- White Sox reliever Zach Putnam is considering his options after getting a second opinion Friday on his ulnar neuritis in his right elbow, and surgery is a possibility, CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes writes. “Still parceling through the options and at this point we don’t have a specific timeframe for him,” says White Sox GM Rick Hahn. When Putnam hit the DL Tuesday, he became the third key White Sox reliever to have a significant injury, following Jake Petricka (hip) and Daniel Webb (elbow), both of whom are now likely out for the season. Putnam’s absence, if it lasts, could end up being the most crucial of the three — with a 2.30 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9, he’s been a key part of the team’s bridge to David Robertson this year. In any case, all the injuries have left the White Sox shorthanded, with rookies Matt Purke, Michael Ynoa and Chris Beck all now on the team’s active roster.
The White Sox have signed first-round draft pick Zack Collins, the club announced today. He’ll receive an at-slot bonus of $3,380,600, per Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (via Twitter).
Collins was taken with the 10th overall selection out of the University of Miami, based largely upon his top-quality bat and outstanding results against strong competition in college. He is coming off of a season in which he not only took 69 walks while striking out just 48 times, but slashed .358/.534/.631 and swatted 13 long balls in 176 turns at bat.
That kind of hitting can play anywhere on the field, but it’s all the more impressive for a catcher. That said, many question whether Collins can stick behind the dish as a professional. The assessments vary somewhat, but it seems safe to say that it’s far from certain that he’ll end up donning the gear at the major league level — let alone that he’ll be a quality receiver.
Collins himself believes in his ability behind the plate, though, as he told MLBTR contributor Chuck Wasserstrom a few months back. “Obviously, I’m an offensive catcher,” he said, “but I’m working on my defense a lot lately. I think I’ve gotten a lot better defensively … I’ve worked a lot on my blocking and receiving and throwing and footwork – all that kind of stuff. We actually have a new catching coach down here in Miami (Norberto Lopez), and he’s helped me a ton.”
Despite the defensive questions, Collins’ bat was good enough to draw top grades from prospect hounds. He ranked as high as 14th among draft-eligible prospects, in the eyes of MLB.com. And he also landed within the top twenty names listed by Baseball America and ESPN.com.
Chris Sale’s name has long been one that the most optimistic of fans will bandy about in trade scenarios involving various combinations of top prospects, but if the left-hander had things his way, he’d never wear a uniform other than his current White Sox jersey, he tells Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. Moreover, Sale says he can’t envision the team’s front office dealing him. “I plan on being here forever,” said Sale of the ChiSox. “I don’t think they would trade me. … I mean, at the end of the day, it’s a business. I understand you got to do what you got to do, what’s best for the team and what not. I have a hard time believing that I would be traded and I really don’t want to (be).” Sale is earning $9.15MM this season and is one on of the game’s more appealing contracts, as the Sox owe him a total of $38MM from 2017-19 (with the latter two seasons being club options).
More from the AL Central…
- Yesterday’s surgery to repair the torn labrum in Glen Perkins’ shoulder revealed that the left-hander’s labrum had completely separated from the bone and needed to be reattached, as La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Had there been no detachment, Perkins’ recovery could have been completed in a “few months,” but cases such as this one often require an eight-month timeline, per Neal. Perkins told Neal in a text message only that, “It’s going to be awhile.” Even an eight-month timeline could have the Twins’ closer healthy in time for the early portion of Spring Training next season.
- Also from Neal’s piece, the Twins could option struggling DH/first baseman Byung Ho Park to Triple-A Rochester when Miguel Sano is activated from the disabled list. While this is an arbitrary endpoint, Park was hitting a very strong .257/.339/.578 as recently as May 17, but over his past 27 games/109 plate appearances, he’s struggled to a .135/.220/.260 batting line with 35 strikeouts. “I think how he was able to start originally maybe raised a lot of people’s expectations on how fast his transition was going to be,” said manager Paul Molitor. “It’s just been more where we’re kind of back to how we thought it might be.” Molitor said he hasn’t changed his opinion on Park’s long-term value to the club whatsoever, firmly believing that the investment will prove to be a valid one in the end even with Park’s recent struggles.
- The Indians’ acquisition of Chris Gimenez was hardly a heralded move but had a significant impact on the club, writes Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal, as Gimenez has been extremely beneficial to surging right-hander Trevor Bauer. As Lewis writes, Bauer has a wide variety of pitches/grips which he employs (as many as seven), and Gimenez is familiar with expansive sets like that from his work with Yu Darvish in Texas. Gimenez explains to Lewis how he’s helped Bauer to tone down the number of offerings he utilizes, encouraging him to focus on the pitches that best complement each other. Manager Terry Francona says that Bauer is pitching in a more “conventional” manner of late and stresses that he means that as a compliment. Bauer’s results have been brilliant; over his past 10 starts (each caught by Gimenez), Bauer has posted a 2.74 ERA with a 61-to-20 K/BB ratio in 69 innings of work.
- Indians outfielder Abraham Almonte has begun a rehab assignment at the Triple-A level as he nears the July 3 date on which he can be reinstated from his 80-game suspension for a failed PED test, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland is woefully thin in terms of outfield depth right now thanks to suspensions for Almonte and Marlon Byrd as well as Michael Brantley’s questionable health status, and the return of Almonte could provide some needed depth.
The White Sox have claimed righty Juan Minaya off waivers from the Astros, Chicago announced. He had been designated for assignment last Tuesday.
[Related: Updated White Sox Depth Chart]
The 25-year-old Minaya hasn’t yet reached the majors, and won’t do so immediately for the White Sox — who optioned him to Triple-A. He has scuffled a bit at that level this year, with a 3.91 ERA over 25 1/3 innings, but turned in a strong season at the highest level of the minors in 2015. In 54 2/3 frames last season, Minaya worked to a 2.80 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
- All eyes have been on the White Sox, who have put out word that they are open to improve sooner than later. GM Rick Hahn addressed concerns with both the roster and the field staff, as JJ Stankevitz of CBS Chicago reports. The executive declined to comment on any specific personnel, including skipper Robin Ventura, and stressed that he won’t get caught up in short samples. “You try to look at the entirety of the work,” said Hahn. “… I think it’s natural to look at areas where you can get better, but any decisions are made based upon the entirety of anyone’s performance, based on not just the snippet of five or 10 days or the length of a season or past career.” Hahn continued to emphasize that the organization is looking to add, rather than thinking about fall-back plans. “We very much believe the talent is there to be in the thick of things come October,” he said. “We need to get it turned around fairly quickly, though, so we can continue saying that and reinforce our notion, our believes in ourselves that this team has the ability to contend.”
Here are the latest minor moves from around baseball, with the newest transactions at the top of the page…
- The Rockies acquired lefty Pat McCoy from the Blue Jays, according to the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate (Twitter link). McCoy has pitched in four different organizations during a pro career that began in 2007, and his Major League experience consists of 14 relief innings with Detroit in 2014. McCoy has a 4.43 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.63 K/BB rate over 491 2/3 career minor league frames, with 288 of his 312 games coming as a reliever.
- The Pirates selected the contract of catcher Jacob Stallings from Triple-A and added him to both their Major League and 40-man rosters. Jason Rogers was optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move. Stallings will give the Bucs some depth behind the plate with Francisco Cervelli on the DL and Chris Stewart also battling an ankle injury. A seventh-round pick in the 2012, Stallings has a .675 OPS over 1266 career minor league PA and wasn’t listed on Baseball America’s ranking of the Pirates’ top 30 prospects.
- The Mariners have sent right-hander Steve Johnson outright to Triple-A Tacoma, the team announced. Johnson has been outrighted in the past, so he’ll have the option of declining in favor of free agency. The Mariners designated him for assignment Friday after he totaled a 4.32 ERA and 11 walks over 16 2/3 innings.
- The Rays have outrighted lefty Dana Eveland to Triple-A Durham, according to the club. Eveland, like Johnson, has been outrighted previously. The 32-year-old has racked up 16 2/3 frames of 7.56 ERA ball at the major league level this season.
- Minor league Red Sox reliever Anthony Varvaro has retired, per a club announcement. Varvaro, 31, concluded his career by recording a 2.83 ERA, 9.73 K/9 and 4.08 BB/9 in 28 2/3 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket this year. Prior to tossing 11 frames at the major league level for the Red Sox in 2015, he was a member of the Braves, with whom he had a pair of standout seasons from 2013-14. Varvaro combined for 128 innings of 2.74 ERA pitching in that span, also posting a 6.54 K/9, 2.67 BB/9 and 48.2 percent ground-ball rate. Over the course of 183 2/3 innings in the majors with the Mariners, Braves and Red Sox, Varvaro logged a 3.23 ERA, 7.35 K/9 and 3.43 BB/9.
- The White Sox have signed first baseman K.J. Woods, whom the Marlins released, and outfielder Slade Heathcott to minor league deals, reports Matt Eddy of Baseball America (Twitter link). The Marlins used a fourth-round pick in 2013 on Woods, who hit .239/.326/.386 in 872 minor league plate appearances with their organization. Heathcott, the more notable player of the two, was the Yankees’ first-rounder (29th overall) in 2009. BA ranked him as baseball’s 63rd-best prospect entering the 2013 season, but injuries and disappointing production led the Yankees to release him last month. Heathcott did perform well during his first taste of major league action last year, though, collecting 10 hits – including two home runs and a pair of doubles – in 30 PAs.
- With Colorado having designated him for assignment Wednesday, 33-year-old shortstop Jose Reyes will soon be looking for a new home, and the scuffling White Sox are a team to watch. Chicago already released one veteran shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, earlier this week. His replacement, 22-year-old prospect Tim Anderson, has gone 9 of 34 with four extra-base hits, nine strikeouts and no walks.
- White Sox center fielder Austin Jackson underwent surgery to debride and remove a portion of the medial meniscus in his left knee Friday, according to Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Jackson – who went on the DL with a meniscus tear on June 10 – will be on crutches for two more weeks and will undergo a reexamination in four weeks, per Kane. Jackson batted a weak .254/.318/.343 through 204 PAs before the injury. In his stead, the free-falling White Sox have opted for J.B. Shuck in center lately.
- The White Sox outrighted first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands after he cleared waivers, Collen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Recently designated, Sands will provide some depth for Chicago at Triple-A — assuming, at least, that he accepts the assignment. (He has previously been outrighted, so could instead elect free agency.) The 28-year-old has seen sporadic MLB time over the past several seasons. In 58 plate appearances with the White Sox this year, he scuffled to a .236/.276/.291 batting line.
The White Sox have agreed to terms with their second selection from the amateur draft, Louisville righty Zack Burdi, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Taken with the 26th overall pick, Burdi will receive the full slot value of $2,128,500.
Burdi was a flamethrowing closer for the University of Louisville, much like his older brother, Twins prospect Nick Burdi. In addition to an upper-90s fastball, he delivers what Baseball America calls a plus change and a slider that has shown promise. BA rated him 21st among draft-eligible prospects, based in part on the idea that he could potentially be developed as a starter.
Other outlets were less optimistic on the idea of Burdi moving into a rotation long-term. ESPN.com put him in the 37th slot, while MLB.com rated him 41st. Even if he’s not a starter, Chicago will no doubt like the idea of plugging a potentially fast-moving, high-leverage arm into its system.