- The White Sox have released righty Michael Ynoa. The 26-year-old cracked the majors with the ChiSox in each of the previous two seasons, tossing 59 innings and posting a 4.42 ERA with 8.08 K/9, 5.95 BB/9 and a 36.8 percent grounder rate. Chicago outrighted Ynoa last summer, but he went on to re-sign with the organization in the fall.
White Sox Rumors
First baseman Logan Morrison ended up with the Twins, but many expected the Red Sox to pursue him more aggressively than they did. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe has some interesting quotes from LoMo, who smacked 38 homers for the Rays last season but ultimately settled for a meager $6.5MM guarantee with performance escalators and a vesting option. Morrison says he himself didn’t have any conversations with Boston. His agent spoke with the club during the winter meetings, but apparently “that was it,” and clearly that discussion didn’t culminate in any serious offers. “Am I surprised? I guess. I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know if it was the most shocking thing I saw [in the market].” The Sox ended up re-signing Mitch Moreland to play first base for them on a two-year, $13MM contract.
Some other American League-related items…
- James Fegan of The Athletic has an insightful rundown of some young White Sox arms. Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning have all had their ups and downs this spring, and Fegan was able to get quotes from all of them on some recent performances in camp. For instance, Giolito spoke about his latest outing during which he allowed two runs in the first inning. “It’s one of those days where like, if one pitching isn’t working you can go to the other ones and I was able to do that for the most part after the first inning,” he said. Kopech offered some confidence in his performance. Threw a lot of changeups, changeups were good,” Kopech said. “My main two focuses were fastball command and changeup command. Both were really good. Got a lot of swings and misses on the changeup.” Anyone looking for more quotes from these young pitchers should give the article a full read.
- The Yankees have officially tabbed right-hander Luis Severino to be the club’s Opening Day starter. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com has some notable quotes from manager Aaron Boone on the subject. “”We feel like it’s his time for it,” Boone said. “With what he was able to do last year, we feel like he’s in a really good place now. We just felt like now is the time for him to take on that role and we think he’s ready for it.” While it’s hardly surprising to hear that the third-place finisher in 2017’s Cy Young voting will throw his club’s first game of the season, the announcement also comes with the news that lefty Jordan Montgomery will officially be given the club’s fifth rotation spot and start the Yankees’ home opener.
The White Sox announced on Wednesday that they’ve optioned top outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez to Double-A Birmingham. The 21-year-old homered twice and hit a triple in nine spring plate appearances with the Sox, but he was never viewed as a candidate to break camp with the team. Jimenez has just 18 games of Double-A ball to his credit and has yet to play Triple-A, so he’ll head to the minors for additional development. The centerpiece of last summer’s Jose Quintana blockbuster with the crosstown Cubs, Jimenez figures to be a critical long-term piece on the South Side of Chicago, though ChiSox fans will likely have to wait at least a few months before getting a look at him in the Majors. That’s just fine with Jimenez, as Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com writes, though the youngster also made clear he thinks he is ready to play at the game’s highest level.
- Ryan Cordell is having a strong Spring Training and could be working his way into a spot on the White Sox roster, NBC Sports Chicago’s Vinnie Duber writes. Cordell, an 11th-round pick for the Rangers in the 2013 draft, has a .276/.339/.468 slash line, 65 homers and 81 steals (in 103 chances) over 1940 career PA in the minor leagues. He was acquired from the Brewers for Anthony Swarzak last July, and White Sox GM Rick Hahn said in January that he’d received trade inquiries about Cordell from three different teams. Chicago is having an open competition for center field and left field playing time could also be available if Nicky Delmonico’s partially-dislocated shoulder sidelines him for a significant amount of time.
- Nicky Delmonico and Tyler Saladino were both injured after the two White Sox outfielders collided while chasing a fly ball during today’s Spring Training game. As per announcements from the team, Saladino was diagnosed with a mild concussion and will enter the seven-day concussion protocol, while Delmonico suffered a partial dislocation of his left shoulder and will be re-examined tomorrow. It’s a tough setback for the duo, as both players were looking to establish themselves on a young Sox roster that is wide-open for young talent to win jobs. Saladino was in the running for a utility role, while Delmonico was looking to win regular at-bats as either a left fielder or DH after an impressive (.262/.373/.482 with nine homers in 166 PA) rookie debut in 2017. While the severity of the injury isn’t yet known, Delmonico seems likely to begin the season on the disabled list.
Alcides Escobar returns to the Royals with a not-so-lofty goal in sight, Rustin Dodd writes in a piece for The Athletic. Kansas City’s long-time shortstop wants to finish the season with an on-base percentage above .300 for the first time since the 2014 season. He says that he’s working on “taking a lot of pitches each at-bat” and trying to avoid swinging at bad pitches, both of which seem like obvious things to work on. Escobar owns a career OBP of just .294, and his .272 figure last year was the second-lowest among qualified MLB hitters (Rougned Odor’s .252 was the lowest, for those keeping track). That .272 mark for “Esky” was the result of drawing just 15 walks, his lowest full-season total ever.
A roundup of some other news items out of the AL Central…
- Recent Twins signee Logan Morrison reportedly suffered a right glute strain while running the bases on Wednesday, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. He was held out of Friday’s game, and is expected to miss today’s matchup as well. However, the injury isn’t considered serious. Minnesota brought the former Tampa Bay first baseman into the fold with a $6.5MM guarantee that includes a vesting option. He hit .246/.353/.516 last season with the Rays while smacking a career-high 38 home runs.
- The White Sox are dealing with a more significant injury. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribute tweets that farmhand Luis Robert has a moderate thumb sprain. Daryl Van Schouwen provides further details on the situation with his own tweet, adding that GM Rick Hahn expects the young outfielder to be immobilized in a cast for six weeks, and to be held out of game action for ten. Robert hit a phenomenal .310/.491/.536 in Rookie ball last season; Baseball Prospectus ranks him as the South Siders’ fifth best prospect, and number 55 overall.
- Continuing with injury news, Indians prospect Julian Merryweather will officially undergo Tommy John surgery after recently being diagnosed with a UCL sprain in his throwing elbow, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. The right-hander was a fifth-round pick by the Tribe during a 2014 draft in which the club also landed Bradley Zimmer, Triston McKenzie and Bobby Bradley. Merryweather had been solid at all levels of the minors before struggling to a 6.58 ERA across 16 starts at Triple-A Columbus last season, though his 3.89 xFIP suggests he dealt with some unfortunate homer/fly ball luck.
- Auburn right-hander Casey Mize is “the name to watch” for the Tigers as we approach the 2018 June amateur draft, says Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. After skidding to a 68-94 record last season, Detroit owns the number one overall pick in the draft, and as Passan notes, the club loves big college arms. Mize threw a no-hitter last night and was throwing 96 MPH up through the ninth inning. Scouts in attendance say he was throwing a “filthy split” as well.
The White Sox announced their second series of roster cuts this spring today, which included the release of outfielder Willy Garcia. The move opens up a second 40-man roster spot for the ChiSox, who previously had 39 players on the 40-man.
Chicago acquired Garcia, 25, off waivers from the Pirates last January, and he went on to make his MLB debut with the team in 2017 (at times appearing in an all-Garcia outfield which also consisted of Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia). In 119 plate appearances with the Sox, Garcia hit .238/.305/.400 with three homers. His work in Triple-A was strong, as evidenced by a .286/.396/.473 slash — a notable step forward from a fairly dismal Triple-A campaign with the Buccos in 2016.
Garcia’s 2017 season was cut short by a broken jaw suffered in a collision with Yoan Moncada in late July, though he returned to appear in four games in late September. With Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico, Ryan Cordell, Charlie Tilson and Daniel Palka all on the big league roster or in the upper minors (plus Avisail and Leury both still locks for the 25-man roster), Garcia faced a difficult path to resurfacing in the Majors this season.
Garcia had yet to take an at-bat this spring, as he’d been limited by a wrist injury, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- The White Sox have recently been linked to a pair of high-profile free agents in third baseman Mike Moustakas and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, but there’s “very little, if anything” to suggest they’re truly interested in either player, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets. As things stand, the Pale Hose are projected to enter the season with Yolmer Sanchez at third and Avisail Garcia, Leury Garcia and Nicky Delmonico at corner outfield/designated hitter – either of which could be spots for Gonzalez if the team does pursue him. However, general manager Rick Hahn suggested a couple weeks back that he’s content with the rebuilding club’s in-house DH choices.
Ross has been a durable and effective reliever in four of his six MLB seasons, apart from a disastrous 2014 campaign (that included 12 starts) and an injury-shortened 2017 season. Ross was limited to just 15 total innings last year (nine with the Red Sox and six in Triple-A) due to elbow inflammation and then a season-ending back surgery in August. Boston outrighted Ross off its roster following the season and the 28-year-0ld chose to become a free agent.
Over 330 2/3 innings with the Rangers and Red Sox, Ross has a 3.92 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 2.28 K/BB rate, and an impressive 52.2% grounder rate. He has been just about equally effective against hitters on both sides of the plate, holding left-handed batters to a .712 OPS and right-handed batters to a .723 OPS over the course of his career.
If Ross is healthy, he could be a very nice low-cost addition to a White Sox team that has aggressively shopped for relief help this offseason. Ross is one of many notable bullpen names (Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez, Bruce Rondon, T.J. House, Rob Scahill, Chris Volstad, Michael Ynoa) in Chicago’s camp as a non-roster invite, plus closer Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan are also new additions to the White Sox roster. Avilan looks to be the top left-handed option, and thus Ross and Cedeno could be competing to be the second southpaw in the Sox pen, though Ross’ success against both batters doesn’t necessarily limit him to a LOOGY-type of role.
It has long been suggested that the White Sox would make for an interesting match with free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas, but we’ve seen little in the way of a clear connection. But now there’s evidence at least that the sides are “staying in touch,” in the words of Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Whether that means the South Siders have real interest that would drive a significant offer, of course, is not yet clear. Presumably, the club would be intrigued mostly in a value proposition of some kind, perhaps in a multi-year scenario. While few outside observers believe the Sox roster is primed to compete in 2018, Moustakas would boost the quality in the short term and (more importantly) is young enough that he could be installed as a solid asset for future seasons. With little in the way of clear demand from contenders, this remains one of the more intriguing fits on paper.
- Cubs star Kris Bryant says this winter’s slow-moving free agent market has spurred him to take labor issues seriously, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come,” says Bryant. His own delayed promotion to start the 2015 season has obviously played a role in spurring his attention to the subject. It’s an interesting read on one of the game’s brightest young players, who says he and other players are readying to take a more proactive role. “I think with this next [CBA] things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to,” says Bryant.
- The Brewers rotation still has plenty of questions at the back end; indeed, many fans would still like to see an outside addition to provide one answer. As things stand, though, there’s a camp battle underway with quite a few participants. Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote yesterday that, while it’s still plenty early, both Wade Miley and Brent Suter have made favorable initial impressions. In Miley’s case, at least, it might even be that his showing already makes him an odds-on favorite to crack the roster. He has over a thousand MLB innings under his belt, after all, and the Brewers might well lose him through an opt-out (he’s an Article XX(B) free agent) if they don’t ultimately put him on the 40-man. Of course, there’s plenty of time yet for candidates to rise and fall in camp.
- Pirates third baseman David Freese had some salty words for the organization earlier in the winter, but he tells Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that they weren’t directed at finding his way to another team. Rather, it seems, Freese was making a call for all in the organization to recommit to winning — a possibility he says he believes in, particularly with the recent acquisitions of Corey Dickerson and Kevin Siegrist. Freese also says he understands he’s not likely to command the lion’s share of the time at third base. “I’ve had a good run in the big leagues,” he said, “and I just want to go out there and win some games.”