The Chicago Cubs still haven’t been able to work out a deal to extend Jeff Samardzija, and as things stand right now, an agreement might not be reached before Opening Day arrives.
It appears like the right-hander — who hasn’t had much success in these two years he has been part of the starting rotation, often melting past the All-Star Break — is commanding much more money than what the front office is willing to give him. Therefore a trade is looking to be the best option for both parties.
Samardzija has stated that he wants to win with the Cubs, but if that can’t be doable then he’d like to pitch for a contending team. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have made several offers — the last reported one was a five-year deal around the $55M range which he declined — and all the signs are pointing to a trade being the best option. However, the Cubs would be wise to hold on to him until the first part of the year.
Most of the teams appear to be set in their starting rotation, and the ones that have still inquired about Samardzija — like the Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks — haven’t been able to offer what the Cubs think is fair value. Although Chicago might be overvaluing their pitcher, it’s the right call since they need him as much time as possible.
The landscape could change a lot if the Cubs land Masahiro Tanaka, and the market is usually better for pitchers near the trade deadline since organizations looking to win can be more desperate to give more for an arm that would allow them to take the next step. If the idea is get surplus value for Samardzija, then the Cubs would be wise to hold on to him as his trade stock can only go up after his awful second half of 2013.