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Cubs’ Samardzija bides time as team signs young stars

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Updated: May 14, 2013 7:25AM



Cuban slugging prospect Jorge Soler, 21, was first in the contract lineup, signing a nine-year, $30 million contract last June.

Shortstop Starlin Castro, 23, was second, signing a seven-year, $60 million deal in August.

On Monday, the team made official a seven-year, $41 million deal for 23-year-old Anthony Rizzo.

Rizzo and Castro know whom they would like to see added to the core of young players the Cubs want to develop — Jeff Samardzija.

But general manager Jed Hoyer — and even Samardzija — aren’t ready to commit.

‘‘It’s not really important to me, to tell you the truth,’’ Samardzija said. “I’m the type of guy that your play speaks for itself. If you’re healthy and you do everything you’re supposed to do like those guys do and play the right way and do whatever it takes to win ballgames, that’s what it’s about.

“I’m in the same situation as those guys — proving ourselves.’’

In other words, Samardzija, 28, wants to let the arbitration process play out for him.

Arbitration uncertainty is what the Cubs will avoid with Soler, Castro and Rizzo. The team might be less inclined to make the same decision about Samardzija, who is only in his second season as a starter.

Without mentioning Samardzija by name, Hoyer acknowledged there is a difference in making long-term commitments to pitchers.

“Seven years with a potential for nine [Rizzo’s contract] would be unusual for a pitcher,’’ Hoyer said before his team began a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies with a 9-1 victory. “You factor in more [meaning injuries] with a pitcher than you would a position player.’’

Samardzija’s age and financial circumstances also are different than those of the three younger players.

His $10 million signing bonus from then-general manager Jim Hendry was about sealing his commitment to baseball after his stellar Notre Dame football career.

That aside, he remains more concerned about establishing credentials on the field than at the bank.

“I have a different situation than Rizzo coming out of college and what I did [with a signing bonus] the way things went down,’’ he said, adding no talks are going on now. “And for me personally, the whole arbitration process is one where you get paid for what you’re worth. That’s all I’m out for. I want my play to determine how everything else goes on after that.

“I have high expectations for myself and for this team, so that comes first, and I feel everything after that will fall in line.’’

Samardzija was “ecstatic’’ for Rizzo.

“It’s exciting for him and this organization to have a class act guy like Riz around here for a long time,’’ he said. “A young guy who does it the right way plays the game the right way — there’s nothing else you could ask for in that situation.

“Cassie and Riz are great teammates who play the right way, and it says a lot about what we want to do as an organization and what the future holds.’’

Castro also lauded the deal for Rizzo.

“It’s good, especially for good people like that,’’ he said. “I feel happy because I feel I have him with me here for a long time.

“It’s going to be good,’’ he said of the future. “Those people up there are working hard to get some good players here and make this team good and competing every year.’’

A premium draft pick coming in June may add to the “core’’ Hoyer talked about Monday.

“There’s nothing an organization wants more than to build a core, and then know those are the players the fans can expect to see every year,’’ he said. “You want a group of players who grow up together and learn to trust each other and win together.’’



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