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Jeff Samardzija says he wants a big-money contract to help future players

Apr 18, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

Jeff Samardzija Jeff Samardzija

The Cubs and starter Jeff Samardzija avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.345 million deal back in February. There have been talks of a long-term contract extension, but they haven’t gone anywhere and the most likely scenario still involves the Cubs trading the right-hander during the season, and Samardzija hitting the free agent market after the season.

Samardzija isn’t going to settle, as Patrick Mooney details for CSN Chicago. His father has been part of a union for over 30 years and he supports Northwestern football players as they battle the NCAA for collective bargaining rights. Samardzija sees himself as part of the bigger picture — his ability to negotiate a big contract sets up the players that come after him in a better position to negotiate more player-friendly contracts.

“Without a doubt,” Samardzija said. “I’ve said it before: Personally, numbers and money don’t really drive me. What does drive me is protecting and setting up the players behind me, the future generations, so that I’m not signing any of these crummy early deals for seven or eight years.”

Samardzija, of course, is referring to the recent trend in which players have signed away some of their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible years, as well as some free agency years, for up front security. Over the off-season, the Braves signed five players to extensions, including Jason Heyward (two years, $13.3 million), Julio Teheran (six years, $32.4 million), Andrelton Simmons (seven years, $58 million), Craig Kimbrel (four years, $42 million), and Freddie Freeman (eight years, $135 million). It is the most glaring example of what teams are doing to save money while keeping talented players on the roster.

Mike Trout also made headlines with his six-year, $144.5 million deal with the Angels, which many believe significantly underpays him, particularly when compared to Clayton Kershaw‘s seven-year, $215 million deal signed two months earlier. Many believed that Trout would become baseball’s first $300 million man.

By pushing the boundaries further and further, other similarly-skilled players now and in the future have more leverage when they negotiate a contract. Trout, who may end up retiring as the most unique and unparalleled player of his generation, had the opportunity to push that boundary, but settled on a deal that gives him more financial security. By going through arbitration through 2017, Trout risked being underpaid in the immediate future, and he also risked suffering a potentially career-altering or career-ending injury, which could have cost him hundreds of millions of dollars. No one can fault Trout for taking that contract. Samardzija, however, is willing to take that risk for the betterment of his peers, which is admirable.

  1. iammattchambers - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    I’ll take a multiple year, 100 million dollar contract ‘for the team’ too.

  2. wetmorepsu12 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    So much “risk” he’s taking… I’d love to risk $100 mil knowing the odds are in my favor and my back-up plan is a cool $5.435 mil.

  3. mp4philly - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    He doesn’t care about money. Yeah… Sure

    • alexo0 - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:14 AM

      So selfless.

  4. gbart22 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    So admirable. The guy is truly upstanding.

  5. renaado - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    Really hoping this isn’t just words Jeff’s statin here. Well if he does it surely it would be amazin.

  6. kindasporty - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    I would take this more seriously if he donated a large portion of his paycheck to retired players or something along those lines. I don’t begrudge players for what they get. If they weren’t worth it, then they wouldn’t get it. But don’t act like you’re getting as much money as you possibly can for some greater good, then keep the money for yourself.

    • dcarroll73 - Apr 19, 2014 at 1:16 AM

      While he in fact could benefit future players and keep all the money he makes, I do like your idea of him donating money to retired players. If he really believes the union solidarity things he is saying, he must realize that he and his era would not be where they are in contracts if not for the guys who fought to kill the reserve clause. Some of the ball players of that time are probably not in great shape financially so some donations from today’s millionaire players would be a great way to recognize guys from the past who were worth more than they got.

  7. pinkfloydprism - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    Right…and I want to win the lottery so the taxes taken from it can help the government too.

  8. fnc111 - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:59 PM

    His situation is different. Trout hasn’t been paid jack so far in his career. Jeff S. can suffer a career ending injury this year and his career earnings hover around 40 mil. Big difference. Trout made a great decision. 150 mil guaranteed. Why let ego and stupidity cost you guaranteed generational wealth?

  9. NYTolstoy - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    Bahahaha….yes very admirable. You really believe him Bill? You sure he’s taking one for the team by signing for a boat load of money. Yea I’m sure it has nothing to do with that. He’s as humble as they come. The next millionaire Buddha.

  10. Kevin Gillman - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    There is going to be a $100 Million dollar a year player one day. I say within the next 20 years.

    • raysfan1 - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:41 AM

      Counter-prediction…there will come a time when the population as a whole balks at ballooning cable/satellite/internet costs as well as ticket prices, requiring a downward adjustment in professional sports revenues and subsequently athletes’ contracts.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:45 AM

        I’m with Rays here. I don’t want to make too much of one or two games, but this week, the Orioles played a home game against the Rays on a gorgeous Monday night. They sold 17,000 tickets. The Orioles are good. The Rays are good. At least in my county (Montgomery County, MD), it’s vacation week. The only complication is that it was the first night of Passover. I attended the Red Sox-Orioles game earlier in the year, and there were roughly 20,000 tickets sold for that. Beautiful night. And the Red Sox have a lot of fans in DC who can travel to Baltimore for the games. They certainly used to.

        Something is wrong here. And maybe it’s just one city, but I think something is up with attendance that can’t be easily explained away.

        There are only six teams that have sold more than 75 percent of available tickets so far this year. http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance/_/sort/homePct Something is wrong.

      • Kevin Gillman - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        We will see.

      • Reflex - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:56 PM

        18thstreet – Doesn’t this happen every year, and people point out that attendance is down, and then summer comes along, attendance skyrockets and the season ends up doing a bit better than the one before? Early season attendance is always low..

        I think the collapse of cable companies is what’s going to put the brakes on everything.

  11. echech88 - Apr 19, 2014 at 1:42 AM

    Rosenthal’s article said Trout and his agent approached the Angels with a 13 year proposal and the Angels weren’t interested.

    So yeah…it’s not like Trout isn’t thinking about setting those new benchmarks…he actually wanted to do it now OR get to free agency at 29 and still do it with $150M guaranteed in the bank.

  12. syphermce - Apr 19, 2014 at 1:52 AM

    No player’s career is guaranteed. These players that are taking less now so teams can buy out a couple years of their free agency are smart, if they get hurt, they still got some money, if they continue to play well, when they do hit free agency in their 29,30,31 year old seasons, they can then sign another big contract for even more money. I don’t see how these team friendly contracts are damaging at all to the players. To me, it’s a win-win for both sides.

  13. papalurchdxb - Apr 19, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    It’s all well and good saying you’re doing it for the players that follow, but isn’t that what Paplebon said when he signed his Phillies deal – subsequently making clubs wary of any big deals for bullpen arms?

    You’re taking the money for yourself, no-one else – make the most of the tv deals whilst they last – the EPL history proves that eventually some channel will overbid, go bust and subsequently many players and teams will suffer in the future as the greed of one lot kills the future for the rest.

  14. tfilarski - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    trade him!!! he wants to get paid like an ace. an ace should maybe have and off start every 5 or so starts. unless his trend from last year continues of having an off start every 3 starts.

    • ud1951 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      That seems to me to be his message to the Cubs.

  15. ud1951 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    If working hard for maybe 8 months and getting $5M+ for doing it is a crummy deal, sign me up for 7 or 8 years of it. What a tool.

  16. BrownsTown - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Weird that he’s invoking the union while talking about something (i.e. huge contracts) that applies to maybe 5% of his fellow members. I’m sure the guys on 1.5M deals think he’s a hero by wanting to consume as much of a team’s payroll as possible.

    • Reflex - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:58 PM

      The top salaries affect a lot of downstream players, including arbitration and especially qualifying offers which are an average of the top 100 or so salaries I believe. The higher he pushes his salary the more money other players will get, not just from negotiations but from the existing system in place.

  17. musketmaniac - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Mullet top played for Notre Dame so you know he is a piece of garbage.

  18. zdravit - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    And then someone reminded Jeffy that he’s not even elite (whatever that means).

  19. stac266 - Apr 19, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    It is truly amazing how much guaranteed money baseball players sign for. He can set his family up for generations to come. Not that they don’t deserve it because of all the money they make for their owners, their community, and baseball in general but while he’s paving the way for future generations he should throw a couple of bucks to the ones that paved the way for him.

  20. tcb2nyc - Apr 20, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    Ugh, did Florio write this article? Unions are killing this country, and these liberal pansies just can’t see the big picture. Ask Australia how that’s working for them. The automotive unions in Australia have completely killed off an industry in that country. In another year there will literally be no auto manufacturers in that country because it has become cheaper to import cars than to pay the salaries required by the unions. So that last auto plant is shutting down. Yeah, you are really helping your people unions!

  21. bat056 - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    No offense but this is coming from a guy who has never had a winning record as a starting pitcher or won more than 10 games in a season. Plus his WHIP last year was .13 more than the previous season. No offense but you show me where this guy has proven to have earned a big time contract.

  22. sparkyxproof - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:36 AM

    If Jeff continues to Pitch this way until the All Star Break, I would say the Cubs have something real. Theo & Co have made it pretty obvious that they will not give Shark a long term Contract until they are certain that he is a legitimate Big Money Pitcher, 3 or 4 Excellent starts in a row does not prove that.

  23. Buzz Fugazi - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:00 AM

    Great plan to help the players who come after you, but not so great for leaving the budget open for your teammates.

  24. tsombanj - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Well said.

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