Samardzija available for trade, despite Cubs’ contract offer
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter June 17, 2014 10:31PM
Updated: June 17, 2014 11:54PM
MIAMI — Despite making a final run at a contract extension with ace Jeff Samardzija, the Cubs continue to make it clear to teams looking for pitching that he is available in trade.
Officials from four teams said this week the Cubs have told other teams that Samardzija and pitcher Jason Hammel are available, with two saying they’ve heard no indication the Cubs believe their recent contract proposal will be accepted by Samardzija.
It’s a big reason the Toronto Blue Jays — one of at least two teams that have discussed players in preliminary talks on Samardzija with the Cubs — doubled up their scouting coverage for his start Tuesday in Miami as they continue a pursuit that began during the winter.
Asked after the 6-5 loss to the Marlins if there was anything left to talk about or whether he’s just bracing for whatever the team plans to do at the trade deadline July 31, Samardzija said:
“There’s really nothing to talk about. I told my agent early after spring training I wanted to go out with no distractions and pitch, and that’s the way I feel. I don’t know what speculation there is or what’s been said or what’s been done. As far as I’m concerned, nothing’s changed for me.”
That may render the Cubs’ latest efforts about as fruitful as their lukewarm final talks with Matt Garza a year ago before sending him to the Texas Rangers for four players.
If Samardzija didn’t already feel sure about rejecting the Cubs’ latest overture, he got one more reason to believe in greener pastures — if not paydays — elsewhere.
For the fourth time this season, one of the top-performing starting pitchers in the majors left a game with the lead only to see the bullpen blow the save. A three-run homer by Garrett Jones off Brian Schlitter in the seventh inning erased a one-run lead and sent the Marlins to the victory.
Samardzija, who also has been the starter for five of the nine games in which the Cubs have been shut out, remains the only pitcher in baseball with only two victories despite a sub-3.00 ERA (2.78).
He continued to shrug off the hard luck this season.
As for the endless stream of rumors and speculation since spring training?
“Numb would be a good word for it,” he said. “I’m just out doing my job. I feel good. I’m really excited. Compared to these last two years of starting, I feel really good about where I’m at in my routine. My arm feels great, feels outstanding. I thought I felt better there for the last 30 pitches, from 80 to 110.”
He was hitting 96 mph in the final inning, his only 1-2-3 inning of the night.
In addition to the Jays, scouts from the Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals watched Samardzija. The Detroit Tigers also have followed the Cubs in the last week.
Despite rumored links to Samardzija, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are not considered serious players for the big right-hander, industry insiders said. Neither team had a scout in Miami for Hammel’s start Monday or Samardzija’s start.
“I’m just going to keep going and doing my job,” Samardzija said. “I’m not too worried about that stuff. That’ll all take care of itself.”