For Jeff Samardzija, it is apparently the word that shall not be spoken.
He won’t say it. Referring to the “R” word, the Cubs ace expressed his frustration with the concept and the state of the franchise. He wants the team to sign Masahiro Tanaka to send the message that they are ready to contend (quotes from Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago):
“It changes that timeline. I’ve mentioned my frustration with that ‘R-word’ before. You bring him in – that ‘R-word’ essentially kind of disintegrates…
“…This is where I want to be. I want to be a part of building that team that everybody envisions taking the field at Wrigley, which is a young, strong, powerful team that comes to play at noon, 1:20, 3:30, whenever. To me, that’s more exciting than just signing because a team’s starting to win. Being a part of that building process is something that’s exciting, too.”
I’m not sure if the Cubs would be done rebuilding, or if that word would “disintegrate,” as Samardzija put it, but signing Tanaka would be a huge step. A young rotation built around Samardzija, Tanaka, and Travis Wood would provide the foundation to build a legitimate contender.
You almost wonder how much Tanaka could swing things one way or the other for the Cubs. Sign him, and you likely commit to Samardzija as well. Miss on him? That might be incentive to trade Samardzija to continue the long process of the dreaded “R-word.”