Chicago White Sox Rumors

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White Sox Listening To Trade Offers; Samardzija Most Likely Candidate

The White Sox have entered “listening” mode following a series loss to the Royals this weekend, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The Sox, however, will not tear down their club simply because of a poor 2015 season and will not trade Chris Sale, he hears. Chicago views 2015 as the first of a potential three-year window and, as such, is not likely to trade long-term assets. Jeff Samardzija is the most likely candidate to go due to his status as the team’s most notable free agent, according to Rosenthal.

Samardzija, 30, was acquired from the A’s this winter in exchange for Marcus Semien, Josh Phegley, Chris Bassitt and Rangel Ravelo. He’s earning $9.8MM this season — of which about $4.12MM is still owed to him — and will be a free agent following the 2015 campaign.

The Sox acquired Samardzija with the hope that he’d be a co-ace atop their rotation alongside Sale, but the bottom line results have been something less than that. Through 132 1/3 innings this year, Samardzija has a 4.08 ERA with 7.1 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 40.2 percent ground-ball rate. Certainly, he hasn’t been helped at all by the Chicago defense, which ranks as one of the worst in Major League Baseball, but that’s not the sole reason for his decline, either. Samardzija’s strikeout rate is easily the lowest of his career since becoming a full-time starter, and his ground-ball rate is a career-low as well. The reasoning behind the drop in strikeouts, though, might not be as clear as one would imagine. Samardzija’s velocity has not significantly declined, nor has his swinging-strike rate, and he’s getting ahead of hitters with a first-pitch strike at nearly a 65 percent clip.

Rosenthal also notes that it’s possible for the White Sox to add some pieces. He doesn’t specify the nature of the types of players they’d add, but presumably, given the mention of a three-year window, they’d be interested in acquiring players that can help them as soon as 2016-17. That could mean they’d look at doing something similar to the Red Sox’ 2014 approach of trading Jon Lester for Yoenis Cespedes. It could also mean that the Sox would prioritize MLB-ready assets over a higher-upside prospect that is further away from the Majors.

The White Sox do have a number of long-term pieces in place. The Sox control Sale, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia through the 2019 season, while Jose Quintana can be controlled through 2020, while Adam Eaton and Carlos Rodon can be controlled through 2021.

Looking around the rest of their roster, a few more incremental moves could potentially be made. Gordon Beckham, Emilio Bonifacio and Geovany Soto are all on one-year deals, and Alexei Ramirez‘s option is almost certain to be declined at the end of the year. Adam LaRoche is under contract for 2016, though I’d imagine they’re at least open to moving the remainder of his contract following his diminished production in 2015.

White Sox Designate Conor Gillaspie For Assignment

The White Sox have designated Conor Gillaspie for assignment, according to Dan Hayes of  The move will make room for Matt Albers, who was reinstated off the disabled list.

Gillaspie began the year as the White Sox’s starting third baseman, but rookie Tyler Saladino has since taken over at the hot corner. The 28-year-old has not been producing at the plate in 2015. So far this year, he owns a .237/.276/.364 slash line in 185 plate appearances. Last season, Gillaspie hit .282/.336/.416 in 130 games.  For his career, Gillaspie owns a .258 .312 .393 slash line in parts of six MLB seasons.  Although he has seen the bulk of his major league time with the White Sox, he did make varsity squad cameos with the Giants in 2008, 2011, and 2012.

As MLBTR’s DFA Tracker shows, Gillaspie is currently the only player in DFA limbo.

NL West Notes: Diamondbacks, Gray, Padres, Giants

The Diamondbacks mismanaged their draft pool, tweets Jim Callis of The club took Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick and inked him at the last possible moment. In doing so, they spent $1.7MM less than their pool allowed. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweeted, the club could have spent up to $2.328MM more without losing a future draft pick. While a franchise shouldn’t spend that money just to spend it, they should have a few over-slot picks in the early rounds in order to make the most of limited resources.

  • The Rockies originally planned to promote top prospect Jon Gray for Sunday’s start, but they’ve backed off that decision, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. His last outing at Triple-A was a three-inning stinker in which he allowed four runs and six hits. The club will wait for a future opportunity to call upon their top pitching prospect. Eddie Butler will take tomorrow’s start.
  • Former Padres GM Josh Byrnes steadily built the farm system during his tenure with the club, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Now current GM A.J. Preller is being second guessed for his bold decision to dismantle the farm for win-now talent. The club could be one year closer to a more organic revitalization, but now the farm system is shallow. Massive offseason overhauls have a bad track record – ask the Marlins and Blue Jays (and the White Sox). It’s also worth noting that Preller may have wanted to reshape the farm system to his preferences.
  • The Giants have built one of the best infields in the sport, notes Jonah Keri of Grantland. The home grown crew includes several surprising contributors. Brandon Belt was a well-regarded prospect – especially among sabermetric circles. However, Brandon Crawford‘s offensive emergence was unexpected. Joe Panik is deceptively well-rounded. Matt Duffy was supposed to back up Casey McGehee. Instead, he’s arguably the best rookie in the National League, a class that includes Kris Bryant and Maikel Franco among others.

AL Central Notes: White Sox, Hagadone, Twins

The White Sox haven’t made any determinations on which direction they’ll take as the trade deadline nears, GM Rick Hahn told reporters, including the Chicago Tribune’s Colleen Kane. As Kane notes, the South Siders closed out the first half on a 9-3 run, giving the club a bit more optimism about its chances. “Certainly if I did it from an emotional or fan standpoint, we want to be aggressive we want to add,” said Hahn prior to yesterday’s double-header versus the Royals (the two sides came away from the twin bill with an even split). “However, it’s part of the responsibility of this position to be objective and look at the long-term benefit of the club and do what makes the most sense objectively given the situation that we’ve played ourselves in.” Jeff Samardzija‘s name, at present, is the most commonly mentioned as a possible trade chip for Chicago.

Here’s more from the AL Central…

  • Indians left-hander Nick Hagadone suffered what appears to be a serious elbow injury when pitching in a rehab assignment for Class-A Mahoning Valley this week, writes’s Zack Meisel. Hagadone, who was rehabbing from a minor back injury that landed him on the DL, had Tommy John surgery in 2008. “It looks like he did it again,” Cleveland skipper Terry Francona told Meisel. “…This isn’t something that’s [just] a week with no throwing.” Hagadone will seek a second opinion on his elbow before any determination is made, though the present outlook certainly appears to be grim.
  • Twins general manager Terry Ryan expressed disappointment that the team wasn’t able to reach an agreement with second-round pick Kyle Cody, who will return to Kentucky for his senior season, writes’s Rhett Bollinger. There’s been some speculation that health concerns impacted the negotiation, but Ryan said otherwise: “That wasn’t the most important thing. We just couldn’t come to a conclusion, is all. He’s healthy. It’s not a factor.”
  • Also from Bollinger, Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco underwent his ankle surgery as planned on Monday during the All-Star break. Nolasco has a bone fragment removed from his right ankle and will be fitted with a walking boot. The team won’t know until the boot is removed whether or not Nolasco will be able to pitch again in 2015, and Bollinger characterized that evaluation as “weeks away.” Whether he pitches again this season or not, 2015 will mark a second straight disappointing season for Nolasco, who signed a four-year, $49MM contract with Minnesota prior to the 2014 season.

AL Central Notes: Montas, Twins, Tigers, Almonte

The White Sox will promote highly touted right-hander Frankie Montas as the 26th man in Friday’s double-header, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan first reported (via Twitter). Acquired along with Avisail Garcia in the three-team trade that sent Jake Peavy to Boston and Jose Iglesias to Detroit two years ago, Montas’ stock has soared over the past 24 months. ranked him as the game’s No. 91 prospect heading into the season, and the hard-throwing Dominican hurler hasn’t disappointed at the Double-A level. He’s posted a 2.47 ERA in 15 starts at the level at the age of 22, averaging 7.6 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9. That performance comes on the heels of a 1.44 ERA across three levels in 2014. Montas tossed a seven-inning no-hitter earlier this season and appeared in the Futures Game in Cincinnati during this year’s All-Star festivities. Though his promotion looks to be brief, he’ll give ChiSox fans a glimpse of what the team hopes is a long-term contributor.

More from the AL Central…

  • Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press runs down the Twins‘ three biggest problems as the trade deadline approaches and looks at some possible solutions for the club. Setup relief, catching and shortstop have been the club’s most glaring weaknesses in 2015, writes Berardino. In looking at catchers, he notes that the Twins made contract offers to both A.J. Pierzynski and Dioner Navarro before signing Kurt Suzuki in the 2013-14 offseason, so either backstop could again become a consideration. Both the Braves and Blue Jays figure to be open to dealing their veteran catcher.
  • Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN also examines the Twins‘ needs and speculates that rolling the dice on a Jimmy Rollins acquisition could be worthwhile for Minnesota. Neither Danny Santana nor Eduardo Escobar has played well enough to hold a firm grasp on the club’s starting shortstop role, and the Dodgers may want to clear the way for Corey Seager to jump to the Majors at short. Mackey, of course, notes that Rollins hasn’t played well in 2015. He’s hitting only .213/.266/.338 on the season and is expensive — owed about $4.48MM through year’s end. But, that price tag and those struggles mean he won’t cost much in a trade. Rollins’ track record as a productive player and 2015 BABIP woes make him an intriguing low-risk gamble that could rebound in the second half, Mackey concludes.
  • The next 10 days or so are critical to the Tigers‘ direction at the trade deadline, writes Jason Beck of Beck writes that the Tigers realize the division crown is a long shot at this point, so the question for Detroit becomes whether or not they feel pursuing a Wild Card berth “as more than a crapshoot.” Contending clubs continue to ask the Tigers what their plan is going to be, Beck writes, but Detroit’s minor league clubs are also still being scouted by potential sellers like the Reds and Padres in the event that they move to add big league help. Even if the Tigers decide to buy at the deadline, payroll will be a factor, according to Beck. He also reminds that while David Price can net a compensatory draft pick this offseason if he signs elsewhere, Yoenis Cespedes cannot, due to a contractual stipulation.
  • The Royals have promoted right-hander Miguel Almonte from Double-A to Triple-A and hope that the top prospect can emerge as a bullpen option in September, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. The 22-year-old Almonte entered the season ranked 84th among prospects by and 56th by Baseball Prospectus. His production in the Double-A rotation was a bit underwhelming, as he worked to a 4.03 ERA with 7.4 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9. McCullough notes that part of the reason for Almonte’s declined strikeout rate (he averaged 8.7 K/9 from 2013-14) is that he’s been tasked with focusing on improved fastball command and is thus using his above-average changeup less. A lot will change between now and September, but Almonte’s not on the 40-man roster, so the team would need to make a corresponding roster move if he proves worthy of another promotion.

Luhnow, Hinch On Astros’ Roster, Trade Deadline

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow finds himself in an unfamiliar position this trade season, as he’s now in the driver’s seat of a club that’s looking to buy, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Drellich spoke to both Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch about the club’s roster and the needs they face entering the July 31 trade deadline.

Per Drellich, starting pitching remains a priority, and the team is likely focused on adding a front-line starting pitcher. Luhnow specifically mentioned a desire to strengthen a potential playoff rotation. “I still think if we are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, having a pitcher that can pitch in those first few games of the playoffs will make a difference,” the GM said. He’s made similar remarks in the past, but the stated importance of strengthening the front of his rotation with the trade deadline so near is nevertheless notable. (Of course, I wouldn’t think that Luhnow and the Astros would shy away from adding a fourth or fifth starter type either.) Manager A.J. Hinch also weighed in on the need for a pitcher: “You always feel like an extra pitcher or two would be ideal, and some of that is out of just strengthening a strength, and some of it is not really knowing what’s in store moving forward on a couple different spots on our team.”

Drellich writes that there’s little indication of serious interest in Cole Hamels, but Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija remain names of interest to the Astros. Houston faces competition in acquiring either free-agent-to-be, with a source telling Drellich that other teams vying for Cueto include the Blue Jays, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants and possibly the Royals. Many have speculated that it could be difficult for Luhnow to strike a deal with former colleague Walt Jocketty — the two “butted heads” while working together in St. Louis, Drellich notes — but multiple sources indicated to Drellich that previous transgressions between the two won’t impact the Astros’ chances so long as they make the best offer.

Regarding possible trade chips on the Padres, Drellich feels that Tyson Ross could be too expensive to pry away due to his remaining club control (through 2017), but Andrew Cashner‘s one-and-a-half years of control are a more reasonable target. Ultimately, however, he notes that the Astros are expected to land a pure half-season rental.

One potential area of need that hasn’t received much focus for Houston is first base. Luhnow was candid in pointing out that Chris Carter‘s production “hasn’t been there” and “it’s frustrating because we know what he’s capable of doing.” Luhnow, though, adds that Carter’s production in 2014 was particularly potent in the second half. The GM doesn’t specifically state it, but it seems like the club may entertain an upgrade at first base if Carter and Jon Singleton stumble out of the gates in the second half. “He hasn’t achieved it yet, and I’m not sure we can wait all year for something to come if it’s not coming,” said Luhnow of Carter’s production. “I believe he will get off to a quick start after the break and give us the production we need.” Drellich adds that Luis Valbuena has been taking grounders at first and could see some time there when Jed Lowrie is healthy.

Adam Lind and Adam LaRoche are oft-speculated first base trade candidates, though Drellich also wonders about a possible match with Yonder Alonso, who doesn’t hit for much power but also rarely strikes out and has a connection to Hinch, who previously worked in the San Diego front office. Michael Morse and Ryan Howard represent more expensive options that, of course, haven’t lived up to their respective contracts.

Houston certainly has the prospects to deal in order to facilitate a trade for a big name, and Drellich, interestingly, writes that the club may be more willing to move right-hander Mark Appel than top outfield prospect Brett Phillips. (Phillips ranked 21st on Baseball America’s midseason Top 50 prospects list, while Appel was 39th.)

The current iteration of the Astros’ front office is indeed in somewhat uncharted water, and they’re currently being challenged by a surging Angels club that moved into first place on the final day of the first half. As things currently stand, the Astros and Twins — perhaps the two most surprising clubs in baseball — would square off in the Wild Card playoff if the season ended today. Based on comments from Luhnow and reported information from Drellich (whose full article should absolutely be read in its entirety), it doesn’t seem like the Astros will take a passive approach and hope that the eventual returns of Lowrie, George Springer and Scott Feldman will be enough to propel them to a division title.

AL Central Notes: Trade Value, Twins Pen, Price

Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has kicked off his always-interesting trade value series, starting with the players that landed just outside the top fifty and the first ten members of his list. The central divisions dominated the board at the back end of the first fifty, landing eight of the spots. Jose Quintana of the White Sox took the highest billing among the players that Cameron has ranked thus far, earning the nod at #41 based upon his sturdy production and cheap contract. He slotted just ahead of Twins youngster Byron Buxton and a pair of high-quality Indians (Jason Kipnis & Yan Gomes). You’ll want to check out the links for all the details.

Here are a few notes from the AL Central:

  • Entering the All-Star break as a surprise contender, the Twins have some needs in the bullpen, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. GM Terry Ryan rejected the idea that the team’s relief corps is burned out after half a season of play, despite middling results of late and some heavy usage on some arms. “The bullpen had carried us for quite a long time,” said Ryan. “We’re scuffling some. I think that’s fair. But you’re going to go through periods. It’s just a part of a 162-game schedule, in my opinion. The closer [Glen Perkins] hasn’t had any of those.” As Berardino notes, the club has generated plenty of rumors over recent weeks regarding its interest in pen arms, and it would not be surprising to see Minnesota add a few new options at the deadline.
  • Tigers ace David Price said that he is not aware of any active talks between the team and his representatives regarding an extension, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports (via Twitter). It seems all but certain at this point that Price will hit the free agent market at the end of the year. Price also added that he does not expect to be dealt away from Detroit at the deadline. Needless to say, a move would be quite surprising, in spite of the team’s mediocre first half, given the comments of GM Dave Dombrowski earlier today.

Latest On Eddy Julio Martinez

Top Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez remains unsigned a week after the beginning of the July 2 international signing period, but the Dodgers and Giants still lead the race to sign him,’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Both teams have workouts scheduled for Martinez in the coming week.

The Cubs, White Sox, Rangers and Astros also have shown significant interest. Sanchez points out, though, that the Dodgers, Giants and maybe the Cubs have the edge, because Martinez’s bonus, likely to be eight figures, will incur maximum penalties for the team that signs him, including the inability to sign any player for more than $300K in either of the next two international signing periods. The Dodgers and Giants are already on pace to incur those penalties — the Dodgers’ expensive current class includes $16MM signee Yadier Alvarez, while the Giants’ includes $6MM signee Lucius Fox. The Cubs appear likely to incur maximum penalties as well. The White Sox, Rangers and Astros have not incurred such penalties, so they appear to have at least some incentive not to sign Martinez. ranks Martinez the No. 1 prospect available this signing period, comparing the 20-year-old to Andruw Jones and praising his power, baserunning and defense. Baseball America’s Ben Badler (subscription only) is less bullish, suggesting Martinez’s power leads more to doubles than home runs and noting that not all scouts believe he’ll stick as a starter in center field.

White Sox Won’t Dismantle At Deadline

With a few weeks to go until the trade deadline, little is certain about what the White Sox will do.  Jeff Samardzija has a litany of possible suitors, but he and other trade chips could wind up staying put depending on how the Sox fare in the coming days.  No matter what happens, however, White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams told Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports that the team won’t be holding a fire sale.

It’s important that we not lose sight of what our organization goal was, and that was to give us the best three-year window. And we’re not going to abandon that completely with only three months to play,” Williams said.  “I think [Rick Hahn’s] done one hell of a job. Everyone wants to put the blame on [manager] Robin [Ventura], too, but all he can do is put the players in position to succeed. They’re the ones who have to look in the mirror and execute. If we do anything, it will be consistent with trying to maximize this three-year plan or window that we set out originally.”

After today’s loss to the Orioles, Chicago owns a 36-43 record and sits last in the AL Central, 10 games back of the first-place Royals and 5.5 games behind the last wild card spot.  It’s not an ideal spot by any stretch, yet given the crowded American League standings, the White Sox are just be a hot week or two away from being right back in the hunt.

While it may be a bit too early to start selling yet, Williams said he’s open to at least hearing any trade proposal.  Teams can even pitch trades for ace Chris Sale, but it’s extremely unlikely that anything will happen on that front.

We’ve always had that mind-set that we will listen to anyone who wants to make an offer for our players,” Williams said. “How else do you know what the value is? Something may bowl you over. But we can’t envision anything happening along those lines.”

While Sale is locked up on a team-friendly deal that could run through the 2019 season, Samardzija is a different story, as he’s set to hit free agency this winter.  Nightengale mentions that “every club with an urgent pitching need” has expressed an interest in Samardzija, and that the Blue Jays in particular have “strongly pursued” the righty.

If Samardzija signed an extension to remain on the south side, that would obviously change things.  “We just have to get some sort of indication it’s possible or not to sign him. We have to also see if it’s realistic given our resources and the other obligations we have,” Williams said.

That said, a midseason deal seems very unlikely with Samardzija so close to the open market.  While he stressed that “by no means does it take the White Sox off my list” if he hits free agency, Samardzija seemed eager to take control over his playing future.

I worked hard to get to this spot in free agency.  I just want to sign with a team that is competing every September with a chance to be playing in October,” Samardzija said.  “Look, I don’t hold bad blood or grudges against anybody. I understand how the business side works. Front offices have to do what they have to do. But I also need to protect myself and make sure I’m in a situation where I can win for a long time.”

Cafardo’s Latest: Revere, Kennedy, Hamels, Jays

The Angels were first linked to Ben Revere in trade rumors in May but the rumors almost became a reality.  Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies and Angels came close a few weeks ago on a trade that would’ve sent Revere to Anaheim for right-hander Trevor Gott.  The Phils thought the deal was done but the Halos “pulled out of the deal at the last minute and tried to redirect the Phillies toward a starting pitching prospect.”  Talks fell through after that.  Here’s some more from Cafardo’s weekly notes column, with a particular focus on news from Toronto…

  • Ian Kennedy has a 2.31 ERA over his last six starts and the Padres right-hander has begun to generate some trade interest in his services.  Kennedy had an ugly 7.15 ERA over his first eight starts and owns a 4.86 ERA for the season, though his peripherals (8.51 K/9, 3.04 K/BB rate, 3.74 xFIP, 3.70 SIERA) are are pretty solid, aside from a 22.1% homer rate that more than double his career average.  Kennedy is a free agent this winter and would be a natural trade chip for San Diego if the Friars decided to sell.
  • Cole Hamels has publicly said he’s willing to consider deals to any team but is reportedly unlikely to waive his no-trade clause if he’s dealt to the Astros or Blue Jays.  Cafardo wonders if Hamels would remain adamant against a move to Houston or Toronto, however, if those were the only deals on the table and his only avenues away from the rebuilding Phillies.
  • Attracting free agents north of the border has long been an issue for the Blue Jays, as Cafardo cites higher taxes, customs delays and the Rogers Centre’s artificial surface as factors that can sometimes make Toronto a tough sell.  (Josh Donaldson and Jose Reyes both praised their city, though Reyes admitted he isn’t a fan of the turf.)  The bigger problem for the Jays, however, is that they have barely contended since their last playoff appearance in 1993.  “It just seems GM Alex Anthopoulos has to go through corporate layers to OK big expenditures, slowing the process considerably,” Cafardo writes.  “Players always want to know that their ownership is doing all it can to produce a winner.”
  • Braves closer Jason Grilli is one of the Blue Jays‘ targets as the team looks for bullpen help.  Grilli would cost less in both salary and trade chips than Jonathan Papelbon or Francisco Rodriguez, two closers who have also been connected to the Jays this summer.  Atlanta isn’t yet looking to move Grilli, however, as the team is still in the race.
  • Other have asked the Blue Jays about several players in trade talks, including young talent like Miguel Castro, Daniel Norris, Roberto Osuna, Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey, Aaron Sanchez and Devon Travis.
  • “Every indication is that” R.A. Dickey is in his last year with the Blue Jays, as the team will either use their $1MM buyout of Dickey’s $12MM club option for 2016 or Dickey may just retire.  The 40-year-old knuckleballer had a tough start today against the Tigers and now owns a 5.02 ERA over 107 2/3 innings this season.
  • Jeff Samardzija “may be the first starting pitcher moved ahead of the trading deadline” since “scouts are constantly at his games,” Cafardo writes.  The White Sox aren’t ready to start selling yet, but they’ll find a strong market for Samardzija’s services that includes the Royals, Astros and Tigers.  (Cafardo cited several more teams in the Samardzija market in his column last week.
  • Nobody knows what the Red Sox are going to do because they don’t know what they’re going to do,” one NL executive said.  Boston has played modestly better as of late, winning 10 of its last 16 games, though the Sox are still just 38-45 on the season.  Koji Uehara is cited by the executive as one of “a few players teams would want” if the Red Sox decided to start selling.  The team is known to be looking for young pitching on the trade market.