Chicago White Sox Rumors
TODAY: The White Sox placed Veal on outright waivers yesterday, meaning that he has 24 hours to be claimed or clear waivers from that point, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.
YESTERDAY: The White Sox have designated southpaw Donnie Veal for assignment, tweets MLB.com's Scott Merkin. Zach Putnam had his contract purchased to join the big club, which used every one of its relievers in last night's ballgame.
After a strong (albeit brief) 2012 campaign in which he posted a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings, Veal has struggled to repeat his success. In 35 1/3 innings since, Veal has worked to a 5.09 ERA in 35 1/3 frames. While he managed to carry an impressive 4.75 K:BB ratio in 2012, the lefty has averaged 8.9 K/9 against 5.9 BB/9 over 2013-14.
The Cubs' rare visit to Yankee Stadium this week led to some introspection about how the Cubs have kept a modest payroll during their rebuild, while the Yankees responded to a non-playoff year by splurging on several major free agents. It was only a few years ago, however, that the Cubs themselves were a big free agent target, and C.C. Sabathia talked to reporters (including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times) about his interest in coming to Wrigley Field during the 2008-09 offseason. Wittenmyer reports that Sabathia let Cubs managment know, via his friend Derrek Lee, that he wanted to sign with Chicago that winter. Of course, Sabathia instead signed with the Yankees and the rest is history.
Here's the latest news about both the Cubs and White Sox...
- Jeff Samardzija feels a responsibility to the players' union to strive for a big contract, the Cubs righty tells CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney, and he doesn't seem to be a fan of some of the multiyear deals being signed by pre-arbitration pitchers around the game. "Personally, numbers and money don’t really drive me. What does drive me is protecting and setting up the players behind me, the future generations, so that I’m not signing any of these crummy early deals for seven or eight years," Samardzija said. "When you’re hitting your prime and you’re hitting free agency — like it’s supposed to be done — then that’s the way it sets up for guys behind you. I definitely have a responsibility to the players that are younger than me and approaching arbitration or approaching free agency to keep the numbers where they should be."
- The Cubs need to accept that paying a high price for an ace pitcher is the cost of doing business and thus sign Samardzija to an extension, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune opines.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer appeared on the Kap & Haugh radio show to express his belief that the Cubs will soon once again become a popular landing spot for players. "Theo [Epstein] and I have no concern guys will want to play here from around baseball when we get this turned. We’ll be a destination for guys," Hoyer said (quote from David Kaplan's Twitter account).
- Hoyer, Epstein and the White Sox scouting director attended a recent start from East Carolina right-hander Jeff Hoffman, ESPN's Keith Law tweets. The Sox and Cubs pick third and fourth, respectively, in the June amateur draft and Hoffman is expected to be an early choice off the board --- Baseball America recently ranked Hoffman fifth on their list of draft prospects.
- Chris Sale carried some red flags in the 2010 draft but the White Sox are enjoying the fruits of taking a chance on the southpaw with their 13th overall pick, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan writes. Sale's status as "the player with no comps" made many teams worry that he couldn't handle a starter's workload, let alone become an ace.
FRIDAY: The White Sox, Brewers and Cardinals are three of the teams interested in Jeffress, TSN's Scott MacArthur reports. Conversely, MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo (Twitter links) hears from a source that that the Cards aren't in the hunt but Jeffress' "decision [is] almost made" about his new club. At least 15 clubs called about Jeffress once he became available, Cotillo notes.
THURSDAY: Blue Jays right-hander Jeremy Jeffress has rejected an outright assignment and elected free agency, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Additionally, Jeffress is expected to sign with a new club within 24 to 48 hours, according to Passan.
A former Top 100 prospect (per Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus), Jeffress was selected 16th overall by the Brewers back in the 2006 draft. Jeffress has a 4.47 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 52 1/3 career Major League innings. However, he's also walked 38 batters in that time, illustrating the control issues that have followed him throughout his professional career. Jeffress has a 4.10 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 454 minor league innings.
Despite his control issues, it's not surprising that a new deal for Jeffress already appears to be close. He's still just 26 years of age, has fanned more than a batter per inning since being drafted, and in his Major League career he's posted a 53.6 percent ground-ball rate and averaged 95.9 mph on his fastball. Jeffress has a tantilizing skill set for teams in need of bullpen help, should he overcome some of his command problems.
As defensive metrics gain precision and acceptance, we can expect an increasing move toward player contracts that better reflect the contributions of premier glovework, writes Doug Mittler for ESPN The Magazine (Insider link). "The market is established by offense because defensive numbers are difficult to ascertain," said Mets GM Sandy Alderson. Mittler says that current bargains, like Alex Gordon of the Royals and Ryan Hanigan of the Rays, may be harder to find in coming seasons. (I would suggest that some recent extensions of defense-first players -- including those of Andrelton Simmons of the Braves and Elvis Andrus of the Rangers -- may reflect just that kind of movement in the market.)
Here's the latest out of the American League:
- It is early, of course, but the White Sox look like a very different club on the offensive side of the ledger, writes Grantland's Jonah Keri. The preliminary results have put a shine on an offseason that, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes described, brought significant MLB-ready talent into the South Side. Like Dierkes, Keri advises caution for the prospects this season but foresees a bright future for some of the team's young position players.
- An alternative method of rebuilding -- the Astros' total strip-down of MLB talent and payroll -- took another important step forward with the debut of George Springer. In an interesting interview with Drew Fairservice of TheScore.com, club GM Jeff Luhnow said that he hopes the club's pool of prospect talent will "have an expectation to win" after experiencing success together at the minor league level. And he made clear that Houston will look to take full advantage of its substantial amateur spending dollars. Looking ahead, Luhnow explained that the club is already thinking about how to manage inevitable payroll increases: "With so many young players coming through the pipeline, we’re not going to be able to lock them all up. Just keeping them all through arbitration is going to get expensive and we also want to dip into the free agent market so we’ll have to be wise about how we spend the dollars. Our flexibility gives us the opportunity to make the right investments at the right time."
- As noted earlier, recently-designated Athletics outfielder Sam Fuld is expected to draw interest from several clubs, according to a report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). The Twins and Angels are among the teams that are likely to be involved on Fuld, says Slusser.
The White Sox are off to a solid start to the season with a 7-6 record, and they've already won more games against the division-rival Indians than they did in 2013, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Hayes spoke with Indians GM Chris Antonetti about his division rivals, and Antonetti said he's not surprised to see the Sox looking like an improved club. "Unfortunately for us, I thought [White Sox GM Rick Hahn] and his staff had an exceptional offseason," Antonetti told Hayes. "They’ve positioned themselves not only better for the short term but also for the long term as well and that’s a challenging thing to do. ... I thought they made a number of tremendous moves that will not only help them this year but for years to come, unfortunately to our detriment."
Here's more about the White Sox and the rest of the AL Central...
- The White Sox' largest move of the offseason, financially speaking, was the signing of Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68MM contract. CSN Chicago's David Kaplan spoke to former Sox GM and current executive vice president Kenny Williams about the Abreu signing. Williams said he initially told Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that he thought Abreu was worth a four-year, $40MM investment, to which Reinsdorf replied, "Why not $50MM?" Williams said he's 100 percent confident in Abreu as well as Reinsdorf and Hahn, who closed the $68MM deal (Twitter link).
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at yesterday's $35MM extension for Jedd Gyorko and examines what that means for the Twins' chances of locking up Brian Dozier. The Twins and Dozier's agent, Damon Lapa, had extension talks this spring that didn't progress beyond the exploratory phase, Berardino writes. He notes that while Gyorko's bat has been superior to Dozier's thus far, Dozier trumps Gyorko in defense, baserunning and overall wins above replacement.
- In the latest edition of his "Hey Hoynsie!" mailbag, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer points out that the Indians are in a familiar situation with Asdrubal Cabrera. Though the club had an affordable option on Omar Vizquel back in 2004, they made no indication of wanting to pick it up and instead let Vizquel walk to make room for Jhonny Peralta. In 2010, the team traded Peralta to the Tigers without showing much interest in retaining him, due to Cabrera's presence in the minors. Now, with Cabrera five-and-a-half months from free agency and Francisco Lindor looming, there's been little to no talk of Cabrera's Cleveland tenure lasting beyond 2014. The bigger question, says Hoynes, is whether or not Cabrera will play well enough to merit a qualifying offer. Given his struggles at the plate over the past year, that seems unlikely at this time.
The White Sox have signed right-hander Frank Francisco and assigned him to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, according to the Knights' official Twitter account. Francisco is a client of Praver/Shapiro.
The 34-year-old Francisco spent the past two seasons with the Mets after signing a two-year, $12MM contract that proved to be a regrettable move for New York. Over the life of the deal, Francisco pitched just 48 2/3 innings of 5.36 ERA ball, averaging 9.8 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. He missed nearly all of the 2013 season with elbow issues.
The White Sox will hope that Francisco can get back to the form he showed with the Rangers and Blue Jays from 2009-11 when he posted a 3.71 ERA 10.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 36 percent ground-ball rate that led to a 3.41 FIP and 3.32 xFIP. During that time, opponents batted just .236/.299/.382 against Francisco, who racked up 44 saves between the two teams.
Chicago manager Robin Ventura named Matt Lindstrom his closer to open the season, much to the surprise of many pundits that had pegged Nate Jones as Addison Reed's replacement. However, Jones is on the disabled list now, and Lindstrom hasn't inspired much confidence with his new role, so the added bullpen depth makes sense for GM Rick Hahn.
The White Sox have acquired outfielder Gorkys Hernandez from the Royals and assigned him to their Triple-A affiliate, the Charlotte Knights, according to a tweet from the Knights. Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets that the White Sox will send cash considerations to the Royals to complete the deal.
The 26-year-old Hernandez once seemed ticketed for the Majors, as Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus each listed him as a Top 100 prospect in 2008 and again in 2009. However, his prospect star has dimmed since that time, as he's put together a career .269/.337/.370 batting line in four seasons at the Triple-A level.
Hernandez has been in a few high-profile trades after signing with the Tigers as a free agent back in 2005. The Tigers traded him to the Braves along with Jair Jurrjens in the deal that sent Edgar Renteria to Detroit, and the Braves dealt him to the Pirates along with Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton to acquire Nate McLouth. More recently, Hernandez was traded from the Bucs to the Marlins along with a Competitive Balance draft pick to land Kyle Kaminska and Gaby Sanchez. Last year, he was flipped in a swap of minor leaguers, as the Royals acquired him for infielder Alex McClure.
The well-traveled Hernandez does have some big league experience under his belt, as he batted .192/.267/.301 with three homers and seven stolen bases in 173 plate appearances between the Marlins and Pirates in 2012. The White Sox could use a bit of additional outfield depth after receiving the bad news earlier today that right fielder Avisail Garcia will miss the season due to a torn labrum in his shoulder that will require surgery.
The White Sox have announced that young outfielder Avisail Garcia will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn left shoulder labrum. Acquired in last year's Jake Peavy deal, the 22-year-old will join the other main piece of that 3-way swap (Jose Iglesias) in missing the 2014 campaign.
Garcia, who has already gained 167 days of service entering the year, will remain on track to qualify for Super Two status after the 2015 season, assuming that he is able to regain an MLB role next year. In 341 big league plate appearances in his still-young career, Garcia has a .287/.323/.411 triple-slash. He was rated the game's 74th-best prospect before last season by Baseball America. The biggest loss for Chicago, of course, may simply be the playing time and development that the club hoped for from Garcia over 2014.
Meanwhile, Chicago will presumably give most of the playing time at the corner outfield to Alejandro De Aza (who was displaced at center by the trade for Adam Eaton) and Dayan Viciedo. While it has long been believed that one of those players could be available in trade, the South Siders will surely be less inclined to move one of them at this point. The team also has Leury Garcia and just-recalled Jordan Danks available in the outfield.
A look at some of the latest pertaining to the White Sox and Cubs...
- In an ESPN Insider piece (subscription recommended), Paul Swydan writes that White Sox GM Rick Hahn and his baseball operations staff are doing an excellent job with the team's rebuild. The Sox are stockpiling young talent such as Adam Eaton, Matt Davidson, Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia through trades while spending money on young assets like Jose Abreu and still managing to showcase trade chips such as Alejandro De Aza, Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez. They're also not stubbornly clinging to the past by overplaying longtime cornerstone Paul Konerko or the disappointing Dayan Viciedo.
- Cubs top prospect Javier Baez provided a reminder that there's more to minor league development than simply producing on the field, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times. After being called out on a check-swing third strike, Baez was ejected for arguing with the umpire and then got into a dugout altercation with veteran catcher Eli Whiteside. Cubs president Theo Epstein offered this take on the incident: "Players are in the minor leagues to develop physically and fundamentally, and also mentally and emotionally. ... It was not a huge deal, but something he can grow from. It sounds like from the reports we got, teammates were right to call him out, and he handled that the right way. Javy’s a great kid who’s the youngest player in Triple-A, and he has some room to continue to grow. And he will."
- Wittenmyer also reports that while the Cubs are indeed talking about selling non-voting shares to minority investors, that money won't be seen by the baseball operations department. Epstein tells Wittenmyer that the money from such dealings would be allocated solely to renovations for Wrigley Field. Wittenmyer reports that team officials feel the renovations could be completed in four years as opposed to the previously believed five years. Chairman Tom Ricketts estimates an additional $30-40MM in revenue based on the renovations, but it's unclear how that money will impact the team's payroll.
The 27-year-old Hanson was once one of the game's top pitching prospects and one of the most promising young starters in the National League after posting a 3.29 ERA in his first 460 1/3 innings at the Major League level. However, a series of shoulder injuries and a concussion have slowed Hanson's career as well as his fastball. After averaging 92.5 mph on his fastball in his first two seasons in the Majors, Hanson has averaged 89.7 mph over the past two seasons.
The Braves traded him to the Angels in exchange for setup man Jordan Walden last offseason, but he found himself non-tendered after a season in which he registered a 5.42 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 73 innings of work. Hanson signed a split contract with the Rangers earlier this offseason but failed to make the club after yielding 10 runs in 14 Spring Training innings. He'll serve as depth for a White Sox team that currently has a rotation which is fronted by Chris Sale and also contains Jose Quintana, Felipe Paulino, John Danks and Erik Johnson.