Chicago White Sox Rumors
The Cubs intend to stock their minor league system with pitching in the upcoming draft, though President Theo Epstein indicated this week that the club may not target an arm with its first-round pick, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. If the Cubs opt against taking a pitcher with the fourth overall selection, North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner is one possibility, according to Gonzales. Here's more from baseball's Central divisions:
- Donovan Hand tells Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that he was surprised to learn that he had lost his 40-man roster spot after the Brewers re-upped with Francisco Rodriguez. The swingman says he hoped his 2013 campaign, which saw him post a a 3.69 ERA in 31 games, would net him a spot on the 2014 Opening Day roster. "It's part of the business here," he acknwoledged, adding that "I love this organization."
- Terry Francona says the Indians haven't worked out any deals with any of the 24 nonroster invites the club has in camp. "In other words, they haven’t been guaranteed big-league jobs if they come to camp on a minor-league deal to save the Tribe some money," Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer clarifies. "We’ve got guys like Jeff Francoeur here and his reputation is flawless in the game," Francona commented. "That’s the last thing I want to do is lie to somebody or get them here under false pretenses."
- The White Sox are unlikely to bring on any free agents that require draft pick compensation, Scott Merkin of MLB.com reports. "I will say that we are certainly looking forward to having the size of the draft pool we have right now," GM Rick Hahn said. "That is part of what we are trying to do, one of the silver linings of an extremely disappointing season."
The White Sox have received positive reviews for their accumulation of young talent over the last year. But with that youth movement comes a lot of roster questions, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin, who provides an excellent early look at a spring that should be worthy of close attention. Here are some more scattered notes from the day:
- For the Angels, another new starting pitching acquisition is highly unlikely at this point, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. "None of the deals made sense for us, whether trying to access veteran starters through trade or free agency," said Dipoto. "And we didn't want to do anything that didn't make sense for us." Dipoto says that he is comfortable with his team's starting depth and likes its upside.
- The Twins will be among the team's attending a showcase on Thursday featuring Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz and righty Odrisamer Despaigne, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The pair is expected to sign in short order, says Wolfson. Diaz, in particular, could be an interesting participant in the marketplace.
- Dominican July 2 prospect Yirver Gilbert Lara is reportedly said by some scouts to have agreed to a $3.2MM signing bonus with the Brewers. Lara's trainer, Jaime Ramos, told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that "there is nothing concrete and there are still a lot of teams interested in him," including the Brewers, Royals, Yankees, and Twins. Whether or not Lara lands in Milwaukee, explain Sanchez and his MLB.com colleague Adam McCalvy, the Brewers appear set to embark on greatly increased levels of international spending and player development efforts. (The team's largest international bonus awards to date are just $800K.)
- Pitcher Carl Pavano is progressing in rehab and plans to throw off of a mound in a week or so, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 38-year-old, who did not pitch professionally last year, hopes to put on a showcase in the near future.
Here are today's minor moves and outright assignments from around the league...
- Catcher Omir Santos has signed a minor league deal (that contains an invite to Major League Spring Training) with the Pirates, the team announced via press release. The 32-year-old spent the 2013 campaign with the Indians organization, batting .248/.285/.354 with three homers in 222 plate appearances at Triple-A Columbus. Santos, who went hitless in one at-bat with the Indians' Major League club last year, is a career .248/.280/.363 hitter in 349 big league PAs.
- The White Sox announced that they've outrighted right-hander Deunte Heath to Triple-A in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Mitchell Boggs, whose deal is now official. Heath, 28, has yielded 11 runs in 9 2/3 big league innings but owns a career 3.70 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 233 1/3 Triple-A innings.
- The Royals announced that left-hander Everett Teaford has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Omaha. The 29-year-old southpaw was designated for assignment when the team acquired outfielder Carlos Peguero from the Mariners in late January. Teaford has a career 4.25 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 43.8 percent ground-ball rate in 106 big league innings to go along with a solid track record at the Triple-A level.
- With Teaford's outright, there are only two players that are currently in DFA limbo: Brett Wallace of the Astros and Emilio Bonifacio of the Royals.
The White Sox have added some low-cost, controllable upside to their bullpen, as they officially announced on Friday the signing of right-hander Mitchell Boggs to a one-year, $1.1MM contract. The former Cardinals setup man is represented by CSE. Because he only has four years, 34 days of Major League service time, Boggs will remain arbitration eligible following the 2014 season and is now controlled by the White Sox through 2015.
Boggs, who turns 30 next week, found himself in the closer's role in St. Louis last season after Jason Motte underwent Tommy John surgery. However, despite a strong track record as a setup man, Boggs struggled in his small sample as the Cardinals' closer. The former fifth-round pick allowed 18 earned runs on 21 hits and 15 walks in just 14 2/3 innings for the Redbirds before being designated for assignment and picked up by the Rockies.
He struggled greatly through the summer months in Colorado's minor league system, posting an 8.27 ERA in 16 1/3 Triple-A innings, but Boggs righted the ship (to an extent) upon a promotion to the Majors in September. In 8 2/3 big league innings to close the season, he allowed three runs on seven hits and five walks.
None of those struggles are characteristic of Boggs, who prior to 2013 had posted a combined 3.08 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 201 innings from 2010-12. Boggs had two large problems last season -- a career-worst 7.7 BB/9 and an unnaturally high 26.3 percent homer-to-flyball ratio. The latter of those two marks seems to be particularly fluky, especially considering the fact that Boggs entered the season with a career mark of just 8.5 percent in that regard.
Boggs will join a White Sox bullpen that has said goodbye to closer Addison Reed this offseason and also parted with mainstays Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton in July trades. He'll add to a group that figures to consist of some combination of Nate Jones, Daniel Webb, Matt Lindstrom, Ronald Belisario, Scott Downs and Donnie Veal.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter) that trade talks for Rays catcher Jose Lobaton have begun to heat up. Topkin notes that teams with interest or need at the position include the Diamondbacks, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Mets and Nationals.
The 29-year-old Lobaton slashed a solid .249/.320/.394 with seven homers for the Rays in 2013 and also belted one of the most dramatic and improbable home runs of the postseason. A switch-hitter, Lobaton has historically been better from the right side of the dish than the left, but he bucked that trend and swung the bat better as a lefty (.736 OPS) than as a righty (.653) in 2013.
While Lobaton is a solid, controllable bat -- he is a Super Two player that is not eligible for free agency until the 2017-18 offseason -- at a thin position, he also comes with some defensive question marks. Lobaton has caught just 16 percent of attempted base stealers in his career and was below average at blocking pitches in the dirt in 2013 (per Fangraphs). While he's not a poor pitch-framer, he also doesn't add significant value in that department, either (per Matthew Carruth's work at StatCorner).
Lobaton has been connected to the White Sox and Nationals in trade talks so far this offseason, with the Nats being the most recently linked club. A trade would seem to be beneficial for both Lobaton and the Rays; the Rays acquired and extended Ryan Hanigan this offseason in addition to re-signing Jose Molina, leaving Lobaton without a clear path to playing time. Additionally, a trade would save the Rays a bit of cash, as Lobaton avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $900K salary for 2014.
Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio said on MLBN's Inside Pitch show today that the Blue Jays expect to land one of Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez (Twitter link from MLB Network Radio). While Toronto has yet to make a formal offer to either right-hander, the team has had discussions with each former AL Central hurler's camp. More from around the league...
- Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that the Dodgers' lack of infield depth could be troubling when the season gets underway. Of particular concern is Cuban signee Alexander Guerrero, who could struggle with the transition from shortstop to second base. The Dodgers have little in the way of alternatives, with Chone Figgins, Dee Gordon and light-hitting Miguel Rojas as the primary in-house candidates. Saxon also wonders how many games Hanley Ramirez can stay healthy for, and asks if the Dodgers are relying too heavily on Juan Uribe.
- JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago looks at the savvy scouting of Joe Siers and Daraka Shaheed of the White Sox -- the two scouts who pushed the team to pluck lefty Jose Quintana off the scrap heap following his release from the Yankees organization. General manager Rick Hahn wasn't shy about his praise for Quintana, who he feels has exceeded expectations and become a strong No. 2 starter behind Chris Sale. "He doesn't have to improve in my book," Hahn said. "If he does, fantastic. He certainly has the aptitude and athleticism and now the knowledge of the league that it's not unrealistic to expect the improvement. ...if he's this guy for the next several years we'll be very happy."
- The Blue Jays will move waiver claim Brent Morel from third base to second base, Morel told Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (Twitter link). Toronto claimed the former White Sox top prospect off waivers earlier this year. The move isn't all that surprising given Toronto's lack of depth at the keystone.
- Bowden writes (Insider subscription required) that Athletics GM Billy Beane and Rays GM Andrew Friedman are the GM stars of the offseason. While Yankees GM Brian Cashman spent the most money, and Rangers GM Jon Daniels made the second-most noise with acquisitions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, Bowden feels that the two small-market GMs shined above all others. In particular, he praises Beane's stockpiling of elite bullpen arms and Friedman's decision to resist the pressure to deal David Price.
Even after the addition of Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees' rotation is third-best in the AL East, behind the Rays and Red Sox, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Yankees' rotation lacks depth, Lauber writes, while the Rays have David Price (at least for now) and a strong collection of young pitchers, and the Red Sox have plenty of solid starters to back up Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Eight teams, including the Rockies, Orioles, Mariners, Yankees and Dodgers, have interest in Ervin Santana, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish writes. (Earlier today, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik seemed to imply the Mariners would not be heavily involved on Santana.) Other teams could enter the picture as well. The Cubs also asked about Santana, but draft-pick forfeiture is a problem for them, even though their first pick is protected.
- The White Sox will meet with pitchers Texas high school pitcher Tyler Kolek, Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, and and California high school shortstop Jacob Gatewood as they prepare to pick third overall in the June draft, MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes. White Sox amateur scouting director Doug Laumann says, unsurprisingly, that he does not expect Carlos Rodon to fall to the White Sox at No. 3. They've already met with Rodon, East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman and NC State shortstop Trea Turner.
- In the abstract, it might seem like the Phillies should rebuild from the ground up, but their situation is actually more complex than that, Brad Johnson of FanGraphs writes. Rebuilding efforts can fail, and memories of a streak of mostly poor play from 1987 through 2000 linger in the minds of Phillies fans, who Johnson says aren't a patient bunch. And even if the Phillies sold some of their big contracts, they would still have plenty of payroll obligations. Given the situation they've gotten themselves into, Johnson argues, simply trying not to lose too much might be the best strategy for them this year.
- Michael Young hasn't decided whether he will play in 2014, but if he does, it will be for the Dodgers, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets. A report earlier this month indicated that Young was thinking about retiring.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe checks in with GMs, players, writers, and scouts to help run down the best coaches in baseball. On his list of bench coaches who are managers in waiting: Brad Mills of the Indians, Torey Luvullo of the Red Sox, Larry Bowa of the Phillies, Tim Flannery of the Giants, and the Brewers' Jerry Narron. More from today's column..
- The Pirates probably won’t go after a pitcher if A.J. Burnett retires. Right now, Pittsburgh is looking for a full-time first baseman and would use the money that would have gone to the veteran toward that end. Cafardo also notes that the Orioles could be a "wild card" in the situation since Burnett lives in Baltimore.
- While the bids of the other teams are still unknown, one GM threw out the following figures in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes: Yankees $155MM, Cubs $120MM, Diamondbacks $120MM, Dodgers $119MM, White Sox $100MM, Astros $100MM.
- The Diamondbacks were head over heels for Tanaka, but the fact they weren’t on one of the coasts and they were in a smaller media market worked against them.
- Scott Boras doesn't represent David Ortiz, but he tells Cafardo that he feels for them. Boras sees some similarities between the Red Sox star and his own client Kendrys Morales. Morales is seen by most clubs as a DH rather than a first baseman which is hurting his value. Boras argues that Ortiz is the featured power hitter in Boston's lineup as a DH and believes that Morales can also provide value in that role.
- There had been some talk that Daisuke Matsuzaka might go back to Japan to pitch, but the possibility of breaking into the Mets’ rotation with Matt Harvey out intrigued Matsuzaka enough to fight for a spot.
- The Giants have been through a lot with Pablo Sandoval and even if he has a good season, this could be Pablo Sandoval's last in San Francisco. Sandoval will be a free agent following the 2014 season.
There were no new developments today relating to Matt Garza, who looked to have a deal in place with the Brewers yesterday before an unidentified snag held things up. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel provided some updates from the inside, however, reporting that a source said negotiations were "ongoing." When asked whether there were any new developments, GM Doug Melvin told Haudricourt "nothing yet."
Here are a few bits of information elsewhere on the current free agent pitching market:
- Bronson Arroyo and the Dodgers have had discussions since Masahiro Tanaka chose not to sign with Los Angeles, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The level of interest remains uncertain, Heyman notes.
- The Angels have "a bit" of interest in Arroyo but are also content to take their current group to Spring Training, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Angels acquired Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs this offseason to join Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards in the rotation.
- It's been a different type of offseason for the Angels this year, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, noting the patience and restraint the team has shown on the free agent market. Gonzalez notes that the Angels aren't interested in Matt Garza at the $13MM AAV he would receive in his near-deal with the Brewers, as it would push them up against the luxury tax threshold. He lists Arroyo, Jason Hammel, Chris Capuano, Scott Baker and Paul Maholm as potential rotation options that would leave some cushion between Anaheim's payroll and the luxury tax.
- With a lot of starters still available on the open market, there are plenty of teams that have yet to fill up their slate of rotation candidates. Joining the O's and Jays among the clubs that are looking for starters are both of Chicago's two franchises, according to Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (via Twitter). Levine indicates that the Cubs are looking over the list of remaining free agents, but he does not say whether the White Sox have any interest in open-market players.
- MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik thinks the team is done making "major" additions, but tweaks are still possible. However, semantics could come into play heavily, as manager Lloyd McClendon said the team would still like to add a No. 3 starter, per ESPN 710's Shannon Drayer (Twitter link). New team president and COO Kevin Mather indicated today that the club would have the financial resources necessary to make more additions before the start of the season.
- There are five clubs vying for the services of Hammel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Hammel is expected to choose a landing spot within a week.
- Swingman Jerome Williams has offers on the table from at least three clubs, Cotillo tweets. He, too, appears to be nearing a decision point.
- Southpaw reliever Tim Byrdak will not be re-signing with the Mets, the reliever tweeted (via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com). The 40-year-old indicated that the team decided against signing him.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The White Sox announced on Twitter that they have agreed to a multiyear extension with manager Robin Ventura.
Ventura originally signed a three-year contract with the White Sox covering the 2012-14 seasons. Though he had no prior managerial experience, the now-46-year-old Ventura has two seasons under his belt at the helm for the Sox, during which the team has turned in a 148-176 record. The extension will prevent Ventura from entering what could be a transitional year as a "lame duck" manager with just one remaining year on his contract.
General manager Rick Hahn, executive vice president Kenny Williams and the rest of the Sox front office clearly believe that Ventura, who enjoyed a strong 16-year career as a player from 1989-2004, is the correct voice to lead youngsters such as Jose Dariel Abreu, Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson in the right direction. The hope on the South Side is that those three will be able to add to a strong core of pitching that is fronted by ace and franchise cornerstone Chris Sale.
Hahn offered up high praise for Ventura, per a followup tweet from the Sox: "There was never really any question in our minds as to who we wanted in the White Sox dugout now and into the future."