TODAY, 11:17am: The White Sox announced the Velasquez signing, a one-year, $3MM deal.
Velasquez, 30 in June, had an up-and-down tenure during his time in Philadelphia. Acquired as part of the Ken Giles trade in 2015, he had a promising debut in 2016, throwing 131 innings over 24 starts with an ERA of 4.12. Unfortunately, his ERA has never been as low since, as its been 4.85 or higher in each subsequent season.
He’s often been undone by walks and home runs, as his career walk rate of 9.5% is above league average. It’s also gotten worse in subsequent seasons, with a mark of 11% in 2020 and 11.8% in 2021. As for the home runs, the league average for HR/FB is usually around 10%, but Velasquez has a career mark of 15.1%. In 2021, he was released by the Phillies and latched on with the Padres towards the end of the season, finishing the campaign with an ERA of 6.30 over 94 1/3 innings.
Despite all of that, he has still tantalized with an ability to generate strikeouts, as his rate has been above 24% in each of his seasons except for 2017. He’s also still relatively young, making it possible that he could right the ship and deliver on some of the promise he’s shown.
The market for starting pitching has been the wildest this offseason, both before the lockout and after. It could perhaps be a side effect of the lockout leading to a condensed Spring Training and a regular season that will feature extra doubleheaders to make up for the delayed start of the schedule. Teams may be anticipating extra injuries throughout the year. Furthermore, now that players can’t be optioned to the minors more than five times per season, there will be less opportunities for roster churn. The White Sox already have five capable starters in Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Dallas Keuchel and Michael Kopech. However, Velasquez has served in a swing capacity before and could perhaps do so again for the Sox, making multi-inning appearances out of the bullpen and perhaps stepping into the rotation should a need arise.