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The Cubs and Jeff Samardzija enter the final weekend before the scheduled arbitration hearing. There has been much debate within Cubs nation as to what the Cubs should do with him. Ranging from a long-term deal, to a trade by the All-Star break of this year. What you think Samardzija should earn this season is likely to come down to perception.
This will be his seventh season in the majors, and will be his third as a full-time starter. In the previous two as a starter, he’s posted a 17-26 record with a 4.10 ERA. He reached 200+ innings last year, and in all likelihood would have the previous season but the Cubs decided to shut him down early. Jeff also posted his first 200+ strikeout season as well. But Samardzija has been plagued by an increase in home runs allowed, and general inconsistency. Your “ace” needs to be counted on every 5th day, and that hasn’t always been the case.
Samardzija is at a point where his talent cannot be what carries him. He does have that, but it’s time for results. The Cubs have offered 4.4 million, while Samardzija filed for 6.2 million. The two the two sides have all the way up to a hearing to reach an agreement. Also to be noted, Theo Epstein has never gone to arbitration in his time with the Cubs, or as the Red Sox GM. In fact, the last Cubs arbitration hearing was Ryan Theriot in 2010, in which the Cubs won as the arbitrator ruled in favor of the clubs 2.6 million offer over Theriot’s 3.4.
Jeff is under team control for two more years. I’d like to see the Cubs work out a deal for Samardzija, although I don’t know it should be a “long-term” deal. I’m truly against anything longer than three years for a pitcher. Too many variables. If he can come out of the gate strong, build value, and the Cubs can work a trade for a solid package of prospects, that’s a probability. But if he’s improving why not consider him for that long-term deal? I mean, Edwin Jackson is making 11 million a year, and the Cubs were in the running for Tanaka and the amount of money involved in that was ridiculous. Far more than Samardzija would get. And he’s not guaranteed to be any better than a middle rotation guy.
The Cubs pitching performed admirably last season, but not without its share of struggles. I don’t see the depth in who the Cubs are bringing to camp, or those on the horizon to give up on him. But Samardzija’s future with the Cubs may be cemented after Monday if the two clubs don’t come to terms on a long-term deal.