JUNE 16: The White Sox announced today that they’ve requested waivers for the purpose of granting Latos his unconditional release. Assuming no team claims the remainder of his salary, he’ll officially be a free agent once he clears in 48 hours.
JUNE 9: The White Sox have designated right-hander Mat Latos for assignment, according to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). Hayes tweets that Latos’ roster spot will go to 2013 second-round pick Tyler Danish — a 21-year-old right-hander with a 4.42 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 75 1/3 innings (12 starts) for Double-A Birmingham this season.
Latos, 28, has been in the Chicago rotation since Opening Day after signing a one-year, $3MM contract this offseason. However, after a brilliant start to his 2016 campaign, he’s fallen into a prolonged slump, thus prompting today’s DFA. Over his first four starts to the season, Latos worked to a pristine 0.74 ERA in 24 1/3 innings. That production, though, was propped up by a clearly unsustainable .167 BABIP and 97 percent strand rate. Beyond that, Latos was sporting a meager 13-to-7 K/BB ratio through that four start run while displaying the lowest average fastball velocity of his career.
Regression for Latos wasn’t exactly difficult to see, though the extent of his decline was nonetheless fairly surprising. Dating back to April 30, Latos has a 7.25 ERA with nearly as many walks (18) as strikeouts (19). His deteriorated heater and diminished ability to miss bats (which are likely related) rendered Latos ineffective for much of the 2015 season, and that looks to have carried over into the 2016 campaign as well.
The Sox will have 10 days to trade Latos, outright him or release him, though even if he clears outright waivers he’d be able to reject an outright assignment and retain the remainder of his $3MM salary (approximately $1.89MM) in favor of testing the waters of free agency.
As for Danish, he entered the season ranked as Baseball America’s No. 9 prospect in the White Sox’ system. Danish was the youngest pitcher in the Double-A Southern League last season and, per BA, has the best changeup in Chicago’s minor league system. BA added that he gets “ferocious” sink on his fastball and projects as a back-of-the-rotation arm that can generate plenty of ground-balls.