Aug 18, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) pitches during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Lock Up The Shark Samardzija Before It's Too Late!

As Andrew highlighted for us earlier today, there are a few contract tender decisions the Cubs will need to make by tonight’s deadline. From that short list, there is one name that requires some long term picture thought as well. That name is Jeff Samardzija

. Even if you chose to take a step back from spending time watching a 100 loss season by the Cubs, you would have to be living under a rock to not know that The Shark had a break out season as a starter.

Tendering a contract to Samardzija will be a no brainer. The former college wide out received $2.64 million dollars for his services in 2012, and even if both sides are not able to avoid arbitration or agree on a long term deal, the most The Shark would figure to be awarded in arbitration would be $3 to $4 million. Considering the upward swing Samardzija appears to be on, and compared to the approximately $6 million contracts the Cubs signed Scott Baker and Scott Feldman to, that projected arbitration figure would almost be considered a bargain.

Assuming number 29 is tendered, he would still be under team control until 2016. The point of focus here needs not to be the looming tender deadline and potential arbitration case. The emphasis needs to be on locking up The Shark through his remaining arbitration years and then some. This current Cubs front office seems to have no issues making such long term commitments, as seen by the signing of Starlin Castro.

The key to making such a deal a reality is to strike a balanced compromise between over paying for the arbitration eligible years in exchange for a discounted annual salary in what would have been the first couple or few years of the said player’s free agency. In Samardzija’s case, one example of such a structure would be a six year deal with an average annual salary of $6 to $8 million per. Assuming Samardzija does not blow up and win a Cy Young in the next couple of seasons while going year to year in terms of a contract, the $6 to $8 million range would represent a solid pay raise for arbitration eligible years 2013 through 2016.

If Samardzija continues to build on his 2012 success and were to hit free agency by 2016, it would not be a stretch to see him demand $10 to $12 million on the open market. With a long term deal struck sooner rather than later, the trade off of the pay raise earned during the arbitration years as mentioned earlier would be the below market salary The Shark would earn in seasons 2017 to 2018 for example.

While the numbers may be a bit conservative, the bottom line is that such an agreement would be mutually beneficial. Whether the Cubs and the pitcher decide to take that plunge this off season or next is in their hands, but the 27 year old righty’s arrow regarding potential is certainly pointed up.

Drop me a comment and let Cubbies Crib know how long and for how much you would want to lock up Samardzija for.

Tags: Chicago Cubs Jeff Samardzija Scott Baker Scott Feldman

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