Report: Cubs offering Jeff Samardzija around five years and $55 million

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It was reported Wednesday that the Cubs intend to listen to offers on right-hander Jeff Samardzija during next week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, but they haven’t given up all hope in retaining him for the long-term.

Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago was told by a source that the Cubs have offered Samardzija a deal in the area of five years and $55 million. Meanwhile, another source said that the number is actually higher. While Cubs general manager Theo Epstein maintains that “nothing has changed” in regard to contract talks, Levine hears that the two sides “continue to have an open amicable line of communication.”

Samardzija compiled a 4.34 ERA in 33 starts this past season, but his peripherals remained quite strong. He has averaged 9.13 K/9 over the past two seasons, which is fifth-highest among pitchers with at least 300 innings pitched during the same timespan. Only Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Yu Darvish are higher. Samardzija turns 29 in January and is under team control for two more seasons.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves