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With the dust still settling from their trade of third baseman Josh Donaldson, attention has shifted to how soon the A’s might look to deal ace Jeff Samardzija.
The right-hander, a free agent after the 2015 season, has been a rumored trade target all offseason. Sources indicate the Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox are among a large group of teams that have engaged Oakland in talks regarding Samardzija.
The White Sox are intriguing simply because Samardzija is a Midwest native who grew up a fan of the team. He could conceivably join a promising core of players who would make Chicago contenders in the American League Central this upcoming season. And perhaps the White Sox believe that a strong run in 2015 could give them a leg up in re-signing Samardzija to a long-term deal. The pitcher and his representatives have said that he doesn’t plan to sign a long-term deal before testing free agency after the season.
The White Sox have some intriguing young middle infielders who could entice the A’s in a trade. Shortstop Tim Anderson is ranked as their No. 2 prospect by Baseball America, though he’s played just a handful of games above Single-A and is probably still a year away from the majors. Second baseman Micah Johnson has terrific speed and is ranked No. 4 on the Sox’s prospect list.
The A’s also are being linked to another Chicago shortstop, Marcus Semien, a Bay Area product who attended Cal and can also play second and third base. He’s a .240 hitter over parts of two big league seasons with the Sox. Another player to keep an eye on is switch-hitting middle infielder Carlos Sanchez, who saw time in the bigs with the Sox last season. He’s considered a better defender than Semien but one with less pop in his bat.
The Braves would be an interesting trade partner with Oakland just because of the names that have been mentioned in a potential deal. The Bay Area News Group floated the idea that two-time All-Star outfielder Justin Upton and/or catcher Evan Gattis could possibly be available in a deal that sent Samardzija to Atlanta. Gattis can also play left field, and like Upton, would provide some needed power to the A’s lineup.
The Red Sox are on the hunt for starting pitching and have been linked to free agent Jon Lester, who spent the second half of last season in an A’s uniform.
[WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: Donaldson dealt for Lawrie, three prospects]
Of course, there’s no guarantee the A’s trade Samardzija anytime soon. He would also be quite a hot commodity at the July 31 trade deadline, which would allow the A’s to play out the first half with him headlining the rotation and evaluate whether they believe they’re contenders.