Epstein: Samardzija Cubs' Opening Day starter

Epstein: Samardzija Cubs' Opening Day starter

Epstein: Samardzija Cubs' Opening Day starter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein met Wednesday with Jeff Samardzija's agent at the Winter Meetings, and he said as of now, the pitcher is the team's Opening Day starter. Samardzija also doesn't appear to be any closer to agreeing to a long-term contract.

Samardzija will be a free agent after the 2015 season. His name has been mentioned in trade rumors, but interested teams have not been able to meet the Cubs' demands. Samardzija is coming off his first 200-inning, 200-strikeout season.

"Every time we meet with [agent Mark Rodgers], I feel great about the relationship and the relationship with Jeff, too," Epstein said. "Talks are amicable, open. We're transparent about the situation and our interests, and he's transparent about Jeff's desires and interests.

"We continue to try to move the ball forward as much as we can on one of two or three possible outcomes. There hasn't been any fundamental change in the situation. Communication is good and we continue to view Jeff as a really big part of what we're doing, even as we admit there are several possible outcomes."

And that's that as far as Epstein is concerned. He won't be giving daily briefings on Samardzija's status.

"At some point, I don't think Jeff deserves to read about this every day," Epstein said. "It's a tough thing to read about someone speculating on where you're going to work. We'll put it to bed. The situation now is Jeff's our Opening Day starter and that's how we're moving forward."

Epstein said he and general manager Jed Hoyer will stop answering questions about Samardzija's status.

"I don't want Jeff to have to read the paper every day that there's speculation that he might be traded or not," Epstein said. "We're asked about all of our good players all the time, and it's no surprise we're asked about Jeff Samardzija. There's no trade imminent, and we'll see what happens. We hope he's here for a long time."

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.