The possibility of a contract extension between Jeff Samardzija and the White Sox “hasn’t even been a topic of conversation,” the right-hander tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. “We haven’t come close to crossing that bridge. We’re all working on getting the team where we want. That’s our main goal.” Like most players, Samardzija would prefer to avoid negotiations once the season begins, as those talks “can become a distraction.”
Samardzija is heading into his last year under contract and will be one of the most sought-after names on the open market next winter; Tim Dierkes currently has the righty ranked ninth in the initial edition of the MLBTR 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings. Samardzija’s case is somewhat unique since, as Heyman notes, he’s already made a significant amount of money in his career. This could mean Samardzija would prioritize choosing a comfortable situation and winning team over a suitor that simply offers the biggest salary. On the other hand, Samardzija also said that “it’s nice to see guys getting compensated for their work” in reference to other pitchers landing expensive deals and hinted that he’s looking for a contract that will cover his “next six, seven years.”
This next contract could still be with the White Sox, as Samardzija made it known that he is very “excited” by the team’s offseason moves and their promise for 2015. He said he is “on great terms” with the club and there is similar interest on Chicago’s side, though it isn’t known whether the Sox have even brought up the topic with Samardzija since acquiring him from the A’s in December.
“Whenever there’s a next deal with Jeff Samardzija, hopefully, it’s with the White Sox,” GM Rick Hahn said. “The guy’s a competitor. He wants to win, and he’s a tireless worker who’s succeeded on the big stage. He’s a leader in the clubhouse, and a nice complement between Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.”
Given that Samardzija is only a year away from testing the market, however, it’s very unlikely that he would take an extension now unless the Sox greatly overpaid him — a move that, Heyman writes, would be very uncharacteristic of the club. Along those same lines, it may be hard to see the White Sox spend the $100MM+ it will likely take to re-sign Samardzija next winter, though I’d argue that the team could indeed be suitors given how aggressive the Sox have been under Hahn. Sale and Quintana are locked up on through (at least) 2018 and 2019 on what are looking like very team-friendly deals, which could Chicago to splurge on another front-of-the-rotation arm with a bigger price tag.