Samardzija: Cubs would send strong message by signing Tanaka

Samardzija: Cubs would send strong message by signing Tanaka
January 17, 2014, 9:00 pm
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Jeff Samardzija is tired of hearing about rebuilding. He wants to know if the Cubs will be able to sign Masahiro Tanaka.

[MORE: Cubs hoping to sell Masahiro Tanaka on The Plan]

“It changes that timeline,” Samardzija said. “I’ve mentioned my frustration with that ‘R-word’ before. You bring him in – that ‘R-word’ essentially kind of disintegrates.”   

Seven years after the Notre Dame All-American made a Cubs Convention splash by signing a $10 million contract, Samardzija showed up at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers on Friday ready to answer questions about the trade rumors.

[RELATED: Cubs 'sitting at the table with the heavyweights' on Tanaka]

“This is where I want to be,” Samardzija said. “I want to be a part of building that team that everybody envisions taking the field at Wrigley, which is a young, strong, powerful team that comes to play at noon, 1:20, 3:30, whenever. To me, that’s more exciting than just signing because a team’s starting to win. Being a part of that building process is something that’s exciting, too.”

Tanaka would be a huge foundation piece. Winning the bidding war over a star Japanese pitcher would send a strong message to Cubs fans, the Chicago media and the Opening Day starter looking to get paid in his next long-term deal. 

Samardzija is two seasons away from free agency at a time when the Cubs are planning for 2016 and beyond. Theo Epstein’s front office wants long-term assets. Sources continue to say that the two sides haven’t made much progress on a contract extension.

Samardzija, who grew up in Northwest Indiana, is in no rush and has been consistent with his position. He believes he can be a No. 1 starter and prefers to put together a larger body of work before signing his next contract. He wants to figure out what a market-rate deal would be – and see what direction the franchise takes next. 

[RELATED: Samardzija wants to see how Cubs attack next rebuilding phase]

“You just prove how much you’re worth on the field,” Samardzija said. “That’s just all there is to it. There’s no strong-arming. There’s no leveraging. You go out, you play and your numbers speak.

“You can’t really apply the Tanaka situation to a domestic situation. He’s coming off a low posting fee, essentially being a 25-year-old free agent with a lot of experience. It’s a little different. You can’t really connect the two.”

Samardzija – who will turn 29 next week and has become the longest-tenured player on the team – wants to pitch in October. Samardzija and Tanaka would be fun to watch at a sold-out Wrigley Field in Games 1 and 2 of a playoff series.

“I’m still with the Cubs,” Samardzija said. “I’m still wearing a Cubs uniform. I approach it just like that. I’m going to work hard. I’m going to give my heart and soul to this organization – like I have since Day 1 – and do everything I can to make us succeed and win like we know we can. The benefits that would come from that would be unbelievable – and everything would be just how we want it.”

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