Could Samardzija be next in line for new deal?

CINCINNATI -- As the Chicago Cubs reportedly work with Starlin Castro on a long-term contract, other members of the club’s youthful core could be in line toward getting their own deals.

Jeff Samardzija could be the next player the Cubs talk to about a long-term contract, but the right-hander gave no indication Friday that any such discussions are in the works.

“I’m not really too worried about that. I like to leave that front-office stuff to my agent,” Samardzija said. “That’s what they do and that’s what they are paid to do, to talk about that stuff. I’m here to play baseball and that’s just what I’m going to do. When things like that happen it’s kind of out of your control to tell you the truth. You can just prove to them that you are valuable on the field and whatever happens, happens.”

Samardzija was asked if it’s good news for the Cubs’ projected young core that at least one player in that group has started the process of getting locked into an extended deal.

“It’s good news for the team to know that a guy like that isn’t going anywhere for a while,” Samardzija said. “I haven’t heard really what’s going on. As a team you want that guy on your team and not playing against you for sure. Starlin is a young dude, a young talent and he’s going to be around for a long time.”

The first season under new team president Theo Epstein and new general manager Jed Hoyer hasn’t been a success on the field (the Cubs entered play Friday with a 46-70 record), but the players seem to believe in the front office’s vision.

“It’s kind of an interesting time right now on this team with all the young guys here,” Samardzija said. “I assume a lot of these guys will be around for a handful of years. We’re getting to know everyone and see what everyone is good at. That’s what it’s all about for building a team. You have to keep the core guys around who you feel are good for the team and fill in from there and obviously Castro is a big part of that.

Samardzija feels like he is a guy the Cubs are thinking of as they look toward the future.

“I think so; I made it this far,” he said with a laugh. “You have to think they like you a little bit. They have made some changes. All you can do as a player is play on the field and when you’re not playing, be a good dude in the clubhouse, be professional and work hard. That’s all you try to do.

“Try to have fun with these guys. You’re around everybody so much. Everybody in this clubhouse gets along. The more you respect each other, the harder you’ll play for each other.”

It was just this offseason when Samardzija’s club option was declined and he was re-signed at $2.64 million for 2012. The difference cost him $650,000. Instead of letting it bother him, he went out and showed as a starter he will be worth a higher price tag moving forward.

“Yeah, for me personally I just want to be more consistent as a player,” he said. “I always knew I had the raw skills with the arm strength and stuff like that, but that’s not good enough to tell you the truth. You have to be a complete player to be successful in this game. When you work hard and have your eye on a goal and when you see yourself getting close to where you want to be, it’s exciting. It’s good to see that the hard work pays off.”