The White Sox released a list of non-roster invitees to big league Spring Training, which included many names on previously-reported deals as well as Danny Mendick. The infielder is a client of CAA Sports. Right-hander Jesse Chavez has also signed a minor league deal and been added to that NRI list, per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. The righty is repped by Apex Baseball.
Chavez, 40, has appeared in 16 different MLB seasons and will be looking to add a 17th here in 2024. He has continued to be very effective as he has aged, posting a 1.56 earned run average with Atlanta last year. That surely makes him look more dominant than he actually was, as his .273 batting average on balls in play and 81.2% strand rate were both on the lucky side. But his 27.1% strikeout rate, 8.3% walk rate, 51.7% ground ball rate, 3.05 FIP and 3.35 SIERA all suggest he was still quite an effective pitcher.
The righty recently stated that he will “probably” retire after the upcoming campaign. Much of his recent success has come with Atlanta, but it’s possible he viewed Chicago as a greater chance to carve out a sizeable role this year. There are many talented arms in the Atlanta bullpen whereas the White Sox have subtracted many of their best relievers.
Gregory Santos, Kendall Graveman, Reynaldo López, Aaron Bummer, Keynan Middleton and Joe Kelly have all been traded since last summer. Liam Hendriks had his 2024 option declined as he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery. The club is reportedly planning to stretch out Garrett Crochet as a starter to see how that goes. The Sox have added Tim Hill and John Brebbia via free agency, while Rule 5 pick Shane Drohan could earn a spot, but there should be plenty of room for a veteran like Chavez.
Mendick, 30, was drafted by the White Sox and appeared in the big leagues with them in the 2019-2022 seasons. In the first three years of that stretch, he hit just .239/.298/.342. He got out to a great start in 2022, hitting .289/.343/.443 through his first 31 games. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in June and missed the rest of the year.
He was non-tendered at the end of that season and signed with the Mets for 2023. He was frequently optioned to the minors and hit just .185/.232/.277 when in the big leagues last year. But his .282/.369/.424 line in his Triple-A action was much more palatable. He was placed on waivers at the end of the year and passed through unclaimed before electing free agency.
He has played every position except catcher in his professional career and can give the Sox some depth all over. He’s played more middle infield than other spot and that happens to be a part of the club’s position player mix that is fairly unsettled. Paul DeJong is slated to be their everyday shortstop despite the fact that he’s been pretty awful at the plate in recent years. Nicky Lopez is also a glove-first infielder and he’s likely to be the regular at second base. At third, Yoán Moncada has had lengthy stints on the injured list in each of the last two years.
Given that uncertainty, the club may need to rely on some depth options, with José Rodríguez, Lenyn Sosa and Braden Shewmake already on the 40-man roster. If Mendick can get added at any point, he still has one option year remaining. He also has between three and four years of service time, meaning he could be retained beyond 2024 via arbitration if the team were interested in keeping him around.