Thursday, March 1, 2012

Extension Invention: Jeff Samardzija


Jeff Samardzija is currently turning heads in Arizona as he makes another bid to be a Cub starting pitcher once Spring Training breaks. His first stint in the big leagues was in 2008, when he pitched 26 games in relief to a 2.28 ERA, striking over 8 batters per nine innings, but also nearly walking 5 per nine as well. 2009 and 2010 were relatively lost seasons, as he posted middling stats in Iowa and poor stats in the bigs (7.83 ERA with more walks than strikeouts). 2011 was the year things finally clicked though, and Samardzija became the a late-inning bullpen arm Chicago could rely on, pitching in 75 games with an ERA under 3 and striking out a batter per inning. He also quartered his home runs allowed per 9 from the past two seasons. While Samardzija still hopes to be a starter, the Cubs need him more as a reliever at this point. This could also be a good point to sign him to an extension, giving him security and the Cubs potential cost savings.
First of all, this deal reflects the club seeing Samardzija as a reliever, because they'd be paying him like one. He signed a five-year, $10m major league deal upon being drafted with two club options attached. The team declined the options this winter and now control him as a pre-arbitration player for one more season. This means they can pay him no less than 80% of his previous year's salary (he earned $2.8m in 2011). This brings us to $2.25m for 2012, then giving Samardzija a million dollar-per-year raise for the next three seasons. In exchange for providing the pitcher finanacial security, the Cubs would receive a club option for his first year of free agency. Below is the suggested deal. In summary, a 4 year, $16m extension would benefit both sides, as long as Chicago sees Samardzija building on last year to become a dependable set-up man.

Jeff Samardzija
Year
Amt. ($ in millions)
2012 (Pre-Arb)
2.25
2013 (Arb 1)
3.25
2014 (Arb 2)
4.25
2015 (Arb 3)
5.25
2016 (FA) cl. opt.
7.5 (ex.) or 1 (decl.)
Total
5 yrs for $22.5m (ex.) — $4.5m AAV
4 yrs for $16m (decl.) — $4m AAV

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