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.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉