Chicago White Sox Rumors
Terry Francona returned to Boston in the opposing dugout tonight for the first time since being fired as the Red Sox manager following the 2011 season. Francona received a very warm welcome from the Fenway faithful when he was shown on the stadium's video screen, and the skipper received the best gift of all when his Indians beat up on the Sox in a 12-3 rout.
Here are some items from around the AL Central...
- The Indians are off to a great start under Francona but ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required) thinks the team should still look to move some veterans in order to build for the future, rather than focusing on this season.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore isn't panicking about his team's recent slump, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports. Moore said the Royals weren't likely to send any of their struggling young hitters to Triple-A, and the GM didn't give any indication if Jeff Francoeur was nearing the end of his time with the team. “You’re always looking to improve your roster but it's still very early,” Moore said. “It’s the same team that we left spring training with....We’ve got (118) games left, we’ve got a lot of baseball left, and we’re going to remain patient with the guys we have. I like the potential of this group."
- White Sox trainer Herm Schneider might be the greatest asset in baseball that virtually nobody recognizes, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Teams pay over $500MM to players on the disabled list every year, but Schneider has managed to keep his players exceptionally healthy over his 34 seasons in Chicago.
- In division news from earlier today, the White Sox placed Angel Sanchez on waivers, the Indians designated David Huff for assignment and MLBTR's Marc Hulet examined the Twins' top minor leaguers in the latest edition of the Prospect Rumor Roundup.
MLBTR's Zach Links also contributed to this post
The White Sox have placed infielder Angel Sanchez on waivers, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. As a Rule 5 pick, he will be offered back to the Angels if he goes unclaimed. Sanchez is currently on a rehab assignment after suffering a lower back strain in April.
Sanchez, 29, posted a .240/.305/.285 line in 328 plate appearances for the Astros last year, playing shortstop, second base, and third base. The Puerto Rican was drafted in the 11th round by the Royals in 2001, one pick after the Pirates chose Stephen Drew, who of course did not sign and became a first-rounder in '04. Interestingly, the 11th round of the 2001 draft also produced big league All-Stars Geovany Soto and Dan Uggla.
Jose Canseco will be joining the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League, the team announced. Canseco will serve as a player-coach during the team's opening home stand against the Edinburg Roadrunners, managed by Jose's twin brother Ozzie. This isn't Canseco's first go-around in an independent league, as the 48-year-old has appeared for clubs in several circuits since completing a 17-year big league career. Here is tonight's look around the rest of the baseball world..
- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune and other reporters discussed the state of the White Sox with GM Rick Hahn. "We're not going to change that path and will focus on this season until it's readily apparent that we have to change our focus," said Hahn, regarding the decision to buy or sell as the season progresses. The White Sox are currently 20-23, good for fourth in the AL Central.
- While the Reds have looked to add some balance to their lefty-heavy lineup, the market is not to their liking, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "There is really nobody out there that would make much of a difference. We’re just biding our time to see what happens," said General Manager Walt Jocketty.
- In his latest mailbag, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe was asked about potential trade targets for the Red Sox, including a possible closer upgrade. While the ninth inning is a concern, the club will fully want to test out Andrew Bailey before making a major trade for established reliever. Cafardo has heard baseball people speculate that the club could be interested in reacquiring Jonathan Papelbon, but they'll focus on what they already have first.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is still optimistic about the club's offense, but acknowledges some concerns in an interview with Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. When asked about possible moves to remedy under-performance and injury, Amaro said the team has looked to improve but cited a lack of activity around the league, "I don’t think a lot of teams feel like they know what they have yet, so you’re not seeing anything more than waiver-wire claims."
It's not often that you see a well-regarded starting pitcher (or any well-regarded player, for that matter) appear on eight different teams prior to his 30th birthday, but that's the situation in which Edwin Jackson currently finds himself. Of course, Jackson inked a four-year deal with the Cubs that should give him some stability, but that's not his first stop in Chicago.
Jackson spent parts of two seasons across town as a member of the White Sox rotation from 2010-11. General manager Kenny Williams swung a midseason deal in 2010 that brought a struggling Jackson from the Diamondbacks to the White Sox in exchange for right-hander Daniel Hudson (23 years old at the time) and minor league lefty David Holmberg (18). It's been nearly three years since that trade occurred, so let's take a look at the players involved...
- Edwin Jackson: While he had thrown a no-hitter for the D-backs that season, Jackson was struggling at the time of the trade. He'd posted a 5.16 ERA in in 21 starts but was coming off a solid 2009 campaign and had one and a half years of team control remaining. Jackson turned things around with the South Siders in a big way. His K/9 rate soared from 7.0 to 9.2 while his BB/9 dropped from 4.0 to 2.2. Jackson contributed 1.9 WAR (per Fangraphs) to an 88-win season for the White Sox, but they came up short and finished second in the AL Central. He was terrific in the first half of 2011 as well, posting an even 3.0 WAR before being traded to the Blue Jays (who immediately flipped him to St. Louis) in a deal that netted Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart while also freeing the Sox of the remaining $7.2MM on Mark Teahen's contract.
- Daniel Hudson: Hudson ranked as Chicago's No. 3 prospect, per Baseball America, prior to the 2010 season. He'd struggled in three big league starts that year, but he was a revelation for the Diamondbacks down the stretch. In 11 starts following the trade, Hudson posted a 1.69 ERA, 7.9 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9, cementing his place in Arizona's rotation. He followed up that 2.2 WAR effort with an incredible 4.9-win sophomore campaign for the D-backs, but he was a Tommy John victim after just nine ugly starts in 2012. All told, Hudson has a 3.58 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 347 innings as a Diamondback. He's not yet eligible for arbitration and can be controlled through 2016.
The Minor League Side:
- David Holmberg: At the time of the trade, Holmberg was BA's eighth-ranked White Sox prospect, but he'd struggled to a 4.46 ERA in eight starts in the rookie-level Pioneer League that season. Holmberg has ascended quickly, however, and now ranks as the D-backs' No. 6 prospect according to BA and the No. 8 prospect according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. BA notes that Holmberg is likely to reach his ceiling of a No. 3 or 4 starter in the Major Leagues thanks to his plus command and a very strong changeup. His fastball sits 88-91 mph and can touch 93 at times. Mayo notes that while Tyler Skaggs is the lefty who gets all of the buzz in the Diamondbacks' system, Holmberg "isn't that far behind him." Holmberg reached Double-A as a 20-year-old in 2012 and made 15 solid starts. Now 21 years of age, he's opened the 2013 season at the same level and sports a 3.10 ERA 6.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 151 career Double-A innings.
Three years later, it looks like the Diamondbacks got a very good return for a talented but struggling starter. It's conceivable that within the next two seasons, 40 percent of Arizona's rotation will consist of the two players they received in this deal. Jerry Dipoto, the D-backs' GM at the time of the trade (he's now GM of the Angels), did well to secure a pair of prospects who ranked in Chicago's Top 10.
The price Chicago paid doesn't seem crazy either, given Jackson's terrific results with the White Sox. Jackson gave them 4.9 wins above replacement, but most fans will look back on this trade in a negative light due to the lack of return for Jackson when they traded him a year later. That's a fair criticism (and also a trade for another post), but Jackson was every bit the pitcher the White Sox were hoping he'd be when they acquired him. This would probably go down as a win-win had the Sox contended in 2011 or made the playoffs in 2010.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that one GM thinks Jonathan Gray, Mark Appel, and Kris Bryant should be the first three players drafted next month. While the trio has generally been regarded as the best available talent, the GM thinks "those 3 have separated themselves" from the rest of the pack. Here's a look at other news on this June's amateur draft...
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo breaks down highly-rated Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea. Manaea went undrafted out of high school, but figures to be selected early, ranking as the No. 9 prospect according to Mayo.
- The Twins will not select Minnesota high school right-hander Logan Shore with their second round pick, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Shore ranked as the No. 199 draft prospect by Baseball America and the publication writes that the Florida recruit could go as high as the third round.
- White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann was on hand to watch Oral Roberts' right-hander Alex Gonzalez start today, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Gonzalez, who BA sees as a potential No. 3 starter, pitched well as he struck out 13 over eight innings.
Justin Verlander and Yu Darvish face off in a marquee pitching matchup tonight in Arlington when the Tigers play the Rangers in a battle of AL division leaders. Detroit could lose the AL Central lead with a loss, as the idle Indians are only a half-game out of first place.
Here's the latest from around the AL Central...
- There hasn't yet been any talk of the Indians pursuing an extension with Mark Reynolds, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes in a reader mailbag. Reynolds signed a one-year, $6MM contract with the Tribe in December and is enjoying a big season, hitting .271/.362/.581 and sitting tied for American League home run lead with 11 long balls. Bastian suggests that Reynolds is likely to test the free agent market in order to capitalize on his comeback year. Reynolds recently cracked Tim Dierkes' 2014 free agent power rankings, clocking in at the #9 position.
- Also from Bastian, Francisco Lindor has been on fire in Class A ball but the Indians shortstop prospect isn't expected to be in the Major Leagues until next season at the absolute earliest. In order words, Asdrubal Cabrera is unlikely to be on the trade block anytime soon. Though Cabrera is off to a slow start, it makes little sense for Cleveland to move one of their key regulars if they're in a pennant race.
- If the White Sox become sellers before the trade deadline, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago thinks Chris Sale might be the only untouchable player on the roster. Even Jake Peavy, who signed a two-year extension (albeit without a no-trade clause) with Chicago last October, could potentially be dealt for a big haul of prospects.
- Twins minor league outfielder Joe Benson is in danger of losing his 40-man roster spot, 1500 ESPN Twin Cities Phil Mackey speculates. Benson was ranked by Baseball America as the 99th-best prospect in the sport prior to the 2012 season, but the 25-year-old has struggled badly since.
- From earlier today on MLBTR, we heard that the Tigers were looking for relief pitching.
The July 2nd international signing period is less than two months away. Every team had a $2.9MM bonus pool for 2012-13, but as Baseball America's Ben Badler outlined here, the 2013-14 pools "will be tiered based on reverse order of 2012 major league winning percentage." The Astros, Cubs, and Rockies each have at least $4.2MM to spend, plus teams can trade for additional money. The Twins, Indians, Marlins, and Red Sox each have more than $3MM to spend, while the Royals and Blue Jays are close to that figure. Badler has the latest on ten prospects who are expected to sign for at least $1MM apiece.
- The highest bonus is likely to go to Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, potentially $2.6-2.8MM with the Cubs as the "heavy favorite." The Cubs are also the frontrunners to sign one of the top Venezuelan players, shortstop Gleyber Torres.
- Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers "might be the best hitter on the international market," writes Badler. He's the primary target of the Red Sox. Another contender for the best bat is third baseman Luis Encarnacion, who is most likely to sign with the Phillies.
- The Yankees are the most likely suitor for Leonardo Molina, perhaps the best athlete in the class. He can sign when he turns 16 on August 1st. The Yankees' preliminary bonus pool is reportedly $1,877,900.
- The biggest raw power belongs to Dominican outfielder Micker Zapata, who has been connected to the White Sox and Padres.
- Badler's article has much more information, so be sure to give it a click and a read.
Trade winds could be swirling around the Windy City in the coming months given that both the Cubs and White Sox are in last place in their respective divisions. Here's the latest from both Chicago teams as the focus is already turning towards the July trade deadline...
- Jed Hoyer is "not sure" if Ian Stewart has a future with the team, the Cubs GM told reporters (including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune). The third baseman was outrighted to Triple-A earlier this week and has battled injuries since signing with Chicago in the 2011-12 offseason. Stewart hit .201/.292/.335 in 202 PA in 2012 and is struggling in the minors this year. "I hope he starts playing well. I do think there is a lot of talent there… But at this point it’s going to be about performance. Potential can only take you so far," Hoyer said.
- Also from Hoyer (via Sullivan), he feels the Cubs can still turn things around before it's time to consider moving players at the deadline. "We don't want to be a seller. That's not a position you want to be in. But if you are in that position, you have to take advantage of it. You certainly hope you're looking to buy. It's a lot more fun," Hoyer said. With the Cubs in Washington to face the Nationals this weekend, Hoyer praised Mike Rizzo's job in gradually turning the Nats from also-rans into World Series contenders.
- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was similarly optimistic about his team's chances of getting back into the pennant race. Hahn spoke to the media (including ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine) about how he feels the Sox can rebound once players return from injury and a few key hitters break out of slumps. “Our intent from the beginning was that at some point we would be a buyer,” Hahn said. “We continue to have our pro scouts out there looking and talking through ideas. At the same time it will be nice to get some of our injured players back. Trades will not be dictated by speculation, it will be a function of how we play on the field.”
- If the Chicago teams do become deadline sellers, both will have interesting trade chips in the outfield. MLBTR's Steve Adams and Jeff Todd recently looked at the trade candidacy of David DeJesus and Alex Rios, respectively.
The ups and downs of the White Sox and their now long-tenured outfielder Alex Rios, 32, have been well documented. The Sox originally acquired Rios in August of 2009 as a waiver claim from the Blue Jays, not even two years after Toronto signed him to a seven-year, $69.835MM extension that included a club option for 2015 at $13.5MM.
While Rios was just 28 at the time and had already put up three stellar seasons with the Jays, his abysmal 2009 season already had many labeling the contract as one of the worst in baseball. In the midst of a playoff race, though, Chicago decided to roll the dice. At the time, then-White Sox GM Kenny Williams acknowledged that the team went "out on a limb a little bit" by nabbing Rios, but said the team "had targeted him as the guy who would not only help us here in our quest for a division but in future seasons as well." Rios was even worse in Chicago than in Toronto that year, however, and the team ended with a losing record.
After a more promising 2010, Rios imploded in 2011, slashing just .227/.265/.348 in 570 painful plate appearances. He also saw his counting statistics plummet, as he logged just 13 home runs (after 21 in 2010) and 11 stolen bases (against 34 in 2010). Just when Rios seemed a complete bust, though, he rebounded in 2012 with a .304/.334/.516 line to go with 25 long balls and 23 swipes. He has continued that pace this season, slashing .281/.348/.516 over his first 141 plate appearances.
Meanwhile, for the White Sox, a relatively promising 2012 campaign has not carried over to the current season. The club sits in last place in the AL Central, six games back of the Tigers. And there is not much reason for optimism, as the Sox project as one of the worst teams in the American League over the rest of the year. Should the team look to move salary and replenish its lowly farm system (ESPN Insider link), Rios could be an interesting trade chip.
At this point, Rios's contract looks very appealing for a player with his current level of performance. He was worth 4.1 wins above replacement last year according to Fangraphs, and as noted has continued to hit. Meanwhile, he is owed just $12.5MM for 2014. (The deal does include an escalator that would bump that figure to $13MM if he is traded before the start of the 2014 season.) And Rios's 2015 option offers a nice risk-reward proposition: it could be cheap if he keeps performing, but would protect an acquiring team's downside because it comes with a minimal $1MM buyout. While the 2011 disaster will no doubt weigh heavily on the mind of a team looking at Rios, it is worth noting that he posted a .237 BABIP that year that was dramatically worse than his career .308 mark.
Rios could appeal to a relatively wide range of teams, potentially increasing his trade value, although the market could be impacted by his six-team no-trade clause. Indeed, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News exhorted the Mets to take a hard look at Rios in spite of the fact that the team is looking unlikely to make a postseason run. While his play has certainly seen its ups and downs, Rios has demonstrated this year that he is still physically capable of delivering a strong blend of power and speed. And with a contract that offers multi-year control without a major commitment, along with the flexibility and upside of the 2015 option, Rios could appeal to teams that are seeking both future and present value at the trade deadline.
As the season is now over one-fifth of the way through, the likely trade deadline buyers and sellers are becoming more clear. Likewise, analysis is beginning to increase of the development of the market. Let's take a quick look around some recent commentary:
- The starting pitching trade market promises to be deep, but will likely lack impact, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman analalyzes the potentially available starters by likelihood of a trade. His top three are Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins, Bud Norris of the Astros, and Scott Feldman of the Cubs. Other notable arms include Josh Johnson of the Blue Jays (sixth on Heyman's list), Cliff Lee of the Phillies (twelfth), David Price of the Rays (thirteenth), Jake Peavy of the White Sox (fourteenth), R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays (fifteenth), and Edwin Jackson of the Cubs (twentieth).
- Some possible trade targets may have the right to decline a trade, of course. Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs breaks down the no-trade clauses that may come into play as the trade market heats up. Cliff Lee and Chase Utley of the Phillies each could be moved despite their twenty-one-team list of teams to which they can decline a trade. Likewise, Jimmy Rollins (full no-trade) and Jonathan Papelbon (twelve-team no-trade) could be possible targets. Howie Kendrick could be the member of the Angels most likely to be dealt, in spite of a floating, limited no-trade clause that allows him to decline trades to twelve teams this year. Finally, Thurm notes that the Twins' Joe Mauer is perhaps the most attractive and most expensive potential trade target (however unlikely) who enjoys full no-trade protection.
- Of course, MLBTR has been providing its own original commentary on the upcoming trade market. For instance, have a look at the list of relief trade candidates and trade targets with team control.