Raise your hand if you've heard this argument before: The Chicago Cubs need Jeff Samardzija more than he needs them. It was true a year ago, and it's still true today. Maybe the 29-year-old right-hander knows that, and it's why he's holding out for such a large deal. Think $100 million or more.
The Cubs should give it to him.
First off, he's a very good pitcher. We can argue if he's a true ace, though for most of the first half of this season he has been. Even if he's not, he's proved to be a great No. 2. And a team of No. 2s and No. 3s can win you a championship. If Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale are true No. 1s, then what are Jon Lester or Madison Bumgarner? They're no better than Samardzija -- maybe no worse, either -- but they are at the top of the rotations of 2013's World Series winner and the team that took the best record in baseball into play Monday, respectively. The point is, you can win with a bunch of really good pitchers, so the idea that the Cubs might overpay for a No. 2 is moot. They're going to have to roll the dice on an arm at some point, and Samardzija is as good a bet as they come.
Now, let's discuss the ancillary reasons to sign Samardzija. He's a leader, he's a workhorse, he's shown tremendous health, he's getting better, and perhaps most importantly for Cubs fans -- though least important for the front office -- he's a signal. A signal that the team is serious about winning sooner rather than later. To this point there have been some doubts. Most important for these Cubs, they simply need him on the mound.
There is no ace in the making in the minors; there is no savior. Neil Ramirez might turn into a good starter, C.J. Edwards might get to that next level once healthy, and Jake Arrieta could move up the depth chart, but Samardzija is already there. And still we haven't seen him pitch in a pennant race. He might be even better then.
If the National League has proved anything this season, it's that it's very winnable. Maybe next year it will be different, and dynasty teams in the making will emerge. But that's not likely. Samardzija could be the anchor of a competitive team as the Cubs' touted prospects make it to the majors in short order.
But only if they sign him.
Jesse Rogers covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.