TODAY: The Sox have officially announced Urena’s selection, and right-hander Declan Cronin was placed on the 15-day injured list (retroactive to September 6) in the corresponding move. Cronin is dealing with blisters on his throwing hand.
SEPTEMBER 8: The White Sox are planning to select José Ureña’s contract from Triple-A Charlotte, allowing the veteran to start on Saturday against the Tigers, as first reported by Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Chicago has an open spot on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding transaction will not be necessary. However, the White Sox will have to make a move to open up space on the active roster.
Ureña last pitched in the majors for the Rockies in April. He signed a major league deal with Colorado during the offseason but was designated for assignment and subsequently released after just five starts. The Rockies are still on the hook for his guaranteed salary, so the White Sox will only need to pay him the prorated portion of the $720K minimum salary for as long as he stays with the MLB club.
The right-hander signed a minor league deal with the Nationals in May but failed to earn a promotion back to the majors, pitching to a 6.31 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Rochester. He was released in early August and quickly signed a new deal with the White Sox, reporting to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights. Ureña has looked much better in his four outings with the Knights than he did with the Rochester Red Wings, posting a 3.37 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. He has increased his strikeout rate while decreasing his walk rate, and he has not allowed a home run in his last three games.
His recent turnaround at Triple-A is promising, but Ureña still has a ways to go to prove he can be a capable big league starter once again. He gave up 22 runs across 18 1/3 innings with the Rockies this year, and he owns a 5.61 ERA and 5.16 SIERA over the last five seasons.
Be that as it may, the White Sox will take any help they can get in the rotation right now. Their starters rank last in baseball with a 6.26 ERA since the trade deadline. Michael Kopech, who is moving to the bullpen in favor of Ureña, has been the number one culprit, walking 26 batters and pitching to an 8.10 ERA in his last six starts. It wasn’t so long ago that manager Pedro Grifol said, “[Kopech] not being a starter is not anywhere close to what we’re thinking.” However, Kopech’s poor performance has forced the team’s hand. Grifol confirmed to reporters, including Merkin, that the White Sox still view Kopech as a starter long-term, but he will spend the rest of the 2023 season in the bullpen.
With just over three weeks remaining in the regular season, Ureña will have the chance to earn another three or four starts. If he continues to perform like he has at Triple-A Charlotte, he could pitch his way to another major league contract for 2024.