The Chicago Cubs avoided arbitration with Jeff Samardzija earlier this off-season, but all that did was buy them a little bit of time. It might only have bought them time until the trade deadline in July, but could they be making a move with him even sooner than that?
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times writes that it is still a possibility that the Cubs will trade their ace before Opening Day:
The Cubs are no closer to finding common ground on a potential contract extension with pitcher Jeff Samardzija than they were a year ago. In some ways, they’re further apart.
He is considered the club’s top commodity for the July trade market, but could he be dealt before the season starts in five weeks?
Two industry sources said Monday they believe a trade is a strong possibility, although a third source said no such talks are happening.”
This seems consistent with reports earlier this month that the relationship between the Cubs and Samardzija was getting contentious. If there are issues an extension becomes less likely, and if the Cubs get even stronger inklings that no extension is happening, they are wise to look for a trade.
The Cubs would likely have more leverage in the middle of the season, but for the right price they might move him sooner.