It is no secret that the Chicago Cubs are on the lookout to upgrade their starting rotation and they have already been heavily connected to top free agent starting pitcher David Price (story here) and, as expected, they are showing interest in other free agent pitchers.
Both Zimmermann and Samardzija have been extended the qualifying offer by their respective teams, meaning the Cubs would have to surrender a draft pick in order to sign either player.
As Mooney notes, both Samardzija and Zimmermann grew up in the Midwest, which would make this a bit of a homecoming for both players, especially Samardzija.
Samardzija, 30, played with the Cubs for seven seasons before being traded to the Oakland Athletics in a blockbuster trade two years ago. Since leaving the Cubs, Samardzija hasn’t been as effective on the mound as he once was, but a reunion with pitching coach Chris Bosio very well could get him back on track.
Just before the season ended, Samardzija fired his then agent Mark Rodgers and joined Wasserman Media Group. When he was represented by Rodgers, the Cubs offered Samardzija a five-year, $85 million deal, but it was rejected since he was seeking $100+ million at the time, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Wittenmyer believes that if Samardzija is seeking a deal closer to $85 million, talks between the two sides could become serious.
Zimmermann, 29, will be the most expensive of the two pitchers. After a very good 2013 and 2014 seasons, Zimmermann wasn’t as good in 2015, but he was still solid and figures to land a big contract this offseason.
There are not many guarantees in free agency, but I think it’s safe to say the Cubs will land one of Price, Zimmermann and Samardzija. Which of those players that actually is wearing a Cubs uniform next season remains to be seen.
Buckle up, folks. Free agency is just getting started.
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