By Bruce Levine-
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — Although Jeff Samardzija was making his second-to-last spring training start Thursday in his preparation for Opening Day, his days as a Cub could be numbered.
At least 15 scouts, and likely closer to 25, were on hand to watch the 29-year-old right-hander work against Seattle. The Toronto Blue Jays had three scouts in attendance, including their director of professional scouting, top scout and former Cubs general manager Ed Lynch.
The Cubs and Samardjia are no closer to a deal on a long-term contract now than they were the last time they had substantive talks in December at the winter meetings in Orlando. Samardzija is working on a one-year deal that was reached just before going to arbitration.
Although neither the Cubs nor Samardzija would comment when asked Thursday, the sides seem to have differences that could amount to $15 million-$20 million over the life of a long-term deal.
Both sides are preparing for the regular season with professionalism.
“We’re getting ready for the season, and Jeff is working hard to be our ace and get us off to a good start,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Thursday.
Samardzija’s agent, Mark Rogers, was in Arizona recently, but no conversations took place between the two sides.
Samardzija struck out four hitters in the first two innings in Mesa on Thursday.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.