By Mark Grote–
(CBS) Both Chicago baseball teams have paid starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija millions. A former Notre Dame receiver, Samardzija began his major league career with the Cubs in 2008 when general manager Jim Hendry was running the show on the North Side. it was during the 2014 season that the Theo Epstein regime moved Samardzija from the Cubs (along with fellow pitcher Jason Hammel) to the Oakland A’s for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily.
Then last December, the White Sox then acquired Samardzija from the A’s in a trade and are paying him $9.8 million this season. Despite all that local flavor (Samardzija attended Valparaiso High School in northwest Indiana), it doesn’t feel like he will be with either of our baseball teams next season.
Samardzija will be a free agent this offseason, and he’s not exactly cannon-balling into the open market. He’s 8-8 with a 4.78 ERA with the White Sox this season.
Recently, I had a chance to sit down with the affable right-hander to ask him a few questions.
Grote: Are you concerned that your recent struggles could have a negative effect on your value in free agency?
Samardzija: No. That work has been done. The situation I’m at in my career is a putting icing on the cake kind of thing when it comes to free agency. Obviously, the year has not gone how I would prefer it to. I’d like to have a one-and-a-half (ERA) with 15 wins already, but different things happen, and you have to learn how to adjust and stay strong. You have to have a short-term memory for sure, a shooter’s mentality.
Grote: Are you surprised at all with the Cubs’ success?
Samardzija: No. I thought they made some great additions, and obviously I had heard enough about all the young guys coming up and what they offered. When you combine those two things with the great bullpen that they have put together, they have a good thing going over there. There’s going to be a nice little battle for those last two (wild-card) spots. They have a great team, and they have a really good chance (of making the postseason).
Grote: Do you ever think to yourself, I wish I was still on the Cubs?
Grote: Have you ruled any teams out in free agency, like the Cubs, or do you know where you’re leaning at this point?
Samardzija: It’s way too early for that. I’m not going to count my chickens before they hatch. It’s been a long, arduous battle to get this point in my career. If you had told me six years ago that I would be sitting here where I am today, I probably would have laughed because I couldn’t find the strike zone. I don’t really have too many complaints.
Mark Grote is the Cubs pregame and postgame host on WBBM. Follow him on Twitter @markgrotesports.