MIAMI — While ace Jeff Samardzija can control his future after the 2015 season, Jake Arrieta is making the Cubs feel better about their own.
Arrieta took another step toward becoming a more reliable part of the Cubs' future with his latest effort — a career-high 11-strikeout performance Wednesday that enabled the Cubs to defeat the Marlins 6-1.
Many of the scouts who watched Jason Hammel and Samardzija pitch the two previous games departed before Arrieta lowered his ERA to 1.98 while limiting the Marlins to five hits over seven innings. Arrieta (3-1) has allowed only one run in his last 23 innings, and that came on an impressive Giancarlo Stanton home run in the first.
Arrieta's performance came on the heels of the Cubs' latest attempt to sign Samardzija with a multi-year offer believed to be worth more than $15 million annually.
Arrieta, who missed all of spring training and the first month of the regular season with shoulder tightness, continues to provide stability to a rotation that may lose Samardzija and Hammel to trades before the July 31 deadline.
A source familiar with the Cubs' stance said Samardzija's asking price remains high, "and I don't blame them.''
The source concurred Samardzija's value has soared since last winter, creating a scenario where the Cubs eventually will trade him to a playoff contender rich with pitching prospects.
The Blue Jays and Orioles, who have scouted Samardzija thoroughly, might have the best shot at landing him.
Arrieta was amused to hear his name mentioned in trade rumors earlier this week.
"Obviously we have a couple of guys on the trading block, but that's what comes along with being quality starters," Arrieta said. "Your name is going to be mentioned in those sort of rumors.
"I look forward to continuing to have Jason and Jeff as teammates for as long as possible. (President) Theo Epstein and (general manager) Jed Hoyer are going to do everything in their power to put the best team on the field, whether that's keeping those guys or swapping them for prospects.
"It's really something we don't need to think about. We have to continue to go day-to-day and see what happens. That said, I'd love to see those guys stick around."
Manager Rick Renteria wanted to focus on the present as the Cubs (30-40) earned a split of their 10-game trip while winning consecutive series for the first time in almost a year.
"All these guys, in our eyes, are a part of us," Renteria said. "I don't look down the road. I can only look at what's happening right now."
Shortstop Starlin Castro hit a pair of RBI doubles and Nate Schierholtz had a three-run homer to cap a four-run sixth.
Arrieta's recent stretch of success could lend some comfort if trades are made.
"As a guy who has been around for a little while, you understand the most important thing is to stay healthy for your team throughout the meat of the season and pitch deep into the season successfully," Arrieta said.
"Trying to preserve the guys in the bullpen as the season grows longer is a high priority for myself and all the guys on the staff. With that mentality and (the) ability to throw a lot of pitches for strikes, you give your team a good chance to win."
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