LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Cubs and Jeff Samardzija continue to play their game of chicken, heading toward a trade or a long-term contract. But for now, the team is willing to hold onto its best pitcher.
“There’s no trade imminent,” team president Theo Epstein said Wednesday. “We’ll see what happens. We hope he’s here for a long time.”
The Cubs met with Mark Rodgers, one of Samardzija’s agents, at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, but sources said there’s still a wide gap between the two sides. Epstein called the talks “open” and “amicable” but “nothing’s resolved. There hasn’t been any fundamental change in the situation.”
Sources said Samardzija has been discussed throughout the winter meetings and the Cubs will continue to listen to trade ideas, but the sense is they’re waiting until the dust settles on the free-agent market before making any deal.
“We continue to view Jeff as a really big part of what we’re doing,” Epstein said. “Once we get out of here in Orlando, we’ll stop talking about it. I think we have a duty to give you something, some kind of answers to your questions and it’s topical.
“But at some point, I don’t think Jeff deserves to read about this every day. It’s a tough thing to read about someone speculating about where you’re going to work or how long you’re going to work at your current job. We’ll just put it to bed publicly.”
Good luck with that. It has been a slow-moving market for starting pitchers, with Masahiro Tanaka’s future still up in the air, the Tampa Bay Rays dangling David Price and names like Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez still on the board.
There will be more noise about Samardzija, who is two seasons away from free agency and has to be skeptical of the hazy timeline for when the Cubs are supposed to be contenders again.
“Jeff is our Opening Day starter,” Epstein said, “and that’s how we’re moving forward unless something changes.”