Why is Jeff Samardzija in the majors?

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This isn’t a piece designed to answer that question. It’s an actual inquiry. What on earth is Jeff Samardzija doing in the Cubs bullpen?

Going into the spring, it seemed to be pretty much a given that Samardzija would have a roster spot because he was out of options and because the Cubs had so much invested in him, the result of a $10 million contract designed to prevent the former Notre Dame receiver from returning to football.

But the fact that the Cubs do have so much invested in Samardzija meant there wasn’t any real risk of losing him. Samardzija would have been exposed to waivers if the Cubs had send him down, but with a salary of about $2 million this year, there was no chance any team was going to claim him on waivers. It would have been terrific for the Cubs if some team had.

Because make no mistake, Samardzija isn’t a major league pitcher. He did manage to retire three of the five hitters he faced today, but the other two walked and came around to score off Marcus Mateo, leaving Samardzija with a 9.00 ERA through two innings for the season.

While Samardzija got off to a nice start in 26 relief appearances in 2008, his major league ERA now stands at 6.02 in 83 2/3 innings. He’s struck out 57 and walked 54 during that span.  Since the beginning of last year, he’s allowed 20 runs and posted an 11/24 K/BB ratio in 21 1/3 innings.

So why are the Cubs carrying him? It’s not like they bypassed any great alternatives, but they could have tried Todd Wellemeyer or Robert Coello. I agree about keeping Casey Coleman in the rotation at Triple-A Iowa, but using fellow prospect Chris Carpenter as a reliever would have made sense.

Anyway, I give it a month. Samardzija won’t last season the season with the Cubs, and my guess is that he’s designated for assignment within 30 days.  The Cubs may not be too much better for it, but every little bit will help.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.