White Sox interested in Samardzija?

The A’s and White Sox are believed to be in “serious talks” for right-hander Jeff Samardzija, an American League source told The Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Samardzija is in the final year of his contract, which is projected to be worth about $9.5 million via arbitration. He has previously said he wants to test the free-agent market after 2015, so a long-term deal with any team looking to acquire him seems slim.

But Samardzija, a Valparaiso, Ind., native who starred in baseball and football at Notre Dame, grew up a White Sox fan and played for the Cubs, might be willing to talk with the South Siders about a new deal.

“He loved the Cubs until the new regime showed up,” the source told The Sun-Times. “So my guess is Jeff would be pleased. It all makes sense. Jeff had no interest in talking extension with the Cubs, you wonder if he might be changing his tune now in order to complete a deal with the Sox.”

The right-hander is a highly sought after commodity after going 7-13 with a 2.99 ERA in 33 starts last season between the Cubs and A’s. He’s also durable — working at least 200 innings each of the past two seasons — and should have less wear and tear on his arm than others his age, considering he began his career as a reliever.

That means the price for Samardzija will be high, even though he’ll likely only be a one-year rental.

The White Sox finished in fourth place in the AL Central in 2014, a year after finishing last. General manager Rick Hahn’s reshaping process has been going more quickly than some expected, bolstered by the offseason signings of first baseman/designated hitter Adam LaRoche and left-handed reliever Zach Duke.

Adding Samardzija to a rotation that already includes the dominant Chris Sale and underrated Jose Quintana would make the Sox — with a core of everyday players such as Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton and Alexei Ramirez — an intriguing sleeper pick in a division that includes the four-time reigning AL Central-champion Tigers and AL-champion Royals.

— Cash Kruth

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