FanPost

The Case for Trading Jeff Samardzija

Build for 2015 and beyond or play for right now?

I present you, the curious case of Jeff Samardzija.

What Samardzija represents is a tweener. The Cubs have "control" of him for the next 3 years, but they really only expect to contend in the last year. He's eligible for arbitration this year and is projected to receive $2.9M in arbitration. That means he's cheap. And that means he's valuable.

The problem is, much of his value is going to be tied up in the next 2 years, when the Cubs don't expect to derive much benefit from that.

So, the way I see it, the Cubs have a choice:

1) Trade him.

2) Extend him.

3) Hold onto him and receive 1 year of actual value for him, while (probably) receiving a draft pick as compensation.

I'll break down each of these:

1) Trade him.

The Cubs can only use him towards a playoff push for 1 year, but other clubs see a pitcher cheap, in his prime and cost controlled for 3 years. That should mean he'll command quite a package. We know what the Cubs have currently and we know what they're hoping to get out of a Matt Garza (Mike Olt or some equivalent). Now imagine if we can get 2 (or more) good, near-MLB ready pitching prospects and a hitting prospect for Samardzija. TheoJed talked about waves and waves of pitching, but we have a gap between the majors and single A. Trading Samardzija would help fill that gap.

2) Extend him

Samardzija is under control for 3 more years, which puts him at free agency after 2015. In 2016, Samardzija will start the season at 31. Many have talked about giving him an extension, but for how many years? I understand the narrative that Samardzija has less mileage than most, but I don't see the Cubs going any further than his age 33 season. That means a 3 year extension. Remember, the Cubs talk about payroll efficiency. They don't want to pay market rates for guys, they want to have guys on contracts below market value. The Cubs can offer him a contract now that doesn't break the bank, but provides him security. If he turns it down, it's likely because he wants a big payday. A big payday the Cubs are hoping to avoid.

3) Hold onto him and receive 1 year of actual value for him, while (probably) receiving a draft pick as compensation.

Worst case scenario. Get 1 useful year out of him and get a pick back, which won't show real value for 5-6 years after.

The picture, to me, is simple. Take the Rays model for young players. Present Samardzija with a team friendly deal now that gives him security, without a ton of money. Make it 3 more years, with a team option in the 4th. If he turns it down and they get a sense that he's looking for a big payday, trade him now. Or, at worst, at the deadline. That way, you can get long term value out of him that allows you to continue to build and contend beyond 2015.

The Cubs already have pieces in place for a very good farm system. In 2013, I see them with 4 big assets that can help towards improving upon that: a huge international spending pool, the #2 pick in the draft (or, really, the whole draft), Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija. With those last 3, in particular, they should be able to get pitching that can help them in the near future. Add that to the hitting prospects that they already have and you're looking at a well rounded farm system that could provide the foundation for a long term contender.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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