Jeff Samardzija thinks White Sox have the goods to make playoffs

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BY SETH GRUEN

For the Sun-Times

For free agent-to-be Jeff Samardzija, the route to the playoffs might’ve been easier if the White Sox had traded him.

But after beating the New York Yankees 8-2 on Saturday, the Sox remained 3½ games out of the second wild-card spot, and that’s good enough to keep Samardzija optimistic about his chances to play in October.

“We’ve always thought of ourselves as contenders,” Samardzija said before the game. “We just need to do what we’re capable of doing, and that’ll take care of most of it. I love this team and think we have a great group of guys, and we just need to keep playing like we’ve been playing.”

In the days leading up to the trade deadline Friday, Samardzija was in contact with general manager Rick Hahn, who would text him updates on various trade possibilities.

Samardzija said it’s nice to get back into the routine of starting every fifth day without having to worry about whether he’ll have to move his family.

“It was just about being on the same page and being a grown man now with a wife and a family,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘You just need a heads-up on if things are going to happen, so you can prep accordingly. Obviously, we found out that luckily nothing happened, and we were able to stay put.”

The Sox’ inaction could mean they like their chances to re-sign Samardzija or at least want the opportunity to prove to Samardzija that he can win on the South Side.

Samardzija craves an opportunity to be on a winner, which is certain to influence his decision this offseason.

Keeping Samardzija might’ve been the front office’s way of saying it has confidence in this roster to win. Samardzija wouldn’t say if he thought the front office was sending the team a message by keeping him around.

“We’ll get to [trying to re-sign Samardzija] in the offseason,” Hahn said. “From the day we acquired him, it was our hope that we would be able to find a way to make it work out. Obviously, if this momentum continues to grow and we’re able to do something special here in October, then I think it enhances our ability to re-sign him or it enhances perhaps his desire to stay or for us to find a way to make it work.

‘‘We still have that opportunity now. So keeping him perhaps has increased our chances for that.”

Still, if the Sox flounder this month and fall out of the wild-card race, they’ll have an opportunity to move Samardzija during the August waiver period.

The Sox could put Samardzija on waivers. If a team claims him, the Sox can work out a deal with that team. The waiver deadline is Aug. 31.

“We need to keep it up,” Samardzija said. “And there’s still places we could improve, and we have two months to do it.”

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