The White Sox have a deal in place with the Arizona Diamondbacks to acquire outfielder Dominic Fletcher, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. Right-hander Cristian Mena is headed to Arizona in exchange for Fletcher’s services. Both teams have since announced the deal.
The younger brother of Braves utility player David Fletcher, the 26-year-old was Arizona’s second-round selection in the 2019 draft. He made a 28-game cameo in the big leagues last year and impressed in his first taste of big league action with a .301/.350/.441 slash line in 102 trips to the plate. Fletcher combined that solid first impression in the majors with strong numbers at the Triple-A level last year, where he slashed .291/.399/.500, good for a wRC+ of 120 even in the inflated offensive environment of the PCL, where the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate plays its games. Strong as Fletcher’s offensive numbers have been to this point in his career, defense is the outfielder’s true calling card. In ranking Fletcher as Arizona’s #11 prospect last season, MLB.com described him as a center fielder with strong reads off the bat and solid routes in the outfield that he pairs with an arm strong enough to handle right field.
As promising as the start to Fletcher’s big league career was last season, it’s understandable that the Diamondbacks would look to part ways with the 26-year-old. After all, the club currently boasts a crowded outfield mix headlined by young star Corbin Carroll that also features veteran free agent additions Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Joc Pederson in addition to former top prospect Alek Thomas. With Jake McCarthy penciled into a bench role and the likes of Pavin Smith and Jorge Barrosa already on the 40-man roster as depth options, Fletcher was left as a superfluous asset in Arizona.
By contrast, Fletcher fills a notable need for the White Sox headed into the season. While Andrew Benintendi and Luis Robert Jr. figure to man left and center field for the club on a daily basis, the club appeared likely to rely on the likes of Oscar Colas and Brett Phillips in right field headed into Spring Training later this month. Colas struggled to a .216/.257/.314 slash line in 75 games with Chicago last year while Phillips has slashed an anemic .152/.230/.269 in 296 trips to the plate across the past two seasons. The addition of Fletcher should provide the White Sox with another viable option headed into camp who can battle for a spot on the big league roster alongside Colas, Phillips, Zach DeLoach (who the club acquired from the Mariners earlier today), and Kevin Pillar (who the club signed to a minor league deal yesterday).
In exchange for parting ways with Fletcher, the Diamondbacks acquire a 21-year-old hurler in Mena. After signing for $250K out of the Dominican Republic during the 2019 international signing period, Mena has climbed through the White Sox system to become the club’s #10 prospect last year per MLB.com, which notes Mena’s impressive repertoire includes a fastball that touches 96, a low-80s curveball, as well as a slider and a mid-80s changeup that are still developing.
That pitch mix gives Mena the potential to be a mid-rotation starter at some point, though to reach that potential he’ll need to iron out control issues that cropped up in 2023, when he walked 11% of batters faced in 27 starts split between the Double- and Triple-A levels. Despite those concerns with Mena’s strike-throwing, the righty managed to punch out 26.9% of batters faced last year between the two levels. It’s a feat made all the more impressive when you consider that 2023 was Mena’s age-20 campaign, making him far younger than the average pitcher at even the Double-A level, to say nothing of Triple-A. Even after parting ways with Mena, the White Sox still have a pair of upper-level pitching prospects knocking on the door of the majors in Jake Eder and Nick Nastrini, with the likes of Ky Bush and Noah Schultz further down on the organizational depth chart.