By Brandon Reid
Senior Assistant Editor
Former Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija will return to the Windy City in 2015, only he will now be donning South Side pinstripes.
The White Sox traded infielder Marcus Semien, right-hander Chris Bassitt and a third player to the Oakland A’s for Samardzija in a Monday night, Dec. 8, deal.
Samardzija is expected to back Sox ace Chris Sale in the rotation.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound right-hander — who turns 30 Jan. 23, 2015 — posted a 2.99 ERA in 17 starts with the Cubs and 16 starts with the A’s in 2014. He threw a career high 219.2 innings last season, including two complete games, and was named to the All-Star team. During his seven seasons with the Cubs, Samardzija was 31-42 over 83 starts, had a 3.97 ERA and posted 180 strikeouts in 2012, 214 in 2013 and 202 in 2014. He has a career WHIP of 1.273.
Samardzija, a former Notre Dame wide receiver, will make between $9 and $10 million in 2015, and will be a free-agent after the season.
The Sox also bolstered their bullpen Monday night, acquiring former New York Yankees closer David Robertson via free agency. Robertson’s deal is reportedly worth $46 million over four years.
Robertson had 39 saves last season with 55 games finished. He was an All-Star in 2011, when he went 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 66.2 innings of middle relief work. Robertson joins a Sox bullpen that was among the worst in the majors in 2014.
On the North Side, the Cubs agreed to terms with starting pitcher Jason Hammel for $20 million over two years. Hammel — a 6-foot-6, 32-year-old right-hander — began last season in the Cubs’ rotation, where he went 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 17 starts. He was then traded to Oakland, where he went 2-6 with a 4.26 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 12 starts.
The Cubs are also reportedly interested in acquiring Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero. Montero, 31, is a two-time All-Star who played in 136 games last season, hitting .243 with 13 home runs and 72 RBIs. He has a career on-base percentage of .342 in nine seasons with Arizona.
Analysts have speculated the Cubs’ interest in acquiring a seasoned veteran catcher such as Montero — who has a career .991 fielding percentage — could be to help entice the signing of free-agent pitcher Jon Lester.
The Cubs’ starting catcher last season, Wellington Castillo, 27, hit .237 with 13 home runs and 46 RBIs in 110 games. Castillo has a career on-base percentage of .324 and a career fielding percentage of .988.
Posted Dec. 9, 2014