- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday that it's not a certainty that pitcher Jeff Samardzija will be traded, but league sources indicate there hasn't been any progress in contract discussions.
After allowing one unearned run in nine innings of a no-decision in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Monday, Samardzija is 0-3 with a 1.62 ERA. He's signed for this season and is arbitration eligible for next before becoming a free agent in 2015.
Asked if it is a certainty that Samardzija will be traded, Hoyer responded, "No, not at all," Hoyer said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "We've tried to keep things quiet. We've had a lot of conversations with him. ... There's been pretty consistent dialogue ... it hasn't reached the point of fruition yet, but there's always been a dialogue."
Samardzija wants to be paid like an ace -- in the neighborhood of a $100 million deal -- but the Cubs won't budge. While Hoyer indicated recently there are no trade talks currently going on with any players, that's expected to change with Samardzija as he drives up his value. The Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves are among the teams expected to be interested. Samardzija pitches against the Braves on Saturday.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have asked about Samardzija in the past, but they aren't expected to be buyers after an awful start to their season.
Maybe the White Sox can take their place.
"It wouldn't be a bad thing, anytime you can grab an arm like that," first baseman Paul Konerko said before Samardzija shut down the Sox on Monday. "He's a No.1-type of guy."
Sox brass couldn't have asked for a better outing to watch, considering Samardzija gave up no earned runs. But could the teams come to an agreement? The Cubs want young pitching, and any discussion with the Sox would have to start with some young arms, such as Erik Johnson, Daniel Webb and Chris Beck.
Webb and Johnson are on the 25-man roster and Beck is at Double-A Birmingham after being taken in the second round of the 2012 draft. The Cubs would undoubtedly seek more in quantity over quality if the deal with the Sox was to be had. Konerko, who's retiring at the end of this season, believes Samardzija would be worth it.
"Turned himself into a real good pitcher," he said. "Had a good arm when he first came up, but now he's really a front-line guy. An ace type ... I've seen him on TV where he didn't have his best fastball and he can sink it, he can cut it, he's got that split. As a hitter, I don't think you like guys like that as much because you feel like everything is moving. It's tough to center, tough to square up."
And he's never had injury problems. Other teams will be interested to see how Samardzija responds after a career-high 126-pitch outing Monday.
"I know he likes Chicago," Konerko said. "He can lobby for it if he ever gets moved, but that's not our business."
The Sox could be surprise contenders in the American League Central, and a 1-2 punch of Chris Sale and Samardzija would be dangerous. But the Cubs want a huge haul in return, or at least a No.1-type prospect. The Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman fits the bill. He was just called up after a dominating start to his minor league season.
The Cubs might never find the perfect match, but at some point they're going to have to max out on a Samardzija trade.
"His numbers don't lie," Konerko said. "There are some numbers that don't matter for a pitcher. The ones that he has, that are good, matter a lot."