LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Deflecting questions about trade rumors is part of the job description for a Cubs manager. It won’t get any easier if the front office ships out the Opening Day starter.
The Cubs hired Rick Renteria for his upbeat personality and positive message, and that’s how he’s going to spin it with Jeff Samardzija. The first-year manager has already reached out to one of the most talked-about players at the winter meetings.
“Listen, right now, the way I see it – and the way he sees it – is he’s a Cub and we’re going to move forward as Cubs,” Renteria said. “When I spoke to him, he was very excited about the proposition of the upcoming season.”
Mark Rodgers, one of Samardzija’s agents, was spotted in the lobby at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort on Tuesday in Central Florida. But with Samardzija two years away from free agency – and the Cubs coming off a 96-loss season – the two sides are said to have different interpretations of a market-value deal.
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The Cubs were still trying to figure out the implications of the three-way trade engineered by the White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels. They had discussed big deals and smaller trades with the Diamondbacks, major-league sources said, and planned to circle back this week.
When the Diamondbacks inquired about Samardzija last summer, they were told it would start with two elite pitching prospects – Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley – and the meter would keep running.
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Skaggs is heading to the Angels now, but that gives you an idea of the return the Cubs will want for Samardzija, who’s coming off an inconsistent season (8-13, 4.34 ERA) that still established him as a 200-innings/200-strikeouts guy.
“He’s looking to continue to build on that – as we are – and I think that the club (is) much better with him on it,” Renteria said.
Until the longest-tenured player isn’t on the team anymore, the Samardzija rumors will be here to stay.