Chicago Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija pitched like an ace on Opening Day against the Pittsburgh Pirates, throwing seven scoreless innings while receiving a no-decision. The Cubs eventually lost the game in 10 innings, but the performance by Samardzija was nonetheless encouraging to see.
Samardzija has flashed this sort of brilliance in the past, but has been far too inconsistent to be considered an ace or top-shelf starter. He is certainly the de facto No. 1 for the Cubs, but in universal terms, is nothing more than a low No. 2 or high No. 3 based on previous performance. However, in the context of Samardzija’s current contract status with the Cubs, it is vital that he continues to perform at a high level.
The Cubs and Samardzija are not discussing a contract extension currently, and Cubs President Theo Epstein has indicated there will be no further negotiations taking place while the season is in progress. At the moment, all signs appear to be pointing to a trade, depending of course on the type of package offered for Samardzija. Regardless of what transpires on the contract front, it is incumbent upon Samardzija to prove he can perform at a consistently high level, beginning today at Wrigley Field against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Samardzija has quality stuff and has been rather durable as a starter. It is really just a question of putting it all together for the former college football star. At 29 years of age, Samardzija has an opportunity to elevate his status to that of a legitimate ace. If he can do this, the Cubs may decide to meet his demands and extend him long-term. The next few months are clearly shaping up to be critical for Samardzija and his future financial prospects, either with the Cubs or another club.