MIAMI – All signs keep pointing toward a Jeff Samardzija trade.
While the Cubs promoted elite prospect Kris Bryant to Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday, their homegrown Opening Day starter waited to find out where he will be pitching next.
Being a Chicago guy only goes so far – Samardzija wants to win now and that competitive streak means he doesn’t want to settle for a team-friendly deal roughly a year-and-a-half before free agency. Not with a team on pace for a fifth-place finish for the fifth season in a row.
Samardzija’s camp views Homer Bailey’s six-year, $105 million extension with the Cincinnati Reds as the baseline, sources said, but whatever parameters have been discussed within the last 19-plus months – Fox Sports floated the five-year, $85 million concept – there are still fundamental differences over his value, the way the Cubs are rebuilding and the skyrocketing price of pitching.
So the Cubs will need this when Samardzija’s gone: Jake Arrieta again showed flashes of being a frontline guy in a 6-1 victory over the Miami Marlins, putting together seven strong innings and notching a career-high 11 strikeouts.
The scouts came to Marlins Park to watch Samardzija and Jason Hammel, not Arrieta, who figures to be an even bigger piece of the puzzle when Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer again trade away 40 percent of the rotation by the July 31 deadline.
“I look forward to continuing to have Jason and Jeff as teammates for as long as possible,” Arrieta said. “Obviously, I would like them both to stay. But Theo and Jed are going to do everything in their power to put the best team on the field, whether that’s keeping those guys or swapping them for prospects they feel can be here for a long time. So it’s really not something we need to think about.”
Good luck with that. Arrieta became aware of the speculation about his future, which made zero sense given his age (28), contract status (under club control through 2017) and change-of-scenery success (3-1, 1.98 ERA).
“Yeah, I heard it,” Arrieta said. “Just like most of the guys in here, we hear stuff like that through friends and family. But a lot of those things are rumors and that’s kind of where it starts and ends. Obviously, we got a couple guys on the trading block, but that’s what comes along with being quality starters…your name’s going to be mentioned in those sorts of rumors.”
Just ask Samardzija. The Cubs have been such aggressive sellers that any trade whisper can catch fire on social media. But Arrieta? Really?
“I knew it’s just kind of rumors or hearsay, but it means I’m doing things right,” Arrieta said. “It’s never a bad thing when your name’s mentioned in things like that. But I really don’t put much into it at this point in time.”
The Arrieta lightning round started with tweets from a national writer that bounced around the Internet’s echo chamber.
“I am on Twitter,” Arrieta said. “I don’t check it as much as I used to. I’m starting to get back into it. My wife gets on me and tells me to tweet more, but there’s a lot of things that I missed lately on Twitter. I try and stay out of it. Let the guys in the front office make the decisions.”