Results tagged ‘ Jeff Samardzija ’

12/10 Pitching, pitching, pitching

The Cubs used nine different starting pitchers last season, including Scott Baker who started three games in September, and want to make sure they have enough depth. GM Jed Hoyer said Tuesday the goal is to add at least one and possibly two more starting pitchers before the season begins. So far, the rotation includes Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta with Chris Rusin and Carlos Villanueva possibly getting starts. The Cubs have had talks with Baker’s agent about the possibility of the right-hander returning for another season. Baker spent most of the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Whether that extra pitcher is Masahiro Tanaka has not been determined as Major League Baseball and the Japan baseball officials sort through the posting process.

“In general, we only need one starter in theory,” Hoyer said, “but we know we’ll go through a lot more starters. We’re in on a lot of starting pitchers and we could well sign more than one starter. That’s a possibility. Someone is going to be hurt, someone could go to the bullpen for a short amount of time. I feel it’s a dangerous game playing that ‘just enough’ starting pitcher game. Could we add more than one starting pitcher this winter? Absolutely.”

On Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, Hoyer and Theo Epstein continued their meetings with agents and teams.

“I think we’ve laid the groundwork and we’ll keep doing that,” Hoyer said. “It’s boring to say but that’s what you do here. You have meeting after meeting and try to kick ideas off each other. You hope that having the big group here and having everyone in the same building will lead to a little more creativity.”

* The Cubs may go to Spring Training and let the relievers battle it out for the closer’s job.

“In theory we can,” Hoyer said. “I think we have people on the roster who can certainly hold down that job. At that point, it would be on [manager Rick Renteria] to name a closer in Spring Training. I’m not sure that will happen or not. I think we have more power arms on the roster and we feel better about our bullpen. We do still want to add to it.”

The list of candidates includes Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and Hector Rondon. However, the Cubs are looking at adding some relievers, and hoping the chance to be a closer could entice some free agents.

Renteria did admit that managing the bullpen is the “most critical part of the ballgame.” He’d like to have roles established for each pitcher.

* Kyuji Fujikawa is continuing his rehab from Tommy John surgery but most likely would not be back until May at the earliest.

– Carrie Muskat

12/9 Cubs pitching budget

The Cubs feel they can fit both Jeff Samardzija and Masahiro Tanaka in their budget if the Japanese pitcher becomes available. It also could depend on what it will take to get Samardzija to stay. Samardzija, 28, the Cubs’ Opening Day starter who racked up 200 innings and 200 strikeouts this season, has been talking to the team about a long-term extension. He made $2.64 million this year.

“I think we’ve made it really clear that he’s a guy we’d like to keep,” GM Jed Hoyer said Monday at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. “We love the way he competes and he’s continued to improve as a pitcher. Certainly having him as a Cub is a desirable outcome.”

Tanaka’s status has yet to be determined as Major League Baseball and Japanese baseball officials try to update the posting system. The Cubs expect to be part of the process regarding Tanaka, 25, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 regular season games with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Neither Samardzija nor Tanaka will be cheap. Samardzija will be a free agent after the 2015 season. All he has to do is look at recent contracts for starting pitchers to know he could cash in. Phil Hughes, 27, recently got a three-year, $24 million deal from the Twins.

“They’re not attached at all — it’s not an either, or type thing,” Hoyer said about being able to afford the two pitchers. “We obviously like Samardzija a lot and Tanaka is a talented pitcher. We’re not looking at them joined or not joined. There’s no influence on each other.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/6 Samardzija update

The Cubs are still hoping to lock up Jeff Samardzija to a long-term contract. You’ll hear Samardzija’s name mentioned a lot next week during the Winter Meetings as teams seeking a starting pitcher try to pry the right-hander away from the Cubs. Where does the team stand in talks with Samardzija?

“I’m not going to provide a running play by play,” Theo Epstein said Thursday. “It’s in the same place it’s been. There’s mutual interest [to get something done]. The situation sometimes makes things tough.”

Samardzija has made it clear he wants to stay with the Cubs, but is under team control for two more seasons and will be a free agent after 2015. Considering the salaries starting pitchers are getting these days, he may decide to wait. He’s coming off his first 200-inning, 200-strikeout season.

– Carrie Muskat

12/4 Jeff Samardzija — UPDATED

During an interview Wednesday night on Chicago Sports Talk Live, Theo Epstein said the chances of Jeff Samardzija being in the Cubs Opening Day rotation are “pretty good.”

Samardzija has been the subject of trade rumors since July, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick wrote Wednesday that the Cubs will do some “serious listening” at the Winter Meetings to teams interested in trading for the right-hander.

In the show Wednesday night on Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Epstein repeated that the Cubs are hoping to sign Samardzija to a long-term deal. The pitcher is arbitration eligible.

“He’s our best pitcher and I’m really bullish on his future,” Epstein said on the Comcast SportsNet Chicago show. “He’s a guy who is a difference making starting pitcher for a long time.”

Epstein did say they want to get the most out of their assets, and although one way is a contract extension, another way is to trade that player for “mulitiple young impact assets.”

“With Jeff, I still have the belief that he can be the guy, he has the exact makeup we’re looking for,” Epstein said.

Samardzija is under team control for two more seasons, has shown that he’s durable, he’s a power pitcher, and he’s only 28 years old. The Cubs would have to be blown away by a package to deal Samardzija, who is arbitration eligible and projected to get a $4.9 million in 2014. Many teams looking for starting pitching consider him to be a better alternative than the free agent pitchers still on the market.

What could influence the Cubs decision on whether to part with Samardzija is if they can fill that spot in the rotation with Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. According to a report on Wednesday, Japanese baseball officials are willing to accept the $20 million maximum bid, which would be part of the new posting rules. Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for Rakuten this season.

Stay tuned. The Winter Meetings get underway Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

– Carrie Muskat

12/2 Extra bases

* The Cubs are expected to tender contracts to all of their arbitration eligible players before Monday’s 10:59 p.m. CT deadline. Players not tendered before that deadline will become free agents. The Cubs have nine players who are arbitration eligible, including infielders Darwin Barney, Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy; outfielder Nate Schierholtz; and pitchers Pedro Strop, Travis Wood, Daniel Bard, James Russell and Jeff Samardzija.

The main reason teams might non-tender a player is because he is arbitration eligible and due for a raise higher than the team is willing to pay.

This is the third year Schierholtz is arbitration eligible, the second year for Samardzija, Russell, Valbuena, and Murphy, and the first year for Bard, Barney, Strop and Wood. According to salaries projected by MLBTradeRumors.com, if the Cubs tender contracts to all nine players, they’ll be adding $21.5 million to the payroll. The Cubs have committed $49 million to six players for 2014 and will be paying $14 million to the Yankees to cover the last year of Alfonso Soriano’s contract.

*The Cubs have reportedly re-signed outfielder Darnell McDonald to a Minor League deal. He has a career .285/.353/.453 slash line against left-handed pitchers (12-for-28 this season with Cubs). McDonald played in 25 games with the Cubs this season, and was outrighted to the Minor Leagues on Oct. 8. He became a free agent Oct. 15.

* According to FOX Sports and MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays have reached an agreement with catcher Dioner Navarro on a two-year, $8 million deal. Navarro, 29, batted .300 in 89 games last season with the Cubs, hitting a career-high 13 home runs, including three in one game, and driving in 34. Navarro was paid $1.75 million last year. The Cubs have signed George Kottaras to be their backup catcher in 2014.

* Steve Wilson, who was the Pacific Rim and Mexico scouting coordinator for the Cubs, has joined the Yankees as the Pacific Rim scouting coordinator/international crosschecker. Wilson pitched for the Cubs from 1989-91.

– Carrie Muskat

11/24 Samardzija rumors

Jeff Samardzija struck out 200 over 200 innings in his first full season as a starter, and has drawn interest from teams looking for a young pitcher, especially one who would be under team control for two more years. The Diamondbacks, Nationals and Blue Jays have reportedly inquired about Samardzija and on Sunday, there was a report that Toronto was putting together a package of young players for the Cubs right-hander.

During an interview on MLB Radio on Sunday, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos was asked if there was any truth to the rumor about the Blue Jays pursuing Samardzija.

“You know what, I just saw that [rumor], too,” Anthropoulos told MLB Radio. “I’m in the office [Sunday] just going through some things. I’m going to try to be a little more candid than I may have been in the past. I won’t comment on specific rumors and things like that but I will say that we’re definitely exploring starters with teams. But also, just like a lot of stuff that’s out there that is false, we have not made an offer to anybody with respect to a starter. So if there is something out there that [says] we’ve actually made an offer to someone for a starter, that is not accurate. It doesn’t mean we’re not inquiring.”

MLB Radio host Jim Duquette asked if anything was imminent regarding either adding a free agent or making a trade.

“You know what, we’re talking to one club about a smaller trade and maybe it’ll move the next few days, or maybe it won’t happen,” Anthropoulos said. “But, no, I don’t think, not right now there isn’t anything imminent. We’re not necessarily waiting on someone to get back to us but, again, at any time that can change and I hope it does. I think, and you guys both went through it, before the Thanksgiving holiday sometimes there’s that last little push [when] teams want to get some things off their plate. So maybe things happen here in the next two or three days. If not, we’ll take it to the [Winter Meetings], I guess, at that point.”

The Cubs have approached Samardzija, 28, about a possible contract extension. The pitcher, who was the Opening Day starter this year, has not been in a hurry to something done.

“I have two more years of arbitration so there is a lot of time to get something done,” Samardzija said in early November.

As for all the rumors, GM Jed Hoyer said Samardzija had the right attitude because he doesn’t pay any attention to the reports.

Teams shopping for starting pitching may be comparing the cost of acquiring Samardzija with another 28-year-old, David Price, who also is under team control for two more years. However, Price has more innings and experience as a starter, and won the AL Cy Young in 2012 when he went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA for the Rays. Price did miss time this season because of a left triceps strain. Samardzija, who ranked fifth in the National League in strikeouts per nine innings, has been healthy. Price was paid $10 million in 2013; Samardzija $2.6 million.

The Cubs don’t have that much depth pitching-wise, with Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jake Arrieta set for the rotation in 2014.

– Carrie Muskat

11/12 GM meetings

The Cubs join the list of teams interested in Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

“We’ve done our work on him,” Jed Hoyer told reporters on Monday in Orlando, Fla., at the general manager meetings. “We plan on being part of it.”

Tanaka, 25, was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 regular season games with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball were discussing potential changes to the posting fee agreement. No matter what is decided, Tanaka may not fit in the Cubs’ budget, especially with the Yankees and Dodgers reportedly interested in the right-hander.

Tanaka is the most sought after Japanese pitcher since Yu Darvish signed with the Rangers prior to the 2012 season. Texas paid the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters a $51.7 million posting fee and then signed Darvish to a six-year, $60 million contract.

* The Cubs also have a pitcher whose name has been talked about this offseason and that’s Jeff Samardzija, who has been mentioned in trade rumors with the Nationals and Diamondbacks.

“Teams will certainly inquire about him,” Hoyer said. “He’s really proved over the last two years that he has great stuff. He’s a tough competitor.”

The Cubs and Samardzija have talked about a possible long-term deal. The right-hander is under club control for two more seasons. He’s coming off his first full season as a starter in which he was 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA, 214 strikeouts over 213 2/3 innings.

“There could be rumors,” Hoyer said. “Jeff has the perfect mentality for that. He just doesn’t pay attention. I think it’s somewhat the nature of being in a big market. You are going to have your name out there.”

The Cubs are in the market for pitching, hoping to add another starter and some bullpen help, including a closer, this offseason.

* Hoyer said the Cubs will announce their coaching hires at one time, and expect to name a hitting coach from outside the organization.

– Carrie Muskat

11/5 The Cubs and Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs have talked about a possible long-term deal, but have been unable to reach a resolution. Could Samardzija be traded? According to a tweet by ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Cubs and Diamondbacks are talking about a possible deal involving the right-handed pitcher. This season, Samardzija set personal highs in innings pitched (214 2/3), starts (33), quality starts (19), strikeouts (214), and complete games (two). He finished 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA. The price tag would likely be high. Samardzija has two years before he is eligible for free agency.

– Carrie Muskat

9/29 Cardinals 4, Cubs 0

Jeff Samardzija closed the season on Sunday, taking the loss in the Cubs’ 4-0 decision to the playoff-bound Cardinals in front of a sellout crowd of 44,808 at Busch Stadium. Whether it was Dale Sveum’s last game as manager won’t be known until Monday, when he meets with Theo Epstein.

“We’ll find out in whatever it is, 12 hours, 15, whatever it is,” Sveum said. “It’s upon us.”

There were a lot of hugs between the players and coaches in the visitor’s clubhouse after the game. With the loss, the Cubs finished last in the National League Central at 66-96, a slight improvement over the 61-101 record in 2012. Epstein has repeatedly said he’s not judging Sveum on the team’s won-loss record.

“There were some positives,” Sveum said of the season, citing Anthony Rizzo’s stats, the emergence of reliever Hector Rondon, the development of catcher Welington Castillo. “It was a tough year all the way around.”

In 2012, Samardzija’s first year as a starter, he was shut down in early September when he’d reached his innings limit. This year, the kid gloves were off. Samardzija struck out four over six innings to finish with 213 2/3 innings, 214 strikeouts, and 19 quality starts out of 33 outings. But the Cubs couldn’t get him a win, and ended the season losing 14 of their last 18 games. He will finish among the top 10 pitchers in the National League in innings and strikeouts.

“I’m satisfied,” Samardzija said of his season. “I had a strong year, felt good, pitched every start, threw a lot of innings, lot of strikeouts. I need to limit the damage in crooked number innings, and once we do that, and cut those down to one instead of three, and cut the walks down, too, I think you’re looking at a different year. I’m still hungry and eager to improve for sure.”

With the win, the Cardinals will host the winner of the Reds vs. Pirates Wild Card Game, and the Braves will play host to the Dodgers in the NL Division Series. The Cubs’ players headed home.

“It’s not about playing six months, it’s about playing that seventh month,” Samardzija said. “Otherwise you’re just out here buying time. I want to win and pitch in October, and that’s it.”

Maybe next year?

“I think in three years — two or three — I think we’ll be competing,” Starlin Castro said. “I feel me and this guy right there [Rizzo], we work together and we’ll be a good team for sure.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/29 Cubs lineup

Game 162:

Castro SS
Watkins 2B
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Sweeney CF
Murphy 3B
Bogusevic LF
Boscan C
Samardzija P

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