Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija has been very good so far this year, which is nice both for Samardzija and the Chicago Cubs. Whether he sticks around as a long-term piece on an extension, whether he’s traded, or whether he departs a year and a half from now in free agency, performing well right now can mean only good things for Samardzija and the Cubs.
Being that everyone seems to know those things, and everyone also seems to know that Samardzija will be on the trade block this Summer if the Cubs aren’t in contention and there’s no extension in place, Samardzija is open to being candid about his situation. It’s quite refreshing.
Samardzija was on the Dan Patrick Show yesterday, discussing a wide range of topics, but, inevitably, his status with the Cubs came up. Is a trade coming later this year?
“I don’t know, I think it really depends on how this team turns out this season,” Samardzija told Patrick. “I think it’s looking like it, but I don’t want to say anything for sure because I don’t want to be traded. I want to play my career in Chicago with the Cubs. I love being there.”
And if Samardzija doesn’t want to be traded, how about that extension? Well, it sounds like the losing is something of a problem.
“I said that [you get tired of the losing] from the beginning. The only reason we’re at where we are now is because of that situation. It it’s a different situation, and we’re winning, competing for the playoffs every year, I think a deal is already done, and I’m there for a long time. But I want to win. I know how old I am. I know when prime years are, and when everything starts changing, and I’m right there. I don’t enjoy rebuilding. When you’re playing the highest level of your sport, every year should be devoted to winning that year, because you don’t know how long it’s going to last. You don’t know many chances you’re going to get to feel this way, and to feel good. I want to win. That’s my number one goal. I don’t care about anything else but winning.”
It may be difficult to hear those things, particularly if you’re inclined to hold out hope that an extension could still come, but it’s hard to argue with anything Samardzija says. At 29, I can understand a reluctance to hitch your wagon long-term to a project. Even if I believe the Cubs could be a paper contender by 2015, no one can say that’s a given. Hell, it might still be a long-shot at this point.
So, even as I completely approve of the direction the Cubs are taking, I also understand where Samardzija is coming from. The same has been true throughout extension discussions, where I can understand the position of both sides. The Cubs aren’t going to pay Samardzija free agent dollars on an extension when they’ve already got him under control through 2015; and Samardzija isn’t going to surrender his one shot at mega free agent dollars for a discount when he’s confident he’s going to be an even better pitcher the next two years, and he’s already made a lot of money in his career.
You throw in the rebuilding situation, and it becomes even harder. It’s just a tough situation. But if Samardzija keeps on pitching well, everything will sort itself out positively for all sides, in the end.