With less than two weeks until the MLB First-Year Player Draft, teams will soon be shifting their full attention to the trading season, as teams tend to wait until after the draft for serious discussions. This means the clock is ticking for Samardzija and the Cubs, not only in trade conversations, but on the negotiating table as well.
While Samardzija has been discussed arguably more than any player on the rumor mill, (as Jon Heyman notes here), Cubs officials have been persistent in keeping it out there that an extension is always possible, and there’s been open dialogue for quite a bit with Shark, as even Jed Hoyer admits.
Of course it could be to gain leverage on bidding teams by being able to say “hey, we could lock him up”, in result inflating the offers on Samardzija. But there is a general consensus within most Cubs fans’ hearts, that there is a love for Shark and a desire for the right-hander to be a part of our future.
We can’t just ignore this possibility, as the Cubs don’t have to deal Shark, with a season-and-a-half left on his current deal. We all know Theo and Jed will hold out on dealing him until they receive that over-the-top offer to get exactly what they want.
But, I thought we were wary of handing Samardzija big money because we weren’t sure he could be that top-of-the-rotation starter?
Well, of course, Samardzija has flat out dominated this season. Samardzija currently leads the senior circuit in ERA (1.46), ERA+ (266), and HR/9 rate at a minuscule 0.3. Shark has transformed his game for the better, with a lower walk rate, a higher contact rate, still carrying that top-of-the-rotation demeanor, and has already accumulated a 2.7 WAR.
Isn’t that a top-of-the-rotation starter?
Samardzija has done more than enough to earn his big money deal, which could very likely top Homer Bailey‘s six-year, $105 MM extension, and be well worth it (There could be a solid argument made for Samardzija over Bailey. Bailey’s, Shark’s stats) The value Samardzija could bring over the next few years could definitely be well worth it rather than dealing him, as the little amount of wear-and-tear on Samardzija’s arm (due to coming up as a reliever) bodes well for his age 30-on seasons.
While there have been multiple instances of Samardzija sounding like a man walking out the door, usually in search of a contender, that can sometimes be overstated. Money talks, and if the Cubs handed Samardzija the contract offer he desires, there’s a great chance he would take it.
Samardzija is a very smart man, he knows that winning the world series in Chicago would make him virtually a god in the city of Chicago, and he is well aware of the immense talent working it`s way up the system (oh, and the renovations which will provide cash to seriously aid in building a winner).
With his outstanding start to the year, Shark has proved more than enough to clear any question marks the Cubs had about handing him an extension. An extension was put off by the Cubs before this season for good reasons: Samardzija hadn’t yet come out and pitched like a true “ace”. It’s understandable to not commit serious money to a guy with a serious question mark. However, Samardzija came out this season and proved to the Cubs that he`s well worth a large future commitment.
While the Cubs could likely receive a haul of prospects at the deadline, and it could very well be the most likely outcome of this Shark saga, Theo and Jed are smart men. They see the incredible transition Samardzija has made this season, and they have seen the reasons to extend Shark.