Some of you might remember back to last June, when the Cubs selected Notre Dame RHP (and WR) Jeff Samardzija
in the 5th Round of the Rule 4 Draft (June Draft). The Cubs subsequently gave Samardzija what was reported at the time as a record-setting multi-million dollar bonus that the Cubs hoped would ultimately dissuade Samardzija from pursuing a career in the NFL.
Not so, apparently
Yesterday, Baseball America
reported that the supposed record-setting $7.25M bonus Samardzija could have potentially received from the Cubs is a myth
. What Samardzija actually got was $250,000 to sign, and another $250K if he reports to Spring Training 2007. That's it. $500K.
The Cubs had apparently HOPED to sign Samardzija to a back-loaded $7.25M minor league deal with yearly club options that would escalate Samardzija's salary annually as long as he continued to play baseball, but the proposed deal was nixed by the MLB office because minor league contracts with club options are not permitted. In order for the Cubs to have signed Samardzija to such a deal, it would have to be a Major League contract with Samardzija getting a spot on the Cubs 40-man roster, and the Cubs were unwillng to go that far with Samardzija at that time.
According to the report in BA, the Cubs still hoped to sign Samardzija to a long-term deal with yearly club options (probably similar to the $10.5M Major League deal Mark Prior got from the Cubs in 2001, except for less money), but that apparently would depend on whether Samardzija would agree to make a commitment to playing baseball over a likely opportunity to play in the NFL.
Well, that happened today.
Paul Sullivan is reporting in the Chicago Tribune
that the Cubs have signed Samardzija to a five-year deal worth $10M
( including a $2.5M signing bonus), plus a club option for two additional years that could bring the total value of the contract up to $16.5M over seven years (through 2013). And in exchange, Samardzija will give up football.
Carrie Muskat at cubs.com is reporting that Samardzija signed a Major League contract
, and if he did, he will have to be added to the 40-man roster immediately. And if he is placed on the 40-man roster, he will get four minor league options instead of three, although (barring injury) the fourth and final option year must be used prior to the 2012 season. (Players receive a 4th minor league option year if they have not completed five "full seasons"--that is, 60 days on an active minor league or MLB roster or rosters from the start of a season, or 90 days total on an active minor league or MLB roster or rosters in a given season--prior to using up their first three options).
For those of you following Samardzija's gridiron exploits, he was to have played his final college football game a week from tomorrow (January 27th) at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. Pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in Mesa on February 14th, and it had been reported last Summer that as part of his Cubs deal, he would receive an NRI to Spring Training with the big club. However, Samardzija was not on the list of Cubs non-roster players invited to ST as released by the club earlier this month. That's probably because the NFL pre-draft scouting combine will be held in Indianapolis February 21-27, and if he had not decided to quit football, Samardzija almost certainly would have attended the combine, and as such he would not have been available to report to ST until the end of February. That would have placed him so far behind the other pitchers in camp that it wouldn't have been worth having him try to catch up. The Cubs minor league camp opens on or about March 1st, so it was far more likely that if Samardzija had not given up his football career, that he would have reported there instead, before starting the season at Peoria or perhaps at Daytona.
The NFL draft is scheduled for April 28-29 (about a month into baseball's regular season), and Samardzija had been projected as a "first day" pick, probably most-likely somewhere in the 2nd Round. I guess now we'll never know exactly where he would have been selected.
I do know this, though. While the Cubs might not get into the World Series anytime soon, with Jeff Samardzija, Drew Rundle (star WR at Bend HS in Oregon), and Clifford Andersen (star WR at Cottonwood HS in Utah) in the organization, the Cubs now have a WR corps that could make the Bears jealous.