Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and the Chicago Cubs have been one of the most active teams leading up to this afternoon’s non-waiver trade deadline. The team’s already made a handful of trades this month and the chances appear high that they’ll move at least one or two more players before this afternoon. Jeff Samardzija won’t be one of them, it would seem, as the team has determined it won’t be able to get the “blockbuster return” that they’d been hoping for and will instead hold onto the right-hander, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. The team will re-evaluate their situation with Samardzija this offseason.
Samardzija broke out as a solid option last year for the Cubs, with strong numbers across the board despite a poor win-loss record. The Cubs and most experts expected that he’d take further strides forward this season with it being his second year as a full time starter (after four seasons mostly pitching in relief). Samardzija has been having a solid season despite some unimpressive numbers and has established himself as a top-of-the-rotation caliber pitcher. He’s posted a 3.75 ERA, 1.278 WHIP, and 9.1 K/9 in 144.0 IP on the year. He’s had his share of control issues though – 3.4 BB/9, 5 HBP, and 8 WP. A lack of run support has largely contributed to his 6-9 record.
With two more years of team control remaining, the Cubs were seeking a package of front-line prospects in return for their 28 year old starter. It was always evident that they would only move him if they were “bowled over” and that doesn’t appear to be happening. Multiple teams have reportedly expressed some varying levels of interest in the past few weeks – including the Arizona Diamondbacks – but none wanted to meet Chicago’s asking price.
Heyman suggests that the Cubs will once again make an effort to sign Samardzija to a contract extension once the season ends. The two sides have had numerous conversations about a possible deal dating back to last winter. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes thinks a potential deal could be in the neighborhood of five years, $55 Million with a ceiling of five years, $80 Million. If the Cubs are unable to work out a deal with the right-hander this offseason then they’ll likely make another attempt to trade him.