Chicago White Sox Rumors
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.
With less than one month until the 2013 Amateur Draft, Conor Glassey of Baseball America spoke with Astros scouting director Mike Elias about the team's No. 1 overall selection and approach to the draft. Glassey's piece is a terrific, in-depth look at the amount of Astros personnel that is involved in the decision as well as GM Jeff Luhnow's role in scouting potential No. 1 picks. Elias says the Astros are still choosing from a pool of about seven players but won't prematurely count anyone out or make any rushed rankings. Here's more from Glassey and others on the upcoming draft...
- Glassey speculates that the seven players up for debate among Astros brass are Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray, Clint Frazier, Austin Meadows, Kris Bryant, Sean Manaea and Colin Moran. There aren't many surprises in that group, as those names are commonly regarded among the best talent available in the draft.
- Also within Glassey's piece, he notes that the overall strength of this year's draft class on the 20-80 scale would probably be a 45. An NL scouting director told him that success in this year's draft will be about finding an undervalued niche within that underwhelming crop of players.
- More from Glassey, who adds that college talent, in particular, is weak in this draft. The first round could feature as few as six college pitchers, and there's no consensus top college shortstop. The first college shortstop might not come off the board until the third round. Zack Cozart (No. 79 overall in 2007) currently represents the latest instance of the first four-year college shortstop coming off the board in any draft.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis reports that Ryan Boldt, a high school outfielder from Red Wing, Minn., will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair a slight tear in his meniscus. Boldt was a potential first-round pick, and Callis feels that even with the injury he will still go "pretty high" because he was so good last summer (Twitter links).
- ESPN's Keith Law feels that Boldt's injury could drop him out of the first round and may ultimately lead Boldt to honor his commitment to Nebraska rather than sign out of high school (Twitter link). Law ranked Boldt as the 13th best prospect (Insider required) in this year's class in mid-April.
- Logan Shore, a high school right-hander who is also from Minnesota, hit 91 mph in the seventh inning of his start yesterday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Wolfson reports that the Twins, White Sox, Mets, Nationals, Blue Jays, A's and Reds have shown the most interest in Shore, who Law listed as the draft's No. 39 prospect in his Top 50 rankings.
Matt Harvey posted a game score of 97 while taking a perfect game into the seventh, striking out 12, and walking none over nine innings against the White Sox Tuesday night, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes (on Twitter). Only 40 outings of nine innings or fewer since 1916 have earned a higher game score. Here's a collection of notes from around the majors.
- The nine Asian-born pitchers who have pitched in the big leagues this year have combined to post numbers similar to a typical Justin Verlander season, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs says. Those nine pitchers have 241 1/3 innings pitched so far in 2013, with a 2.91 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. Yu Darvish has been a big part of that, of course, but Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hisashi Iwakuma, Hiroki Kuroda, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara have also pitched well. The past struggles of pitchers like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Irabu have allowed today's Asian-born pitchers to fly under the radar somewhat, Cameron argues, and he wonders whether pitchers from overseas leagues might be undervalued in the market. Specifically, he says, emphasis on fastball velocity and breaking balls may cause teams to undervalue pitchers with great splitters or changeups.
- Free agency has become "a used car lot cluttered with lemons," with only a few bargains to be found, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated argues, citing the examples of Josh Hamilton (Angels), B.J. Upton (Braves) and Zack Greinke (Dodgers). Thus far, Hamilton and Upton have failed to produce with their new teams, and Greinke is hurt. In the past four seasons, Verducci notes, there have been 24 free-agent contracts worth $35MM or more. Most of those have turned out badly, and some (such as Jason Bay's deal with the Mets) have looked bad almost immediately. That means that "win[ning] the winter" by signing the biggest-name free agents isn't all it's cracked up to be, as the 2012 Marlins can attest. This year's Angels and Dodgers have struggled out of the gate, and so have the Blue Jays (who had a big offseason mostly driven by trades).
- The Astros' decisions to designate Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez for assignment made their outfield more athletic, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says. Robbie Grossman, Brandon Barnes and Jimmy Paredes started in the outfield for the Astros Tuesday night. "We went out to get more athletic, get more guys who have the ability to mishit the ball and still have a possibility of getting on base because of their athletic ability," says manager Bo Porter.
- Will Middlebrooks and David Ross left the Red Sox's game against the Twins Tuesday night after they collided. There is no indication yes that Middlebrooks will miss significant time. But after Middlebrooks, the Red Sox have little depth at third base, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. Utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco "isn't the answer," MacPherson says, and the choices at Triple-A Pawtucket aren't thrilling. Minor-league veteran Justin Henry, who was acquired in the offseason for Rule 5 pick Jeff Kobernus, may be the best option there. Brock Holt, who arrived from the Pirates with Joel Hanrahan in the offseason, is another possibility. Of course, Middlebrooks himself has struggled this year, hitting just .195/.232/.281.
- Jake Peavy does not have a no-trade clause in his new contract with the White Sox, and he doesn't need one, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. "I told (GM) Rick Hahn that if he didn’t trade me before spring training was over, that was good enough for me," says Peavy, pointing out that it's unlikely he will be traded if the White Sox are contending.
- Rosenthal also notes that Madison Bumgarner's contract with the Giants could be one of the most team-friendly in baseball. Bumgarner, 23, would have been eligible for free agency after the 2016 season, but his new deal contains cheap team options that can allow the Giants to carry him through 2019.
- The Brewers have assigned Francisco Rodriguez to Class A+ Brevard County, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. Rodriguez will make three relief appearances there, then head to Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers must promote Rodriguez to the majors by May 17, or he can become a free agent. Rodriguez posted a 4.38 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 78 appearances with the Brewers in 2012.
- Diamond Mines' new database provides a fascinating look at old scouting reports, including many in the scouts' own handwriting.
Today's minor moves:
- Infielder Josh Bell has been released by the White Sox, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Bell, 26, was with the club's Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte where he hit .273/.310/.345 in 58 plate appearances this season. He was the key player in the July 2009 trade that sent George Sherrill to the Dodgers.
- The Blue Jays released righty Trystan Magnuson, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Magnuson, a 27-year-old Canadian, struggled in his ten Double-A appearances this year. The 56th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Magnuson was traded to the Athletics in 2010 in the deal that brought Rajai Davis to Toronto. A year later, the Blue Jays bought Magnuson back from the A's.
- Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano was placed on the 15-day DL last night, reported MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, prompting the club to purchase the contract of infielder Nick Green from Triple-A. Henderson Alvarez was transferred to the 60-day DL in a corresponding move. Green, signed to a minor league deal in January, lost his 40-man roster spot last Thursday in favor of Matt Diaz but has already regained it.
- Four players currently reside in DFA limbo: Jonathan Sanchez of the Pirates, Kameron Loe of the Cubs, and Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez of the Astros.
The White Sox claimed first baseman Mike McDade off waivers from the Indians, according to the Tribe's official Twitter feed. They also announced outfielder Ezequiel Carrera cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. The White Sox made room for McDade on the 40-man roster by putting Gavin Floyd on the 60-day DL, adds Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.
McDade, 24, had been designated for assignment by the Indians last Thursday to open a 40-man roster spot for Carrera, who was designated himself three days later. McDade has struggled in 83 Triple-A plate appearances this year. The Las Vegas native came up through the Blue Jays' system, hitting .285/.360/.445 with 19 home runs in 508 plate appearances across Double and Triple-A last year. Drafted by the Jays in the sixth round in '07, McDade never ranked among the Baseball America's top 30 prospects for the team in any season.