The Cubs are talking to Jeff Samardzija about a long term deal

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Most people figured it was a foregone conclusion that the Cubs would trade Jeff Samardzija to a contender this summer, but the Sun Times reports that they haven’t quite yet closed the door on keeping their ace around:

But even as the Cubs continue early trade talks with some teams about Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija, they also have quietly reached out to Samardzija with a new offer on a contract that would keep him in Chicago as long as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, according to multiple sources.

There have been talks in the past but they’ve never gone anywhere. It just seems like the Cubs and Samardzija are a bad match given his age and the team’s place on the success cycle (i.e. not there and likely won’t be for a couple more years). Maybe that calculus has changed for both sides, with the Cubs thinking they’ll be friskier faster than they used to think and Samardzija looking around, realizing that he’s one pitch away from Tommy John surgery, so why not cash in now while the cashing is good.

Or maybe it’s just a way to make other teams think the Cubs value Samardzija more than they do, thus upping the haul they can get for him in a trade.

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.