Extending Jeff Samardzija

Joe Robbins

Would you do it?

Nothing in this article is going to be really new to you. The purpose of it is putting it all together and seeing what you, the BCB reader, think of this idea.

Jeff Samardzija has been one of the best, if not the best, starting pitchers in the major leagues this year. Forget about the lack of individual wins; the failure of Cubs hitters to score during his starts is the main culprit. They scored just 20 total runs in Shark's first 10 starts, during which the Cubs went 1-9, which shouldn't surprise you. Even the eight-run outburst Monday that gave him his first official "win" of the season still leaves him with run support of just 2.3 per start, which ranks him 135th of 138 qualified starters.

But it's clear that he is pitching, for the first time in his career, at "ace" or "near-ace" level, and he is going to want to be paid commensurate with that level.

Coincidentally, the Cubs could use such an "ace" pitcher. If you think Samardzija is that guy, then I think you sign him to a contract extension. He's going to want, most likely, a similar deal to the one Homer Bailey got from the Reds: six years, $105 million, with a mutual option for a seventh year at $25 million.

That's a good comp, incidentally -- Bailey is only a little more than a year younger than Shark. Shark, presumably, has fewer miles on his arm, having pitched less during college and being a reliever for a chunk of his Cubs career. He's never been injured and is durable. Samardzija has also pitched quite a bit better than Bailey this year.

Would I give him this deal? Yes, I would. Not just because he appears to be the kind of guy who will be productive into his mid-30s, but because doing so would send a strong message that this team is going to produce its own players and then, when they've shown they're worth it, sign them to long-term deals. Let me make it clear: Sending a message to the fanbase is not the reason you should sign a player. Nevertheless, doing so has benefits.

Finally, if they do trade him, in order to contend any time soon, they're going to have to replace his production via free agency -- which could be quite a bit more expensive.

Do I think the Cubs are going to sign him to an extension? No, I don't. From statements Shark has made, it appears he'd like to pitch for a contending team, and he's getting tired of the losing. Beyond that, it's been hinted that he would like a no-trade clause, and this front office has made a point of not giving them out.

So that's where we stand. The Cubs don't have to trade Shark now, as he's under team control for one more year. But his value will likely never be higher than it is right now, and it would seem that there are a number of contending teams looking for starting pitching as the trade deadline gets closer (now just 65 days away).

What say you? Extend, or trade? The poll below asks what you think the Cubs will do. But I'd also like to hear what you would do. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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