By Bruce Levine–

CHICAGO (CBS) — The close relationship between Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and free-agent Jeff Samardzija may have more to do with the 30-year-old right-hander potentially returning to the North Side as a free agent than any industry people may think possible.

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The bond between the two aggressive competitors reached a peak in Samardzija’s breakout seasons of 2013 and 2014 for the Cubs. After Samardzija was traded to the Athletics in July 2014 and then the White Sox, the two remained in close contact behind the scenes.

Now a top priority of numerous teams, Samardzija will be willing to return to his original organization if the deal is right for both sides.

“I would love to see Jeff Samardzija in a Cub uniform again,” Bosio said on 670 The Score’s “Inside The Clubhouse” show. “This is a guy who is a great competitor and showman. One of the reasons we have the players we do now is because of the way Jeff, (Paul) Maholm, (Matt) Garza, (Ryan) Dempster and (Jason) Hammel pitched for us. They put our front office in position to get great players like Addison Russell and many others in deals.”

Samardzija is coming off of a rough 2015 campaign in which he went 11-13 and had a 4.96 ERA. Despite a down year, he has shown durability and grit while allowing more hits and runs than any starting pitcher in baseball last season. A tough-minded former All-American receiver at Notre Dame, Samardzija appears to like the idea of coming back to the Cubs.

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“I can see 100 percent that Jeff can see himself back in a Cub uniform,” Bosio said. “It will be interesting to see where his free agency goes. I am sure he will have many choices to go where he wants to go. The decision will definitely be his.”

The Yankees, Diamondbacks and Giants will be in the mix to sign Samardzija. Bosio is the ace in the hole for Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer going forward with Samardzija. Epstein and Samardzija sat down to discuss offseason philosophies last week in Chicago.

“Jeff is a worker, grinder and winner,” Bosio said. “He is a no-nonsense ultimate professional. I can push Jeff and he can come back at me. If I go too far or he does, we can call each other out. We are both wired with that football mentality. He and I have a lot of common ground.”

The agents for Samardzija chose to wait for free agency, turning down offers from both the Cubs and White Sox over the past two seasons. A three-year deal with an option would seem like a logical starting point for Samardzija’s representatives and the inquiring teams to try and negotiate.

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