Shark Week, it was not.
It wasn’t Shark Month either for that matter. Just as I was starting to ask around if the pressure was getting to Jeff Samardzija, both Patrick Mooney and Gordon Wittenmeyer also posed the question if contract and trade talk were distracting the Cubs current ace.
Right about the time his name came up in rumors, Samardzija since has posted a 1-4 record, 6.75 ERA, and averaged 5 2/3 innings and seven hits a start. I was told to mostly chalk the struggles up to him still trying to figure things out. However, I think it's pretty obvious things are getting to him.
When Samardzija's name surfaced in trade rumors a few weeks ago, there was likely an underlying motive to it. The Cubs were trying to drive home to Samardzija and his camp that they were serious about negotiating, and that is the card they hold. It’s likely the Cubs were leaking the rumors to rattle Shark’s cage. It may have worked.
I had asked around about Samardzija and his camp's relationship with the Cubs front office. It turns out there is mutual respect and the Cubs certainly want to lock him up. However, I was told Samardzija wasn't ready to bend over for the Cubs front office by signing a club friendly deal like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo were. Samardzija wanted one more year under his belt to show what he could do and establish his value further. He wanted to gamble on himself, but has his gamble distracted him now?
“I don’t think so,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Friday at Busch Stadium. “We’ve had some dialogue at different times. But nothing’s really changed on that front. So I don’t see why he would start pressing now as opposed to other times. I don’t see that as a huge issue. I certainly hope it’s not.”
The multi million-dollar question for me is what is his value? John and I discussed Samardzija yesterday at length and both came to the conclusion he is somewhere between a number two and number three starter right now. If Samardzija wants to get paid like an ace, that likely isn't going to happen anytime soon.
“When you’re good you get paid, and if you’re not very good you don’t get paid,” manager Dale Sveum said before Thursday’s game. “That’s the bottom line to contracts and contract extensions and all that.”
You have to think Edwin Jackson money would be somewhere where the Cubs maybe comfortable. I for one can’t see anything above $13 mil as a base, with some heavy incentives a possibility. In the meantime, if you have both parties motivated to keep Samardzija a Cub, a resolution seems likely.
“When you have guys like Samardzija get those contracts and you know you’re going to have them for an extended period of time,” Sveum said, “it’s big to the organization, big to the guys in the clubhouse, as well as myself.”