Whether it’s about a potential long-term contract extension or a possible trade if a contract can’t be worked out, the offseason in Chicago has been filled with Jeff Samardzija talk.
However, team president Theo Epstein said yesterday that he’s done talking to the media about what the Cubs plan to do with their Opening Day starter, telling Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune:
We talked about it early in spring training,. We indulged the questions. Right now we’re just focused on the games and just going out and winning. And when I think of Jeff Samardzija, I think I’m happy he’s our Opening Day starter and look forward to a performance like we saw last year from him.
Samardzija then went out and threw seven scoreless innings. He’s also not a free agent until after the 2015 season, so there’s no huge rush for the Cubs to sign him or trade him, but Gonzales and plenty of other Chicago media members seem convinced he’ll be dealt at some point this season.
I’ll be interesting to see if “I’m not talking about Samardzija” will keep the local reporters at bay until July 31.
Announcement: HardballTalk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $70,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $9,000. Starts at 6:40pm ET on Tuesday. Here’s the FanDuel link.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.
What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.
The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.
Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.
The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.
Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.
The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.
While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.