Chicago Sports Inside and Out – The Chicago Sports Maven

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Chicago Cubs Steal Some Press From The Chicago Bears

Posted by sportsmaven on January 20, 2007

This week, the attention in the Chicago sports world has been squarely focused on the matchup between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game. So nobody’s paying attention to the Chicago Cubs, right? Wrong. The Cubs kicked off (couldn’t resist the silly football pun) the 22nd Annual Cubs Convention this afternoon, and kicked off is the phrase of choice as the team announced that they have signed P Jeff Samardzija to a 5-year, $10 million deal. Our friends at the Chicago Tribune reported that Samardzija was so intent on becoming a Cub that he asked for a no-trade clause in his contract and agreed to forfeit his entire $2.5 million signing bonus if he ends up leaving the team for another sport. Samardzija apparently was very deliberate about making his final decision, as noted by a very good ESPN The Magazine article, updated on January 16th.

So I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, what a coup for Jim Hendry and the Cubs!” Not only do they get Samardzija, a Mel Kiper Top 25 projected pick (#14) in the 2007 NFL Draft, to forfeit football, but he offers the team a no-trade clause as an added bonus. The Cubs essentially get a potential top of the rotation pitcher for what will seem to be a bargain basement price if Samardzija lives up to his potential. Then again, he could go down the Mark Prior path and prove to be an unwise investment, but I love the gamble that Jim Hendry is taking.

My other thought was that Samardzija still harbors interest in playing football. Could he be making a play to circumvent the NFL Draft by essentially telling teams he will not be playing baseball, maybe sit out a season, and then work his way into a free agent situation to play the balance of the football season (once baseball season ends) for the Bears, a la Deion Sanders? I’m not sure if his Cubs contract forbids playing football after the baseball season ends, but the thought is definitely one that may have some teeth.

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