It was reported yesterday by Gordon Wittenmyer, of the Chicago Sun-Times, that Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija turned down the team’s latest 5-year offer. The proper reaction to this news is “Thank God!!” followed by an emphatic fist pump. The deal the Cubs’ offered Samardzija was 5 years, 85 million dollars, putting his average salary around 17 million over the life of the deal. Don’t get me wrong, it is going to be tough to watch Samardzija leave in July but the last thing the Cubs need is 30-year-old pitcher making huge dollars. Does anyone remember what happened the last time the Cubs signed a 30-something player to a huge deal? Does the name Alfonso Soriano ring any bells? Cubs are paying Soriano about 16 million dollars to play for the New York Yankees this season; that’s how well that deal ended up. The moral of the story is never ever, ever, ever give a guy a huge deal that begins after he’s turned 30. It never pans out. In those deals the team always ends up paying for past performance rather than future performance. And on top of that, Jeff Samardzija’s past performance isn’t even close to being worth 17 million dollars per year.
Lets take a minute and compare Jeff Samardzija’s career stats to a pitcher who is currently making 17 million dollars per season, Tim Lincecum:
Note: Whip= walks+hits per inning pitched, ERA+ is an ERA value adjusted to account for the ballparks pitched in, having a higher ERA+ is better (league average is 101, per baseball-reference.com).
On top of those career stats, it’s also worth noting that Tim Lincecum has two Cy Young awards, four all-star selections, and has led the league in strikeouts three times. Samardzija currently has no accolades on his resume. So with all that taken into account, Samardzija’s track record does not justify him making 17 million dollars per year. And since were comparing the two, has anyone noticed that no one is happy with the numbers Lincecum has put up since signing his huge extension?
The steroid-era and guys like Greg Maddux have given the public this idea that players can be productive until they are 40 and that is just not the case, especially with pitchers. The modern pitcher peaks at around 30 or 31 and then it’s all downhill from there. It may be a slow decent, it may be a rapid decent, but his effectiveness will diminish. That is just the way it is for 90% of pitchers, and the other 10% are your Hall of Famers, the freaks of nature who’s bodies don’t seem to play by the same rules as everyone else’s. And I hate to break it to you, but Jeff Samardzija is not in that 10%.
The bottom line is this. Trading Samardzija will hurt but, to be honest, he’s overrated, he’s not going to live up to the next contract he signs, and the Cubs are going to get a whole lot of prospects for him. So turn that frown up side down because Jeff Samardzija just made his greatest contribution to the Cubs organization by rejecting that 5-year, 85 million dollar contract offer.Tags: Alfonso Soriano, Baseball, Chicago, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Sun-Times, Contract, Gordon Wittenmyer, Greg Maddux, Jeff Samardzija, MLB, Tim Lincecum