This is news from a couple days ago, but arbitration agreements aren't really headline worthy for a blog like this. However, Jeff Samardzija figures to be a huge piece of the 2014 Cubs so it is, but just a little late.
The Cubs and Jeff Samardzija agreed to basically split the difference in what the two sides wanted. The Cubs wanted to pay him $4.4 million and Samardzija wanted $6.6 million. Instead, Samardzija will earn $5.345 million in 2014.
Samardzija's peripherals (23.4% strikeouts, 8.5% walks) than his 4.34 indicated last year. His FIP was 3.77 and his xFIP was 3.45, barely up from the previous year. He was worth 2.8 fWAR. He's projected all over the map, but if you check the lines at SportsBettingOnline.ag you'll see he's almost certainly going to out-perform his PECOTA projection.
PECOTA projects him to be barely a replacement level player. Oliver is much kinder at 1.8 WAR and Steamer is more in line with what he's done over the last two years at 3.1 WAR. The fans are overly optimistic as usual and expect 3.5 WAR.
The Cubs rotation is probably going to be a lot of fun in the opposite way the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation will be. Jeff Samardzija will at the top of a rotation that includes Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and a whole lot of nothing. Nothing, that is, unless you count Jason Hammel, Chris Rusin, Jake Arrieta and Carlos Villanueva as something. I don't.
Even the other two, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson, have a lot of question marks. Some seem certain that Travis Wood can repeat his 2013, but I'll be surprised. There's not much chance of Jackson repeating his 2013. He ought to improve, but how much is the question.
And the leads the Cubs rotation manages to give its bullpen will be a lot of fun too. I mean, Pedro Strop is closing ballgames for the Cubs in 2014. I think that's the plan. Strop was awfully impressive after arriving in Chicago, but it was only 35 innings.
Samardzija will be the one pitcher I most look forward to watching though I am at least interested early on seeing if Travis Wood can sustain or come close to what he did last year.