Chicago White Sox Rumors
The White Sox have locked up lefty Jose Quintana to a five-year deal worth at least $21MM, announced the team. The guaranteed money in the deal is contingent on Quintana's arbitration status: $26.5MM if he qualifies as a Super Two after 2014, and $21MM if not. Quintana will have two years and 133 days of Major League service after 2014, which would have qualified him for Super Two in two of the last five years. The deal includes club options at $10.5MM for 2019 and $11.5MM for 2020. A White Sox press release has the full salary breakdown. Quintana is represented by MDR Sports Management.
Quintana, 25, broke out last year with a 3.51 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.04 HR/9, and 42.5% groundball rate in 200 innings. "Jose quickly has established himself as a quality major-league starting pitcher, and along with Chris Sale, we expect him to be an important piece of our rotation for the foreseeable future," said White Sox senior vice president/general manager Rick Hahn in the statement. Sale, 25 this month, is potentially under team control through 2019.
Quintana has taken an interesting path to this $21MM+ deal. Signed by the Mets out of Colombia for $40K in 2006, he was eventually released for a violation of the Minor League Baseball drug policy. The southpaw signed with the Yankees, but never ranked among their top 30 prospects as ranked by Baseball America. The Yankees offered Quintana a minor league deal after 2011, but White Sox scouts Joe Siers and Daraka Shaheed "made him stand out on the six-year free-agent list," Hahn told Joel Sherman of the New York Post in June 2012. The Sox separated themselves by offering a Major League deal, and now they have a rotation mainstay.
Quintana's contract falls squarely between the last two deals done for one-plus service starting pitchers, as you can see in our Extension Tracker. In November, the Rangers' Martin Perez signed a four-year, $12MM deal with three club options, which was in line with previous deals for pitchers in this service class. In February, however, the Braves gave Julio Teheran a six-year, $32.4MM deal that included only one club option. Quintana and Teheran have similar career ERAs (3.61 and 3.44), but Quintana has pitched 336 1/3 innings to Teheran's 211 2/3. Perhaps the discrepancy is because Quintana never enjoyed Teheran's status as a top prospect, or perhaps Teheran's deal simply didn't reset the extension market for this service class as some speculated.
Very early this morning, the 2014 MLB regular season will officially begin, as Wade Miley and the Diamondbacks host Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at 3:00am Central at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia. Here are a few notes from around the Major Leagues.
- Considerations regarding the luxury-tax threshold will not affect the timing of potential extensions for David Ortiz and/or Jon Lester, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. In the past, the Red Sox might have waited to announce extensions until after Opening Day, because the average annual value of those extensions might have caused the team to go over the luxury-tax threshold that year. Now, however, the CBA stipulates that new extensions that begin in the future will not affect current contracts as long as the terms of those contracts remain the same. So, for example, if the Red Sox were to sign Lester to an extension, he would still only count his current $9.37MM against the luxury-tax threshold for 2014 as long as the extension did not change his 2014 salary.
- Lester could allow extension negotiations to continue into the regular season under the right circumstances, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. "If you’re at the 5-yard line and you’re closing in on the thing, yeah, let’s spill it over (into the season)," he says. "But if we’re so far apart that it doesn’t matter, then no. That’s something you discuss when you get to that point."
- Outfielder Robbie Grossman won't say whether he and the Astros are working on an extension, but he does tell the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich that he would have interest in one. "I’m from Houston. I want to be able to play for the Astros my whole career if possible, and that’s all I have to say." On Thursday, a report indicated that the Astros had discussed an extension with Grossman.
- Astros NRI Peter Moylan has been diagnosed with a high-grade tear in the UCL in his elbow, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports. Moylan pitched 15 1/33 innings for the Dodgers last season.
- The White Sox' farm system is on the rise, MLB.com's Jim Callis writes. That's thanks in part to an increase in draft spending in the past two seasons. Callis notes that their 2013 class, topped by first-round shortstop Tim Anderson, is "one of its most promising in recent memory." The White Sox have also increased their efforts to sign Latin American amateurs.
Here's the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
- The Mariners have made a series of attempts to re-sign DH Kendrys Morales since he turned down their qualifying offer, but the Mariners' proposals probably reflected the reality that if they re-signed Morales, they would lose the compensatory draft pick they would gain if another team signed him. Some Mariners personnel believe the team's greatest need right now is another hitter.
- After Jose Iglesias' injury, the Tigers' shortstop options (Danny Worth, Hernan Perez, Eugenio Suarez) do not impress scouts. The Tigers likely won't pursue free agent Stephen Drew, and trade target Chris Owings of the Diamondbacks doesn't look likely either. Rosenthal speculates the Tigers could look to Clint Barmes of the Pirates or Tyler Pastornicky of the Braves instead.
- The White Sox are excited about Maikel Cleto, who they recently claimed off waivers from the Royals. He's now throwing 96-98 MPH down in the zone with good secondary pitches. Since Cleto is out of options, the White Sox had originally considered trying to sneak him through waivers after they claimed him, but now that seems very unlikely.
- The Reds are worried about their depth of starting pitching, but they don't have enough room in their budget to make a significant addition.
While much has been made of the Yankees' lack of infield depth in 2014, Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out that the depth beyond this coming season is even more concerning. Of the team's starting infielders, only Mark Teixeira is under contract after 2014, and they have little in the way of MLB-ready replacements within the organization. As such, Sherman reports that when scouting other clubs, the Yankees aren't looking for platoon partners for Kelly Johnson or Brian Roberts; they're looking for a "500 at-bat" type of player who could start in 2015. Rival scouts are focusing on the Yankees' catchers, and a deal centered around Francisco Cervelli and Gordon Beckham "is not impossible," writes Sherman. He adds that Mason Williams could be a trade chip with the Yankees' outfield now locked in for the foreseeable future.
Here are some more links pertaining to the AL East...
- Asked by MLB.com's Paul Hagen about the possibility of being traded, Cervelli replied: "I don't know. I've been here forever. I don't have that answer, because I feel right now like this is my house. But if somebody wants me to go over there, I've got to make the adjustment, you know?" Cervelli added that his dream has always been to be a starting catcher, but he accepts his role as a backup to Brian McCann. Manager Joe Girardi told Hagen that he feels Cervelli could be a starter for another organization, praising Cervelli's development offensively and defensively.
- Hagen also writes that Michael Pineda has made a good impression with the Yankees this spring, but manager Joe Girardi suggested that he'd be on an innings limit if he won the fifth starter's job. "Let's just say, hypothetically, he was a starter at some point," Girardi said to Hagen. "You're going to have to adjust. Because you're not getting 200 innings from him." Pineda shrugged off Girardi's comments when asked about them, stating that he knows it's Girardi's choice to make, and he's simply preparing himself to be ready to pitch every fifth day.
- Stephen Drew tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that doesn't know where he's going to be playing in 2014, but he's confident that a club will sign him and that he can help the team win. Drew is working out with fellow free agent Kendrys Morales at the Scott Boras Training Institute in Miami and says he feels he is coming off his best defensive season in the Majors. He'd love to return to Boston, but acknowledges that he can see why the team wants to give Xander Bogaerts a long look at shortstop. Drew doesn't say it directly, but he hints at his displeasure with the qualifying offer/compensatory draft pick system.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com hears from scouts outside the Orioles organization that Baltimore is on the hunt for a backup catcher. The club has yet to commit to choosing solely betwee Steve Clevenger and Johnny Monell for that distinction. Kubatko writes that manager Buck Showalter feels the decision will ultimately come down to defense.
White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia has changed representation, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reports (on Twitter). MLBTR has also learned that Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar has switched agencies as well. Garcia, who had been represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council, will now be represented by Octagon. Villar, formerly with Kinzer Management Group, is now represented by MDR Sports Management.
Both 22-year-olds saw their first significant taste of big league action in 2013. Garcia, the key component of Chicago's Jake Peavy trade, slashed .283/.309/.422 with seven homers in 256 plate appearances. Villar, one of the players Houston received from the Phillies in 2010's Hunter Pence trade, received 241 PAs and batted .243/.321/.319. While he showed very little power, Villar showcased his speed by swiping 18 bases in just 58 games.
For additional agency info on roughly 2,000 Major League and Minor League players, check out MLBTR's Agency Database. If you see any omissions or errors within the database, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The White Sox made an early splash by signing a powerful 27-year-old Cuban first baseman, acquired a new center fielder, swapped their closer for a third base prospect, and tinkered with small-scale free agent signings.
Major League Signings
- Jose Abreu, 1B: six years, $68MM (may opt into arbitration once eligible)
- Scott Downs, RP: one year, $4MM (includes $4.25MM club option for 2015 with $250K buyout)
- Matt Lindstrom, RP: one year, $4MM (club option exercised)
- Ronald Belisario, RP: one year, $3MM (can be controlled through 2016 as arbitration eligible player)
- Paul Konerko, 1B/DH: one year, $2.5MM ($1MM deferred until 2021)
- Felipe Paulino, SP: one year, $1.75MM ($4MM club option for 2015 with a $250K buyout)
- Mitchell Boggs, RP: one year, $1.1MM (can be controlled through 2015 as arbitration eligible player)
- Total spend: $84.35MM
Notable Minor League Signings
- Dylan Axelrod, David Purcey, Brian Omogrosso, Zach Putnam, Mauricio Robles, Hector Gimenez, Alex Liddi, Eric Patterson
Trades and Claims
- Acquired 1B Jackson Laumann from Braves for cash considerations
- Acquired OF Adam Eaton from Diamondbacks, gave up P Hector Santiago and OF Brandon Jacobs
- Acquired 3B Matt Davidson from Diamondbacks for RP Addison Reed
- Claimed C Adrian Nieto from Nationals in Rule 5 draft
- Claimed SP Eric Surkamp from Giants
- Claimed RP Maikel Cleto from Royals
- Acquired a player to be named later or cash considerations from Athletics for IF Jake Elmore
- Acquired cash considerations from Braves for SP Zach Stewart
White Sox GM Rick Hahn explained his plan to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune in late October: "Obviously getting better quickly is the goal, but the final determining factor is whether it's going to make us better for an extended period of time. I'm not going to keep churning this thing every two years with short-term fixes. Eventually you have to pay the piper for that and we want to set up something that's sustainable over an extended period." Hahn also made it clear in various offseason interviews that he felt good about the team's pitching depth and aimed to add position players.
It's no surprise, then, that the key moves of Hahn's offseason involved acquiring three position players. Jose Abreu (pictured), Adam Eaton, and Matt Davidson are all in their 20s, with Abreu the oldest at 27. Abreu is controlled through 2019, Eaton through '18, and Davidson through '19 or later. The newly-acquired trio is Major League ready or close to it, as is summer acquisition Avisail Garcia.
As I explained shortly before the October signing, Abreu checks all the boxes for the White Sox: long-term value, a contract that isn't monstrous by typical free agent standards, and no loss of a draft pick to sign him. Five teams offered $60MM+ for the Cuban slugger, but the White Sox prevailed with a six-year, $68MM deal that stands as the largest ever for an international free agent and the largest in team history. The White Sox hope Abreu can provide 30+ home runs annually as their first baseman for the next six years.
The Eaton trade was struck during baseball's Winter Meetings, in a collaboration with the Diamondbacks and Angels. The main piece the Sox had to surrender was 26-year-old southpaw Hector Santiago, who compiled a 3.51 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, and 1.10 HR/9 in 130 2/3 innings as a starter in 2013 and remains under team control through 2017. With Erik Johnson and Andre Rienzo coming on, the White Sox had the depth to spare Santiago, who still has to figure out command and home run issues.
Eaton, often described as a "dirtbag" type of ballplayer, comes with questions of his own. The former 19th round draft pick exceeded expectations in the minor leagues, earning a cup of coffee with Arizona in 2012 and becoming a popular Rookie of the Year candidate for 2013. However, that spring he sprained the UCL in his left elbow, and didn't return to the big leagues until July. Eaton is 25 with only one healthy month in the Majors to his name. The White Sox are gambling that he can be the scrappy consistent on-base threat with good defense that he appeared to be one year ago.
The third major pickup was Davidson, who was also acquired from Arizona. The Sox snagged Davidson straight-up for closer Addison Reed, a 25-year-old with four years of team control remaining. As MLBTR's Jeff Todd noted in his D'Backs Offseason In Review, Reed is not without his flaws, and the cost of saves in arbitration may cut down his years of team control. Davidson, 23 this month, hit .280/.350/.481 with 17 home runs in 500 Triple-A plate appearances and picked up 87 late-season plate appearances with the big club. Ranked 88th among all prospects by ESPN's Keith Law, Davidson "should be an above-average regular at third base given a season or two there to continue to progress." If that is the eventual outcome, the White Sox did very well in acquiring Davidson for perhaps three years of a good (and increasingly expensive) closer.
The White Sox traded Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton during the season and Reed in the offseason, so the bullpen demanded fresh arms. Hahn kept the commitments relatively light, exercising Lindstrom's option, and signing Belisario, Downs, and Boggs for a total of $12.1MM. Belisario and Boggs were non-tendered by their previous teams in December, and the Sox can control them beyond 2014 if it makes sense.
Belisario and Boggs will be projects for renowned pitching coach Don Cooper, as will scrap heap rotation hopeful Felipe Paulino. The 30-year-old last had significant time in the Majors in 2011, undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2012 and shoulder surgery in September 2013. When he was right, Paulino whiffed about a batter per inning and consistently worked at 95 miles per hour, and the White Sox could have the bargain of the offseason if they can get 25+ starts out of him. The White Sox did at least look into a bigger addition for the rotation, Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka. After an exploratory meeting with the pitcher in January, the Sox made an offer that one GM guessed was around $100MM. It doesn't seem that the Sox came close to signing Tanaka. As with their crosstown rivals, potentially paying him $108MM over the next four years did not make sense, even if his ability and youth were worth a bid.
In a process that dragged into December, White Sox all-time great Paul Konerko signed on for one more year at a meager $2.5MM. It was a sentimental signing of a limited player who fits poorly onto the team's roster. As explained by Jim Margalus of South Side Sox in an excellent reflection on the move, "Even the most ardent Konerko supporters acknowledge that he's significantly compromising the roster, but they're writing it off as a fair sacrifice because of the alleged effect he has on others." The signing reminds me of the Mariners bringing Ken Griffey Jr. back for the 2010 season, which didn't end well.
On the coaching front, the White Sox added hitting coach Todd Steverson in October, and extended manager Robin Ventura in January to avoid him entering 2014 in lame-duck status.
Despite the positive vibes from Rick Hahn's offseason, the White Sox still have a below-average collection of 25-and-under players and a farm system that Baseball America ranks 24th and Keith Law ranks 27th in the game. The 2014 draft will continue pushing things in the right direction, as the Sox have the third overall pick and a bonus pool near $10MM. Still, Hahn and company want to get back to contention quickly, and the team needs a good amount of work in the short-term.
The Sox never did address their catching situation this offseason, instead deciding to give the Tyler Flowers/Josh Phegley tandem another shot. I've heard they had significant interest in free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, particularly if he could have been had on a two-year deal, but Salty wound up with the Marlins on a three-year pact. The Sox picked up Adrian Nieto in the Rule 5 draft, but keeping a Double-A type backstop on the Major League roster all season would be challenging.
The acquisition of Eaton seemingly pushed Alejandro De Aza into a fourth outfielder role, for which he may be best suited anyway. With a $4.25MM salary, De Aza might have more value to another team, and it's likely the Sox will continue to explore trades. Then there's 25-year-old Dayan Viciedo, who hit 25 home runs in 2012 but slumped last year. He's controlled through 2017 and could still be a long-term piece, but I imagine the Sox will be open-minded to trade proposals.
Chicago's middle infield tandem of Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez has come up in trade rumors in the last year. The disappointing Beckham has two years of team control remaining, while Ramirez is signed through 2015 with a club option for '16. Ramirez is guaranteed $20.5MM over the next two years, his age 32-33 seasons. His trade value could be limited by the continued availability of free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. Both Beckham and Ramirez figure to frequent the pages of MLBTR this summer.
The White Sox have uncertainty at the back of their bullpen after the Reed trade, with Nate Jones the current favorite to close games in 2014. The franchise hasn't put together a particularly strong bullpen since their 2005 World Championship season.
Deal of Note
If an MLB team wants to throw a large, unrestricted sum of money at a player in his mid-20s, players coming over from Cuba and Japan are basically the only options. The White Sox took advantage of the opportunity by signing Abreu. At $68MM, his contract defied my expectations by a good 25%, but it still leaves room for upside. Accounting for the cost of a draft pick, the Mets paid a similar amount for Curtis Granderson's age 33-36 seasons, a deal that strikes me as mostly downside risk. If Abreu can provide the White Sox with 25+ home runs per year, a .340 OBP, and average defense, he'll easily be worth $11.3MM per year compared to continually rising market prices. And certainly, there's some chance of Abreu's power translating to a few 35-40 home run seasons in the bigs.
It should be noted that given the standard clause allowing Abreu to opt for arbitration once eligible, he might end up being paid more than $68MM over the next six years. In particular, given good production he'll prefer arbitration over the sixth year of the contract, and possibly even the fifth. If he's good enough to justify that, it will be worth the extra money for Chicago.
This is rebuilding, White Sox style. Like any team trying to improve its young talent base, they've recently taken a few steps back in the name of the greater good. But unlike the Cubs or Mets, the White Sox aren't on a four or five-year plan. Hahn has been acquiring Major League ready talent, and while the White Sox are a long shot for 2014, don't count them out for '15.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here's a quick look in at the American League East:
- With Red Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore progressing towards cracking the team's Opening Day roster, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford provides the details of his incentive-heavy contract. If Sizemore breaks camp, he would earn a $250K bonus and draw a $750K base salary. He can, as previously reported, boost the total value to $6MM if he were to hit all incentives. Here's how: $250K each for reaching 60, 90, 120, and 150 days in the big leagues; $250K for each increment of 25 plate appearances from 225 to 500; and a slate of award bonuses (including $50K for being named AL Comeback Player of the Year).
- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado says that his $519K contract for 2014 is "disappointing," reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Of course, with less than two years of service, Machado had little choice in the matter. The two sides have yet to discuss the possibility of an extension, though Connolly says there are "indications" that talks could take place once the health of the 21-year-old's left knee is more certain. Machado maintains that he would "love to be an Oriole forever," noting that his only wish is "to be treated fairly."
- The Yankees have drawn significant trade interest in backstop Francisco Cervelli, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Among the teams giving the catcher a look is the White Sox. Though the out-of-options, 28-year-old Cervelli figures to have the inside track on the reserve role for New York, the club has several other viable options to back up Brian McCann (as MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained).
Stewart spent 2013, his age-26 season, with Chicago's Triple-A affiliate, posting a 4.25 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 167 1/3 innings of work. Originally a third-round pick by the Reds in 2008, the Texas Tech product has found himself included in trades for a number of high-profile players over the past six years. The Reds dealt him to Toronto along with Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Roenicke in 2008 to acquire Scott Rolen. He was then part of the three-team deal that sent Edwin Jackson to the Cardinals in 2011, and he was acquired by the White Sox to the Red Sox in June 2012's Kevin Youkilis deal. Chicago picked him back up on waivers last offseason.
Stewart has 103 Major League innings under his belt, but he's posted a 6.82 ERA in that time. He's whiffed just 5.6 hitters per nine innings, but has also averaged just 1.9 walks per nine to go along with a strong 50 percent ground-ball rate in the bigs. Both xFIP and SIERA feel his ERA to date should be just a shade under 4.00 rather than at its current level.
Atlanta's acquisition of Stewart isn't entirely surprising; the team looks to be adding depth with Kris Medlen's health status up in the air (he'll undergo an MRI on his right forearm today) along with the possibility that Mike Minor could miss a start or two in April. Of course, Atlanta has in-house options such as Alex Wood, Freddy Garcia and David Hale that would presumably be in line for big league starts before Stewart, who is most likely ticketed for Triple-A. Stewart was not on Chicago's 40-man roster.
The Orioles and Nationals may be based just an hour away from each other, but they're far apart in terms of strength of schedule this year. The Orioles' 2014 schedule is projected to be the toughest in baseball, while the Nationals' is projected to be the weakest, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs writes. Unsurprisingly, AL schedules are much tougher than NL schedules, and schedules for AL East teams rate as the toughest of all -- after Baltimore, the other four AL East teams' schedules are the third-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-toughest. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Sean Manaea is healthy, which could make him a bargain for the Royals, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. Manaea was widely considered a top-tier draft prospect last year before hip and shoulder issues damaged his stock. He fell to the Royals with the No. 34 overall pick. He's now throwing 93-94 MPH in Royals minor-league spring training.
- Manager Robin Ventura and the White Sox aren't concerned about potential trades, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. "Something could come up and that changes but I’m preparing with this group. If something happens then you can roll it and change and go from there. Right now it is what it is here and you have to get your roster together with these guys," Ventura says. Outfielders Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza have recently been the subjects of trade rumors.
The White Sox and Mariners have discussed a deal involving outfielder Dayan Viciedo, Bruce Levine of CBSChicago.com reports. The White Sox are not actively looking to trade Viciedo, although they are willing to take calls on him, Levine notes. Levine suggests that the White Sox might want to receive a left-handed potential power hitter in return.
The Mariners admire Viciedo's talent and are looking to add a right-handed hitter to their lineup. Viciedo will make $2.8MM in 2014, and will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season.
Viciedo hit .265/.304/.426 in 473 plate appearances for the White Sox last season, a disappointing year, given that Viciedo is not a plus defensive outfielder. (As the Seattle Times' Jerry Brewer recently noted, the Mariners struggled with outfield defense last season. Viciedo would be unlikely to help in that area.) The Mariners are currently slated to go with an outfield mix of Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte, Michael Saunders, Corey Hart, Logan Morrison and perhaps Endy Chavez or another bench candidate, with Hart and Morrison also receiving time at first base and DH.