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As others change gears, White Sox have their man

SAN DIEGO -- A day after the biggest baseball signing of the offseason, teams that lost out to the Chicago Cubs in the Jon Lester sweepstakes are moving to a backup plan.

The Chicago White Sox knew a Lester signing was coming eventually, which is why they worked hard to secure right-hander Jeff Samardzija in a trade with the Oakland Athletics before potential opposing trade bids grew.

“I think we wanted to get this done as quickly as we possibly could,” general manager Rick Hahn said after the Samardzija deal was made official. “These conversation with (the A’s) go back to October and things started picked up a little bit at the GM meetings (in November) and after the GM meetings. Once we got to the place where we were able to agree on players, we were ready to close it.”

The White Sox still ended up paying a heavy price for somebody that could leave via free agency after the 2015 season.

Marcus Semien is expected to compete for Oakland’s starting shortstop position, Chris Bassitt could be targeted for a role in either the rotation or the bullpen and Josh Phegley gives Oakland a catching option with some major league experience. The A’s also received minor league infielder Rangel Ravelo.

The White Sox are hopefully they can sign Samardzija to an extension and are expected to explore those conversations before the upcoming season begins. Samardzija, though, seems intent on finding his value on the free agent market.

Baseball is a business, after all.

“Like I said before, when the situation is right, it’s right,” Samardzija said Tuesday. “When the numbers are right, the numbers are right. That comes with anything. That comes with real estate, any venture you do privately. You want the right deal and you want the situation to be right.

“That’s a conversation for my agent and other people to have in the future. Right now we are in such a whirlwind of change that we want to get the basic things down with me and the team and me and the front office. And you know, it comes up to me selling myself too.”

Samardzija would like to command the big bucks next winter, but that is only going to happen if he proves it on the field with the White Sox over the summer.

“You have to put work in and prove to teams that this is a valuable guy and he’s a must have,” Samardzija said. “I think that’s the conversation down the road for other people. Right now, I’m excited to be a part of this (White Sox) culture and obviously it’s a team I’ve followed for so long.”