It isn’t any secret that the White Sox are eager to keep Jose Abreu in the fold, though another veteran may also be a candidate for a longer-term stint with the club. While expressing to the Athletic’s James Fegan (subscription link) about how much the Sox would like to continue their relationship with Abreu, GM Rick Hahn also praised James McCann’s work at catcher. “He’s been everything we had hoped for in terms of in the clubhouse and from a defensive standpoint and quite frankly more than we had even hoped for offensively,” Hahn said. “He made an adjustment with his stance in the offseason….That’s really clicked for him. He’s been a great acquisition for us. We have control of him through arbitration next year and certainly look forward to having him around for a while.”
McCann signed a one-year, $2.5MM free agent deal with Chicago after being non-tendered by the Tigers in the offseason, and has enjoyed perhaps the hottest stretch of his career at the plate. McCann is batting .366/.404/.581 through 99 plate appearances, absurd numbers for a hitter who had just a .653 OPS over 1658 career PA heading into the season. While some regression at the plate is inevitable, Fegan feels the Sox would prefer keeping McCann over Welington Castillo for 2020, since even McCann on an arbitration raise will cost less than Castillo’s $8MM club option.
Here’s more from around the AL Central…
- Jordan Zimmermann is “probably a month” or so away from returning, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen (Twitter link) and other media. Gardenhire revealed that Zimmermann has been battling a muscle strain in addition to the UCL sprain that initially sent him to the injured list back on April 26.
- Indians manager Terry Francona provided MLB.com’s Mandy Bell (Twitter links) and other reporters with injury updates today, including the news that Adam Plutko will start for Cleveland on Saturday. Plutko has missed the entire season due to a right forearm sprain, and has only a 5.38 ERA over 80 1/3 career innings in the majors, though the Tribe is looking to fill holes in the rotation with both Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger on the IL. Speaking of the Cleveland injury list, Francona also said Tyler Naquin will be kept out of baseball activities for two weeks due to swelling behind the outfielder’s knee.
- “The expectation both within the organization and outside is that the Twins, like so many other teams, must address their bullpen if they want to be real contenders,” The Athletic’s Dan Hayes writes in a look at Minnesota’s relief corps. The Twins are around the middle of the pack in most relief categories, with Taylor Rogers, Blake Parker, Trevor May, and Ryne Harper all delivering excellent results thus far, though there isn’t a lot of experience within that group. While Minnesota will surely explore adding a reliever before the trade deadline if the team remains in the race, GM Thad Levine notes that “I think it’s a little too early to see that market take shape,” noting that teams with bullpen assets to sell right now are putting a big asking price on that pitching.
- While Alex Gordon is posting big numbers and can be a free agent after the season, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) feels “the safer bet is that he stays put, then re-signs with the Royals and finishes his career in Kansas City.” The long-time face of the Royals franchise can’t be traded without his permission due to 10-and-5 rights, though if he did want to be dealt, “the Royals almost certainly would try to accommodate him.” There’s also a notable financial element to any potential Gordon trade, as the $4MM buyout attached to his $23MM mutual option for the 2020 season would become a $4MM assignment bonus in the event of a trade, as the mutual option would then be voided. Plus, Gordon still has roughly $15MM remaining on his $20MM salary for the 2019 season.