

      If you can’t sign him for the market rate of a #4 or #3 starter before the trade deadline this year then trade him. I don’t want to lock him up with #2 or #1 starter money. I’d like to keep him, but at the right price!

  • Webb

    I was just thinking, though it’s probably already been hashed out on this site somewhere before, if Ubaldo Jimenez would go for a 1-year “prove it” deal with a team like the Cubs. His almost certain mid-season trade would untie him to the draft pick issue he’s currently facing and teams could be shying away from him because of his struggles in ’11 and ’12. He’d also get to go to a contender. If the Cubs ate his salary on that mid-season deal it could make sense for a team who wants him in the near-term. Maybe the Nationals?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The problem with that for a team like the Cubs is that they get 0 value from his performance (perhaps negative, even, if he’s “too” good), and then they’ve got to get more than the value of a high second rounder + whatever they’ve paid in salary (from the start of the year to the trade) in trade. Meanwhile, the Cubs bear the risk of injury or ineffectiveness.

      • CubbieBubba

        I still remember when being a better team, and being more competitive and enjoyable to watch had + value.

      • Webb

        So it’s basically a Scott Baker gamble with higher stakes? $15M+pick against a potential Garza-esque return. I could see both sides. Thanks!

      • Norm

        What’s the worst case though? The Cubs spend $18M or so and get nothing to show for it.

        So the question is, is it worth spending $18M on a lottery ticket in the hopes of getting a Garza like return?

        I say yes. But its not my money.

        • Webb

          They would also lose the 2nd round pick. But if he’s never traded they can always re-tender him and recoup that loss in the next draft.

      • Porkslap

        So are you going into this season hoping the Cubs wind up with the worst record in baseball?

        • When The Musics Over

          So are the Cubs.

        • Voice of Reason

          If you’re going to be a horrible team then you might as well be the worst team! Then the Cubs will get the #1 pick in the draft!

          • Porkslap

            But this team doesn’t have to be terrible. Castro and Jackson will bounce back at least some. Rizzo and Shark are due good years to match their peripherals. Throw in some mid-season call ups of Baez and Bryant and the potential to finish close to .500 is there. Add Ubaldo and a wild-card is a remote possibility.

            I know you are saying no way, we had Garza and Feldman for the first half last year and were still out of it by mid-season, but remember how unlucky the Cubs were last year? Wasn’t there a point a couple months into the season when they had outscored their opponents but were still like 10 games under .500? I think a lot of that was to blame on the bullpen and historic bad luck. Bullpen looks good this year.

            With the current lack of starting pitching in the system, the Cubs have to buy talent when its available. I will never actively hope for a losing season before it even starts.

            • Voice of Reason

              porkslap:

              I appreciate your enthusiasm, but there is a better chance that I buy a pet monkey and it starts to fly than there is that this team gets a wild card! And, I’m not in the market for any pet!

              This team is horrific. Probably the worse Cubs team ever. They will certainly make a run at the franchise record for losses.

              I’m ok with this because while we won’t be performing well at the big league level all of our young talent will be improving and getting ready to contribute in the bigs. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

    • CubChymyst

      Fangraphs just had an article about Jimenez and it maked me a little less high on him after reading it. Basically he had an awesome 8 game streak to end the season which brought his numbers down. Those 5 of those 8 games where against the White Sox, Twins, Astros, and the other 3 where against the Royals, Orioles and Braves.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/just-what-is-one-getting-in-ubaldo-jimenez/

    • Chad

      There is little sense in signing a 1 year deal from the cub’s perspective. Unless they thought they could flip him for good prospects at the deadline, but still there’s risk there and he will still only have so much value associated with him.

    • Brocktoon

      The 1 year and flip to avoid draft compensation is something I’d never considered. I harped on the fact that no way would Burnett come to the worst team in baseball only to not know where he’s pitching he last 2 months of the season, but for a guy still looking for a big payout next year it could make some sense.

      Of course it puts Jimenez in the awkward position of hoping the team sucks so he can get traded, and makes Jed convince him the team will suck or make some crazy assertions about the extension he’d get if he cubs are miraculously good

  • When The Musics Over

    “The Cubs have an uncertain near-term future….”

    I didn’t know the long term future was so certain.

    I joke.

  • Jon

    Don’t see the point over “nickle and diming” over 100K

    • ssckelley

      Of course we don’t see the point, none of us are involved in the negotiations and we don’t know how they have gotten to this point.

      • DarthHater

        You mean we’re only supposed to have opinions on subjects about which we actually know something?

        • Edwin

          But that would limit me to…aww geez.

        • ssckelley

          No, I never said that.

    • When The Musics Over

      Money is tight this year, very tight.

  • Chad

    “The Cubs have an uncertain near-term future, and aren’t going to give up free agent dollars to a guy whom they already control for two years at arbitration prices ”

    To me this is the reason why the cubs haven’t pursued a long term deal as hard as we would like quite yet. Let’s say that in order to get the deal done it takes 5/75. Just to put a number out there. If the cubs do that prior to this season then it is like giving 13 million for the next 2 seasons and 20.6 million/ year for his 3 FA years you just bought out, plus only 5 years of control. If the cubs were to wait until the current season has started or is over and they then agree to 5/75, then that in my mind (I think this is how it would work) would be buying out 4 FA years and 1 arb year while still just paying him the 5 ish million this season. So 1 more year of control, you buy out the last arb year at 8 million, and then you are paying an AAV of 16.75 million/year for the FA years.

    Maybe I’m wrong and if they extend him in late April then it still goes to this year, and I’m sure Samardzija understands this, but to me it would make a lot more sense and Samardzija still gets his big check, but it is much better for the cubs.

    • Brocktoon

      What makes you think samardZija as a final year arb guy compared to FA contracts only gets 8m??

  • Carew

    To be honest, I’m getting tired of Samardzija. I see the potential and I understand he still has a young arm, but I’m tired of how he is acting about everything. He is not worth ace money. It’s good to be self-confident, but man…

  • Senor Cub

    “Bruce Levine reports that, although the two sides are “still jousting,” they are just $100,000 apart in negotiations”

    ….and they want to sign him long term??? so this is how they show good faith by nickle and dime -ing the guy???!

    As a business person, that’s a 100K worth of bad publication that you cannot afford at this point and time!

    • ssckelley

      I think it makes both sides look bad, not just the Cubs. People are so quick to jump on the players side on issues like this when the Cubs have paid Samardzija quite well over the years, about $17.5 million. I think it is equally as silly that Samardzija is making a big deal over $100K.

      • Senor Cub

        ssckelley – point well taken. I am sure it’s not about the 100K for either side.

  • Fastball

    Getting locked into a conversation more than 5 minutes long over $100M on an arbitration deal illustrates a couple of things. 1. You are damned near broke and watching every last penny
    2. You expect to be damned near broke very soon and your are watching every last penny.

    I can’t believe that anyone would even report a story like this one. $100M is holding up negotiations. Does he realize how damned stupid it makes himself sound. Does he realize that there is no way in hell that $100M is a sticking point on an arbitration case. Does he realize that his this story makes the Cubs look absolutely terrible. Every player in baseball along with every agent reads that and says: WTF is going on with that team!!

    Some of the stuff that gets printed is just absolute BS because those guys don’t have shit to report on. The reason they don’t have shit to report on is because they print stories like this one. If I was Theo I would have a kid on my team that puts out BS stories for dumb asses at the Tribune or wherever.

    I never believe anything a journalist reports unless he is a month late with the story. Then you can believe him because he is thoroughly vetted his source by attending the press conference.

  • Voice of Reason

    Fastball:

    Dude, the story says $100K NOT $100M!

    Do you know the difference between an “M” and a “K” when it comes to putting it at the end of numbers?

    • Hee Seop Chode

      Dude! In finance and accounting M is shorthand for thousand, and MM is shorthand for million. For example:

      $100M – $100,000
      $100MM – $100,000,000

  • http://BN Sacko

    Done deal at 5.6 or maybe they really are talking long term. Or at least maybe longer..

  • Mr Gonzo

    If Shark indeed pitches like an Ace in the first half of 2014, would you want the Cubs to lock him down or trade him for a juicy package of prospects?

    • CubChymyst

      Lock him down, the cubs pitching prospects are not as highly rated. I think having a solid rotation with a vet or two would help out the young bats.

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