2/12 Samardzija is business savvy
Both the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija have talked about a possible long-term contract but the pitcher would like to prove himself in a full season before signing a deal.
Last season, his first as a full-time starter, Samardzija was shut down after 174 2/3 innings in early September. He didn’t exactly agree with the decision but the Cubs felt he’d done enough, and included his Spring Training innings in the final count. Now, he heads into 2013 as a candidate to be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter.
“My arm feels great,” Samardzija said Tuesday. “[Being shut down] was what it was, and that was last year and I’m not worried about it. I know how I ended. It was nice to throw a lot in Spring Training and still throw a lot in the season. To know I was over 200 innings was good. I would’ve liked to have done it during the regular season but you have to understand there’s a plan and go from there.”
The Cubs added to the rotation this offseason by signing Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52 million deal, the largest contract offered to a free agent since Theo Epstein took over as president of baseball operations. Last August, Starlin Castro received a seven-year, $60 million extension.
Samardzija was arbitration eligible, and signed for $2.64 million. The two sides did discuss a long-term deal, and it’s still being considered.
“We were talking, and we both have the same interests in mind,” Samardzija said. “We both want me to be here, and we want to be a part of this team for a long time. When we feel we’re on the same page with that, then we’ll get it done. That was offseason talk, that’s what happened at the end of the year.
“I still haven’t proven myself to where I want to be as a player,” he said. “I was happy with last year but I don’t want to stay there, I want to improve and get better. I think the more I show them that, the more comfortable they’ll be with getting a deal done. [Contract discussions are] not even close to the front of the burner right now. It’s so far on the back, it’s history, to tell you the truth.”
In his first full season as a starter, Samardzija was 9-13 in 28 starts with a 3.81 ERA. He finished on a high note, throwing a complete game against the Pirates Sept. 8.
Samardzija is well aware of the business of baseball.
“It doesn’t make much sense to sit down and try to negotiate anything out when I don’t have a full season under my belt,” he said. “Now we’re just talking potential.”
However, signing Samardzija this offseason might have come at a lower cost.
“I don’t know — I’m not a [general manager],” Samardzija said, laughing. “You tell me.”
— Carrie Muskat