Cubs have talked extension with Jeff Samardzija

From Jed Hoyer via David Kaplan:

We've already heard the Cubs have talked about an extension with Jeff Samardzija, but what this doesn't make clear is whether they've had recent discussions. I'd say it probably does because there wouldn't be much need to continue talking about past discussions at this point. 

A Jeff Samardzija extension at this point is relatively simple to calculate. He earned $2.64 million last year in his first year of arbitration and has two more years of eligibility. Matt Swartz has been projecting arbitration salaries the last couple years on MLB Trade Rumors and he projected Samardzija would earn $4.9 million in 2014. This is a pretty safe bet at this point. 

Samardzija hasn't been a phenomenal player and there are many other players to compare him to in the arbitration process. Without even knowing what Swartz projected, I'd have said somewhere between $4 million and $5.5 million. We also know that he won't earn less money in 2015 so if we take that $4.9 million and safely double it as a worst case scenario for Samardzija. More likely, he'll be good, but not great and get a bump to around $8 million or so. 

  • 2014: $4.9 million
  • 2015: $8 million

Both of those figures are estimates, but we've got a long history of arbitration players to base that estimation on. He won't make much more than $13 million over the next two years and he won't make much less than that either.

This is why the process for figuring out how much he's worth over an extension is somewhat simple. The first two years of that extension are, for the most part, already known. 

One way to calculate the rest would be to figure out his WAR projection for 2014 and go from there in the same way we usually do. For example, Fangraphs already has some of the 2014 Steamer projections. I'm not really sure these are their projections since Steamer has not, to my knowledge released them yet. Oh well, it's probably what I'd have gone with anyway so we'll use it. Steamer has him being a 2.8 WAR player next year. 

2014 will be his age 29 season so we'll keep him at 2.8 in 2014 and 2015 and then begin to lower it by 0.5 WAR after that. 

  • 2014: 2.8 WAR
  • 2015: 2.8 WAR
  • 2016: 2.3 WAR
  • 2017: 1.8 WAR
  • 2018: 1.3 WAR

Since we already can nail down his salary in 2014 and 2015, we only need to be concerned about the following three seasons in our calculations. If we use $6 million per win in 2014 and increase by 7.5% annually, here's what we would get in those years:

  • 2014: $4.9 million
  • 2015: $8 million
  • 2016: $15.95 million
  • 2017: $13.42 million
  • 2018: $10.42 million
  • Total: $52.68 million

Steamer is only projecting 173 innings so we should probably bump that up a bit, which would also increase the WAR. So maybe around a total of 5 years and $55 million. Or $60 million. That's about what he's worth.

Let's be generous though and throw Samardzija $20 million annually from 2016 through 2018. He's not worth that, not even we're more generous than is reasonable. That would put a max value of 5 years and $72.9 million. 

So we've got a range for a total of a 5-year extension between $53 million and $73 million. Jeff Samardzija and his agent are smart enough to figure out that if he is to sign an extension, he's not going to be getting more than that. This comes down to whether or not Samardzija thinks he can make more going year to year as he has been. In other words, by going year to year the next two seasons, can he then get a team to sign him for more? 

He might, but he might end up with a whole hell of a lot less. Samardzija would be counting on maintaining his current level of talent longer than expected. Athletes have big egos, but at some point realism has to set in too.