Despite Hot Start, Cubs/Scout Still Don't View Samardzija as Ace

Despite Hot Start, Cubs/Scout Still Don't View Samardzija as Ace

It has been reported that there is still a significant gulf that exists between the Cubs front office and Jeff Samardzija's camp.

Ultimately the two sides can't agree on whether Samardzija should be considered as a top-of-the-rotation-caliber pitcher, or, what really matters here, if he should get paid like one. WSCR's Bruce Levine has been reporting much the same as what I have been telling you all along.

The Cubs still see Shark as a more of a "3," at least that is what they tell his camp. However, I'm sure that's not what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer tell Toronto, Atlanta, and other potential suitors on the phone.

Should the Cubs reconsider Samardzija's value after his start to this season? Could he be turning a corner? I believe those are valid questions and they prompted me to seek out one of the best sources I know. He's a top National League talent evaluator, one who has helped discover Hall of Fame players over the years.

In the past, this particular super scout hasn't exactly given me glowing reports when it comes to Samardzija. However, it had been at least a year since I asked about the pitcher, so I wanted to see if his recent performance had any sway.

"I still see him as more of a 2/3," he told me. "[Samardzija] has always had top rotation stuff. I think the difference now is that he is settling in his role as a starter. He's making less mistakes when he gets in trouble. He is figuring a way to pitch out of jams and not loosing focus. Now he has to prove he can be consistent."

So it sounds like the Cubs are pretty much of the same thinking, no? There have been some strides made, yet he's not quite a bona fide ace either. I'm no master negotiator here, but if one side says he's a 1, and the other side says a 3, don't you think maybe the two sides could meet in the middle at a 2? Isn't that how it usually works? Just spitballing here.

The real problem may lie with the Homer Bailey contract. Bailey hadn't exactly established himself as ace material either, yet he got paid like one. Thanks Reds. I asked my guy again: do you dare pay Samardzija Bailey money when neither has been established as an ace?

"You win if you pitch!" the scout said. The Cubs don't have a system exactly rich with pitching just yet; maybe it's something to truly consider.

I also often wonder if there is any real chance of a resolution here when you see the two sides consistently making little digs and snipes through the media?

The latest example had Shark pretty much telling the front office to mind their own business in regards to his recent 120-plus pitch count. Maybe Samardzija is actually resentful over the fact that he's being treated like little more than a commodity by the Cubs brass.

If there is truth to that, keep in mind Samardzija has also stated recently that he understands he has to take a stand contract-wise for the benefit of younger players following in his footsteps. It's a responsibility; he claims. It's what he must do.

If he can understand that, then he must understand the Cubs front office has to do what they have to as well. Which likely means not paying him ace money while asking for a potential ace in return for him.


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  • I don't think there is any middle ground after the comments of the past week. While it's good to have confidence in one's skills and abilities, there's a big difference between self confidence and delusional. Shark is bordering on delusional.

    Delusional that he is a No.1. Delusional that the front office has no right to be concerned about his pitch count.

    One has to remember just 1 short year ago, when he was tearing it up in April and early May then the bottom dropped and he didn't pitch very well.

    I believe in the long run Cincinnati will regret paying Hormer Bailey as a No.1 and I believe it is time for the Cubs to move on from Samardzija.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    Yeah I was starting to side with Jeff a little bit but the comments this week bugged me a little bit. It reminded me that he and the team are supposedly $25 milliion apart. Now regardless of what you think about how much the Cubs do or don't have to spend, that gulf seems insane to me. I just don't understand how you get that far apart. And that was reported before the season had even started, so he was coming off a 2013 season that started great and totally petered out. Now you can argue that being on a losing team is rough, and having all those quality starts wasted will wreck anyone, but if you're supposed to be an ace then you should be able to handle anything.

  • I figure that except for salary arbitration (and the Cubs were $2 million off compared to what Jeff demanded), comparison to Bailey is irrelevant, except that it is reported that the Reds offered Bailey a 6 year contract while arbitration was pending, while the Cubs offered Jeff another $1 million for a year they have him under control. The other distinction seems to be that this would have been Bailey's second arbitration, while Jeff just went through first time eligibility.

    Jeff is not going to get a 6 year contract from the Cubs, so I guess he figures the free market will work in 1-1/2 years, regardless of hot stove league projections.

    But don't forget, the Cubs are paying $5 million/year and $13 million a year (over 4 years), for arguably #4 and #5 pitchers.

  • Sorry but the Bailey contract is far from irrelevant. Its the new standard for guys like Samardzija unfortunately. I really don't get how far apart they are for two sides that claim they want to make a deal happen.

    There is some contention between the two that makes it unlikely to happen.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Since an arbitrator can't award a 6 year contract, it is only a standard if someone else is willing to give a 6 year contract to Jeff. I'll bet that that, and not the annual salary, is the hang up with the Cubs.

    Since the article says that Bailey gets $9 million for the first year, the only thing of legal significance to Jeff is whether Bailey's arbitration demand of $11.6 million was reasonable in the second year of arbitration eligibility.

    Maybe the real question is why the Reds didn't split the difference between Bailey's demand and their offer of $8.6 million, but apparently they valued long term stability over settling an arbitration case by splitting the difference.

    Also note that Bailey got last year about what Jeff got this year, or $5.something million.

    And, of course, the Cubs fifth (class) starter is getting $13 million a year.

    But to summarize, the only issue is whether Theo sees some value in locking up Jeff, but the answer to that appears to be no. I bet he gets traded to someone who is willing to offer the $8 million for next year and negotiate a long term contract.

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