Mum is the word.
At least that’s the stance Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is taking regarding any discussions the team may be having with right-hander Jeff Samardzija with just over a month until the July trade deadline, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago.
“We agreed earlier in the season not to speak about things publicly,” Epstein said Tuesday afternoon on the Waddle and Silvy Show on ESPN 1000. “The bottom line is nothing has changed. We think the world of Jeff. He has a year and a half left on his contract. We would love to find a way to keep him in Chicago for a long time. He’d love to be a Cub for a long time, but it’s a business and things aren’t quite that easy. We’re just not going to get into detail or give a public play-by-play.”
Samardzija has been oft-connected to trade rumors over the past eight months as he approaches the final season of his contract. Given he has one more year of team control and is in the midst of a career-best season in many respects, it seems unlikely the right-hander’s trade value will ever be higher than it is right now.
That being said, Samardzija has pitched extremely well this season for Chicago and some in the baseball world, including Cubs’ Sun-Times beat writer Gordon Wittenmeyer says the team has made another contract offer to Samardzija – one far greater than their most recently publicized offer of five years between $60 and $65 million.
Cubs officials wouldn’t comment on the subject Monday.
But the offer is believed to be for the same five years previously discussed by the parties, but at a higher number than the $60-million to $65-million range last on the table.
It was not immediately clear how high the Cubs have gone, or what their walkaway figure is. One source suggested it would take something close to the $17.5 million annual value of Cincinnati pitcher Homer Bailey‘s six-year contract signed during the spring to persuade Samardzija to commit to an extension, especially without a no-trade clause.
The reported offer is believed to be somewhere near the six-year, $105 million deal the Cincinnati Reds gave Homer Bailey last year, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports believes Samardzija’s camp would be looking for something closer to Matt Cain’s six-year, $127.5 million deal with the Giants.
When one thinks about the haul the Cubs landed for Matt Garza last year (Neil Ramirez, Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm) – the prospect of dealing Samardzija seems even more appealing. If Tampa Bay decides to hold onto lefty David Price this summer, Samardzija will arguably be the best starting pitcher available on the market.
With the Cubs still at least two years from legitimate contention, adding the crop of talent that could be acquired from dealing the staff ace is certainly intriguing. A five-year deal would take Samardzija through his age 35 season, so the question is simple: is he worth the dollars he’s demanding or would he be best utilized as a trade chip to finish rebuilding the organization?