The White Sox have officially added free agent righty Mat Latos on a one-year, $3MM pact. It’s a straight guaranteed deal with no incentives or options.
Latos has long appeared to be one of the better bounceback options on this year’s market, as he’s only just turned 28 and has established a rather lofty ceiling in the majors. The Bledsoe Agency client does come with some health concerns after dealing with elbow issues and tallying just 218 2/3 innings over the past two seasons, but he was largely healthy after an early DL stint in 2015.
Clubs are often willing to give more significant guarantees to such players — Justin Masterson, for instance, got $9.5MM from the Red Sox and Doug Fister just secured $7MM from the Astros. Low-base, high-incentive deals are another popular option; to take but one recent example, Bronson Arroyo received $6MM worth of upside in his deal with the Nationals (if he cracks the major league roster).
In the case of Latos, though, it seems there may have been some hesitation about adding a player who has developed a questionable reputation in prior clubhouses. It doesn’t help that he scuffled badly down the stretch with both the Dodgers and Angels, of course, but it remains notable that Latos fell so far shy of expectations — $12MM on a one-year deal, in the estimation of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes — in a market that paid out so much for pitching. It was just last winter that the Marlins gave up a solid young pitching prospect for the rights to employ Latos at what turned out to be a $9.4MM salary.
By taking on some risk, but making only a limited commitment, the White Sox seem to have made a worthy gamble to bolster their rotation. The staff’s top three looks quite strong, but as August Fagerstrom of Fangraphs notes, John Danks and Erik Johnson are an underwhelming duo behind that group and there isn’t much depth to speak of. Fagerstrom was explaining why a move for Yovani Gallardo might make sense, but that would seem rather unlikely after today’s move.
Of course, the addition of Latos represents quite a different proposition than that of a player such as Gallardo, whose main claim to free agent earnings comes from durability and solid innings. But gambling on the still-youthful righty is arguably a better allocation of resources for a club that’s already committed to exceed its 2015 Opening Day payroll and still has other areas to improve.
Latos has every incentive to get himself back on track, and the upside is significant. Other than his struggles as a rookie and his troubles last year, the big righty has been a major contributor. In over 900 innings between 2010 and 2014, he logged a 3.27 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9.
Looking more closely at his efforts last year, it’s easy to see cause to look past an unsightly 4.95 ERA. All major ERA estimators valued him as a sub-4.00 pitcher, and he not only recovered velocity from 2014, but improved over his early-season results as the year wore on. Latos posed a swinging strike rate (9.9%) that lines up with his earlier years’ work. Of course, the finish left much to be desired, but on the whole there’s plenty to roll the dice on.
ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick first reported the signing on Twitter. Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago had the value via Twitter. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo noted (on Twitter) that no incentives or options were included.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Los Calcetines Rojos
Nothing wrong with this at all! Low risk high reward if he comes anywhere close to his Reds/Padres days
I think its high risk/high reward, the guy is known for being a headcase that can kill a clubhouse. At the same time i wanted the Sox to sign a SP more than OF, SS, etc. My reasoning was that a strong rotation can make up for gaps on offense, and was not confident in our 3-5 guys (Rodon is good but can we count on him?). But I’m not sure how signing Latos when a couple other guys were out there, will be good. Lets see.
a stop gap for fulmer
Agree but why not sign another stopgap that doesn’t come with all the baggage. I can see if Latos is a high WAR guy with baggage, but the guy hasn’t topped 1.0 in two years along with the injuries.
I thought maybe Lincecum would of been good for the white sox, but since the white sox got latos which I had the pirates getting him, maybe Lincecum goes to the pirates.
Mat Latos isn’t even the least bit of a headcase.
Umm … yes he is.
Maybe “headcase” isn’t exactly the right term. But it sounds nicer (and is no more accurate) than saying he’s a world-class douchebag.
The Dodgers designated Latos during a playoff run while desperate for pitching.
Friedman has had sex offenders invited for possible economic advantage, but considered Latos dangerous enough to designate.
He would make the whole thing about him and complain about not getting enough innings after terrible performances.
You must not be a Dodgers fan Ryan. As one myself, the guy is complete garbage, both on the field and in the clubhouse.
Now Dave.. He might have been bad for LA in his short time there, but how can anyone say he was worse in the clubhouse than Puig and Manny Ramirez? Or asking for AB’s, tho they can’t hit lefties such as Eithier does?
I’d say both Puig and Manny Ramirez made/make more of a pain to themselves than Latos ever did.
Yes he WAS
He was designated because he had a 6.66 ERA for the Dodgers, not because he was a “headcase.”
I’m not sure he’s a head case – he called out the Reds management for basically not knowing how to win. From what I can tell, he wasn’t wrong.
glad we don’t have to see his stupid face in the NL
a good low risk / high reward signing for the white sox, a stop gap until fulmer is ready
If Fulmer isn’t traded.
hopefully not, if they did trade a pitcher I thought it would of been quintana or rondon. they do need another bat though , desmond or fowler
Got me thinking, could this be pre-emptive to a trade of one of their other starters?
Please let it be Danks Please let it be Danks…..
Why would they trade Rodon?
Los Calcetines Rojos
lol yup Rodon isn’t any good must’ve missed how he closed out the year huh?
lol that’s hilarious Rodon isn’t good
Yeah that 1.81 ERA in his last 8 starts was awful.
Lol you must be thinking of a different Rodon.
Haha…Rodon is young and may still struggle at times, but in a few years he’ll be amongst the top pitchers in the game.
sox clubhouse was already dead. its about time we got some personality on the team. may be too late for latos but at least sox trying. and a better bet than Gallardo. i wanted lincecum but latos will do i guess.
Solid value sign. If healthy, I expect Latos to put up similar or betters numbers than QO tagged Gallardo.
Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock. Desmond and Fowler’s value is falling by the day, your move. Although, I still expect to see Austin Jackson sign w/ the Sox.
don’t the white sox have their first pick protected?
Los Calcetines Rojos
yes, they pick 10th
Yes, their first-round pick is protected. However, if they sign Desmond or Fowler, they will give up their compensation-round pick they got for Samardzija.
I don’t believe that is correct. They’d lose their 2nd round pick. Don’t think you can lose your comp pick.
He’s right – they’d lose the comp pick.
Yeesh. Poor Robin (Ventura).
Poor Robin? The guy has been horrible as a coach for the past 3 seasons.. I think he has bigger things to worry about than Latos., That is more Cooper’s Headache, if anything.
Robin’s my all-time favorite player/the reason I follow the White Sox. (See my name…I’m a Mets fan.)
Great player? Check, Absolutely I think Ron Schuler’s biggest gaff as Sox GM was not finding a way to resign Robin. Great person, Check, from what I have heard about him. Great Manager? @#$% no, not by a long shot… You could be a great player and not be able to manage your way out of a paperbag.. It is not entirely his fault.. KW thought he could make a genius move of using a guy with little coaching experience vs getting an established manager.
Good sign by the sox. Let Latos give it a shot and use turner as your 6th. Surprised thats all Latos could get, and coming to a tough division to rebound no less.
Johnson is likely before Turner, who will likely be injured by the start of opening day given his track record.
Yes! Finally something to be happy about! Thank God we don’t have to go with Danks and Johnson as 4-5…..
Personality issues and down year aside, his agents should be fired for coming up with a 3 million dollar deal in a hitter friendly AL ballpark. Horrible deal for Latos.
Agree. It seems an insanely low number and bad ballpark fit considering they were (or at least should have been) looking for a one year deal to recoup value the whole time.
The Cell is a good hitters park, but you guys are alking about it like it’s Coors when it’s not even close. Sale’s ERA was 60 points higher AWAY last year. It’s not pitcher kryptonite.
I don’t think that you CAN put his reputation aside; I would think that it at least partially explains why he apparently couldn’t get more than $3 million.
ESPN beat you to the punch by about 5 minutes
We credited Jerry Crasnick in the post.
Oh, and for the record, this post hit twitter within two minutes of the tweet he sent with the report.
Should have taken no more than a minute. Two is unacceptable.
See, that was sarcasm. You guys are awesome.
As long as he doesn’t become a distraction (I doubt he will in this clubhouse), I love this signing. Too many people harp on his 4.95 ERA last year and neglect to see that his xFIP was pretty much in-line with his glory years. He was also extremely unlucky last year, his 62.4 LOB% was about the lowest in baseball. A definite aberration. I think he’ll be a solid number 3 and he dominates righties (.219 career AVG against) making him a great weapon against the Tigers. Don’t stop now, Rick.
A solid #3? They are signing him as a 5th starter. He’ll be fine if his elbow holds up.
His velocity is down a good 4 mph from its peak. He’s done. May have one more OK year left in him.
He never averaged over 94 and spent most of his best years at 92-93. He ended last year at 91.7 and showed more after coming back from the DL. Spitballing it, that’s within normal bounds of aging..
There are injury concerns, but I don’t think you just look at the velo situation and say he isn’t the same pitcher.
Closer to 3 MPH. But I get you. I’m going on the assumption that he was still recovering from injuries/regaining strength. His avg MPH actually went up from 2014 to 2015. He just turned 28, I think he has a lot of juice left.
Brewers fan here. Whaddya Sox fan think of a Ryan Braun trade. We’ll trade you Braun for Adams and Michalczewski. We’ll even take Laroches contract off your hands.
No, Braun is a lying #$%^ who went to the lengths of assassinating someones character to try to avoid getting caught doping.. Milwaukee can keep him
Highly doubt that’s gonna happen maybe for Davis ? Some reason I have feeling the sox are trying to trade for an outfielder. If they wanted fowler he would of been off the market by now. But that’s a good sign his value is going down each day..
Latos’ arm netted him $3m, but his mouth cost him $9m…
When the White Sox try to trade Latos midseason they’ll have to factor the bad publicity that’ll inevitably come when he airs any dirty laundry in the organization, or maybe creates some unfounded complaints about his former team.
Great deal for the White Sox at 3 mil. & no bonuses or incentives. This may be the deal that sets a domino effect in regards to free agency. Baltimore’s only move now is to trade for Cashner/Ross or sign Lincecum. The other option is signing Gallardo. Texas would be willing to sign Fowler after getting the comp. pick for Gallardo. Baltimore has to make a move soon.
Not sure why so many people are so excited about teams signing Lincecum. He’s been REALLY bad for 4 straight years now, compiling -3.0 WAR in that time and is coming off surgery. Plus, he’s going to be 32 his season. The argument that Latos is “done” much more accurately applies to Lincecum.
I don’t mind this move as long as the White Sox continue to find a way to upgrade their SS and OF positions. The club has a serious lack of MLB ready depth in their starting rotation. Adding a cheap veteran pitcher, especially a right-handed one like Mat Latos, could rectify that problem while not being a financial burden that might keep the White Sox from pursuing a FA like SS Ian Desmond or one of the OF upgrades recently reported as possibilities.
Who knows, maybe Latos was on friendly terms with Todd Frazier when they were teammates with the Reds? While Latos comes with some character issues, Frazier is said to be the complete opposite as a renowned clubhouse leader. Perhaps Frazier’s presence was instrumental in Latos choosing the White Sox as is next destination.
Frazier was unable to control Latos, and Frazier remaining with the Reds didn’t prevent Latos from going to the press to complain about his time in Cincinnati. They’re definitely opposites – likeable and dislikeable – but they never seemed to have any impact on eachother.
Should the white sox worry? Have these two ever had an altercation with each other?
No, Frazier has never had an altercation with anyone. Latos hasn’t really either, it’s just after he left the Padres, Reds, and Marlins he felt it was a good idea to tell reporters what he disliked about playing for those teams. I think most Reds fans agreed that Latos was past his bad Padres reputation until he left, and did the same thing.
It’s not that Latos is going to start fights or strangle anyone or refuse to show up… more like if he has a bad start or gets hurt he might go to the newspaper to identify other people to blame. Once he’s traded away he’s pretty much sure to do that, at this rate.
I appreciate your feedback, which is why I had posed the question in the first place.
That being answered, it still doesn’t mean that Latos and Frazier had problems with each other. It also doesn’t infer he would have problem in his new environment since the White Sox are expected to be contenders in 2016, unlike the Reds last season.
Latos also reportedly agreed to a inexpensive one year contract that gives him an opportunity an incentive to redeem some value for 2017 and is also cheap enough for the White Sox to just discard him at the first sign of trouble.
Injury concerns? Pretty much every pitcher has them. 3.69 FIP the last 2 years with 228 IP. Witholder mediocre SP’ers taking home 15 million a year for multiple years its seems he warrants more than 3 million for 1 year. Especially there was no QO or draft pick concerns.
Usually if injury concerns are the factor they build in incentives into the deal.
Teams rarely blink at character issues. Sounds like he was black balled. Going to an AL team in a hitters park is not the place one would choose to re-establish ones value
There are certainly some irregularities in this market that MLBPA should pay attention too. Latps should also consider changing agents as well. Never heard of the Bledsoe brothers
Yes, every pitcher is at added risk as against position players for injury. No, they aren’t all created equal. Latos has missed significant time in each of the last two years. I didn’t say he’s broken and can’t be fixed, I noted it as a consideration, which it is.
As for the character concerns, it isn’t true that they don’t factor in at all. They don’t always prove a major hindrance, but in some cases they certainly can, and there’s some reason to believe that’s a factor here. Again, not overplaying it, just noting one element. It isn’t black-balling, it’s valuing what you’re getting from the player — the whole player.
And for what it’s worth, you’ve obviously heard of the Bledsoe brothers, since I referred only to the Bledsoe agency and you brought up the fact that they are commonly referred to that way.
Literally the perfect deal for both sides. Solid signing for chisox
During his time with the Reds, Latos was well behaved when they were winning and he was a fixture in the rotation. During Spring Training, he signed autographs and was pleasant with fans, so he’s not a complete jerk. But when they started losing and injuries struck, he turned back into the “bad” Latos and lashed out after the trade to the Marlins. He didn’t seem to like Miami and didn’t appreciate being in the Dodger bullpen, so he acted out again. If the White Sox stay in the race and he stays a part of the rotation, he probably won’t be a distraction and I bet will be a pretty good value pick up. He did quite well in the small ballpark in Cincinnati, so I wouldn’t worry about pitching at the Cell. Good luck to him.
I hate this move! He is well know as a club house cancer. Why not pay a little extra for some of the better established pitching options available. How long before Latos and Lawrie clash?
It’s $3M, which is walking around money. If he’s the cancer people expect him to be, they will cut him loose. If he’s even decent, he’s a bargain. And if he’s good, he can be flipped. Smart move.
This is a pretty good move.
I’m shocked no one’s mentioned Cat Latos, but seriously, this is a fine move by White Sox. If he works out, the team benefits from either his good play or a possible trade at deadline. If he doesn’t work out, it’s only $3 million, and Sox get a chance to look more at EJ, Fulmer, and co. I still am more worried about 1) Frazier playing more 2015-1st half baseball, than 2015-2nd half baseball, 2) Lawrie finding his place, 3) Avi not playing like a rookie ball OF, 4) LaRoche bouncing back, 5) Melky having a full season, 6) production from cather, 7) production at SS…….. wow, list goes on, but my concern is obviously offense, not pitching.
Everyone saying this pushes Erik Johnson out but wouldn’t the more likely scenario be a ST competition between Johnson and Danks? Yea, you owe Danks a bunch but, ultimately, you have to do what’s best for the team. Especially if you’re still living the pipe dream of competing this season.
HAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s the best you can do Hahn? And where’s Williams? It would figure that he’d approve this. Reinsdorf you’ve got a real mess in Chicago! You’ll be known as the Chicago Browns by the all star break.
Los Calcetines Rojos
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! signing a former #3, borderline #2 at times, who has a large amount of upside at 3 million dollars a year? Yeah, I’ll take it.
Just Another Fan
It’s actually a huge bargain.
Ian Kennedy has 2 seasons under 4 FIP and 5 seasons over 4 FIP.
Mat Latos has 6 seasons under 4 FIP has 1 season (his debut one) over 4 FIP.
Why is there a $67M difference here? Attitude? That’s…crazy.
Los Calcetines Rojos
Hit the nail on the head. Latos is a huge bargain for the White Sox and if his performance reflects his peripherals this season he is a significant upgrade at the back end of the rotation for them. 1-4 of Sale, Quintana, Rodon, and the upside of Latos is pretty nice. Hope that works out for them!
strength of sox is pitching. and eric johnson will be very good if sox can push danks out. im so sick of danks and cooper and ventura. and if latos is a problem eaton will straighten him out stat. could go a long way wirh desmond at ss
Hopefully he becomes the next John Garland !!!
Very solid deal, money that probably should have gone into the outfield but maybe this will lead to a trade. Ozuna or JBJ+ for Quintana seems like something feasible. The red Sox would really benefit from Quintana.
It’d take JBJ+ a lot to get Quintana. The White Sox are focused on bat first when it comes to outfielders. Also, the White Sox have no need to trade Quintana. Someone will have to overpay pretty heavily if they really want him.
Just Another Fan
The White Sox “OF need” is imaginary. Avisail Garcia deserves another full season, he’s pretty young and can turn it around. Melky-Eaton-Garcia is the WS OF and it should stay that way until the deadline, then make the move. Don’t bother giving up the draft pick and hope a couple prospects can net them a replacement for Avisail if he’s really bad.
I wouldn’t call it imaginary. You’re right that they don’t technically “need” an outfielder, but they do NEED an impact bat, and corner outfield is the easiest place to add that. Assuming they aren’t able to dump LaRoche, they’d be best off platooning LaRoche and Garcia (while giving Melky and Abreu time at DH too) and adding some pop in RF or LF.
JBJ is a 4th outfielder at best.
Wow only 3 million? The orioles must of really not liked him
It’s not a flashy move but it certainly helps the team and at a low risk. At only 1 year, it gives Latos incentive to play good and not act out. A good showing with the Sox could lead to a big payday next year.
If there is one team that could use a little attitude it’s the WhSox.
The Dodgers signing Maeda for a 3 million a year guarantee was a great signing. Signing Latos, who’s a douche, for any amount, is a mistake.
Just Another Fan
Did you know…
Douchebags have won rings?
Not many and certainly not after being exiled by multiple teams.
Just Another Fan
Fun fact: Latos has never had a season where his FIP was over 4. That’s pretty good! If they can get 150-200 innings with a sub 4-FIP that’s a solid backend guy and $3M is a bargain.
Mat Latos very much resembles former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks. Hopefully, he will have a comparable measure of success.
If White Sox and Latos do good this year, Signing Latos will be top candidate for bargain signing of the year. I personally think this is a great move by the White Sox. If they can sign Fowler, I think White Sox will have a chance at playoffs or close to it this year . Desmond would help them too, if they could sign him. I’m Cubs fan, but I would like to see Sox do good too.
danks needs to go. johnson will beat him out in spring but jerry loves danks. danks is firmly in the reinsdorph stable. ss more pressing need than outfield as it stands
Danks makes too much money to cut loose. White Sox don’t eat that kind of money.
It’s a sunk cost. They pay it no matter what, so “eating that kind of money” isn’t any kind of issue.
great bargain signing
They can put danks in the bullpen and make him a long reliever as well as an emergency spot starter in the event of an injury. This isn’t uncommon even for high paid starters, reference Edwin jacksons recent situation with the Cubs. I like this type of signing by the white sox, not costing us a draft pick, low risk in terms of money to the upside, as well as our medical staff does an excellent job keeping guys on the field. I would encourage some minor league signings for some veterans in the starting pitching department as well as outfielders/infielders. I’m very curious what if anything else the white sox will do. If they do give up 28th pick to sign fowler or Desmond they life as well give up to sign both players. I do wonder if they have a potential trade up there sleeves. We shall see. In the mean time keep stock pilling depth and start spending on the international market.
The deck is stacked against him. Hmm Latos coming over to the AL to get hammered in a loaded AL Central. Good Luck.
I love this signing for the Sox. I’ve been advocating it all season. When healthy and near or above 200IP; this guy has been lights out.
A big RH’er and at 1/$3M…huge low risk; high reward signing.
Just go get Austin Jackson now on a 1 or 2 year deal and I think we’re ready to compete!
PECOTA is not optimistic.
If you would’ve told me Fister and Latos would’ve cost only $10M combined a month ago I’m really upset the Cubs didn’t make an effort. I thought these two would’ve been great low cost flyer options for them but would cost about $10M A PIECE. Arrieta, Lester, Lackey, Hendricks, and either Latos/Fister/Hammel as your 5th stater….. would have been stellar. The two missing the rotation would either be waived, traded or put in the bullpen which would make that even stronger. I think Latos would be headed to the bullpen and he would’ve had success there. At only $3M he’d actually be a pretty cheap reliever too since I think the Cubs re-signed Cahill for like 2.5M and he had nowhere near the resume Latos has. Nothing like insane pitching depth.
That’s 8 capable starters on your roster opening day. Yeah total cost of that staff is around 80 million, but most of them are or would be on 1-2 year deals. With most of the offense being on league minimum contracts it’s money well spent IMO. Team payroll would only be like $150-155M which is pretty tame (disgustingly) for a major market team. Missed opportunity IMO. Not just for the Cubs but for most teams I’d think would want that kind of depth. Again, $10M total for two potential starters who were near Ace-like just 18 months ago? Can’t get that value too frequently nowadays. Surprised Theo didn’t do this since he has shown he is a fan of reclamation projects.
The Cubs are 8 deep already. Cahill, Warren and Wood.
Great move by the White Sox who were too left-handed in their rotation. Absolutely zero risk at $3 million. Heck they might even find a taker for Danks if they eat all but $3 million of his deal.
If your clubhouse can’t handle one questionable character, then it won’t handle the pressure of a pennant race either. Besides, Latos is tasting some big time humble pie. I expect him to perform a heck of lot better than Samardzija did last year.
Mat Latos-Excerpts per the Chicago Sun Times
After averaging 32 starts and nearly 200 innings during a four-year stretch, injuries curtailed the 6-6, 245-pound Latos’ effectiveness. He had bone chips removed from his right elbow before the 2014 season and tore cartilage in his left knee during spring training of that year.
Latos created a stir last February when he ripped former Reds teammates and the team’s medical staff, suggesting he was rushed back too soon after surgery.
“You look at the Reds after we lost Bronson [Arroyo]. Everything went to s—,” Latos told Fox Sports. “You look at it after we lost Scott Rolen [after 2012]. Everything went to s—. When Scott was there, we had guys doing exactly what they were supposed to do. After Scott left, we had guys with two years in the big leagues, in the clubhouse, on their phones, laying down in the video room, just hanging out during games, not in the dugout, not cheering their teammates on. Our dugout looked like a ghost town.
“After Bronson, the same exact thing. We had starters in there roping our [clubhouse attendants], like, cattle-roping our clubbies. Guys on their computers, buying stuff, hanging out in the clubhouse. We had a guy with a year-and-a-half in the big leagues wandering around the clubhouse, hanging out. We had a closer in there sleeping until the seventh inning. We lose that veteran leadership, that’s what happens. You can’t have that … it turns into a circus.”
Bottom Line: Should Latos have said these things publicly? Probably not. But it sounds like a player more interested in winning than being selfish, does it not?
Too bad he didn’t show any veteran leadership.
Yah. Too bad the 25 year old didn’t step up and show any veteran leadership. What a head case.