While we wait for the Jon Lester Decision (another rock band name!), we have ex-Cub news to talk about.
The A’s deal with the White Sox is complete, but not yet announced. What two big-league sources have told The Chronicle: Oakland will receive right-hander Chris Bassitt, and, as expected, infielder Marcus Semien, for All-Star Jeff Samardzija. There is also expected to be one other player coming to Oakland in the deal.
Samardzija was looking for a big-money deal from the Cubs after his strong start to 2014. When he and management couldn't agree, Shark was sent to the A's with the now-returned Jason Hammel for Addison Russell, Dan Straily, Billy McKinney and a PTBNL (who, again, to my knowledge has yet to be named). The deal worked out really, really well for the Cubs. For the A's -- not so much, as Billy Beane was trying to put together a win-now team in 2014. That team got unceremoniously dumped by the Royals in the American League wild-card game, and so Beane has been spending his offseason retooling, or rebuilding, or dumping, or something -- no one seems to be able to figure him out.
I won't pretend to know as much about the two White Sox the A's are reportedly acquiring in this deal, but Semien has played parts of the last two years in the major leagues, hitting .240/.293/.380 in a total of 300 at-bats with eight home runs. His minor-league numbers were pretty good and he was Baseball America's No. 91 prospect coming into 2014, so I suppose the A's see something that isn't reflected in Semien's big-league career so far.
Bassitt made six appearances (five starts) for the White Sox in 2014, with decent results; he was their 16th-round pick in 2011 and his minor-league numbers, while all right on their face, don't scream out "Trade for me!" He turns 26 around the start of spring training, so it's likely now or never for him to make it.
Doesn't seem as if Beane got great value for Shark; he might have done better if he'd hung on to him until the trade deadline.
For the White Sox -- well, they had the same record as the Cubs did last year and I suppose they think adding Shark (and David Robertson, who they signed to a four-year, $40 million deal Monday night) can get them to contention in the A.L. Central. They could be right, but it doesn't seem as if they'll be offering Samardzija the contract he wants, so he could wind up as a one-year rental.
It'll be odd to see him in a White Sox uniform, but no odder than it would have been if he'd been traded to a N.L. team where the Cubs might have seen him pitch against them twice. Since the Cubs and Sox play two three-game series in 2015, that could happen.
Samardzija will become the 175th player to play for both the Cubs and White Sox. The last player of any real significance who played for both teams is probably Juan Pierre, who was a Cub in 2006 and played on the South Side in 2010 and 2011.
If the Cubs do wind up signing Lester, that will mean that all three pitchers acquired by Billy Beane in his win-now summer of 2014 will wind up pitching in Chicago in 2015. Strange days.