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Originally published July 4, 2014 at 6:45 PM | Page modified July 5, 2014 at 8:10 PM

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Oakland will acquire right-handers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from Cubs

Two Chicago pitchers boost already strong Athletics’ starting rotation.

The Associated Press

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OAKLAND, Calif. — One of baseball’s best rotations is about to get even better.

The Oakland Athletics have an agreement in place to acquire right-handers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs for three top prospects in a surprising trade for the team with the best record in the majors, two people with knowledge of the deal said Friday night.

The people, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was still pending, said the A’s will send top prospect and shortstop Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney and pitcher Dan Straily to the Cubs. An official announcement is expected Saturday.

The trade is a rare move under general manager Billy Beane in which Oakland — one of baseball’s most frugal franchises — is parting with talented young prospects for proven players to chase a World Series title. The A’s are a major league-best 53-33 after beating the Toronto Blue Jays 1-0 in 12 innings Friday but have come up short in the playoffs recently.

Notes

• The New York Yankees are no longer expecting CC Sabathia to return to their rotation this year, given the persistence of inflammation in his injured right knee.

Asked Friday whether he believed Sabathia’s season was over, manager Joe Girardi said: “I think that’s about fair to say.”

The six-time All-Star left-hander has been out with a degenerative cartilage problem in his right knee since mid-May, when his earned-run average reached a career-high 5.28. The Yankees were targeting a post-All-Star-break return for Sabathia, who had begun a rehabilitation assignment.

• Teams looking for a proven hitter to help them down the stretch might want to call Johnny Damon.

The three-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion and five-time .300 hitter is staying in shape, swinging the bat and eager to return to the majors. The 40-year-old Damon last played for Cleveland in 2012, but isn’t quite ready for retirement.

“When you feel you can still outhit at least half the league and you don’t get that call, it’s rough,” Damon told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday. “The biggest reason to play is to have a chance to win. Obviously, 3,000 hits would be great but winning is the reason I started playing this game. I’m going to continue to stay in shape and I’ll be ready.”

• Unable to fully test his sore left shoulder on a wet field, David Wright remains out of the New York Mets’ lineup for a seventh straight game. The star third baseman had targeted Friday night against Texas for his return. But rain prevented Wright from going through a rigorous pregame workout, so the Mets have decided to hold him out.

• Miami placed infielder Derek Dietrich (wrist) on the 15-day disabled list.

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