The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Cubs will decline Jeff Samardzija's $3.25M team option today, making the former star Notre Dame wide receiver a free agent. The Tribune indicates the Cubs will then re-sign Samardzija to a lower-cost contract.
The Cubs signed Samardzija, a 5th round pick in the 2006 amateur draft, to a lucrative contract early in his career in order to lure him away from pursuing an NFL career. In four seasons at the major league level, however, Samardzija has been less than stellar, sporting career stats far worse than his pedigree (4.40 ERA, 4.54 FIP) despite pitching largely as a reliever.
The 26-year-old righty had a break-out year in 2011, however, pitching 88 relief innings at a 2.97 ERA and 3.66 FIP. Unfortunately for Samardzija, few teams would be willing to pay a reliever who's pitched just one good season upwards of $3M, so Jeff will need to prove himself again next year -- possibly as a starter -- if he wants a pay raise.