I wasn't going to write this one as part of my free-agent series, but then I read this Tribune article, which contains this passage:
One familiar free agent the Cubs plan to explore is White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija, who was extended a qualifying offer. Samardzija went 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA, 163 strikeouts and 29 homers allowed in 214 innings in 2015. He had moments of excellence but largely faltered after the Sox decided not to move him at the trade deadline, including going 0-6 with an 8.82 ERA in August. Despite the down year, Samardzija's durability — with more than 210 innings pitched in each of the last three seasons — and the expectation he can bounce back should help his value. He has retained a strong relationship with Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio since they traded him to the A's in 2014 and he could be brought back on a short-term deal.
After Shark rejected a reported five-year, $75 million deal from the Cubs and was traded away, I didn't think Theo & Co. wanted him back. A "short-term" deal... well, what would that be? A one-year contract similar to the qualifying offer? Two years?
With Samardzija's poor year in 2015, I'm thinking he's in line to get a contract like the one Edwin Jackson got from the Cubs in 2013 or the deal Matt Garza got from the Brewers, both of those coming in at four years and (approximately) $50 million. The Cubs could surely afford a contract like that, even with having to pay off the last year of Jackson's deal in 2016, but do they really want to go back to the future with Shark?
The mention of the strong relationship between Samardzija and Bosio means something, I suppose, but is it enough to bring back a personality as strong as Shark's, when he would no longer be one of the top players on the team? At best, he's a No. 3 starter, I think. His durability does mean something -- the 214 innings ranked 11th among all starters in 2015, and he's never been on the disabled list. He's made at least 32 starts in each of the last three seasons, and would have in 2012 also, except that he was shut down after 28 starts and 174⅔ innings that year, his first as a full-time starter.
I'm among those saying "No" to a Shark reunion, though in one sense it would be amusing for the Cubs to have all the players from the 2014 trade with the Athletics reunited (except Dan Straily, who I don't want back). But maybe you feel differently. Vote in the poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments.