SAN DIEGO — Jeff Samardzija has played for Notre Dame and the Cubs and now will get to pitch for the White Sox.
“Being a Chicago guy, that’s one of the craziest things I’ve thought about,” he said Tuesday after Oakland dealt him to Chicago’s South Side. “I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Now, do I really have to go get my cleats on and go play for the Bears?’ If I could skate, maybe the ‘Hawks. My jumper’s garbage, so the Bulls are out of the question.”
Trading an All-Star for the third time in less than two weeks, the Athletics sent the Samardzija and right-hander Michael Ynoa for right-hander Chris Bassitt, catcher Josh Phegley and first baseman Rangel Ravelo and infielder Marcus Semien.
An All-America wide receiver with the Fighting Irish, Samardzija was 31-42 with a 3.97 ERA for the Chicago Cubs from 2008 until July 5, when he was traded to the A’s. He went 5-6 with a 3.14 ERA for Oakland.
Samardzija, a right-hander who turns 30 on Jan. 23, made $5,345,000 this year and is eligible for salary arbitration. He can become a free agent after the 2015 season.
“We’re going to make every effort to make this a long-term relationship,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “We felt that this was a premium starter who fit, not just in terms of how he fit in our rotation, but how he fit in our clubhouse.”
Samardzija wasn’t so sure he would want to miss free agency.
“You’re so close to it, you really want to experience it,” he maintained. “But like I said before, when the situation’s right, it’s right. When the numbers are right, they’re right.”
The White Sox have been a prominent team in the offseason. On Monday at the winter meetings, Chicago agreed to a $46 million, four-year contract with closer David Robertson, a person familiar with the deal said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the agreement had not been announced.
Even before that, Chicago agreed to a $25 million, two-year contract with first baseman Adam LaRoche and a $15 million, three-year deal with left-hander Zach Duke.
“We’ve moved the chains to improve this club in what we feel is dramatic fashion, but we still have work to do,” Hahn said. “It’s starting to get a little tight. We spent a pretty good chunk of what we had available to us, but at the same time it just means it’s time to get a little more creative.”
Samardzija joins a rotation that includes Chris Sale, who finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting, and Joel Quintana.
“I think we’re going to be the most competitive rotation in the league, and I mean that internally,” Samardzija said. “The best starting rotations are made when there’s three or four guys that want to be the best and they want to go out there and clinch that three-game series or win that Sunday sweep game.”
While Chicago is adding after finishing fourth in the AL Central at 73-89, Oakland is subtracting.
Following its loss to Kansas City in the AL wild-card game, Oakland traded third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto on Nov. 28 and first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss to Cleveland on Monday.
Oakland was 22nd in payroll at the end of the regular season at $92 million. Moss had a $4.1 million base salary this year and is eligible for arbitration. Donaldson is eligible for arbitration for the first time after Oakland renewed his salary this year at the $500,000 major league minimum.