Jeff Samardzija open to rejoining Chicago Cubs in the future


Despite several years of not being able to hammer out a new contract with the Chicago Cubs, right-hander Jeff Samardzija recently told reporters, including CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, that he remains open to returning to the Windy City after the 2015 season.

"“For sure, (Chicago) will definitely be something that is on my list. It will be an exciting time. But like I said, there’s still a lot of work to be done to get to that spot.”"

The 29-year-old right-hander was traded by the Cubs, along with teammate Jason Hammel, to the Oakland Athletics earlier this season in exchange for a pair of prospects and right-hander Dan Straily. Prior to the trade, Samardzija went 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA in 17 starts with Chicago, posting a career-best 1.096 WHIP in 108 innings of work.

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Following the trade, Samardzija has pitched well, although not as well as during the season’s first half, pitching to the tune of a 3.70 ERA in 12 starts. This season, as a whole, despite a disappointing 6-12 record, the former Notre Dame football standout is on pace to break 200 innings pitched for the second consecutive season.

In seven seasons with the Cubs, as both a starter and a reliever, Samardzija went 31-42 with a 3.97 ERA spanning 218 games – 95 of which were starts. Since his departure, Chicago has relied on a mix of arms to fill the rotation. Right-hander Jake Arrieta has emerged as the staff’s ace, but has faded down the stretch.

Travis Wood, who was a National League All-Star in 2013, has been abysmal for the Cubs. His 1.543 WHIP is the worst mark of his big league career and his 5.15 ERA is also a career-worst for the southpaw. Edwin Jackson is now spending time on the disabled list, but has also struggled through the 2014 campaign, opening up another spot in the rotation for starters to audition in the season’s final month.

For now, Arrieta is joined in the rotation by Kyle Hendricks, who has been one of the top rookie pitchers in the National League, Tsuyoshi Wada and former Marlins pitcher Jacob Turner. For the season’s final month, former Boston Red Sox southpaw Felix Doubront will also be part of the rotation, which has expanded to six hurlers.

The Chicago pitching staff has a 3.81 ERA, which ranks tenth amongst National League clubs, while also coming in at 13th of the 15th clubs with just 73 quality starts. However, opponents are batting just .248 this season against Chicago pitchers, which is good for a middle-of-the-pack 8th in the National League, giving the team and pitching coach Chris Bosio reason for excitement outside of the bullpen, which has taken great strides as the season has progressed.

With Samardzija potentially rejoining the ranks amongst a class of elite free agent hurlers in the offseason following the 2015 season, that winter could drastically alter the look of the team and the pitching staff for years to come.