Deal on horizon for Cubs’ Samardzija?

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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Could Jeff Samardzija be on the verge of a multi-year contract offer from the Cubs?

“I’m not going to comment on it, but he’s had a great year and certainly he’s a guy we hope is in a Cubs’ uniform for a long time,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday when asked about the arbitration-eligible pitcher.

Samardzija, who turned a corner in his big-league career in 2011 with a strong season out of the bullpen, took an even bigger step this season in making a successful transition to the rotation as a powerful, consistent starter.

Hoyer, talking to reporters during the first day of general managers meetings at Indian Wells Resort, mentioned the value of locking up good, young, homegrown players to long-term deals early in their careers just before the subject of Samardzija was raised.

“He’s a great competitor, and I think he’s the kind of guy that teammates really look up to,” Hoyer said. “And I think he has the potential down the road to be a really good leader. …

“It’s hard to be a leader when you’re also trying to establish your career. But now that he’s had a really great season, I think he can probably be that guy. There’s nothing but positive things to say about the year he had, and getting to know him, he’s really impressive.”

The Cubs this season signed shortstop Starlin Castro to a seven-year, $60 million extension.

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