2/14 Samardzija hopes to avoid distractions
Jeff Samardzija doesn’t want to talk about a possible long-term contract with the Cubs or his name being mentioned in trade rumors.
“We’re not really going to talk about that,” Samardzija said Friday. “We’re worried about the season and getting ready to compete and win some ballgames. We don’t want any distractions, whether it’s with [contract talk] or with trade talks or this or that. For me, it’s a no comment.
“Like I’ve said before, [I want to] put no doubt in anyone’s minds about who I am and what I can be for this organization.”
This is Samardzija’s third season as a full-time starter, and his name has been mentioned in trade rumors because of the Cubs’ trend the last two seasons under president of baseball operations Theo Epstein to deal players for prospects. Samardzija avoided arbitration this year by agreeing to a one-year, $5.345 million contract. He will be a free agent after the 2015 season.
“The last resort is to go a hearing,” he said of the talks. “I felt like from the beginning, both sides were in agreement that we were pretty close.”
The right-hander is coming off his first season in which he totaled 200 innings and 200 strikeouts. He finished 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA in a career-high 33 starts. His goal this year? To improve his pitch efficiency and reduce the total walks.
One of the ways to do that is eliminate any outside distractions. Whether he’s traded or not, Samardzija, 29, is doing his best to stay focused on baseball.
“All I can do is increase my value as much as possible and I think in the end it’s going to help the organization no matter what,” he said. “It either helps the organization by keeping me here and proving that I’m that guy, or I increase my value and help them get prospects in return.”
Does he think he’ll be with the Cubs at the end of the 2014 season?
“It comes down to the team,” he said. “It comes down to where we’re at as a team. If me, [Travis Wood], [Edwin] Jackson, [Jason] Hammel, [Carlos] Villanueva, [Jake] Arrieta, so on and so forth do their job and show that we’re pretty close to where we need to be, especially as a pitching staff, which is what we can control as pitchers, a lot of times that changes the plan. [They’ll say] This is an important core group of guys and we can’t break this up.”
— Carrie Muskat