The Cubs haven’t answered the Jeff Samardzija question yet. But a likely scenario is he will report to the team’s new complex in Mesa, Ariz., for spring training and get traded before the July 31 deadline.
The next step is settling on Samardzija’s 2014 salary after the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement by Friday’s deadline. The arbitration numbers filed – $4.4 million vs. $6.2 million – showed the different interpretations of his value.
The Cubs also exchanged numbers with All-Star pitcher Travis Wood ($3.5 million vs. $4.25 million), second baseman Darwin Barney ($1.8 million vs. $2.8 million) and outfielder Justin Ruggiano ($1.6 million vs. $2.45 million). Arbitration cases are scheduled for Feb. 1-21, though deals can be made before those hearings.
The Cubs reached one-year agreements with four other arbitration-eligible players: outfielder Nate Schierholtz ($5 million); relievers James Russell ($1.775 million) and Pedro Strop ($1.325 million); and infielder Luis Valbuena ($1.71 million).
Samardzija is coming off a season in which he went 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA and 214 strikeouts in 213.2 innings. Masahiro Tanaka’s long-awaited decision has slowed the pitching market and the supply/demand dynamics mean the Cubs will probably hold onto Samardzija for at least a few more months.
“I’m a big fan of Jeff Samardzija,” team president Theo Epstein said. “He’s got a great future. I actually think his best days are ahead of him. He’s under Cubs’ control for the next two years and hopefully we get a chance to extend that window.
“There’s been public speculation about a contract extension at times, a trade at times. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. But I can tell you I’m happy that he’s a Cub and hopefully he’ll get the ball on Opening Day.”