Jeff Samardzija doesn’t have Twitter and he doesn’t check MLBTradeRumors, but he knows his name has been thrown all over the web in trade rumors, writes Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com. The soon-to-be 29-year-old pitcher hears the questions all the time, but he's not so sure that he's on his way out of Chicago.
“This is strictly just a feel, (but) I don’t think it’s as dire as what it’s all being made out to be,” Samardzija told Mooney in a sit-down interview. “I understand things need to be written and stories need to be put on paper. But I think if you look at the whole picture, it’s been pretty mild with everything that’s going on. They’re listening and that’s what any team would do on any player. I just feel like there’s still that common ground of what we both want to do.”
For his part, Samardzija says that he wants to stay with the Cubs. While some might be discouraged by the team's recent struggles, he says he wants to help build a winner in Chicago and look back on the leaner years and smile.
Samardzija is aware that there are non-baseball factors that can play into his future with the Cubs, but he says he's not actively thinking about that. The Cubs are pushing to renovate Wrigley Field in order to increase their revenue, but they can't get underway just yet over fear of litigation from the rooftop owners from outside the park.
As for the contract negotiations with the club, Samardzija feels as though everything has been cordial and professional, even if there's a noticeable gap that needs to be bridged. The right-hander would argue that his 214 strikeouts across 213.2 innings in 2013 is just the beginning of what he can do. The Cubs, meanwhile, would point out that even though he's still on the right side of 30, there's extra mileage on his arm thanks to his Notre Dame football background. Theo Epstein also has a policy of not giving out no-trade clauses, which could also affect talks.
Multiple industry sources believe the Cubs will let the free agent market play out and see what happens with the top pitchers, including Masahiro Tanaka, before pulling the trigger on any Samardzija deal. In the interim, Samardzija has been working out at the new Cubs complex in Mesa, Arizona.
“[I'm there] every day, man,” Samardzija said. “I figure if they need to get a hold of me for something, that’s the best place to be. I can still get in the doors – as of now – and I still get the free coffee. So everything’s all right.”