Samardzija wants to stay with Cubs

CHICAGO -- Despite the inability to come to a long term deal -- or even a one-year contract at this point -- right-hander Jeff Samardzija is still confident he can remain with the Chicago Cubs. At the very least, that's his desire.

"This is where I want to be," Samardzija said Friday from the Cubs Convention. "I want to be a part of building that team that everyone envisions taking the field at Wrigley."

Samardzija and the Cubs have had little movement in negotiations during the past year. But Friday they couldn't come to an agreement for 2014, so the two sides are preparing for arbitration.

The Cubs submitted a salary figure of $4.4 million; Samardzija is asking for $6.2 million. He's coming off an 8-13 season with a 4.34 ERA.

"When you don't have control and other teams have your rights, all you can do is go out and hopefully put it on their side that this guy is invaluable and we need him and he's hard to replace," Samardzija said. "That's all you can do."

Samardzija can become a free agent after the 2015 season. Yet even if they settle on a contract for 2014, he's still trade bait.

"Obviously there's been public speculation about a contract extension at times, a trade at times, I can't tell you what's going to happen," Cubs president Theo Epstein said. "I can tell you I'm happy he's a Cub and look forward to him getting the ball on opening day."

The Cubs exchanged salary figures with three others on Friday while signing four players to one-year deals.

Pitcher Travis Wood is looking for a salary for 2014 of $4.25 million while the club submitted $3.5 million. Second baseman Darwin Barney wants $2.8 million while the Cubs are offering $1.8. And outfielder Justin Ruggiano is requesting $2.45 million while the club says $1.6 million.

All four players can still negotiate with the Cubs while they await arbitration, which takes place the first three weeks of February. If any go to a hearing then an arbiter will choose one salary or the other and the player and team is bound to that number for 2014.

Settling on Friday for one-year deals was infielder Luis Valbuena ($1.71 million), outfielder Nate Schierholtz ($5 million), pitcher Pedro Strop ($1.325 million) and pitcher James Russell ($1.775 million).