Right-hander Jake Woodford is signing a minor league contract with the White Sox, per a report from Robert Murray of FanSided. The Excel Sports Management client will receive an invitation to major league Spring Training.
Woodford, 27, will jump to a new organization for the first time in his career. He was drafted by the Cardinals in 2015 and was a part of that org until he was non-tendered in November of last year. He mostly worked in a swing role in the big leagues and had some decent seasons. Over 2021 and 2022, he tossed 116 innings with a 3.26 earned run average. His 15.4% strikeout rate in that time was well below league average but he kept his walks down to a 7.5% clip and got grounders on 45.8% of balls in play.
Unfortunately, things went off the rails in 2023, as he posted a 6.23 ERA in 47 2/3 innings, as his strikeout rate fell even farther to 13.1% and his walk rate ticked up to 9.9%. Despite his ground ball tendencies, he also allowed 11 home runs in that small sample of work. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, with MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projecting Woodford for a salary of $1.1MM, just a bit north of next year’s $740K minimum. But the Cards instead decided to move on, non-tendering him in November.
For the Sox, they have plenty of questions on their pitching staff. Dylan Cease projects as the ace but many around the industry expect him to be traded. General manager Chris Getz recently said the club plans to stretch out Garrett Crochet, but he’s thrown just 73 major league innings over the past four years. Erick Fedde should have a role after a strong KBO season but his work in the majors was shaky prior to that. Michael Kopech and Touki Toussaint both have significant control issues. Michael Soroka didn’t fully bounceback in 2023 after a lengthy injury absence. Chris Flexen is coming off a really rough campaign.
In the bullpen, Kendall Graveman, Reynaldo López, Aaron Bummer, Keynan Middleton and Joe Kelly have all been traded in the past six months, and Crochet is another subtraction by virtue of moving into a starting role. In short, there should be plenty of innings available for Woodford if he’s able to put his 2023 season behind him and get back into good form. If he’s added onto the roster, he is out of options but could be retained beyond this season via arbitration.