The Cubs have determined they aren't going to get the required blockbuster package for righty Jeff Samardzija, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman echoes a weekend report from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that stated the Cubs will once again try to extend Samardzija this winter. Should that fail, "a trade will become much more likely," according to Heyman.
Samardzija, 28, has a 3.75 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.94 HR/9, and 48.5% groundball rate in 144 innings this year. Those are solid numbers, and he has the repertoire of an ace, but so far Samardzija's control hasn't taken a leap forward as it appeared earlier this season (in fact, it's been worse than last year). The Cubs control Samardzija for two more years after 2013.
For his part, Samardzija told Wittenmyer that he's content to let his performance dictate his earnings: “My numbers and what I do on the field will, I guess, implicate myself in a way. And that’s all I want. Just to win.” Samardzija added that he's been reluctant to discuss long-term value to this point due to his limited big league experience as a starter.
In my opinion, Samardzija's floor would be the five-year, $55MM deal signed by Matt Harrison in January this year, with the possibility of aiming for the five-year, $80MM range deals signed by Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander before the 2010 campaign. Though Samardzija doesn't have the Cy Young votes or career innings those aces did at the time, four years will have passed since they set the bar for starting pitchers in the four-to-five service class. Good pitchers with four years service rarely avoid multiyear extensions to that point, but Samardzija signed a $10MM deal out of the draft and has earned more than $15MM in total, perhaps reducing his willingness to choose the financial security of a team-friendly pact.