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A's may have Shark bait dangling for possible trade

White Sox and Braves have been linked to Oakland righty Samardzija

OAKLAND -- Less than 24 hours after parting with All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson, shipped to Toronto on Friday evening for four players in a blockbuster trade, the A's appear primed to continue dealing.

Right-hander Jeff Samardzija has been at the forefront of a flurry of continuing trade rumors involving the Athletics, with multiple reports linking the pitcher to both the White Sox and Braves.

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Samardzija, entering his age-30 season, is projected to earn $9.5 million in his final year of arbitration before he becomes a free agent after the 2015 season -- a hefty price tag for a one-year rental that would also net the A's a substantial return package.

Moreover, Samardzija has remained consistent in saying he's not interested in signing a long-term deal until he reaches free agency.

A Major League source confirmed that the White Sox would have interest regardless of the contractual situation. However, they would at least make an attempt to negotiate an extension with Samardzija, and contractual status could influence the potential return for him.

In a conversation with reporters during Oakland's September visit to Chicago, the former Cubs hurler said a return to Chicago was possible when free agency arose.

"Yeah, that is absolutely something that is on my list," said Samardzija, who grew up 50 miles away in Valparaiso, Ind., and played for Notre Dame.

Samardzija combined for a 2.99 ERA spanning 219 2/3 innings over 33 starts between the Cubs and A's in 2014, compiling 202 strikeouts and just 43 walks in his first All-Star season.

Oakland could potentially command Alexei Ramirez's services in a trade with the White Sox to fill its most pressing need at shortstop, though it's unclear whether general manager Billy Beane would be willing to take on his $10 million salary in 2015. The Cuban infielder also has a team option for '16.

Several Chicago prospects have been speculated as trade chips, including infielders Tim Anderson and Micah Johnson and outfielder Courtney Hawkins.

Video: Top Prospects: Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox

The A's are also in conversations with the Braves regarding outfielder Justin Upton and catcher Evan Gattis, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Like Samardzija, Upton only has one year remaining on his contract, at $14.5 million. Gattis, however, won't be arbitration-eligible until after the conclusion of next season, and he could prove a good fit in the American League as a versatile option at several positions, including designated hitter and the outfield.

Such additions, then, would raise subsequent questions about the futures of left-handed hitters Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick, both of whom were mentioned by FOX Sports as the most likely A's players next on the move.

Jane Lee is a reporter for Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
Read More: Oakland Athletics, Jeff Samardzija