Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija has been a popular trade target this winter for teams desiring starting pitching. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer has driven a hard bargain for him, even reportedly asking the Braves for either Jason Heyward or Justin Upton as part of a package in return.
Samardzija hasn't been dealt, and with the calendar flipping to 2014, the chances of him finding a new home before pitchers and catchers report in February are dwindling. But if Samardzija has anything to say about it, he'll be staying with the Cubs and trying to help them win a World Series, according to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago.
“I remember exactly what that feeling was and how exciting those games were at Wrigley in the playoffs,” Samardzija said. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s one of the hardest things about all this is having had a taste of it in this city, in Wrigley. And I don’t want to let that go.
“That’s a big part of it. A big reason I wanted to start – a big reason I wanted to stay here – was to experience those certain situations, playing in October in that stadium. That’s the goal. That’s where we want to be. And hopefully we can get there sooner than later.”
One of the main drawing points of a Samardzija trade would be the two years of team control he has left, and the ability for his new club to negotiate a long-term contract extension with the 28-year old. However, if a team is banking on inking Samardzija long-term after acquiring him, think again. Again from Mooney…
“It would be a very tough sign, but obviously anything’s possible,” Samardzija said during a recent interview, while visiting Chicago over the Christmas break. “Until that happens, I can’t really speak on what would I do. The odds are very slim that I would (sign a long-term deal if I got traded). For any professional player two years out of free agency, the odds they sign a deal are pretty slim (in that situation).”
MLBTR projects Samardzija to earn $4.9 million in arbitration for the 2014 season. It'll be interesting to see if the Cubs are able to sign him to an extension, but remember – he'll be turning 31 the winter he's scheduled to hit free agency. This isn't a Clayton Kershaw situation, where the pitcher is entering free agency still in his prime years. Samardzija only has two years as an effective major league starter under his belt – who's to say that he's going to improve at all? Maybe this is all he is, and we've already seen his best. At any rate, these recent comments are going to make trading the right-hander that much more difficult for Hoyer and the Cubs.