Although left-hander Jose Quintana was the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason, he remains with the White Sox as the 2017 campaign approaches. However, the 28-year-old is still in high demand around the majors, according to CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine, who writes that the Astros, Yankees, Cardinals and Pirates are “dug into” the Quintana sweepstakes. With the exception of the Cardinals, Quintana has drawn frequent connections to each of those reported suitors in recent months. The Redbirds suffered a blow earlier this month when they lost standout prospect and rotation candidate Alex Reyes for the season because of a torn UCL, but they’re reportedly unlikely to make a significant splash in response. If true, that would rule out the acquisition of Quintana.
- At last check, talks between the Nationals and White Sox regarding David Robertson were in “stalemate,” but Cafardo writes that there’s a chance they could be revived. He echoes earlier reports that the White Sox would have interest in Pedro Severino, the youngest member of the Nats’ current catcher logjam.
International prospects are among the most mysterious — but potentially impactful — elements of the baseball transactional world. If you’re interested in learning more about this year’s class, and have a Baseball America subscription (as we’d heartily recommend), then be sure to check out Ben Badler’s round-up of the latest array of young talent. Per Badler, the Rays and Twins are expected to land two of the top players in this year’s class: switch-hitting shortstops Wander Franco and Jelfrey Marte. The new CBA rules will be in effect as of the new July 2 signing period, and you can find details of those here.
Here are a few more stray notes from around the game:
- The BA staff has also released its spring organizational prospect rankings, with the Braves, Yankees, and Astros receiving the three highest grades. The Dodgers and White Sox round out the top five, while the Diamondbacks, Angels, and Marlins received the lowest overall ratings for pre-MLB talent.
- Over at Fangraphs, David Laurila spoke with several general managers about strategic decisionmaking. You’ll want to read the piece in its entirety, of course, but it’s interesting to note the subtle variations in thinking. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti emphasizes that every market imposes different limitations on a team’s front office. Jerry Dipoto of the Mariners says that his front office has worked to acquire and develop certain types of players. Several execs noted the difficulty of committing to a rebuild, while also emphasizing the need to avoid being stuck in a middle-ground. For White Sox GM Rick Hahn, who has launched a rebuilding effort, “staying the course is essential once you pick a direction.”
- Speaking of the White Sox, former lefty Mark Buehrle discussed the team’s just-announced decision to retire his number. As Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports, the veteran hurler says he’s “blown away and floored” at the honor — though he’s also apprehensive of the public-speaking duties that will come with it. Buehrle says he more or less decided he’d retire not long after signing his last contract, a free-agent deal that took him away from the Chicago organization for the first time as a professional. “The reason I didn’t say anything, I didn’t want all the attention,” he said of his quiet exit from the sport, which had left many wondering whether he’d pitch again. “I’ve always told people I was a young guy that came into the big leagues unknown. Kind of snuck into the big leagues and I wanted to kind of sneak my way out.”
- Whereas Buehrle entered the game quietly and steadily flourished, righty Daniel Bard flashed great promise before washing out of the majors with sudden control problems and injuries. Now, he’s back in camp with the Cardinals, and as GammonsDaily.com reports (with a video), Bard hasn’t lost any of his arm strength even as he works on a new delivery.
- Bard’s career path mirrored somewhat that of former Cardinals hurler Rick Ankiel — who later reinvented himself as an outfielder. As Derrick Good of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, Ankiel has decided to tell his story of dealing with the sudden inability to command the baseball. That’ll be available in full on April 18th, when Ankiel and Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown will release a book titled “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch That Changed My Life.” For now, you can check out that article and a recent podcast with Goold’s interview of the former phenom.
- White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier, meanwhile, is dealing with what he describes as a minor oblique issue, as Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports. Frazier, who is considered day-to-day for the time being, says he’ll likely just sit for a few days while the tightness hopefully subsides. “It’s something I’ve dealt with before,” says Frazier, who remains a potential trade chip in his final year of team control. “But at the same time, from what I’ve heard they’re not anything to mess with. So let’s take a couple days and see how it is after a couple days and go from there.”
The White Sox are set to retire Mark Buehrle’s #56 jersey this summer, the team announced. As Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago notes on Twitter, that would appear to suggest the the lefty himself is also hanging up his spikes for good — though there’s been no official word to that effect as of yet.
Last we heard, around this time last spring, Buehrle was still pondering his future. But he decided against pitching in 2016, and we’ve heard no indication since that he was planning a return. Today’s news seemingly confirms that the famously fast-working and incredibly durable southpaw is finished after 16 highly productive seasons in the majors.
Though he ended his career elsewhere, Buehrle spent his first dozen seasons in Chicago. He was a model of consistency there, providing 2,476 2/3 innings of 3.83 ERA ball while averaging 5.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. Despite being taken only in the 38th round of the 1998 draft, Buehrle cracked the majors in 2000, his age-21 season, after just a season and a half in the minors.
Arguably his best season came in 2005 — the club’s World Championship campaign — when he came in fifth in the American League Cy Young voting upon compiling a 3.12 ERA over 236 2/3 frames. That represented the second-straight season in which he led the league in innings and the fourth in a row in which he retired the side at least 230 times. Buehrle had many fine moments in Chicago, among them a no-hitter in 2007 and one of just 23 perfect games ever pitched (on July 23, 2009, against the Rays).
Buehrle departed the White Sox after the 2011 season, joining the Marlins along with a crop of other free agents. After one solid year in Miami, he was dealt to the Blue Jays as part of the blockbuster trade that also shipped veterans Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes (among others) to Toronto. Buehrle was productive til the end, providing the Jays with 604 1/3 innings of 3.78 ERA ball in his final three campaigns.
Even in his age-36 season, which appears now to be his last, Buehrle managed 198 2/3 innings and led qualifying AL pitchers with a 1.5 BB/9 walk rate. That broke a string of 14 consecutive seasons in which the exceedingly durable hurler racked up at least 200 frames.
In the end, Buehrle racked up 51.9 fWAR and 59.2 rWAR over his career. By Fangraphs’ measure, only four other pitchers — Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Randy Johnson, and Roy Oswalt — were as productive over Buehrle’s active seasons, over which he paced all of baseball in total innings. In that span, he received five All-Star nods and picked up four Gold Gloves, while never failing to make at least thirty starts in each of his full MLB seasons.
Assuming this is in fact the end, MLBTR congratulates Buehrle on his excellent career and extends its best wishes to him in his future endeavors.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
FEB. 21: Chicago would trade Robertson and possibly eat some of his salary if the Nationals were to give up catcher Pedro Severino, according to Phil Rogers of MLB.com (Twitter links). Both MLB.com and Baseball America rank the 23-year-old Severino as one of the Nats’ top 10 prospects. As written below, Washington isn’t eager to deal more young talent; unsurprisingly, then, it would rather move Derek Norris than Severino, per Rogers.
FEB. 12: The White Sox and Nationals seemed to be closing in on a trade that would’ve sent David Robertson to Washington last week, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and Jose L. Ortiz report. According to a Nats official, however, “the two sides have hit a stalemate and no trade is imminent.” The Sox, for their part, continue to feel “optimistic” that a trade will be finalized.
It isn’t known what caused this holdup in talks, though earlier this week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that Nationals ownership didn’t want to absorb the $25MM owed to Robertson over the next two seasons, nor did the front office want to give up quality minor leaguers. The Nats already surrendered several top prospects to the White Sox earlier this offseason as part of the trade that brought Adam Eaton to Washington; the Nats tried to include Robertson along with Eaton as part of that trade package but were unsuccessful.
On the surface, one could argue that the White Sox could be asking for too much in demanding that the Nationals (or other suitors for Robertson) pay a big price in both prospects and in taking on the closer’s entire contract. That said, Chicago has already scored a massive influx of young talent in the Eaton trade and in dealing Chris Sale to the Red Sox — Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech are all ranked within the top 32 on Baseball America’s 2017 listing of the top 100 prospects in baseball. Between these deals and the asking price for Jose Quintana, White Sox GM Rick Hahn has clearly put a premium on his top trade chips as part of his effort to bring a “critical mass” of talent into Chicago’s organization.
Unless Robertson gets injured or has a dip in form, the Sox can also bide their time and wait until the trade deadline to find a suitable return for the closer. Given the Nationals’ uncertainty at the back of their bullpen, Washington may not have that luxury. As Nightengale and Ortiz point out, however, the Nats could make do with Blake Treinen or Shawn Kelley as closer for now and then pursue another ninth-inning option later in the season, as they did in acquiring Mark Melancon from the Pirates at last summer’s deadline.
- Lucas Giolito sees his trade to the White Sox as “an immediate breath of fresh air,” the young righty tells USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The highly-touted Giolito struggled in his MLB debut last season, posting a 6.75 ERA and walking 12 batters (against just 11 strikeouts) over 21 1/3 innings with the Nationals while being promoted and demoted multiple times. “Every start was like I have to do well or I’m going to get sent down to Triple-A. The team wanted to win, and if I wasn’t going to give them an opportunity to win, then they wouldn’t want me there. It made sense,” Giolito said. With the Sox in more of a rebuilding phase, Giolito is looking forward to getting more for an opportunity to properly acclimate himself to the majors.
- If Pablo Sandoval doesn’t reestablish himself as a capable third baseman this year, the Red Sox could eventually swing a trade for Todd Frazier of the White Sox, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Chicago will have paid more than half of Frazier’s $12.5MM salary by the trade deadline, which should make the 31-year-old an attractive target for Boston or other contenders, Cafardo observes. Given that the White Sox are amid a rebuild, it seems they’d prefer to ship out established veterans like Frazier sooner than later, as general manager Rick Hahn implied in an interview with MLBTR contributor Brett Ballantini earlier this week.
- White Sox center fielder Charlie Tilson suffered a stress fracture in his right foot and will cease impact activities for at least 10 days, tweets Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. If healthy, the 24-year-old Tilson figures to start in center this season for the Sox, who acquired him from the Cardinals last July for reliever Zach Duke. In his big league debut in August, Tilson tore his hamstring and missed the remainder of 2016 as a result.
- The White Sox are bringing back left-hander Scott Snodgress on a minors pact, tweets Zach Links of MLBTR and ProFootballRumors. The 27-year-old Snodgress went to the White Sox in the fifth round of the 2011 draft and broke into the majors with them in 2014, when he logged the only 2 1/3 innings of his big league career. He then spent 2015 with the Angels organization before playing independent ball last season.
Plenty of players are still looking for opportunities as Spring Training gets underway in earnest. Among them is former White Sox lefty Scott Snodgress, who worked out for teams this week and will likely choose his landing spot tomorrow, per MLBTR’s Zach Links (via Twitter). Snodgress played indy ball last year after a rough 2015 season in the upper minors with the Angels.
Here are the latest minor moves from around the game, featuring a host of other southpaws:
- The White Sox have added lefty Tyler Matzek on a minors pact, per Matt Eddy of Baseball America (via Twitter). A 2009 first-rounder, Matzek worked through control problems and showed promise upon reaching the majors in 2014 with the Rockies. But his struggles with the strike zone returned with renewed vigor the next year, and Matzek was ultimately diagnosed with anxiety. Though he was able to make 33 minor-league appearances in 2016, he was outrighted off of Colorado’s 40-man and ended up issuing as many walks as strikeouts (11.1 per nine) on the year.
- Former first-round pick Chris Reed has decided to retire from the Marlins, Eddy tweets. Just 26 years of age, Reed worked to a 3.65 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 81 1/3 innings in the upper minors last year. That represented progress after he struggled badly with control in 2015, but it seems that Reed will move on to other pursuits. The Dodgers, who originally took him 16th overall in 2011, will still get something out of their investment, though, as the trade that sent Reed to Miami netted southpaw Grant Dayton.
- Outfielder Slade Heathcott has landed with the Giants on a minor-league deal that includes a camp invite, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). The 26-year-old, who was taken after Reed in the first round in 2009, has long been viewed as a talented player but hasn’t yet earned a full MLB opportunity. He showed well in his lone stint in the bigs, in 2015, but hit only .254/.359/.380 in his 247 Triple-A plate appearances last year.
- Lefty Hung-Chih Kuo is attempting a comeback with the Padres, as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County-Register reports on Twitter that he has struck a minor-league deal with San Diego. Now 35 years of age, the Taiwanese native provided the division-rival Dodgers with 292 1/3 innings of 3.73 ERA ball over 2005 through 2011. Kuo has been pitching in Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League for the past two campaigns.