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Chicago White Sox Rumors
Midnight EST is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com lists the notable prospects who are newly Rule 5 eligible. Of course, the decision whether or not to protect a player has as much to do with roster flexibility and his expected ability to stick on a big league roster for a full season as it does the player’s overall prospect value.
We’ll keep tabs on the day’s 40-man additions here, and you can also check Baseball America’s running updates, which includes breakdowns of the players added.
- The Rays have yet to announce their full list of roster moves, but Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper tweets that second baseman Ryan Brett will be added to the 40-man.
- Following their trade with the Dodgers, the Rays announced that they have added Brett (as Cooper tweeted), right-hander Matt Andriese, left-hander Grayson Garvin, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner to the 40-man roster.
- The Dodgers announced that lefty Adam Liberatore, acquired in the trade with the Rays, has been added to the 40-man roster.
- The Astros have made one final 40-man roster move, announcing the addition of right-hander Michael Feliz. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper was among those to express surprise that Feliz had not previously been added to the roster, with some executives telling him they’d be shocked if Feliz wasn’t the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Twitter link).
- The Rangers announced that they’ve added righties Luke Jackson and Jerad Eickhoff, infielder Hanser Alberto and catcher Jorge Alfaro to the 40-man roster.
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It’s already been a fairly active winter on the trade front, as we’ve seen the Brewers acquire Adam Lind, the D’Backs acquire Jeremy Hellickson, the Tigers acquire Anthony Gose and of course the Cardinals/Braves Jason Heyward blockbuster. All of this has come before the Winter Meetings, so action on the trade front only figures to increase over the next month. Here are some of the latest rumblings from around the league…
- ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that in addition to Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and the Reds’ quartet of starters that are rumored to be available (Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon), Rick Porcello is believed to be attainable in trades. Rival evaluators feel that many players that are set to be free agents a year from now could be had for the right offer. The Tigers, of course, are aiming to contend in 2015, but Porcello is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $12.2MM in arbitration and could fetch a nice piece while freeing up some cash for GM Dave Dombrowski to address other areas of need.
- Olney also hears (Twitter link) that the White Sox‘ asking price on Alexei Ramirez is “steep to the degree that you’d want to be buying in for two to three years.” Ramirez is guaranteed $10MM next season and has a $10MM club option for the 2016 season with a $1MM buyout.
- The Mariners will surely make a run at either Justin Upton or Evan Gattis, if they haven’t already, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links). O’Brien gets the sense that top prospect Taijuan Walker is not completely off the table in trade talks with Seattle, but it would probably take more than one year of Upton to acquire him.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times that he’s had trade discussions regarding Howie Kendrick, but he’s in no way eager to move his second baseman. The Halos entered the offseason thinking they might be able to move Kendrick for a controllable, young rotation option but somewhat surprisingly did so by acquiring Nick Tropeano in the Hank Conger trade. “The only way we would move him is if we become a better club,” Dipoto tells DiGiovanna. “And it would take a heck of a deal for us to feel like we’re a better club by moving Howie.”
- Though much has been made of the possibility that the Padres could trade Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner to bolster the club’s offense, the team is now strongly considering hanging onto both pitchers, sources tell MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Interestingly, Brock’s report mentions reported trade interest in Ian Kennedy but does not state that the Friars are similarly likely to hold onto the 29-year-old. Kennedy will be a free agent next winter.
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The White Sox have designated reliever Ronald Belisario for assignment, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter. The club also claimed lefty Onelki Garcia from the Dodgers and outrighted outfielder Jared Mitchell, per the Tribune’s Colleen Kane (Twitter links).
Garcia is an intriguing pick-up for Chicago. The 25-year-old has only limited big league experience, but has already racked up over a year of service time due to injury. But he has one solid season under his belt in the upper minors, back in 2012, and his live arm was intriguing enough that Baseball America rated him the Dodgers’ ninth-best prospect heading into 2014 in spite of his having undergone an elbow procedure. As BA wrote, the Cuban has a big fastball and good curve with plenty of upside if he can improve his control and add polish.
Belisario, 31, spent some time as Chicago’s closer in his first season with the Pale Hose, but he struggled overall. The former Dodger pitched to a 5.56 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 66 1/3 innings. However, Belisario’s FIP and SIERA feel that he was markedly better than his ERA. Indeed, much of those struggles seem to have come from a fluke 57.7 percent strand rate — significantly lower than his career mark of 70 percent. Belisario was also plagued by a .339 BABIP despite having posted a .288 mark for his career in that department. There were some positives to his game this past season, including an average fastball velocity of 93.9 mph and a strong 59.3 percent ground-ball rate. Nonetheless, Chicago apparently wasn’t comfortable with his projected arbitration salary of $3.9MM.
Mitchell, 26, was the Sox’ No. 1 pick back in 2009 (23rd overall) and ranked among the game’s Top 100 prospects according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus that offseason. However, the LSU product has yet to show the offense one would hope for from a first-round outfielder, as he’s batted just .219/.341/.348 in parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level.
Other clubs that could make sense for Cabrera, says Heyman, include the Mariners and Orioles. The Royals have been mentioned elsewhere as an outside possibility. And, of course, the Blue Jays still have interest in bringing him back.
We have not heard much in the way of rumors regarding Cabrera, a 30-year-old switch-hitter coming off of a strong .301/.351/.458 campaign. Though he certainly comes with his downsides, Cabrera is a valuable asset and one of the best position players available this year, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained in detail in his recent profile. Adams predicts a five-year, $66.25MM pact.
It is worth bearing in mind, of course, that a team signing Cabrera will be required to sacrifice a draft pick as compensation. Holding a protected first-round choice, that would be much easier to stomach for Chicago.
There’s already been some Pablo Sandoval chatter today, with the Red Sox reportedly making an offer and agent Gustavo Vasquez set to chat with the Giants via phone tonight. Vasquez and Sandoval are wrapping up a visit to Boston today, and there’s plenty more on the Kung Fu Panda…
- The Blue Jays met with Sandoval’s camp at last week’s GM Meetings, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. While the meeting is said to have gone well, no offer has been made at this point.
- However, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (via Twitter) that while there’s been no offer to this point, within the next 24 hours, the Blue Jays are indeed expected to make a formal offer to Sandoval. That report adds a third seemingly serious club to the mix. Of course, it’s worth remembering that the Jays do have a team policy against contracts of more than five years, and Sandoval is said to be seeking a six-year deal north of $100MM.
- Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com heard from a source that emphatically denied a rumor out of San Francisco that said the Giants were “out” on Sandoval at this point. The Giants are still “very much” in play for Sandoval, McAdam reports, though he does note that it’s unclear how lengthy of a contract the team is willing to issue.
- Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle shoots down another portion of the apparently erroneous report to which McAdam referred, noting that Sandoval never asked for a seven-year deal from the Giants, who are still definitely in the mix (Twitter link).
- ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that even if the Giants don’t end up securing Sandoval, they’ll be able to walk away from the situation knowing they made a very strong, very legitimate effort.
- WEEI.com’s Alex Speier examines why it is the Red Sox prefer Sandoval to Hanley Ramirez, despite the fact that Sandoval is seeking a $100MM+ contract and comes with a significantly lesser offensive track record. Speier lists age, defense, durability and also makeup, which he notes is a concern for the Sox regarding Hanley. While Sandoval’s age and defense are larger factors, his excellent clubhouse reputation is an asset as well.
- The Red Sox and Giants remain the main players, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but the Padres, White Sox and Blue Jays are all still in the mix. Heyman notes that while the Marlins have been a speculative fit in recent months, there’s been no contact from Miami at this point.
The heavily backloaded nature of the Blue Jays‘ deal with Russell Martin leaves the club with additional potential payroll capacity for 2015, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. It is worth noting that Toronto likely feels comfortable pushing cash into the 2016-19 segments of the contract because, as is apparent from my recent post regarding future obligations, the team had very little on the books after this year.
Here’s the latest from the American League:
- The Astros have checked in with Brett Anderson‘s representatives, tweets Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The oft-injured, but generally excellent lefty makes his home in Houston and could represent an interesting upside play for the rising Astros.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn has an extensive history with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, notes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. As Hayes explains, the two even managed to pull of a trade for the injured Jesse Crain at the 2013 trade deadline. While it remains to be seen whether a deal will be worked out involving shortstop Alexei Ramirez, it seems fair to believe that all reasonable possibilities will be explored between those two clubs.
- Of course, the White Sox already made an interesting move earlier today by locking up southpaw Zach Duke to a three-year, $15MM pact. Hahn says he is pleased but already “on to the next [deal] now,” as Hayes reports. “It’s an important get, one we’re all very happy about,” said Hahn. “But we’re not deluding ourselves that we’re by any means finished addressing our needs both in the bullpen or elsewhere.”
- A move by the Indians to push for an extension with Cy Young winner Corey Kluber would not be surprising; indeed, I profiled Kluber as an extension candidate back in August. But the club has yet to initiate talks, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
- With the Twins still lacking a clear solution in center field for 2015, Peter Bourjos of the Cardinals is a name to keep an eye on, according to a tweet from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. MLBTR’s Steve Adams has been one notable advocate of such a move for Minnesota.
3:26pm: The White Sox and Padres have joined Miami in at least checking in on LaRoche, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Still other clubs have him in mind in the event that their needs change due to trades, says Rosenthal.
1:09pm: The Marlins are about to lock up Giancarlo Stanton with a record-setting deal, and the team isn’t stopping there in its quest to get back into contention. ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Fish have shown “aggressive interest” in Adam LaRoche (among others) as it looks to add a power bat to the middle of the order to pair with Stanton.
As Stark reports, Stanton’s contract is heavily backloaded, in part due to Stanton’s desire for the team to have the flexibility to add significant pieces around him in the immediate future. LaRoche’s bat would be an upgrade over the production Miami got out of first base in 2014, as the club received a combined .254/.313/.402 batting line from Garrett Jones, Jeff Baker and Justin Bour. That group also combine for sub-par defense at first base, but LaRoche has long had a reputation as a strong defensive first baseman.
LaRoche, who just turned 35, batted .259/.362/.455 with 26 homers for the Nats in 2014. He’s averaged 26 homers over the past three seasons, though he does come with platoon issues. Miami could use Baker to help mitigate those issues, giving Baker starts against tougher left-handed opponents, or the team could hope for a return to his .268/.319/.506 batting line against southpaws in his excellent 2012 campaign. I profiled LaRoche back in October and pegged him for a two-year deal worth $30MM, although he did lose one primary suitor when the Brewers acquired Adam Lind.
12:36pm: The White Sox have announced the signing of Duke to a three-year, $15MM contract. Duke will earn $4.5MM in 2015, $5MM in 2016 and $5.5MM in 2017, according to the team’s release.
11:45am: Duke’s contract is a multi-year deal, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
11:36am: The White Sox will announce the signing of left-handed reliever Zach Duke later today, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com (Twitter link). The 31-year-old Duke is a client of Relativity Sports.
Duke quietly had a dominant season in the Brewers’ bullpen in 2014, pitching to an electric 2.45 ERA with 11.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 57.7 percent ground-ball rate. Opposing lefties hit just .198/.267/.302 against Duke last year, though righties couldn’t figure him out either, mustering a mere .242/.288/.298 against the well-traveled lefty.
Duke first surfaced in the Majors with the Pirates in 2005, finishing fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting on the strength of a sparkling 1.81 ERA in 84 1/3 innings out of the Pirates’ rotation. He made 145 starts for the Bucs over the next five seasons, twice reaching 200 innings, but Duke was never able to replicate that early success and served as an innings eater with Pittsburgh in the rotation, posting a pedestrian 4.80 ERA in 879 2/3 frames.
Following his stint with the Pirates, Duke bounced around from the D’Backs to the Nats to the Reds before landing on his feet with the Brewers and turning in his brilliant season. With Milwaukee, Duke’s velocity stepped up a tick to an average of 89.7 mph, and he began to throw more sliders and more curveballs at the expense of his changeup and four-seam fastball. With the Brewers, he relied primarily on a two-seamer, his slider and his curve, and he also dropped his arm slot to feature more of a sidearm delivery. He’ll look to continue to benefit from those adjustments in a White Sox bullpen that had a strong need for lefty arms.
Duke will slot into manager Robin Ventura’s bullpen and quickly become the top left-handed option, with Scott Snodgress and Eric Surkamp currently representing the only other southpaws on the team’s 40-man roster. He’ll join the returning Jake Petricka, Daniel Webb, Javy Guerra, Zach Putnam. Nate Jones underwent Tommy John surgery in July. That young group is largely unproven, and reports have indicated that the Sox would be on the lookout for multiple bullpen arms, so it won’t be a surprise to see GM Rick Hahn pursue further bullpen upgrades.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Dodgers are “aggressively pursuing” Alexei Ramirez in trade talks, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The veteran Ramirez, owed $10MM in 2015 with a 2016 option for the same amount, is known to be available in trades, though the White Sox haven’t been said to be shopping him.
The Dodgers could potentially lose shortstop Hanley Ramirez to free agency, and their pursuit of Ramirez in trades could signal that they aren’t confident in their ability to retain him or simply don’t want to commit to him at shortstop any longer due to his defensive deficiencies. Letting him walk and sign elsewhere would, of course, net the Dodgers a compensatory draft pick in 2015.
Cuban infielders Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena were both signed to large contracts within the past year (four years, $28MM and five years, $25MM, respectively) and would seem to present in-house options at short. However, each of those players was signed by the previous front office. New president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, GM Farhan Zaidi and VP Josh Byrnes may not be as bullish on that duo as the previous regime. This is purely speculation on my behalf, but it’s possible, even, that one of those two names could be up for discussion in trade talks.
The White Sox could also use starting pitching, some bullpen help and a left-handed bat, although it seems like quite the stretch to connect either of the left-handed hitting outfielders L.A. would like to move — Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford — to this particular rumor. Ethier is owed a staggering $56MM over the next three seasons, while Crawford is owed $62.25MM over the same term.
The latest from the AL Central..
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter) hears that the Twins have inquired about free agent starter Justin Masterson. Minnesota is also checking in on free agent outfielders, but finding a starter or two is at the top of their wish list. In my October profile of the 29-year-old (30 by Opening Day), I speculated that the Twins could be a possible match for Masterson.
- The White Sox are scouring the market for left-handed relief pitching, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The White Sox currently only have two lefty relievers on their roster in Eric Surkamp and Scott Snodgress.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that while the club has made a lot of progress on the trade front, it’s tough to say if they are close to a deal.