Chicago White Sox Rumors

Chicago White Sox trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Dodgers Acquire Eric Surkamp From White Sox

The Dodgers have dealt for lefty reliever Eric Surkamp from the White Sox, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Chicago has acquired righty Blake Smith in the deal, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweets.

Surkamp, 27, has not found much big league success over the years; he owns a 6.20 ERA with 5.5 K/9 against 5.0 BB/9 over 53 2/3 career innings. That included a middling output last year in the White Sox bullpen, which he joined after spending most of his career as a starter in the Giants organization.

Surkamp passed through waivers this spring, but has been rather excellent since. Over 25 2/3 Triple-A innings (in just 11 appearances, including one start), he has fanned 30 hitters while walking only nine and permitting eight earned runs.

For Los Angeles, the move represents yet another pitching depth move. Presumably, Surkamp will continue in a relief capacity, though his long history as a starter makes him at least a spot option in the rotation.

Smith, also 27, had been working at Double-A for the L.A. organization. Only recently converted from an outfielder to a reliever, Smith has racked up 16 2/3 innings of 1.62 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 against 4.9 BB/9 this year in Tulsa.


Amateur Notes: Draft, Fulmer, Kolek, Martinez

The game of baseball is struggling to maintain youth participation, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, who says that the trend poses real concerns for an otherwise thriving sport. Newly-minted commissioner Rob Manfred has honed in on the issue since taking office, saying that “the biggest predictor of fan avidity as an adult is whether you played the game.” It’s a fascinating read that’s well worth your time.

Let’s check in on some amateur notes from around the game:

  • ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link) posts his first mock draft as June 8th draws near. While acknowledging that it is still early, Law predicts that the Diamondbacks will take Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick while the Astros will add LSU shortstop Alex Bregman and high school outfielder Kyle Tucker with the second and fifth picks. Law adds that he does not expect Vandy righty Carson Fulmer to make it past the White Sox with the eighth pick.
  • Speaking of Fulmer, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs suggests that he represents a relatively rare “Black Swan” option in this year’s draft. You’ll need to read the piece to understand the concept, but McDaniel uses that classification for a subset of players that have been somewhat underappreciated by traditional player assessment tools: “small, right-handed, major-college starting pitchers with little to no injury history and a good performance record.”
  • The antithesis of the Black Swan pitcher, perhaps, is the high school power arm, and the Marlins took an enticing one last year in Tyler Kolek. Josh Norris of Baseball America checks in on the 2014 second overall selection, who the club chose over Carlos Rodon. Now featuring an increasingly promising curve, the 19-year-old is said to be showing signs of developing into the top-of-the-rotation starter that Miami dreamed of when it chose him. Of course, his stat line has yet to reflect that promise, and he has a long way to go.
  • The White Sox join a growing list of clubs with “serious interest” in Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets. The 20-year-old is free to sign at any time, though it’s possible he could wait until the next July 2 period kicks off this summer.
  • Agent Joshua Kusnick discussed the draft from an advisor’s perspective in a podcast with Ryan Sullivan (draft talk begins around the 24:00 mark), sharing his thoughts on the slotting system and the possibility of a worldwide draft, among other issues.

Minor Moves: White Sox Outright Raul Fernandez

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The White Sox have outrighted right-hander Raul Fernandez to Double-A Birmingham, tweets Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. The White Sox claimed Fernandez on waivers from the Rockies last July. The 24-year-old ranked as Colorado’s No. 22 prospect heading into 2014, according to Baseball America, touting the converted catcher’s power arm, including a fastball which touches 99 mph. Fernandez has struggled in his first crack at the Double-A level this season pitching to a 7.45 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 13 appearances out of the bullpen (19 1/3 innings). The outright creates an opening on the White Sox’s 40-man roster, which now stands at 39.
  • Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, Erik Cordier (Giants), Kyuji Fujikawa (Rangers), Nick Masset (Marlins), Bruce Chen (Indians), Stolmy Pimentel (Pirates), and Kevin Gregg (Reds) remain in DFA limbo.


AL Central Notes: Johnson, Aviles, Lindor, Avila

The White Sox yesterday made the decision to option second baseman Micah Johnson to Triple-A, recalling fellow infielder Carlos Sanchez to fill his spot on the roster and on the diamond. The 22-year-old Sanchez hit .344/.368/.466 in 137 plate appearances at Triple-A this season, whereas Johnson slashed a mere .270/.333/.297 in the Majors. Johnson is the more highly regarded prospect of the two, but as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes, GM Rick Hahn said he considers the demotion a “minor setback on the path to what we believe will be a successful big league career.” Second base has been one of many weak spots for the White Sox this season — a subject that Jeff Todd and I discussed in running through a surprising AL Central division on the latest MLBTR Podcast.

Here’s more from the AL Central…

  • Thoughts and prayers go out to Indians utility man Mike Aviles who, as Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel writes, learned last week that his four-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with leukemia. Manager Terry Francona said that it’s possible Aviles will join the team this weekend. However, he could also be placed on the restricted list, thereby allowing him to take as much time as he needs to be with his family. That move would allow the club to add another player to the 25-man roster in Aviles’ place. We at MLBTR wish Aviles and his family the best in an unfathomably difficult time.
  • In a second article, Meisel breaks down the Indians‘ shortstop situation, noting that the team is in a difficult place. Cleveland had hoped that the issue of when to promote top prospect Francisco Lindor would be a challenge due to the strong play of Jose Ramirez. Instead, however, it’s a challenge because Ramirez is struggling so badly. As Meisel notes, the Indians almost certainly would like to keep Lindor in Triple-A until mid-to-late June in order to minimize the chance of him achieving Super Two status. However, the present roster is lacking alternatives. Aviles could replace him once he is ready to rejoin the roster, but the other primary alternative, Zach Walters has struggled quite a bit at the plate since being acquired by Cleveland.
  • Tigers catcher Alex Avila is opting not to undergo surgery to repair the knee injury that has landed him on the disabled list, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. According to Avila, multiple doctors suggested that he could potentially use a rest and rehab program to avoid surgery and get back on the field sooner than the expected 4-6 weeks he’d have missed with arthroscopic surgery. Avila is on the disabled list with a “loose body” in his knee, but doctors now believe that the abnormality in his knee is not actually loose. “They’re not convinced that it’s a loose body,” said manager Brad Ausmus. “There’s something in there, but they’re not convinced that it’s loose.” Avila is due to hit free agency following the 2015 season.

MLBTR Podcast: The Unpredictable AL Central

Jeff and MLBTR colleague Steve Adams look at every team in the AL Central, running down how their respective starts to the season — good and bad — could shape their activity over the summer.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


Jose Abreu Joins Relativity Sports

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has changed agents and will now be represented by Diego Bentz and Fern Cuza of Relativity Baseball, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link).

As Passan notes, Abreu’s contract allows him to opt for arbitration once eligible, in lieu of his contract’s remaining guaranteed salaries. That would come after the 2016 season, giving Abreu the ability to perhaps out earn the $34MM he is guaranteed over the final three years of his deal ($10.5MM in 2017, $11.5MM in 2018 and $12MM in 2019). Those salaries represent the final three years of what was a then-record-setting six-year, $68MM contract signed by Abreu after he defected from Cuba in the 2013-14 offseason. (Rusney Castillo‘s seven-year, $72.5MM contract with the Red Sox has since eclipsed Abreu’s mark as the largest ever for a Cuban defector, while Yasmany Tomas‘ six-year, $68.5MM deal has also slightly topped Abreu’s mark.)

Abreu, formerly a client of Praver/Shapiro, was the unanimous American League Rookie of the Year in 2014 after a breathtaking debut in which he batted .317/.383/.581 with 36 homers despite a brief stint on the 15-day disabled list. Now 28 years old, the Cuban-born phenom is off to a strong, albeit less impressive start to his sophomore campaign, as he’s slashed .288/.349/.500 as of Wednesday morning.

Relativity, formerly known as SFX, is one of the larger agencies in the industry and represents a vast number of Major Leaguers, including Nelson Cruz, Paul Goldschmidt, Madison Bumgarner, Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Morneau and David Ortiz. The White Sox, in particular, have a large number of Relativity clients, including Zach Duke, Adam LaRoche, Jesse Crain and the recently outrighted Kyle Drabek.

Abreu’s change in representation has been noted in MLBTR’s Agency Database, which contains agent information on more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players. If you see any notable errors or omissions, please don’t hesitate to let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.


Minor Moves: Brignac, Kensing, Forsythe, Beltre

Here are today’s minor moves:

  • Infielder Reid Brignac has accepted the Marlins‘ assignment to Triple-A, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Brignac could instead have elected free agency upon being outrighted. The 29-year-old produced a hit and three walks in 17 MLB turns at bat this year. He owns a .219/.266/.310 slash over 922 career plate appearances at the major league level.
  • Righty Logan Kensing has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners, the club announced. Kensing, 32, worked to a 3.58 ERA last year in 88 frames at Triple-A Tacoma, registering 8.1 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9. Despite a single appearance with the Rockies in 2013, Kensing has not seen regular big league action since back in 2009. All said, he owns a 5.79 earned run average over his 161 2/3 innings in the majors.
  • Catcher Blake Forsythe is headed from the Athletics to the Phillies via trade, per Nashville Sounds broadcaster Jeff Hem (via Twitter; h/t Matt Rappa of Philliedelphia.com). The 25-year-old reached the Triple-A level for the first time this year after spending each of the last two seasons at the Double-A level with the Mets and then A’s organizations. He figures to provide organizational depth behind the dish for a club that is proceeding cautiously with former top prospect Tommy Joseph, who is being monitored for concussion symptoms.
  • The White Sox have released outfielder Engel Beltre, according to a tweet from Triple-A Charlotte. Beltre, 25, signed a minor league deal with Chicago over the winter. He had risen to the major league level in 2013, earning 42 plate appearances after putting up solid-enough numbers (for a speedy center fielder) in the upper minors in 2012-13. But Beltre was sidetracked by a broken leg last year, and was off to a slow start (.234/.268/.312) at Charlotte.

Minor Moves: Javy Guerra, Reid Brignac

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • White Sox right-hander Javy Guerra has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Charlotte, reports Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (via Twitter). Guerra was designated for assignment last week and outrighted over the weekend, but he had the option of rejecting the outright assignment in favor of free agency. Instead, he’ll suit up with the Knights in hopes of soon receiving another opportunity in the big league ‘pen with the ChiSox.
  • The Marlins announced that utility infielder Reid Brignac has been outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans. The former top prospect has the right to reject the assignment in favor of free agency, as he’s been outrighted in the past. With the Marlins, the 29-year-old Brignac collected a pair of base hits and three walks in 17 plate appearances — 13 of which came as a pinch-hitter. A former second-round pick, Brignac was at one time a consensus Top 20 prospect in all of baseball as he rose through the ranks of the Rays organization. He’s yet to live up to that potential, though he’s still been regarded well enough to receive big league playing time in each season dating back to 2008. Capable of handling shortstop, second base and third base (in addition to a brief corner outfield cameo), Brignac is a lifetime .219/.266/.310 hitter in the Majors.

Minor Moves: Hector Ambriz, Javy Guerra

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Nationals have signed righty Hector Ambriz, who had been with the independent Long Island Ducks, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Ambriz, 30, pitched briefly for the Padres last season, spending most of the year pitching respectably out of the bullpen for Triple-A El Paso, with a 3.93 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. He pitched 36 1/3 innings for the 2013 Astros, posting a 5.70 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
  • The White Sox have outrighted right-hander Javy Guerra to Triple-A Charlotte, tweets JJ Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com. Guerra was designated for assignment Wednesday when he was activated from the disabled list. The 29-year-old made just three appearances for the White Sox this season before shoulder inflammation landed him on the DL. Guerra will use his time at Charlotte to round into the form he showed in 2014 in the White Sox’s bullpen (2.91 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 3.9 BB/9 in 46 1/3 innings over 42 games).
  • Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker., Anthony Swarzak (Indians), Reid Brignac (Marlins), and Ronald Torreyes (Astros) remain in DFA limbo.

AL Notes: Chris Young, Price, Rodon, Red Sox

Chris Young‘s career turned on a 1,168-word email the Royals right-hander wrote to a St. Louis surgeon in 2013 where he diagnosed himself as suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, writes Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star. Dr. Robert Thompson, director of the Washington University Center for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome concurred, and performed a decompression procedure to free the nerves in Young’s shoulder. “I feel better now at 35 than I did when I was in my late 20s, early 30s, because I was dealing with so much pain,” Young said. “I forgot what it was like to be healthy. Now I try to make up for lost time.” And that he has. Nearly two years after undergoing the career-saving operation, Young, the reigning AL Comeback Player of the Year, has been a relevation for the Royals pitching to a 1.06 ERA in seven games (including one start) with a 8.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 17 innings of work.

Elsewhere in the American League:

  • The next start for Tigers ace David Price will be pushed back from Thursday to Saturday to give his mild hamstring strain extra time to heal, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). Price says he could have pitched on normal rest, so the move is simply precautionary.
  • The Tigers have a need for a left-handed power bat off the bench, but risk losing out-of-options infielder Hernan Perez to waivers if they attempt such an move, according to MLive.com’s Chris Iott.
  • After throwing 108 pitches in winning his MLB debut as a starter, the White Sox remain coy on whether Carlos Rodon will remain in the rotation or return to the bullpen, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. “You’re also somewhat protecting the amount of usage you’re going to get out of him over the course of the year, so there’s some factors that go into it for him and his learning curve and things like that,” said manager Robin Ventura. “There’s more to it than he’s just ready to go.” If Rodon remains in the rotation for the rest of the season, Merkin calculates the left-hander will approach the team’s unofficial innings limit of 160.
  • The Red Sox‘s July 2014 trade of John Lackey for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly is looking worse and worse, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. Craig performed poorly down the stretch in 2014 for the Red Sox and has been just as bad this year, and while Kelly’s radar gun readings have been impressive, his performance hasn’t (although his peripherals this season have been much better than his 5.72 ERA). Meanwhile, Lackey has pitched well for the Cardinals while making the league minimum salary.