The Cubs and starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija have been discussing an extension for some time now, with Chicago also considering dealing their young hurler should they be unable to come to an agreement. As 670 The Score's Bruce Levine reports, Cubs' President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein says "nothing has changed" in negotiations between Chicago and Samardzija of late, with the Cubs offering a five-year, $55 million extension that didn't get the job done.
A deal of that nature could be beneficial for both sides. It would give the Cubs a veteran mainstay in the rotation as their rebuilding project pushes forward, and "Shark" would have the security of a long-term deal at a fair salary. Even if his potential finally blossomed into something other than the mid-rotation arm he is now, he would be making a fair salary considering he's pre-free agency, far from the open market.
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However, Samardzija's apprehension in signing a deal like that might be due to the kind of confidence most athletes are expected to have -- a bold belief that they can be the best anywhere, because they mostly have been during their lives. His camp might also be looking at some of the advanced stats attached to his resume, too.
He's only been a big-league starter for two years, but over those two seasons, ERA estimators such as FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, which measures things pitchers can control like walks and strikeouts) have shown him to be very productive, leading to high wins above replacement totals despite average-looking traditional numbers. In 2012, Samardzija finished with a 9-13 record and a slightly above-average 3.81 ERA. His 3.55 FIP made him look all the more impressive, though, and the feat was repeated in his tougher 2013 campaign. Whether that evolves into something more eventually is up for debate, of course, but at the price the Cubs are looking at, it would be a steal for them should he begin to pitch more like what advanced numbers suggest he is, and he'd be more than tolerable if he's already reached his final form.
The Cubs are fully aware of his potential, and that he could pitch effectively well over the life of an extension even if he never reaches it. The team seemingly won't offer him more than they appear to be at the moment, though, lest it be less of a benefit to extend him from their perspective -- precisely why they've ended up shopping him to other teams while they slowly rebuild.