Jeff Samardzija was the man of the hour at the Winter Meetings for the Chicago Cubs a couple weeks ago, despite the fact that he wasn’t there, and nothing happened involving him. At last check, the Cubs were still listening to offers for their big righty, who remains under cheap control for two more years. But until the Masahiro Tanaka situation is finalized, and until the free agent starting market heats up a bit, the Cubs will probably be sitting on Samardzija for a while, even if a much-discussed extension isn’t in place any time soon.
So, it was fair to expect a long silent stretch on the Samardzija front. But, nay! Christmas came a day early for Chicago Cubs nerds, as Patrick Mooney and CSN deliver a fascinating interview with Samardzija.
I’m not going to ape much of it, because you should go read it in its entirety. Samardzija, who was recently in town to do some good deeds, discusses his gut feeling on extension and trade talks (it doesn’t sound like he thinks a trade is as certain or imminent as it has been portrayed), as well as the impact of the Wrigley renovation/Cubs’ financial situation on the team’s timeline for competitiveness.
On the latter point, Samardzija seems to imply that uncertainty about when the Cubs will actually be competitive is holding up extension talks as much as any dollar-related issues. Understandably, Samardzija, who turns 29 in January, wants the Cubs to be focused on winning in the near-term, rather than solely the long-term.
The front office isn’t going to change its approach just so that it has the opportunity to lock down Samardzija to a (possibly expensive) extension, but the mere fact that the issue is coming up is a reminder that rebuilding has its hidden costs.
In the end, the front office will have to balance its desire to keep Samardzija long-term, its desire to win (both now and in the future), its relative lack of funds, and its belief that you have to leave all avenues open, because maximizing Samardzija’s value could take the form of a trade for prospects.
It was great to read Samardzija’s candid thoughts on the situation, and it provides valuable background knowledge for a second round of rumors that will likely pop up in about a month or so.