Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Samardzija open to talking contract during season

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MESA, Ariz. -- If the Cubs are going to get Jeff Samardzija to bite on their next multiyear offer, they'll have to come at him stronger than they did last fall, when they floated a discount deal that would have sucked up at least one of his free agency years.

It worked for Starlin Castro, the young All-Star shortstop who chose long-term security for his family over projected market value when he signed that seven-year, $60 million deal last summer.

It's not about the same kind of security for Samardzija.

Samardzija, who made a powerful 170-inning debut as a full-time starter last year, says he's glad to see the Cubs want what he does: a long-term relationship.

But he's not ready to commit until he shows what he believes is frontline-starter quality for a full season - and seems anxious to put that whole innings-limit thing behind him and cut loose.

``It doesn't really make much sense to sit down and try to negotiate something when I don't even have a full season under my belt,'' said the presumptive front-runner for the Opening Day slot in the rotation. ``Obviously, now we're just talking a potential kind of thing.''

And "potential" usually comes attached to discount numbers during contract talks.

``I don't know; I'm not a GM - you tell me,'' Samardzija says. ``I'm just saying I want to know where I stand as a whole, from beginning to end, start to finish. `I did this for a full season,' and then you can start comparing to other guys and this and that.

``I'd rather have some more concrete stats and some concrete evidence on what's going on. ... I think a big thing is I'm a healthy dude - knock on wood - and I work hard. And I just want to put as much on my side of the court as possible.''

Even with a rough June, Samardzija led the Cubs' staff with a 3.81 ERA and won nine games during a 101-loss season in 2012 - going 4-6 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.019 WHIP in 13 starts after June.

``What he did his last eight starts - [God dang], if that pans out for 30-whatever starts, you've got a legitimate No. 1-type guy,'' manager Dale Sveum said.

That's the idea, from both Samardzija's and the team's perspective - the team acknowledging as much by making him the center of one of its winter ticket-sale campaigns, with a red Christmas bow on his hat and all.

Samardzija has no fear of proving it on a year-to-year basis until the team's offer catches up.

``When we feel we're on the same page, then we'll get it done,'' he said.

No animosity. No rush. No problem. That's just how confident Samardzija is in his ability and how sure his agent is of his long-term value.

For now, it's ``so far on the back burner it's really not even an issue,'' he says.

But if the Cubs want to re-open talks in the short-term, even during the season, he has no problem with that.

``I'm a professional, and I can do off-field stuff and on-field stuff simultaneously,'' he said. ``I'm a multi-tasker. I work out and I run and play baseball at the same time.

``I look at it as a positive. If they wnt to talk to me about that stuff, and we're going back and forth, then obviously I'm wanted. I'm not looking at it as a negative. We're not getting in each other's face. ...

``The ball's in their court, and that's really all there is to it.''

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on February 12, 2013 12:07 PM.

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