The Chicago Cubs and pitcher Jeff Samardzija have been struggling for quite a while to come to an agreement on a long-term deal, but the two sides were still able to avoid arbitration on Saturday as they agreed to a 1-year deal worth $5.345 million.
The amount is just about the midpoint between the two sides’ numbers that they submitted to an arbitrator earlier this month. The Cubs sought to pay Samardzija $4.4 million, while the pitcher wanted $6.2 million. If the two sides had been unable to settle on a figure before a Feb. 20 hearing, it would have been the first arbitration hearing for the Cubs since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over baseball operations in 2011.
Samardzija is coming off an up-and-down year for the Cubs, which saw his ERA balloon up to 4.34 and his WHIP rise to 1.348. His strikeout number was up to 214 from 180 in 2012, but he also pitched 39 more innings for the Cubs in 2013, so his SO/9 number of 9.0 was a slight dip from the previous season as well.
Despite all of that, Samardzija is reportedly seeking a long-term deal that will pay him more than $10 million per season (some reports have even listed him as looking for a $15 million a year payday). But the Cubs are hesitant to make that kind of commitment given their current circumstances. The team is still likely at least a year or two away from being serious contenders, so paying out that kind of money for a pitcher likely isn’t the best idea, and there’s thoughts that they could get a nice haul of prospects if they were to deal Samardzija away.