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Chicago White Sox Rumors
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.
Here’s the latest from around the league as we wait for somebody to throw more wood in the hot stove.
- Closer Seung-Hwan Oh of the NPB’s Hanshin Tigers is still eyeing the majors, reports Hyun-Woo Nam of the Korea Times. The 32-year-old reliever is under contract with the Tigers for one more season after making the transition from Korea to Japan this year. Per MLBTR’s report last offseason, Oh works between 94-96 mph with a splitter. At the time, the Yankees were said to have expressed interest.
- Teams with depth could play a “big role” in the shape of the offseason, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Frequent readers of MLBTR will recognize the Cubs (position players), Dodgers (outfielders), and Red Sox (outfielders) as frequent sources of rumors. Sherman also highlights the White Sox who have a different sort of depth – three stars signed to fantastic contracts.
- Earlier tonight, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune answered fan tweets on a number of Mariners subjects. Two may interest MLBTR readers. Dutton hears (tweet) that the Mariners have “some interest” in Melky Cabrera, but the outfielder prefers to remain in the East or Midwest. Meanwhile, he’s heard (also Twitter) nothing to suggest Seattle will check in on expensive free agent pitchers. This jives with other reports that cite a focus on offense.
The Royals have yet to begin extension talks with manager Ned Yost, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports. “There’s a progression in the offseason. There’s a sequential way we’re doing things. Right now, we’re focused on other things,” GM Dayton Moore said, in reference to the team’s roster. Whenever negotiations take place, there’s no doubt Yost will eventually get a fresh new contract from the team in the wake of the Royals’ unexpected postseason performance. Here’s the latest from the AL Central…
- Also from McCullough (Twitter links), a group of Royals officials are en route from the GM Meetings to organizational meetings in the Dominican Republic where they could watch Yasmany Tomas work out. The Royals are a recently new addition to the list of teams interested in Tomas, though McCullough says K.C. has “scouted Tomas extensively, but quietly, leading up to this winter.”
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn will listen to other teams’ offers for Alexei Ramirez as he would for any player, though Hahn tells reporters (including Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune) that the Sox aren’t looking to trade their shortstop. “Being strong up the middle is the priority for any good club, and we don’t intend to take a step back there,” Hahn said. “We’re open-minded and we have depth in the area, so it’s reasonable to hear his name out there. I get that, but it’s certainly not something we’re pursuing on our end or are eager to convert on.”
- The Tigers have been talking to Joel Hanrahan about a minor league contract, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter). Hanrahan signed a one-year, $1MM Major League deal with Detroit in May but didn’t pitch at all last season as he suffered a setback in his recovery from May 2013 Tommy John surgery.
- Scott Bream is staying in his current position as the Tigers director of pro scouting, Turner Sports’ Scott Miller tweets. The Dodgers had reportedly been on the verge of hiring Bream to join their front office.
- Twins righty Ricky Nolasco‘s three-team no-trade clause has been updated for this offseason, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (Twitter link). All three teams are “big-market” AL clubs, so Berardino speculates that the Yankees and Red Sox are included.
- The Twins have hired Gene Glynn as their third base coach, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).
- The Indians could look for small upgrades rather than a big splash in free agency, GM Chris Antonetti told reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman). “I think what we would look for from the free-agent market is something to complement our roster,” Antonetti said. “I don’t think we are going to be in the free-agent market to add a cornerstone player.”
Here’s the latest on Pablo Sandoval, with the newest items at the top of the post…
- The Marlins and Yankees have yet to express any interest in Sandoval, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Both teams were cited as possible suitors for the Panda’s services before the offseason began.
- Sandoval could be something of an underrated value, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier compares the slugger to past comparables in similar free agent situations.
- Sandoval’s market seems to be down to the Giants and Red Sox, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Boston is “weighing other options” and in need of a “big play” to dislodge San Francisco as the favorite to sign the Panda. Rosenthal cautions that things could change rapidly, of course, if another team sees an opportunity to get into the bidding. The White Sox and Blue Jays have also been linked to Sandoval this offseason but their “interest seems limited.”
Rebuilding is no longer a word the White Sox want to be associated with, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. “We sit here on the one hand realizing that we have the prime of Chris Sale‘s career ahead of us, the prime of Jose Abreu‘s career ahead of us and wanting to make sure we’re in a position to capitalize and win within that window,” Hahn said. “We want to win, we want to win again quickly and we want to win again repeatedly in the coming years. … We still have work to do to continue that process.” At the same time, Hahn emphasized today that the team has to avoid the “dangerous allure to wanting to make a splash,” as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports in the course of an interesting look at the team’s options.
Here’s the latest from the AL Central after a busy news day:
- The White Sox are currently focused on acquiring a right-handed starter, bullpen additions, and a left-handed hitter, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. While the club has in the past looked into dealing for backstops such as Jason Castro of the Astros and Yasmani Grandal of the Padres, that does not appear to be the priority at present, per Rosenthal. Nevertheless, Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com indicates on Twitter that the team does have present interest in Castro.
- Hahn said today that Chicago is interested in multiple relief acquisitions, as MLB.com’s Phil Rogers reports. “We don’t feel the need to go out and get a so-called proven closer,” said Hahn. “We certainly want to have multiple upgrades, and if some of those upgrades give us viable back-end options, that’s great.”
- Word is that the Royals will meet with the representatives of lefty Brett Anderson this week, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. GM Dayton Moore declined to confirm or deny that or any other meetings. I picked Anderson to go to Kansas City in the MLBTR free agent prediction contest, and think he makes sense for a club that has some added cash to spend on an upside play.
- The Royals have told Raul Ibanez that they would be interested in employing him in a non-playing capacity, tweets McCullough. Ibanez, of course, is in the hunt for the Rays’ open managerial position, and perhaps it is still to early to rule out a return to an active roster as well.
- Victor Martinez is at the top of the Tigers‘ list of priorities, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com, as GM Dave Dombrowski made clear that the team will make every effort to re-sign the DH. The team is still interested in outgoing free agents Max Scherzer and Joba Chamberlain, per Dombrowski, but he said the club is sitting back while both assess their markets.
A Mets trade for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is “not happening,” a source tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rubin says such a move is not on the Mets’ radar due to the $120MM owed to Tulo through 2020, as well as the prospect cost of “two or three blue-chippers.” More from Rubin:
- The Mets spoke with the Phillies about acquiring Jimmy Rollins, writes Rubin. Rubin adds, “The pursuit since has been dismissed because Rollins does not want to leave Philadelphia.”
- The Mets are unenthusiastic about the available free agent shortstops, and plan to go the trade route to fill the position. The Diamondbacks, Mariners, White Sox, and Cubs are viewed as viable trade partners. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News says “it has been difficult, if not impossible” for the Mets and Cubs to agree on the value of Starlin Castro. Meanwhile, Martino says Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox only emerged as a possibility within the past week. Martino’s early read has the White Sox seeking the Mets’ top young starters and the Mets pitching their veterans.
- If the Mets are unable to acquire a shortstop, or go with a defense-first type like Didi Gregorius, they are likely to retain second baseman Daniel Murphy, writes Rubin. If they get a shortstop who can hit, Murphy is more likely to be dealt if the Mets get a sufficient offer. Rubin expects the Mets to wait on Murphy until after resolving their shortstop situation.
- The Mets seek a veteran lefty reliever to complement Josh Edgin in their bullpen. They are also seeking a backup infielder, unless Wilmer Flores is bumped to that role.
- The Mets will also consider trading Dillon Gee, Jonathon Niese, or Bartolo Colon.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alexei Ramirez | Arizona Diamondbacks | Bartolo Colon | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Colorado Rockies | Daniel Murphy | Dillon Gee | Jimmy Rollins | Jonathon Niese | New York Mets | Newsstand | Philadelphia Phillies | Seattle Mariners | Starlin Castro | Troy Tulowitzki | Wilmer Flores
White Sox GM Rick Hahn expects his team to mentioned in a flood of trade rumors this offseason, though he doesn’t mind since this winter, some of them will be true. “We aren’t going to be precluded from any single player because of running up against the limits of our payroll. And in terms of the rumors, we’ve always operated under the standpoint that we’re going to be involved in any premium player that’s available, whether it’s via free agency or via trade,” Hahn told reporters, including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes. “In years past some of those free-agent fits may have been a little less realistic because of what their market was going to bear out to be versus what we were able to pay. This year I understand why we’re associated with some of the more higher-profile free agent types.”
Here’s some more news from around the game as the GM Meetings roll on…
- The Angels haven’t “yet” had any extension talks with closer Huston Street, Halos GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Street’s current contract is up at the end of the 2015 season.
- An unidentified MLB team has posted the highest bid for Korean left-hander Kwang-hyun Kim, Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency reports. A follow-up report from Naver Sports (Korean language link, hat tip to Sung-Min Kim for the partial translation), suggests that SK Wyverns, the southpaw’s club, is delaying the official announcement since they aren’t happy that the winning bid was so low. As MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo speculates, this could mean that SK Wyverns will reject the bid and Kim won’t be made available.
- Reliever Craig Breslow is “getting plenty of interest,” ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes tweets. The lefty struggled to a 5.96 ERA over 54 1/3 IP in 2014, though Edes notes that teams are seeing last season “as an outlier” given how well Breslow has otherwise pitched in his career.
- The Mets “feel a sense of urgency” to compete, a team official tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, which is partially why the Mets moved quickly to sign Cuddyer. Martino feels the team will need to add more than just Cuddyer, though a smaller addition is much likelier than a blockbuster for the likes of Giancarlo Stanton or Troy Tulowitzki.
- Also from Martino, he wonders if Yasmany Tomas would accept a three-year contract that would allow him to hit free agency prior to his age-27 season.
- An anonymous GM, an anonymous agent and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman predict the contracts for 50 of the offseason’s top free agents. They’re only picking contract values, not the actual teams, so Heyman’s game is like an inverted version of the annual MLBTR Free Agent Prediction Contest.
White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom were named the AL and NL Rookies of the Year by the BBWAA. Abreu received all 30 first-place votes from BBWAA writers in a unanimous victory, while deGrom received 26 of 30 first-place votes (Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton received the other four).
Abreu was pursued by such teams as the Red Sox, Astros, Marlins, Giants and Rangers last winter, but it was the White Sox who landed the Cuban slugger on a six-year, $68MM contract. The contract was, at the time, the most expensive deal ever for an international free agent yet Abreu more than lived up to expectations. He hit .317/.383/.581 with 36 homers over 622 plate appearances and posted a league-best 169 OPS+ in his first Major League season. Abreu doesn’t even turn 28 years old until January, and it seems like Chicago has a cornerstone player for years to come. Ozzie Guillen was the last White Sox player to win the ROY Award, all the way back in 1985.
deGrom was the Mets’ ninth-round pick in the 2010 draft and was ranked as only the 10th-best prospect in the club’s system by the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. Despite these modest expectations, the 26-year-old deGrom opened several eyes in 2014 by posting a 2.69 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 3.35 K/BB rate over 140 1/3 IP. This breakout campaign firmly adds deGrom’s name to a long list of young arms the Mets will be counting on as they look to return to contention. deGrom is the first Met to be named NL ROY since Dwight Gooden took the honor in 1984.
The Angels’ Matt Shoemaker (40 points), the Yankees’ Dellin Betances (27), the Astros’ Collin McHugh (21) the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka (16) rounded out the top five in the AL voting. Hamilton finished second in the NL balloting with 92 points, well ahead of the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong (14), the Phillies’ Ken Giles (8) and the Diamondbacks’ Ender Inciarte (4).