On a team void of young, ascending assets, starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija sticks out like a sore thumb on the Chicago Cubs. After all, the 28-year-old right-hander has established himself as a high-end pitcher in the National League, and that is a valuable commodity. However, he has not been “locked up” by the Cubs yet, but the winds of change could be flying around Chicago.
“We’ve had discussions w/Samardzija because we like him + want to keep him. We’ll see where things go. We like hearing he wants to be here.”
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) November 16, 2013
David Kaplan of CSN Chicago is reporting that Jed Hoyer (the Cubs executive VP and general manager) has talked extension with Samardzija, and honestly, this shouldn’t be a surprise. In 2013, Samardzija earned 2.8 WAR according to FanGraphs, thanks to over 213 innings of service, but there is also reason to think that he could be even better in the future.
His ERA numbers from 2011 and 2012 were far lower (2.97 and 3.81, respectively) than this year’s 4.34, and his xFIP of 3.45 indicates that Samardzija was pretty unlucky this season. Tack on the fact that he has a career 8.65 K/9 strikeout rate, and you have an extremely talented asset at low cost right now.
As for his value on the open market, that is very much up for debate. He isn’t a free agent until after 2015 (he can thank Notre Dame football for that, I’m afraid), but player salaries seem to be rising in a major way, and the fully available (i.e. free agent) pitching talent is few and far between. Stay tuned to see if anything comes of the negotiations, but at least the two sides are talking.