suntimes
CRACKLING 
Weather Updates

Jeff Samardzija taking short-term view with Cubs after sell-off

Updated: August 10, 2013 6:36AM



The Cubs aren’t negotiating with Matt Garza to try to sign him to a contract extension, regardless of what various national outlets reported Monday.

The sides did have a recent conversation to determine whether Garza’s asking price had come down after two nagging injuries since the last time they negotiated. It hadn’t. And the Cubs have resumed full-speed trade efforts that could result in moving their best pitcher before they return from the All-Star break.

The more significant guy to watch for that possible extension is Jeff Samardzija. Because if their Opening Day starter becomes a short-term guy, too, then you can start moving the rebuilding timeline back another couple of years.

The Cubs and Samardzija — who is in his arbitration years on a one-year, $2.64 million deal — talked last winter and early spring without a lot of progress but ended talks amicably with the intention of resuming at some point.

Since they last talked, the Cubs got off to another bad start, appear headed to a fourth consecutive losing season and already have begun another July roster sell-off — with four players traded in the first week of the month.

Asked if he has seen anything this season that might affect his desire to sign a long-term deal with the club, Samardzija said: “I don’t really know. I guess that would have to be something that I’d have to sit down and weigh out in my head.”

It’s not something he’s willing to weigh immediately, in the middle of a season he’s trying to turn into a strong first full season as a starter and to help turn into a strong team finish.

“Since the season started, I’ve found myself really involved in what’s going on here, with being a leader on the team, coming to work every fifth day ready to pitch,” he said. “And to add more to my plate when you talk about that stuff just kind of seems like it’d be overwhelming. I’m here every day. I work my butt off to win every day, and so do all my teammates and coaches.

“I’m paying attention, that’s all. Playing hard every day and looking to get better. All you can do is watch.”

Samardzija and Garza are two of the most competitive guys in the clubhouse, and no one — least of all Samardzija — wants to see Garza go.

The Cubs’ brass has left the possibility open of trading Garza and then re-engaging talks when he reaches free agency in the fall.

But a competitive timeline that was supposed to start showing real progress at the big-league level by next year with contention coming in 2015 already looks in doubt with extended slumps by core players Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo and a deep pitching deficit in the system.

Is Samardzija’s uncertainty about the long-term deal because he wants to try to determine after the season how long it might take this front office to offer a chance to win?

“Well, yeah,” he said. “But if I do my job and the other guys do their jobs like we know they can, the winning will come sooner than later.

“Everyone in here has got to do what we can do to win now, and that’s really what our job is. Our job isn’t to second-guess anybody or put our two cents in on what we think should happen or not happen.

“It’s amazing how things will work themselves out. I’m a firm believer in that. As long as you don’t rush to conclusions and make haste-full decisions, usually the answer becomes pretty clear.”



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.