The White Sox have requested unconditional release waivers on first baseman/designated hitter Yonder Alonso, according to a club announcement. He’ll formally become a free agent once he clears waivers on Friday. A team could technically claim Alonso, but doing so would mean claiming the remaining $4.83MM still owed to him, which won’t happen given the former All-Star’s considerable struggles in Chicago.
Alonso, 32, was acquired partly because the Sox envisioned him to be a productive partner for Jose Abreu in a first base/DH timeshare but also likely as a means of enticing his brother-in-law, Manny Machado to choose the Sox in free agency. Neither of those things came to fruition, however. In 251 plate appearances this season, Alonso has floundered at .178/.275/.301 pace with seven home runs.
Alonso is still not far removed from an All-Star appearance in a 2017 season that saw him emerge as one of the poster boys for MLB’s “fly-ball revolution.” The former No. 7 overall draft pick (Reds, 2008) put a focus on elevating the ball with the A’s that season and saw his fly-ball rate jump nearly 20 percent from his 2015 levels with the Padres. He raked at a .266/.369/.527 clip with Oakland before being traded to the Mariners. His fly-ball rate, launch angle and average exit velocity have steadily trickled downward since that strong 2017 campaign, however.
Once he clears waivers, Alonso will be free to sign with any club and would only be owed the prorated portion of the league minimum for any time spent in the Majors, with the Sox on the hook for the remainder of this season’s salary. Disappointing as his tenure on the South Side of Chicago was, Alonso will likely find interest elsewhere given his solid track record (although he may need to settle for a minor league contract).