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Chicago White Sox Rumors
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).
Jared S. Hopkins of the Chicago Tribune (subscription required) chronicles the travails Jose Abreu underwent in leaving his native Cuba for America. Full details of Abreu’s journey remain a secret (Abreu and his agents have declined to discuss his defection and an interview with Abreu’s mother, to which to she had agreed, was cancelled by one of the slugger’s associates), but Hopkins was able to piece together how Abreu and his brother-in-law took a boat from Cuba to Haiti in August 2013 leaving behind his young son and family, reaching out to the Orioles’ Henry Urrutia for help after leaving Cuba, and living in the Dominican Republic for three months before landing his $68MM contract with the White Sox. The article also delves into the role smugglers and their networks play in ferreting players out of Cuba for promises upward of 30% of the players’ first contract. Abreu is expected to be named the AL Rookie of the Year tomorrow.
In other news about Abreu’s White Sox and the American League:
- Earlier today, we learned the White Sox will meet this week with Pablo Sandoval‘s representatives during the GM Meetings in Phoenix. However, if the right third base upgrade cannot be found, the White Sox are comfortable with a platoon of Conor Gillaspie and Marcus Semien, reports CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes. The White Sox also have Matt Davidson on their 40-man roster, but Hayes notes the 23-year-old struggled in a homer-friendly park at Triple-A Charlotte (.199/.283/.362 in 539 plate appearances).
- The free agent expenditures by the Red Sox this offseason could be shaped by who will be available in free agency next winter, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. With a solid free agent class of starting pitchers and a dearth of third baseman next offseason, MacPherson opines the Red Sox may stretch the budget this year for Sandoval, Chase Headley, or Hanley Ramirez.
- Rays players are rallying around Dave Martinez to replace Joe Maddon as manager, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin.
- Within the same article, Topkin speculates the trade of left-hander Cesar Ramos was the first of what could be several moves by the Rays to create roster spots by dealing players who may be too expensive or no longer fit and receive something in return. Sean Rodriguez (projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz to earn $2MM through arbitration) could be one of those moves, according to Topkin.
SUNDAY: Sandoval’s camp will also meet with the Giants, Blue Jays and White Sox, Cotillo reports.
SATURDAY: The Red Sox will meet with Pablo Sandoval and agent Gustavo Vasquez at the GM meetings in Arizona next week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish was the first to report the scheduled meeting. The Red Sox reportedly headed into the offseason with Sandoval and Chase Headley as their top priorities. Sandoval rejected a qualifying offer from the Giants last week, and is instead reportedly seeking a nine-figure deal, possibly for six years. Cafardo notes that, along with the Red Sox and Giants, the Blue Jays and White Sox currently seem to be the most interested in Sandoval.
Boston would want to use Sandoval as its third baseman, Cafardo reports, although he notes that, unlike the Giants and other NL teams, the Red Sox could also eventually use Sandoval at DH if his physique prevented him from staying at third. The switch-hitting Sandoval’s ability to hit from the left side would also be a benefit for Boston. With Sandoval in the Majors, the Red Sox could send Will Middlebrooks, who can still be optioned, to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Here are the highlights of the latest rumors column from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
- The Red Sox don’t “hate” Yoenis Cespedes, despite a previous report that indicated otherwise. But Cafardo suggests Cespedes didn’t do enough work on his defense after arriving in Boston, and his offense wasn’t enough to compensate for it. Cespedes has only one year left on his contract, but it’s not clear whether, or when, the Red Sox will deal him.
- Cafardo says he got “a minute of straight laughter” when he asked if the White Sox might trade Chris Sale.
- The Red Sox and Athletics could discuss a Jeff Samardzija trade. Cafardo speculates Red Sox shortstop prospect Deven Marrero could be a potential piece, given that the A’s appear to be about to lose Jed Lowrie (to free agency) and already lost Addison Russell (when they traded for Samardzija in the first place).
- Now that they’ve acquired Hank Conger, the Astros could listen to offers for fellow catcher Jason Castro. Castro hit just .222/.286/.386 in a disappointing offensive season in 2014. He has two years remaining before free agency.
The White Sox have received solid early trade interest in shortstop Alexei Ramirez, according to a report from Bruce Levine of CBSChicago.com. Chicago has been contacted by the Mets, Yankees, and Dodgers regarding the 33-year-old.
Ramirez has one year left on his deal at an affordable $10MM. He also comes with a $10MM option for 2016, which carries a $1MM buyout. Though he could not maintain his hot start to the year, Ramirez ended with a solid .273/.305/.408 slash to go with 15 home runs and 21 steals. A well-regarded defender, Ramirez compiled 4.1 rWAR and 3.3 fWAR.
Were the White Sox to part with Ramirez, the team would look for a one-year stopgap. The long-term solution, the team hopes, is working its way up through the system in the person of Tim Anderson. The 2013 first-rounder reached the Double-A level last year.
The Athletics announced that they have claimed right-hander Taylor Thompson off waivers from the White Sox and outrighted catcher Bryan Anderson to Triple-A. Anderson will be able to elect minor league free agency.
The 27-year-old Thompson got his first taste of the Major Leagues this season with the White Sox but allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings. A former 44th-round draft pick, he pitched well at Triple-A this season, posting a 2.14 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 59 innings of relief.
Anderson, also 27, received one plate appearance with the A’s this season and has had four brief cups of coffee at the Major League level. He owns a .206/.261/.270 slash line as a big leaguer, having appeared with the Cardinals, White Sox and A’s. In parts of seven seasons at Triple-A, Anderson is a .261/.336/.400 hitter.
The Indians announced that outfielder J.B. Shuck has been claimed off waivers by the White Sox.
Shuck, 27, posted a solid season with the bat in 2013 with the Angels but struggled to repeat those numbers in 2014. After hitting .293/.331/.366 last year, he mustered just a .145/.168/.209 batting line between the Angels and Indians this year. Defensive metrics were very high on Shuck this season, though they saw his work in the outfield corners as average to below average overall in 2013.
In parts of four seasons at the Triple-A level, Shuck is a .302/.381/.384 hitter. He’ll provide the White Sox with some lefty-hitting depth in the outfield — an area in which the team is currently thin.
Here are some of the highlights from the latest Sunday notes column by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe…
- The White Sox will have “a lot of interest” in free agent outfielder Nori Aoki, Cafardo predicts.
- David Ross was told by Red Sox GM Ben Cherington earlier this week that the club “wanted to see how the roster shook out before making a commitment to” bring back the veteran catcher. Cafardo speculates that Cherington could be keeping his options open in regards to the team’s need for a left-handed hitting bat; if one can’t be found at another position, the Sox could look to add one at catcher.
- Now that Joe Maddon is managing the Cubs, Cafardo wonders if Andrew Friedman will regret sticking with Don Mattingly in Los Angeles and not making a move to bring Maddon to the Dodgers. “I think it will be a case of, ‘Why didn’t I do what the Cubs did?’ ” a baseball executive tells Cafardo. “Joe Maddon seems to be the hot manager out there and guys like that aren’t available very often. When Maddon is out there you don’t need a long, drawn-out managerial search. If you can afford him, you hire him.”
- Rays bench coach Dave Martinez has been mentioned as a prime candidate to become the team’s next manager, and will surely be on the team’s list of interview candidates. That said, “the feeling is that if…[Martinez] was going to get the job, he would have gotten it by now,” Cafardo writes.
- Nelson Cruz‘s free agency “will test the Orioles‘ commitment to winning.” In Cafardo’s opinion, the team has “no excuses” for not re-signing such a key part of their lineup, especially with extra revenues coming in from TV and increased attendance.
Paulino, 31, had signed a one-year, $1.75MM deal before the 2013 season. At the time, Paulino was coming off of Tommy John surgery and looked to be an easy high-upside risk to take. That gamble did not pay off, however, as Paulino made just four MLB appearances and was roughed up at all levels this year.