Last month, the Cubs reportedly offered starter Jeff Samardzija a five-year contract extension worth $55 million. Nothing has surfaced since then, but CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports that the two sides are still far apart on the terms of an extension.
Samardzija’s name has popped up in trade rumors, but Mooney says that the Cubs plan to hold on to their right-hander until at least the trade deadline, when the supply-and-demand dynamics will change. Last year, they were able to unload Matt Garza on the Rangers for Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, C.J. Edwards, and Neil Ramirez. As Samardzija is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility and won’t become a free agent until after the 2015 season, they may be able to get a better package for him than they got for Garza.
Samardzija finished the 2013 season, his second as a full-time starter, with a 4.34 ERA in 213 2/3 innings of work, averaging almost exactly a strikeout per inning pitched. While the ERA is higher than you’d like to see for a player who wants more than $55 million, he earned much better grades from defense-independent statistics such as xFIP, which pegged him at 3.45.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.