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Samardzija, Cubs settle, avoid arbitration

Opening Day starter in 2013 agrees to one-year, $5.345 million contract

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MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs and Jeff Samardzija reached agreement Saturday on a one-year, $5.345 million contract, thus avoiding arbitration.

The Cubs had offered Samardzija $4.4 million, and he filed for $6.2 million. The team's Opening Day starter last season, the right-hander finished 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA and reached 200 innings and 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career.

Samardzija and the Cubs had discussed a long-term deal, but for now, have settled on a one-year contract.

"Ever since I signed my first contract here with the Cubs, I've wanted to be here and a big reason for not playing football was to come here and play in Chicago," Samardzija said last month. "It obviously means a lot for me to be here."

With the settlement, the Cubs avoided arbitration with all eight players who were eligible. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein has never gone to arbitration with a player during his time with the Cubs or in his tenure as the Red Sox general manager.

The Cubs ended up paying $23.355 million total to their arbitration-eligible players, which included Samardzija, Darwin Barney ($2.3 million), Justin Ruggiano ($2 million), Travis Wood ($3.9 million), Nate Schierholtz ($5 million), Luis Valbuena ($1.71 million), James Russell ($1,775,000) and Pedro Strop ($1,325,000).

The last time the Cubs had a hearing regarding a player was in 2010, when Ryan Theriot "lost" as the arbitrator ruled in favor of the team's $2.6 million offer over the $3.4 million bid submitted by the infielder.

With the contract done, Samardzija can join the other pitchers and catchers who report Thursday to the new Spring Training facility in Mesa. Several have gotten a head start, including Edwin Jackson, who threw a bullpen session on Saturday.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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