TODAY: The Sox officially announced the deal, confirming that Lamb’s deal is a Major League pact. In a corresponding move, left-hander Nik Turley was designated for assignment. Turley was claimed off waivers from the Athletics last week.
MARCH 29: The White Sox have an agreement to sign free agent third baseman Jake Lamb, pending a physical, per Robert Murray of FanSided (via Twitter). Lamb spent the spring with the Atlanta Braves, who ultimately stuck with Pablo Sandoval as their backup at the hot corner. He will need to clear waivers before this deal is official.
Lamb should have a certain degree of comfort with White Sox manager Tony La Russa. La Russa was the Chief Baseball Officer of the Diamondbacks during Lamb’s heyday from 2014 to 2017. Lamb hit .250/.336/.462 with 69 home runs in 1,752 plate appearances over that span. Injuries hit Lamb hard since then, however.
He did have a small-sample resurgence with the A’s last year, posting a 141 wRC+ in 49 plate appearances with Oakland. Combined with 50 plate appearances in Arizona where he posted just a 14 wRC+, however, and the numbers balance to 77 wRC+, almost exactly matching his mark from the previous two seasons.
The White Sox are a little light on depth, but it’s not exactly clear where Lamb might fit. The logical jump is that Lamb’s signing is a reaction to losing Eloy Jimenez, but there’s not a natural way to shift the roster to make that line of thinking track. Yoan Moncada plays Lambs’ natural position at third, though he has offered to play the outfield in the past, including last offseason when Chicago was entertaining making a run at free agent Anthony Rendon. That would seem to be a lot to ask of Moncada coming off the difficult season he endured in 2020.
More than likely, he’s simply slated for organizational depth. If he’s added to the Major League roster, he could see time at designated hitter in the event that Andrew Vaughn either doesn’t make the roster or does make the roster and spends time in left field, where he’s started two of the past three spring games.