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updated: 7/31/2013 8:19 PM

Samardzija staying with Cubs a good thing

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  • With his Chicago connections, starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija is an even better fit for the Cubs.

      With his Chicago connections, starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija is an even better fit for the Cubs.
    Associated Press

 
 

The saying is, some of the best trades are the ones that aren't made.

The Cubs made a good one by not making it Wednesday.

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Jeff Samardzija's name popped up a couple of times again on the MLB Network as the 3 p.m. trade deadline approached.

The Cubs haven't been able to come to terms with Samardzija on a long-term contract, which makes him vulnerable to being dealt.

Allow me to put my two cents in on the multimillion-dollar negotiations: The hometown factor should be at play here. Some players give teams a hometown discount; the Cubs should give Samardzija a hometown markup.

Pay him whatever he wants for reasons that go beyond his 6-9 record and 3.75 earned run average. I'm talking essentially about his local roots.

Only Cubs management knows for sure whether they had any inclination to deal Samardzija.

However, Theo Epstein, the club's baron of baseball, gives the impression that he would ship his entire family to Cuba in exchange for the right 16-year-old shortstop.

Epstein has been coldblooded while rebuilding the Cubs. The long-term plan, Samardzija's age, the contract impasse they add up to him not being with this team forever.

As a report on the NBC Sports website put it, "Samardzija is 28, so the Cubs may have doubts that he'll still be a good rotation piece by the time the team is ready to contend."

(Which prompted a reader's zinger at the bottom of the article: "I agree. There is no way Samardzija pitches for another seventy-five or eighty years.")

Look, I don't know whether Samardzija will be around when the Cubs become competitive, if they ever do.

In the meantime, however, the Cubs need someone to keep fans interested, and nobody could be more interesting than Samardzija.

There is something to be said for a guy who is as local as this guy is, having been an all-American wide receiver at Notre Dame after growing up in Valparaiso, Ind.

Sentimentalist that I am, I'm partial to professional athletes who are from around here and wind up playing for our teams.

OK, so this might not even be as big a thing to the athletes themselves after they reach the pros and the sports they play become businesses.

However, Samardzija certainly gives the impression he remembers where he came from. My goodness, he says things like "the steel mills (in and around Gary) smell like home."

Samardzija sold me on his sincerity this spring when he attended a Blackhawks game wearing a Bob Probert jersey top. Then when the Cubs played the White Sox in May he talked about how much competing in those games meant to him.

This wasn't just a player saying what he thought should be said. Though Samardzija pitches for the Cubs, he was a Sox fan as a kid and recalls the excitement of the short ride to their games from Valparaiso.

Tell me if I'm wrong in thinking that it means something to fans who remember that a Dick Butkus, a Derrick Rose and a Jeff Samardzija were local heroes before they became national figures.

Samardzija looks a lot like a Chicagoan and talks passionately, articulately and amusingly like he still considers himself one.

This is a Chicago-area athlete who became a Chicago pro athlete and is worth keeping around here for as long as he wants to stay.

To me it was a big deal that the Cubs didn't trade him Wednesday.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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