The Chicago Cubs choose not to pick up Jeff Samardzija's $3 million option for 2012, but will bring back the right-handed pitcher at a lower salary, reports Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com. The Cubs will be able to reduce his salary up to 20%, per collective bargaining rules. Samardzija, a former two-sport athlete at the University of Nortre Dame, isn't eligible for arbitration or free agency.
Samardzija broke out in 2011 as a reliever, posting a 2.97 ERA in 88 innings out of the bullpen. While Samardzija struck out 8.90 batters per nine innings, he struggled with command and walked over 5 batters at the same time.
Coming off that breakout season, the Chicago Cubs will see if they can convert their athletic, hard-throwing righty into a starter - a position of great need for the Cubs. Currently the Cubs are looking at a rotation that only had one starter with an ERA better than league average.