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Levine: Theo Epstein, Jeff Samardzija Met For Dinner Wednesday

By Bruce Levine--

(CBS) Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and free-agent right-hander Jeff Samardzija met for dinner Wednesday evening in Chicago, sources told

Samardzija flew in from Arizona for the meeting and left Thursday morning. He's one of many available arms in a deep free-agent pitching class, and the Cubs have made it clear they want to add one and perhaps two starters to their rotation this winter.

The 30-year-old Samardzija had a disappointing 2015 season with the White Sox, going 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Still, he figures to be a sought-after free agent given his durability and the fact he has fewer innings on his arm than most pitchers his age.

Samardzija spent his first six-and-a-half MLB seasons with the Cubs, who took him in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. Samardzija's best season as a professional was his last with the Cubs, as he compiled a 2.83 ERA in 17 starts for them in 2014 before being traded to the Athletics in a deal that sent shortstop Addison Russell to Chicago.

The Cubs' interest in Samardzija comes with the belief that pitching coach Chris Bosio could help Samardzija get back to his old self, as he had success in his two-and-a-half seasons previously working with Bosio.

Samardzija reportedly turned down a contract offer in the $80-million range from the Cubs before they traded him.

The news of the Epstein-Samardzija meeting was first reported by's Phil Rogers.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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