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Chicago White Sox Rumors
The Mariners’ recent attempts to find an outfielder (a position where they’re thin, especially after trading Michael Saunders to Toronto) have, at least so far, come up short. They’ve reportedly bowed out on Matt Kemp, and Dutton writes that their negotiations with Melky Cabrera have reached an impasse. The Mariners also reportedly spoke to the White Sox about a Viciedo trade last July.
Viciedo, 25, is a right-handed hitter with good power, with 21 home runs last season. But he hit just .231/.281/.405 in 563 plate appearances in 2014, and he’s also a weak defender in either outfield corner. The Mariners would likely be hoping for improvement if they acquired him. He’s projected to make $4.4MM through the arbitration process next year, and he has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining after that.
A reunion between Max Scherzer and the Tigers is “not happening,” a club official tells Peter Gammons (via Twitter). What Detroit might do, however, is trade right-hander Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for a package of Yoenis Cespedes and Rubby De La Rosa. Rumors of a Porcello/Cespedes deal arose a few days ago but talks between the two sides were “not hot” according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. Here’s some more from around the AL Central…
- The Angels are searching for middle infield help and the Twins‘ Eduardo Escobar is on their list of targets, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (also via Twitter) thinks the Halos could offer Minnesota a reliever in return, with Vinnie Pestano being “one name to watch.”
- Also from Berardino (on Twitter), the Twins haven’t yet talked to free agent starter Ervin Santana. The right-hander’s representatives are open to hearing from Minnesota, however, with a source telling Berardino that Santana “loves pitching in the cold.”
- Pat Neshek‘s agent Barry Meister tells Berardino that he had a “social discussion” with Twins GM Terry Ryan but the two sides “haven’t had any substantive discussions at all” about the reliever rejoining the club. Meister said that there has been “substantial interest“ from around the league in Neshek and another top reliever client, Sergio Romo.
- The White Sox are telling teams that Dayan Viciedo is available, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link). It’s no surprise that Viciedo is being shopped given that the Sox have been rumored to be exploring such outfield replacements as Melky Cabrera. Viciedo hit .231/.281/.405 with 21 homers in 563 PA last season, providing below-replacement level value with -0.9 rWAR.
The White Sox have been among the most active teams in baseball this offseason, and at the Winter Meetings in San Diego today, general manager Rick Hahn discussed the now-official acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and minor league Michael Ynoa from the A’s.
“This is the guy we wanted,” Hahn stated when asked why the White Sox preferred to trade a package of four players — Marcus Semien, Chris Bassitt, Josh Phegley and Rangel Ravelo — to acquire a pitcher with one year of control as opposed to pursuing any of the multiple free agent starters on the market. Though the Sox are acquiring one year of Samardzija at a projected $9.5MM (per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz), Hahn was quick to explain that the White Sox will “try to make this a long-term relationship” with an extension, though he recognized that may be easier said than done. “I think the calculus of the trade is that we’re acquiring one year of Jeff Samardzija — obviously, the prospect Ynoa plays a role in that too — and the exclusive ability to talk to him for 10 months. Although we may want to extend him we can’t count on that.”
Hahn likened the deal to the 2004 Freddy Garcia trade — a midseason deal that netted the team a rental player who was eventually extended and contributed to Chicago’s 2005 World Series victory. Conversations with the A’s about Samardzija, Hahn said, dated back to October. The two sides also spoke about Samardzija at the GM Meetings in November before finally pushing the deal across the finish line in San Diego.
The offseason moves made by the White Sox thus far indicate a clear desire to win in 2015, and Hahn stated multiple times that more moves will be coming. “We know we’re not done,” Hahn said. However, he also acknowledged that the financial commitments they’ve made thus far have used up a large portion of the team’s budget and that he may have to get “creative” to address the remainder of the team’s offseason needs.
“There’s a few areas on the position player side of things where we want to make sure we’re as athletic as we can be,” Hahn said when asked what those specific needs entail. “We want to make sure our lineup’s balanced. Defensively, I think we haven’t been quite as strong as we want to be.”
While Hahn of course didn’t mention any specific positions or name any players, one area that the White Sox could look to get more athletic and improve defensively would be in left field. Dayan Viciedo is coming off a .231/.281/.405 season and has long graded out as a poor defensive outfielder. The trade market features a large number of outfield bats ranging from a platoon option like Matt Joyce, David DeJesus or Daniel Nava to an impact corner bat like Justin Upton. Shane Victorino, should he stay healthy, would be a definitive defensive upgrade, though he’s owed $13MM and coming off a season in which he played just 30 games.
Catcher seems to be another area of potential need, as Tyler Flowers‘ 36 percent strikeout rate and .355 BABIP suggest that his .241 average and .297 on-base percentage are likely to regress. The trade market currently features names like Yasmani Grandal and Evan Gattis. And, of course, with the trade of Semien, the team lost an option at second base (though they have internal options in Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson).
One widely speculated move that seems unlikely to come to fruition is a trade of the veteran Alexei Ramirez. Hahn told the group that he didn’t think the likelihood of a Ramirez trade “was ever great,” and of course moving Ramirez after the Sox’ series of win-now moves would seem counterproductive.
Hahn and his staff have already signed lefty setup man Zach Duke (three years, $15MM), first baseman and now-DH Adam LaRoche (two years, $25M) and reportedly agreed to terms with David Robertson on a four-year, $46MM contract. Further additions in the outfield, behind the plate, in the bullpen or perhaps at the back of the rotation can continue to improve the club and give the Sox an even stronger shot to make a run at the AL Central.
It’s official: the White Sox and Athletics have agreed to a deal that sends Jeff Samardzija back to Chicago, though this time with the South Siders. Righty Michael Ynoa is going with him in return for infielder Marcus Semien, righty Chris Bassitt, Josh Phegley and Rangel Ravelo.
The deal continues a huge offseason for the White Sox, who also recently agreed to terms with David Robertson and have also acquired Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke to bolster a team that won just 73 games in 2014. The 29-year-old Samardzija had his best MLB season last summer, posting an outstanding 2.99 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 while pitching a career-high 219 2/3 innings. He’ll augment a strong-looking White Sox rotation that also will include Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
For the Athletics, the deal continues an offseason of adjustment — the Athletics are set to lose Jon Lester, Jed Lowrie and Luke Gregerson to free agency, and they’ve traded key position players Josh Donaldson (to the Blue Jays) and Brandon Moss (to the Indians).
Semien, 24, had a terrific half-season for Triple-A Charlotte in 2014, then hit .234/.300/.372 in 255 plate appearances in the Majors, playing mostly second and third base, although he can also play shortstop. He boasts an excellent batting eye and reasonable power. The Athletics could use him in their middle infield next season.
The 25-year-old Bassitt made his big-league debut in 2014 despite missing much of the year with a broken hand. In four minor-league seasons, Bassitt has a 2.97 ERA, 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 ranked Bassitt the White Sox’ 15th-best prospect heading into the season.
Phegley, meanwhile, is a 26-year-old backstop who goes from a crowded group in Chicago to one in Oakland. He has seemingly mastered the Triple-A level, putting up back-to-back high-power, high-OBP campaigns. But he failed to take advantage of a big league opportunity in 2013 and will need to earn his way into another.
Ravelo, the only true prospect going to the A’s, is a 22-year-old corner infielder. Last year he was promoted to Double-A and the former sixth round pick slashed .309/.386/.473 in 551 plate appearances. Ravelo has past experience at third base but has played mostly at first base over the past two seasons.
Samardzija was born in Indiana, grew up a White Sox fan, and of course played most of his previous big-league career with the Cubs, so his return to Chicago will represent a homecoming. He is projected to make $9.5MM in 2015 through the arbitration process, and will be eligible for free agency following the season.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com (on Twitter), and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (links to Twitter) all reported pieces of the deal. David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com (via Twitter) and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter) both contributed to the reporting on the deal’s progress.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Before last night, the White Sox had already made noise this offseason, signing Adam LaRoche to complement Jose Abreu at first base and DH and Zach Duke to provide a strong lefty for their bullpen. On Monday, though, they took their offseason to a new level, agreeing to terms with former Yankees closer David Robertson on a four-year, $46MM deal and agreeing to acquire Athletics starter Jeff Samardzija, reportedly for infielder Marcus Semien, pitcher Chris Bassitt and a third player.
Add in pitcher Carlos Rodon, who has moved through the minor leagues as quickly as anticipated after the White Sox drafted him third overall last season, and it appears GM Rick Hahn has swiftly turned the White Sox from a franchise with weak big-league talent and an even weaker farm system into something far more interesting. But is it enough?
Next year’s AL Central appears to be up for grabs. The Tigers figure to lose Max Scherzer, and they’re getting older; the Royals will almost certainly lose James Shields. The Twins’ recent streak of losing seasons looks likely to continue, leaving the Indians as the only team that appears to have improved, adding Brandon Moss to a roster that finished third last year. An AL Wild Card spot might be a bit more attainable than last season, too, with the Royals and Athletics appearing likely to move backwards, although the Blue Jays, Red Sox and perhaps Mariners could complicate that picture.
The White Sox, however, only won 73 games in 2014, and it remains to be seen if their aggressive offseason is enough to move them past the Tigers, Royals and Indians, all of whom won at least 12 more games than they did. The White Sox’ rotation, led by Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Samardzija, now looks like it should be a strength, particularly if Rodon can make an impact. Adding Robertson and Duke to what had been a weak group of relievers should provide a big boost, and young-ish arms like Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam and Daniel Webb are interesting enough to imagine that the bullpen could be a strength overall.
Offensively, the White Sox will lean heavily on Abreu and LaRoche, with Adam Eaton, Alexei Ramirez and Conor Gillaspie all expected to play key roles. It remains to be seen what they’ll do at second base now that Semien is reportedly gone, and what they’ll get out of corner outfielders Dayan Viciedo and Avisail Garcia, both of whom struggled in 2014. The White Sox also still aren’t a strong team defensively. One more clever addition — perhaps someone like Nori Aoki to add to their corner outfield talent — might make a big difference.
That possibility aside, though, what do you think? Have the White Sox done enough already this offseason to mold themselves into a contender?
David Robertson did such a good job replacing Mariano Rivera that the Yankees might now have a more difficult time replacing Robertson, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have big-time talent, but have also both had frustrating seasons in the recent past. The Yankees could pursue a closer like Jason Grilli, or perhaps mix and match Betances and Miller at closer. The team has plenty of strong bullpen pieces, but no one who represents the obvious fix for the closer role that Robertson did last year. Here’s more out of the Bronx.
- Now that the White Sox have swooped in to nab Robertson, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes that the Yankees will turn their attention to the middle of their starting rotation, where the departure of Shane Greene in the Didi Gregorius trade leaves them thin. The Yankees would also like to re-sign Chase Headley, although Madden notes that the Astros are rumored to have offered him five years and $65MM.
- The Yankees will try to keep outfielder Slade Heathcott and pitcher Jose Campos by re-signing them to minor-league deals, Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York tweets. The Yankees non-tendered the pair last week even though neither were eligible for arbitration. Both have struggled with injuries, but they still have upside if they can stay healthy. As Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues explains, non-tendering Heathcott and Campos allows the Yankees to avoid losing them through waivers. They’re now free agents, but the Yankees may have an edge in their attempts to re-sign them, due to their histories with the organization.
11:27pm: The two sides agreed to the parameters of the deal several days ago, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
11:14pm: The deal is on hold for the moment but will likely happen Tuesday, tweets John Hickey of the Oakland Tribune.
9:53pm: Even if a Samardzija deal is close to being finalized, it doesn’t sound as if the A’s are planning to announce anything tonight, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).
9:22pm: The White Sox are close to acquiring Samardzija from the A’s, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
9:12pm: The A’s are close to a deal involving Samardzija and it appears likely he’ll be heading to the White Sox, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
There was speculation that the Red Sox were also involved, but the White Sox have been the most interested of anyone and they’re the likely winners here. The White Sox have several young infielders that could make sense for the A’s. If the White Sox complete the deal, that would give them a strong right-hander to join Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and John Danks.
8:10pm: The White Sox are among the favorites to acquire A’s starter Jeff Samardzija – assuming he’s traded. If a deal does happen, the A’s would receive Marcus Semien and prospects, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (two tweets). Chicago doesn’t want to trade top prospects like shortstop Tim Anderson or pitcher Francellis Montas for Samardzija since he has only one season of club control remaining.
If the A’s do acquire Semien, he would play shortstop. The 24-year-old hit .234/.300/.372 in 255 plate appearances last season, although there is some room for optimism. He struck out 27.5% of the time, but his minor league rates have been considerably lower. Perhaps an adjustment or two will allow him to put more balls in play and post a higher average.
The Red Sox have also been connected to the 29-year-old but it’s the White Sox that appear to have won out. The A’s were intent on finding a promising young shortstop in exchange for the right-hander and reportedly would have wanted to get prospect Deven Marrero in a swap with the Red Sox.
Teams that spoke with the A’s also got the impression that Oakland would not greenlight an extension negotiation window as a part of any deal. That stance makes sense as the pitcher seems intent on testing the open market after the 2014 season.
If the Cubs land Jon Lester, an industry source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) they’re next move would be to pursue a big bat – to go along with Miguel Montero – to try and accelerate their revival. The Cubs are reportedly discussing Montero with the D’Backs in a deal that wouldn’t require them giving up much in the way of assets. More out of the Central divisions..
- The Indians kicked the tires on Justin Masterson, but were never really “all in” on bringing him back, according to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter).
- Twins GM Terry Ryan says he has no interest in the Blue Jays’ president/CEO role, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter). “[I’m] very humbled to hear [that], but I’m a GM. I’m a baseball guy,” Ryan said.
- Even though word has only recently leaked, White Sox executive Kenny Williams was contacted by the Blue Jays about their team president position shortly after the end of the season, writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. Current Jays president Paul Beeston is part of the executive search process, which indicates the club isn’t going behind his back to make a change. Williams also likes the idea of being the first African American MLB CEO.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti is comfortable with his current roster, he tells Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (Twitter). The acquisition of Brandon Moss affords the club depth and versatility. We learned earlier tonight that the club would now look to build upon its seven pitcher deep rotation. We could also see them shop Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, or David Murphy, but I doubt they would receive much salary relief in a trade.
- Ryan went on to say that the Twins have been in serious talks with both agents and clubs about acquiring pitching, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer isn’t making any secret about what he wants to do this winter, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. “Clearly we want to add multiple starting pitchers this winter. We need to,” Hoyer said.
The latest from the AL Central..
- We learned earlier that the Blue Jays had interest in White Sox executive Kenny Williams, but the club did not grant Williams permission to interview. Chicago’s chairman Jerry Reindorf spoke about the decision, saying “this is not the right time,” reports Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. He went on to say the club is focused on building a contender for 2015.
- Francisco Rodriguez is among the many relievers that the White Sox are looking at, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Now that the Indians have added Brandon Moss, they will shift their focus to pitching, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Specifically, they’ll aim to add more starting pitcher depth. This is already a strength for the club, but as they say, you can never have enough pitching. Presently, veterans Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin are listed as the sixth and seventh starters.
Before he joined the Yankees, the Astros actually offered Andrew Miller a deal that included not only four guaranteed years but also a fifth-year option, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen how Houston will reallocate the funds it had earmarked for the lefty.
- If the Giants miss on Jon Lester, they are more likely to go to the next tier of free agent pitchers than to go all out for Max Scherzer, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). San Francisco could aim for options of the ilk of Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano, says Shea, though it is not clear if those illustrative names or particular targets.
- The Cardinals met with Scherzer at some point over the offseason and are at least weighing a run at him, Jon Heyman of CBSSportscom reports. It remains something of a longshot that Scherzer will land in St. Louis, Heyman notes, though the fact that he is from the area can’t hurt.
- The Red Sox met with Justin Masterson over the weekend, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports on Twitter. The Twins, meanwhile, have not managed to gain traction with Masterson’s camp, Wolfson adds.
- The Marlins, White Sox, and possibly Cubs will also sit down with Masterson in San Diego, Heyman reports.
- Reliever John Axford has drawn interest from the Reds, though nothing is close and there are other teams involved, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.
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