Rosenthal: Cubs listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija

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It’s was assumed the Cubs already moved their biggest chip when they sent Matt Garza to Texas, but work came down from FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal on Saturday that they’re listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija.

Samardzija and the Cubs discussed a contract extension over the winter without getting very far. He’s making $2.64 million this year in his first season of arbitration eligibility. He won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.

For that reason, the Cubs still see him as a building block rather than bait, but they could be persuaded to change their mind if the right offer comes along. It’d have to be a big one; the 28-year-old Samardzija is a modest 6-9 with a 3.94 ERA this year, but he’s struck out 139 in 137 innings and he gets a ton of grounders, too.

The Cubs would surely want two top prospects and one or two more lesser guys from the Braves, Diamondbacks, Red Sox or anyone else who comes asking. It’d be a high price to pay, but that Samardzija is probably a better long-term bet than any free agent starter available this winter could make him worth it.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.