When Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija was not traded at the Winter Meetings in December, the consensus was that Samardzija would start the 2014 season with the Cubs. Earlier this month, Samardzija signed a one-year contract with the Cubs avoiding arbitration; furthering the belief that Samardzija would indeed be the Opening Day starting pitcher for the Cubs.
Despite that belief, everything is not peachy between the Cubs and Samardzija.
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times reports that the stalemate between Samardzija and the Cubs still exists and the starting pitcher could be traded before Opening Day 2014. Two sources told Wittenmyer that there is a strong chances that Samardzija is dealt before the March 31 season opener and a third source downplayed the idea. Wittenmyer adds fuel to trade speculation by pointing out that Cubs manager Rick Renteria has shied away from naming Samardzija the Opening Day starting pitcher despite the 29-year old being the obvious choice.
Samardzija’s relationship with the Cubs front office may be similar to the relationship that Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has with the Bulls front office. Like Thibodeau, Samardzija has a clear desire to win and contend while the Cubs front office has been sticking to their rebuild plan. A plan that Samardzija has openly questioned if it had an impact on his value to the team.
The value of Samardzija is still very much up for debate. Samardzija insists that he wants to prove that he is No.1, though everything he has done to date would suggest that he is a No. 3. For his career as a starting pitcher, Samardzija has a FIP of 3.88. For reference purposes, a 3.75 FIP is believed to be above average while a 4.00 FIP is believed to be average. By those standards, Samardzija is closer to average than he is above average or even elite.
The Cubs front office will not hesitate to trade Samardzija but only on the premise that a team over-values him. There are teams that remain on the hunt for starting pitching and may look to the Cubs and Samardzija as an option.
Samardzija may not have been named the Opening Day starting pitcher, but the veteran has been tabbed as the starter for the Cubs first Cactus League game on Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.