Given how things played out, I never imagined that there would be hard feelings – at least not significant ones – between the Chicago Cubs and the homegrown starting pitcher they traded back in July, Jeff Samardzija. With the Cubs in the middle of a rebuild, with Samardzija wanting to win as soon as possible, and with the two sides understandably separated in extension talks, it was a trade that was simply expected by everyone who was paying attention.
Returning to Chicago with the Oakland A’s to play the White Sox, Samardzija was asked about the trade and his future. The questions included the obligatory variation of: would you come back to Chicago?
“Yeah that is absolutely something that is on my list,” Samardzija told the media, including Cubs.com. “I love it here. I’ve spent my whole life here and even to come back is exciting – to see the same sights coming in from the airport and staying downtown. It brings back a lot of memories.”
In other words, Samardzija wouldn’t unequivocally shut the door on a return to the city or the Cubs (note that the question and the answer appear not to specifically have asked about Samardzija re-signing with the Cubs after 2015), even if it remains on the unlikely side of the spectrum. Hopefully, come that 2015 offseason, one of Samardzija’s concerns about the Cubs’ future will be ameliorated, and the team is looking like a possible contender. There’s a fair bit of distance between here and there, though.
Indeed, he added (example, CSN) that he’s focused on pitching down the stretch for the A’s right now, and he’ll cross other bridges as he comes to them.
As for the trade, itself, there’s no sense from Samardzija that he felt burned by it, or that he doesn’t understand why it happened. In the Cubs.com piece, Samardzija explains that, because there was good communication with the front office all along, and because there were so many trade rumors so early, he wasn’t surprised.
Sometimes, in these trade situations, there is surprise and lingering bitterness, which are among the reasons a reunion in free agency basically never happens. So, at least there isn’t that here.
Instead, whether Samardzija returns is more likely to be a product of typical free agent things: how does Samardzija’s market develop after 2015? What are the Cubs’ needs and resources at that time? What are the other options at that time, and do they make more sense for the Cubs? The post-2015 pitching market, as we’ve discussed several times before, is projected to be loaded.
I’m pleased to hear that Samardzija remains open, in theory, to coming back to the Cubs. It’s always nice to have as many plausible options as possible. But, as Samardzija said, that’s a long way away.