Chicago White Sox Rumors

Chicago White Sox trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Minor Moves: O’Malley, Greene, White Sox

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…

  • The Mariners signed infielder Shawn O’Malley to a minor league deal and invited the 27-year-old to Spring Training, the team announced.  O’Malley made his Major League debut last season, appearing in 11 games with the Angels.  A fifth-round pick by the Rays in the 2006 draft, O’Malley has a .258/.351/.338 slash line over 2985 minor league plate appearances.
  • The Phillies signed shortstop Tyler Greene to a minor league deal, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (via Twitter).  Greene, drafted 30th overall by the Cardinals in 2005, posted a .645 OPS over 746 PA with the Cards, Astros and White Sox from 2009-13, and he spent last season at the Triple-A level in the Braves’ and Padres’ systems.
  • The White Sox signed right-handers Jairo Asencio and J.D. Martin to minor league deals and invited them to Spring Training, the team announced.  Both righties spent last season pitching in the Korean Baseball Organization.  Asencio posted a 5.34 ERA over 55 2/3 IP with four teams from 2009-13.  Martin, drafted 35th overall by the Indians in the 2001 draft, last pitched in the majors in 2010.
  • The Yankees signed catcher Eddy Rodriguez to a minor league deal, as per the team’s MLB.com transactions page.  Rodriguez has a .235/.286/.386 slash line over 2271 minor league PA, mostly in San Diego’s system, as well as a two-game cup of coffee with the Padres in 2012.

White Sox Sign Jesse Crain, Scott Carroll To Minor League Deals

The White Sox announced that they have signed right-handers Jesse Crain and Scott Carroll to minor league deals with invites to big league Spring Training.

The 33-year-old Crain was in the midst of an incredible season with the White Sox in 2013 when a shoulder injury sidelined him. While it wasn’t believed to be serious at the time, Crain hasn’t thrown a Major League pitch since hitting the disabled list that July. He eventually underwent surgery on his right biceps in order to correct the issue, but recovery from that surgery was slower than expected and he missed all of 2014 after signing with the Astros. (Crain was also traded from Chicago to Tampa while injured in 2013 but didn’t throw a pitch for the Rays, either.)

Crain’s 2013 featured a dominant streak of 29 scoreless appearances, leading to a minuscule 0.74 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 36 2/3 innings of work. He’s always had plus velocity, dating back to his days with the Twins, but Crain began to rely more heavily on breaking balls upon signing with the White Sox prior to the 2011 season, and the results were favorable. In 150 innings with Chicago, Crain pitched to a 2.10 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. GM Rick Hahn and his staff will hope that the talented setup man can overcome his health woes and rediscover that form on a low-risk deal with the Sox in 2015.

As for Carroll, the 30-year-old made his big league debut for the Sox in 2014 and totaled 129 1/3 innings of work, registering a 4.80 ERA with 4.5 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 19 starts and seven relief appearances. He’ll again serve as rotation depth, though the starting five may be tougher to crack this time around. In addition to Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks, the Sox acquired Jeff Samardzija from the A’s this winter and have 2014 No. 3 overall pick Carlos Rodon waiting in the wings as well. Hector Noesi, who outperformed Carroll in 2014, is expected to fill the fifth slot in the rotation to open the season.

Chicago also confirmed its previously reported minor league deals with names such as Geovany Soto, Tony Campana and George Kottaras in today’s announcement.


White Sox To Sign Geovany Soto

The White Sox and catcher Geovany Soto have agreed to terms on a minor league contract for the 2015 season, reports Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. The Kinzer Management Group client will be invited to Major League Spring Training and compete for a 25-man roster spot, Levine adds (Twitter links).

Soto, 32, missed much of the 2014 season as he recovered from offseason surgeries on his left foot and right knee, and a groin injury sidelined him for two weeks in July as well. That trio of physical ailments limited him to just 87 plate appearances between the Rangers and Athletics, though he was expected to handle the bulk of Texas’ catching duties at the onset of the season. Overall, Soto batted .250/.302/.363 with one homer on the year. The former NL Rookie of the Year looked much sharper with the Rangers in 2013 when he batted .245/.328/.466 with nine homers in 184 trips to the plate.

Soto’s performance has fluctuated fairly significantly on a year-to-year basis, but the cumulative sum of his efforts over the past five seasons and over the entirety of his career has been roughly a league-average bat, in terms of OPS+. A lifetime .248/.334/.436 hitter, Soto offers above-average plate discipline and pop for a catcher when he’s healthy, but he does come with a fairly lengthy injury history.

Tyler Flowers currently projects to be the everyday catcher for the White Sox, with 2014 backup Adrian Nieto, waiver claim Rob Brantly and minor league signee George Kottaras all fighting for time behind the dish as well. I’d wager that Soto’s track record gives him a leg up over much of the competition, provided he’s healthy. Ultimately, I could see him overtaking Flowers as the starter, given the fact that Flowers’ .241/.297/.396 batting line was bolstered by an unsustainable .355 average on balls in play. If that number regresses toward his career mark of .308 and Flowers continues striking out at a 35 to 36 percent clip, it wouldn’t be surprising if another starter emerged for the ChiSox eventually.



Pitching Notes: Santana, Shields, Haren, Lynn

Johan Santana‘s comeback bid has hit a snag, as the southpaw was scratched from a planned Venezuelan Winter League start with shoulder soreness (via the league’s Spanish language website). Though he will surely find another opportunity to showcase for MLB clubs, shoulder health was already an obvious concern for the two-time Cy Young winner.

Here are some more notes involving starting pitching:

  • It has been a challenge to find obvious fits for free agent righty James Shields, but ESPN.com’s Dan Szymborski (Insider link) makes the attempt by focusing on which clubs would stand to receive the greatest boost in projected wins. Three NL West teams (DodgersGiantsPadres) and a trio from the AL Central (TigersRoyalsWhite Sox) join the Marlins as the clubs that the ZiPS projection system thinks would benefit most by signing Shields.
  • The Marlins have not yet received any trade offers for righty Dan Haren, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. Miami is in an interesting spot with regard to the veteran, as Jackson explains.
  • Before reaching agreement on a three-year deal that bought out all of his arb-eligible seasons, the Cardinals and righty Lance Lynn considered longer extension scenarios, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. That did not come to fruition because the team was interested in delaying Lynn’s free agency by one or two years whereas the pitcher was only interested in foregoing the open market for a larger, longer pact. Lynn explained that he would be open to revisiting talks later: “It’s not something that we could get situated, but there’s always going to be a process later. If everything goes well and I pitch the way I’m capable of, I’m sure that will be revisited down the line.”

Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.

Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.

That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).

Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.

And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:

  • The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
  • Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
  • Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
  • Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
  • Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).

Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:

  • David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
  • Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
  • The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
  • Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
  • The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
  • On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.

Arbitration Filing Numbers

Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won’t go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox (per the most recent updates) are known for their “file and trial” policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $5MM or more. Projections can be found here. Now for the details …

  • The Reds countered the $5.7MM filing of Todd Frazier with a $3.9MM figure, according to Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (via Twitter).
  • Third baseman David Freese filed at $7.6MM and the Angels countered at $5.25MM, WAPT’s Mike Perchick tweets. Halos outfielder Matt Joyce has filed for $5.2MM against a $4.2MM counter, according to Perchick (on Twitter).
  • Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler filed for $10.8MM while the club countered at $8.5MM, Perchick tweeets.
  • Pirates second baseman Neil Walker filed at $9MM while the club landed at $8MM, Perchick tweets.
  • Just-acquired reliever Tyler Clippard has filed for $8.85MM against the Athletics, who countered at $7.775MM, Perchick tweets.
  • Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay filed at $5MM while the team countered at $4.1MM, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets.
  • Pedro Alvarez has requested a $5.75MM salary for the coming season while the Pirates are at $5.25MM, per a tweet from Perchick.
  • Righty Mat Latos filed at $10.4MM and the Marlins countered with a $9.4MM figure, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
  • Third baseman Casey McGehee filed at $5.4MM, with the Giants countering at $4MM, Heyman tweets.
  • The Braves countered Mike Minor‘s $5.6MM filing number with a $5.1MM team figure, Heyman reports on Twitter.
  • Mark Trumbo has filed for $6.9MM against a $5.3MM counter from the Diamondbacks, Heyman tweets. Closer Addison Reed, meanwhile, filed at $5.6MM with the team countering at $4.7MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
  • The Orioles went with a $7.5MM price point for righty Bud Norris, who filed at $10.25MM, per Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). In both relative and absolute terms, there is an even bigger gap between the O’s ($2MM) and breakout slugger Steve Pearce ($5.4MM), who is looking to cash in on a big season in his final year of eligibility. That news also comes via Connolly, on Twitter.
  • Entering his final year of arbitration, infielder Daniel Murphy has filed for $8.6MM while the Mets have submitted a $7.4MM figure, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.
  • Reds 9th inning man Aroldis Chapman filed for $8.7MM while the team countered at $6.65MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
  • The Orioles and outfielder Alejandro De Aza will negotiate between filing figures of $5MM and $5.65MM, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets.
  • Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer filed at $6.7MM and the team countered at $4.6MM, Heyman tweets. The club will also have some ground to make up with closer Greg Holland, who filed at $9MM versus a team filing of $6.65MM, per another Heyman tweet.
  • Newly-acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson has filed at $5.75MM, while the Blue Jays countered at $4.3MM, Heyman tweets.

Phillies Claim Jordan Danks From White Sox

The Phillies announced that they have claimed outfielder Jordan Danks off waivers from the White Sox. Danks, the 28-year-old brother of left-handed pitcher John Danks, is an outfielder capable of playing all three outfield positions. He was designated for assignment when the White Sox signed Emilio Bonifacio.


White Sox Avoid Arbitration With Samardzija, Flowers

The White Sox have avoided arbitration with righty Jeff Samardzija and backstop Tyler Flowers, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago reports on Twitter. This pair, along with the already-signed Dayan Viciedo, represented the largest expected arb payouts for Chicago.

Samardzija, acquired earlier in the winter from the Athletics, will earn $9.8MM in his final pass through arbitration, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. That represents a near match for the $9.5MM projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz. His relatively manageable pay rate, in spite of an excellent 2014, shows the importance of having a high first-year arb salary to build from.

Flowers will earn $2.675MM according to Mike Perchick of WAPT (Twitter link), while Swartz had pegged him to earn a shade over $2MM in his first season of eligibility. He had a solid overall year at bat in 2014, slashing .241/.297/.396 in 442 plate appearances and swatting 15 home runs.

Remember to check MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker for the latest updates.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday

As we approach tomorrow’s deadline for exchanging filing numbers, the volume of arb deals will increase. All arb agreements can be monitored using MLBTR’s 2015 Arbitration Tracker, but here are today’s smaller agreements, with all projections referring to those of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz:

  • The Indians have avoided arbitration with third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  It’s a slight bump over Chisenhall’s projected $2.2MM salary.  Chisenhall hit .280/.343/.427 with 13 homers in 533 PA with the Tribe last season.
  • The Indians and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski have agreed to a one-year, $2.4MM contract to avoid arbitration, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  Rzepczynski surpassed his projected salary with the contract, as he was pegged to earn $1.9MM next season.  The southpaw posted a 2.74 ERA, 2.42 K/BB rate and an even 46 strikeouts over 46 innings out of Cleveland’s bullpen last season.
  • The Nationals and catcher Jose Lobaton will avoid arbitration after agreeing to a deal, CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman reports.  Lobaton will earn $1.2MM, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets, which exactly matches his projected 2015 salary.  Lobaton hit .234/.287/.304 over 230 PA in backup duty for the Nats last season.
  • The Athletics and outfielder Craig Gentry agreed to a one-year, $1.6MM deal to avoid arbitration, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets.  Gentry was projected to earn $1.5MM.  After posting a .759 OPS over 556 PA in 2012-13, Gentry took a step back at the plate last season, slashing just .254/.319/.289 over 258 plate appearances but still providing tremendous defense (a +16 UZR/150).
  • The Nationals have avoided arbitration with second baseman Danny Espinosa, agreeing to a one-year, $1.8MM contract, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports.  This deal falls below Espinosa’s projected $2.3MM contract, though Espinosa hit .219/.283/.351 in 364 plate appearances for the Nats last season and managed only a .465 OPS in 167 PA in 2013.
  • The Indians agreed to a one-year, $2.337MM deal with right-hander Carlos Carrasco, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter).  This figure is a significant increase over the $1.4MM contract that was projected for Carrasco in his first arb-eligible year.  The righty enjoyed a breakout 2014 season, posting a 2.55 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 4.83 K/BB rate over 134 innings with the Tribe.  Carrasco pitched mostly out of the bullpen but also delivered several quality starts down the stretch.
  • The Dodgers and outfielder Chris Heisey agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.16MM to avoid arbitration, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  This is slightly less than the $2.2MM Heisey was projected to earn.  Heisey is coming off a .222/.265/.378 slash line over 299 PA with the Reds last season and was dealt to L.A. last month.
  • The Angels inked catcher Drew Butera to a one-year, $987.5K deal to avoid arbitration, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.  Butera was projected to earn $900K next season.  The catcher posted a .555 OPS in 192 PA with the Dodgers last season and was dealt to the Halos last month.
  • The Nationals agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM contract with Craig Stammen, avoiding arbitration with the right-hander, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter).  This figure slightly tops Stammen’s projected $2.1MM contract.  Stammen posted a 3.84 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and a 4.00 K/BB rate over 72 2/3 innings out of Washington’s bullpen last season.
  • The Cardinals agreed to a one-year, $1.65MM deal with outfielder Peter Bourjos to avoid arbitration, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Bourjos was projected to earn $1.6MM.  Bourjos displayed his usual top-shelf defense with the Cards last season but only hit .231/.294/.348 over 294 PA.

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Minor Moves: Goebbert, McCutchen, Mattheus, Anderson, Schlereth

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Padres outfielder/first baseman Jake Goebbert has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment and was outrighted to Triple-A, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Goebbert, who was acquired this past May in the Kyle Blanks trade with Oakland, hit .218/.313/.317 in 115 PA with the Padres.
  • Also from Lin, the Padres have signed right-hander Daniel McCutchen to a minor league contract. The 32-year-old made one appearance with the Rangers last season, yielding a pair of earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. That marked McCutchen’s first big league action since 2012 with the Pirates, for whom he played parts of four seasons (2009-12). The former 13th-round pick owns a career 4.47 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 527 2/3 innings at Triple-A.
  • The Angels have signed right-hander Ryan Mattheus to a minor league deal and invited him to big league Spring Training, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post. The 31-year-old Mattheus was a vital cog in Washington’s division-winning club back in 2012, but he struggled in 35 1/3 innings in 2013, posting a 6.37 ERA. Mattheus suffered through a pair of rib injuries last season that limited him to 8 2/3 innings in the Majors, where he allowed just one run. However, he did struggle to a 5.80 ERA in Triple-A while dealing with his injuries. Overall, Mattheus has a 3.60 ERA in 142 1/3 big league innings with 5.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.
  • The White Sox have signed their former first-round pick, Brian Anderson, to a minor league deal, tweets Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. Anderson, who doesn’t receive a camp invite, has been out of pro ball since 2012 but has a .273/.337/.454 batting line at Triple-A and also dabbled with pitching from 2010-12, totaling 31 innings with a 1.74 ERA between the minor leagues and independent ball.
  • Lefty Daniel Schlereth is back with the Tigers on a minor league deal, per the team’s transactions page. The 28-year-old notched a 3.98 ERA with a 69-to-46 K/BB ratio with the Tigers’ bullpen from 2010-12 after coming over in the Max Scherzer/Curtis Granderson/Ian Kennedy blockbuster. He split last season between the Triple-A affiliates for the Pirates and Tigers, battling his control (7.1 BB/9) en route to a 5.89 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.