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White Sox deal for A’s’ Samardzija official

SAN DIEGO — The White Sox are turning heads at the Winter Meetings, and we’re only on the second day. On Tuesday, they announced their trade with the Oakland A’s for right-hander Jeff Samardzija, the morning after they also signed free-agent closer David Robertson to quickly patch up two major needs in a big way.

The Robertson deal will be announced after he passes a physical, perhaps later this week.

In addition to Samardzija, the Sox also receive right-hander Michael Ynoa from the A’s for right-hander Chris Bassitt, infielder Marcus Semian, catcher Josh Phegley and first baseman Rangel Ravelo.

“Jeff is one of the elite right-handed starting pitchers in baseball, and we believe his addition to our roster gives us the potential for a formidable starting rotation,” Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “His competitiveness fits well in our clubhouse, on the mound and in our city.”

Hahn said Samardzija, who will become a free agent after the 2015 season, told him going to the Sox is a “dream come true” and that his desire is to sign the pitcher to an extension.

“We’re going to make every effort in the coming months to make this a long-term relationship,” Hahn said.

Ynoa, 23, spent the entire 2014 season with Class A Stockton, going 4-2 with a 5.52 ERA with 64 strikeouts over 45 2/3 innings. The 6-7, 210-pounder entered 2014 ranked by Baseball America as the No. 4 Prospect in the Oakland system.

“Michael is a highly touted prospect who signed at age 16 and then missed an entire season in 2011 with an arm injury,” Hahn said. “Our scouts believe his arm strength has returned, and our reports on him pitching out of the bullpen with Stockton were impressive as he is still only 23 years old.”

Robertson agreed to a four-year contract for $46 million, a deal that solidifies the back end of a bullpen that ranked as the third-worst in baseball last season. Samardzija steps into a rotation that already had two rock-solid pieces in Cy Young candidate Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. The combination of the two moves, coupled with their swift Novemeber signings of first baseman/DH Adam LaRoche and lefty reliever Zach Duke, reclassifies the Sox from a 73-89 fourth-place finisher to a contender in the American League Central.

In Robertson (3.08 ERA, 39 saves for the Yankees in 2014), the Sox reeled in the No. 1 closer on the free-agent market.

The Samardzija and Robertson additions follow the LaRoche signing for $25 million for two years and Duke for $15 million over three, adding somewhere above $35 million in payroll for 2015.

Samardzija will more than fit nicely between lefties Chris Sale and Jose Quintana in the rotation, but perhaps for only 2015. He’ll become a free agent after the season, which is why the A’s had been looking to deal him. He figures to earn around $10 million in arbitration this year.

Hahn spoke Monday about the possibility of trading for a one-year “rental” type player such as Samardzija.

“It’s not ideal,’’ he said. “It’s not the No. 1 target or plan as you enter the offseason, but as opportunities arise that you know are certainly going to improve you in the short term and potentially allow you the opportunity to still contend in the long term, you still have to look at it.’’

Robertson, who turns 30 in April, is a groundball/strikeout pitcher who should be well-equipped for hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field. He posted ERA’s of 2.04, 2.67 and 1.08 in three seasons of 60-plus innings leading up to 2014, when he carried the significant burden of replacing Mariano Rivera as the Yankees closer.

Spending big on a closer is a new, surprising strategy for the Sox, who traded closers Sergio Santos and Addison Reed in recent Winter Meetings, confident they could develop another one of their own. Perhaps suffering with a 4.38 bullpen ERA in 2014 caused them to rethink that tactic.

“The way we see it we have X dollars to spend and Y number of needs,” Hahn said earlier Monday. “It’s more a question of how do we allocate to make the most impact on the 2015 club and beyond. Do we try to acquire to fill a certain need via trade or do we dip into the free agent market to address that need and look for a trade in another spot.”

Samardzija, acquired by the A’s in July in a trade with the Cubs, stepped up last season with a 2.99 ERA in 219 2/3 innings, striking out 8.3 batters per nine innings and walking 1.8. Most scouts and executives view him as a top-of-the-rotation starter. He owns a 3.85 career ERA.

“I’m a big fan,” one National League scout said. “This guy is a great competitor, and he has gotten better each year, adding something new as he went along. And he is an athletic guy, and athletic pitchers, for me, are more durable and less injury-prone.”

Here’s what the Sox gave up to get him:

*Bassitt, 26, made his major-league debut with the Sox last season, making five starts and going 1-1 with a 3.94.

*Phegley, 27, spent most of the 2014 season with Class AAA Charlotte, hitting .274 with 30 doubles, 23 home runs and 75 RBI over 107 games. The Sox had five catchers on the 40-man roster and he was considered the odd man out before the deal.

*Ravelo, 22, hit .309 with 37 doubles, 11 home runs, 66 RBI and 72 runs scored in 133 games with Birmingham last season. He was a sixth round pick in the 2010 draft.

*Semien, 24, played in 64 games over two stints last season, hitting .234 with 10 doubles, six home runs, 28 RBI and a knack for coming through in the clutch. The A’s are said to be looking at him as a shortstop.

Samardzija, who turns 30 on Jan. 23, is a northwest Indiana native who grew up following the Sox. He had spoken favorably during the season about the possibility of pitching on the South Side.

The Sox will forfeit a 2015 second-round draft pick for signing Robertson, who rejected a qualifying offer from the Yankees. They stand to pick up a compensation pick in 2016 should they hold on to Samardzija for all of next season and make him a qualifying offer.