The Rundown: Samardzija Back in Chicago, Would Lester Have Signed Without Joe Maddon? Alcantara Collects Three Hits, Goes Deep

When the Jeff Samardzija trade was announced last week, I thought to myself that it would be weird to see him in a White Sox uniform.

But I was wrong. Samardzija looks like he fits right in.

Shark was introduced by the White Sox yesterday afternoon, along with free-agent signings reliever David Robertson and outfielder Melky Cabrera.

During the press conference, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said the fan reaction to the Samardzija and Robertson deals influenced their decision to sign Cabrera, according to CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes. The fan reaction included increased season ticket and SoxFest sales.

I’m interested to see how White Sox fans react to this team during the season. I would likely be pretty excited if I rooted them on.

With the weirdness of seeing Samardzija in a Sox jersey not there for me, I think I can say I’m happy he’s at least back in Chicago. Although, for how long? The Sox maintain they’d like to sign him long-term, but I’m taking a “believe it when I see it” approach. A huge contract for a starting pitcher would be uncharacteristic for the South Siders.

The Maddon influence

If the Cubs hadn’t acquired Joe Maddon as their new manager, would we be sitting here today ready and impatiently waiting  for Jon Lester to take the ball for the Cubs on Opening Night?

This is a question posed by Patrick Mooney, and neither Lester nor Theo Epstein had a definitive answer.

“Um, I don’t know. I’m glad that we don’t have to find out,” Epstein responded.

“That’s kind of those what-ifs that are hard to answer,” Lester said when asked if he would’ve signed without Maddon in Chicago.

I think I would have to say that Lester would not, in fact, be a Cub if it weren’t for Joe Maddon. Just call it a guess.

Wil Myers trade?

The Padres and Rays are discussing a trade that would bring outfielder Wil Myers to San Diego, according to Ken Rosenthal and other reports.

Pretty surprised to hear that. Myers is only 24 and a year removed from winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. He was the main piece in the trade that brought James Shields and Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals.

Myers missed a bunch of time in 2014 with a broken wrist, and struggled when he was on the field, hitting only .222/.294/.320. However, I’m still a bit shocked that the Rays would be willing to give up on him right now.

As for a return from the Padres, it’s all speculation at the moment. And to make things more complicated, Marc Topkin from the Tampa Bay Times said a third team could be involved.

This will be something to monitor, for sure. The Padres already have agreed to a trade with the Dodgers that would add Matt Kemp to their outfield (pending a physical). Insert a resurgent Myers into the lineup and they definitely become more interesting.

Other notes

* Instead of a player to be named later, the A’s sent cash to the Cubs to complete the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade from last summer. The A’s missed the “real” playoffs last year after acquiring the two players, and both have moved on to different teams. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with the cash vs. a player, but it at least helps me feel better about not getting a player in return.

* Arismendy Alcantara went 3-for-4 yesterday for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Republic. One of the hits was a two-run home run — his fourth of the winter. Alcantara also walked once and is now hitting .324 in 19 games. AA could definitely be an X-factor for the Cubs this year. If he could deliver on his potential, it would be a huge boost. I certainly look forward to seeing how Joe Maddon uses him.

* Jon Lester is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. What say you:

“Thumbs up!”?

“Oh great, now he’s cursed!”?

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