- The White Sox have released outfielder Mason Robbins, James Fegan of The Athletic tweets. Robbins, 25, had been with the organization since it selected him in the 25th round of the 2014 draft. He only recorded a .688 OPS during his time in Chicago’s system and was even poorer this year as a member of its Triple-A team, with which he batted .265/.289/.367 in 226 plate appearances.
White Sox Rumors
As an established veteran on a cellar-dwelling team, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has come up often as a speculative trade candidate, but the club’s “strongly inclined” to retain him, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The 31-year-old hasn’t exactly boosted his trade value this season, having hit a career-worst .250/.312/.435 (101 wRC+, compared to 139 from 2014-17) and accounted for a replacement-level WAR across 407 plate appearances. Regardless of whether the White Sox keep Abreu, he’s slated to go through arbitration once more over the winter. In the meantime, he’s on a $13MM salary this season.
- White Sox reliever Nate Jones suffered a setback in his recovery from a pronator muscle strain and will be shut down for two weeks, Scott Merkin of MLB.com tweets. The team still expects Jones to come back this year, Merkin adds, though it seems too late for him to emerge as an in-season trade chip. The 32-year-old Jones has already been out for more than a month, making this his second straight injury-shortened campaign. Jones, whom elbow problems limited to 11 2/3 innings last year, has thrown 24 2/3 frames this season and registered a 2.55 ERA/4.61 FIP with 9.85 K/9 and 5.11 BB/9.
A few notable players were activated from the disabled list today…
- The Mariners have activated right-hander Felix Hernandez; he’d been on the DL with lower back tightness, though it’s possible the DL stint had more to do with roster management than with the injury itself. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award-winner has continued to trend downwards this season, evidenced by a 5.13 ERA (and a 4.64 FIP that doesn’t paint a much more optimistic picture). He also sports a 7.43 K/9 that would be a full-season career low. In order to make room for the righty on the active roster, Seattle has optioned outfielder John Andreoli to Triple-A Tacoma.
- White Sox outfielder Nicky Delmonico will finally return after missing two months with a broken hand. After an intriguing 2017 rookie season in which he hit .262/.373/.482, the 26-year-old has failed to replicate that type of production. His .217 batting average and .292 slugging percentage are both dreadful disappointments across his first 139 plate appearances of 2018, though his 11.5% walk rate is a nice silver lining.
- Avisail Garcia will also make a return to the White Sox. The 27-year-old enjoyed a tremendous breakout campaign last season during which he batted at a .330 clip and slugged 18 homers across 561 plate appearances. However, the 2018 season has seen him walk at just a 1.4% clip, so while his .282 batting average is fairly impressive, his .297 on-base percentage looks almost like a liability. He’s managed to hit nine homers and six doubles across 148 plate appearances, though, which makes for a .542 slugging percentage.
While the focus this time of year is obviously on trade possibilities, the All-Star break also provides reporters an opportunity to ask players about their own long-term preferences. It’s not surprising, then, that we’ve seen a run of stories on players who won’t be traded away, but also aren’t under long-term control.
- The Red Sox have certainly enjoyed an excellent opening run, led by excellent performances from a number of core players. It’d be a surprise to see any mid-season dealmaking, but the club might be expected to look into some new arrangements in the offseason to come. Closer Craig Kimbrel represents the most pressing situation, since he’ll be a free agent. As Christopher Smith of MassLive.com reports, Kimbrel says he and his family would “love to stay” but certainly indicated he’ll wait to see what the market bears. Though he only arrived a few months ago, slugger J.D. Martinez says he’d be open to exploring a new pact that might eliminate some of his opt-out opportunities, as he tells Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. Of course, there’s plenty of time left before he’s scheduled to have a shot at returning to the open market (post-2019), and there’s reason to wonder whether the organization really would want to pay up to enhance its control rights. In between those two players in terms of contract situation is staff ace Chris Sale. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe argues that, with one more option year left to go, the Boston organization ought to look into locking up the 29-year-old for the foreseeable future.
- It seemed at one time that infielder Jed Lowrie would feature as a trade chip, but the surging Athletics obviously now have no plans to sell. Instead, attention has turned to the question whether he might end up returning to Oakland at season’s end. As John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, Lowrie says the front office has “expressed interest this time” around — unlike the prior time his contract with the A’s was nearing an end. Lowrie, a first-time All-Star in his 11th MLB season, indicated that he’d be open to working something out to return for a sixth campaign in Oakland, though it’s not clear whether any effort at mid-season talks will be made.
- It’s a similar story for Braves outfielder Nick Markakis, another respected veteran who finally earned an All-Star nod. As Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, Markakis indicated he expects to keep playing after his contract runs out this fall — which is no surprise given his strong performance thus far. Whether that’ll take place in Atlanta or elsewhere, though, isn’t yet on his mind. “We’ll deal with that stuff in the offseason when the time comes,” says the veteran.
- Those sorts of questions have long floated around White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, who stands out as a quality veteran on a very youthful roster. As Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Abreu says he hopes to have a chance to win before his time is up in Chicago. His focus is on “just trying to enjoy the moment with the team” at the moment, but the slugger also indicated that he’s at least open to spending more time on the South Side. “I’d like to stay with this team,” says Abreu. “And I’m going to do all in my power to make this team good as soon as possible.”
The White Sox outrighted reliever Bruce Rondon earlier this week, giving him a chance to remain in the organization at the Triple-A level. Instead, he has rejected the assignment and elected free agency, James Fegan of The Athletic tweets.
The hard-throwing Rondon will now look for work elsewhere, though he won’t bring an accomplished major league resume to his next stop. Rondon, who debuted with the Tigers in 2013 and pitched for Detroit through 2017, owns a 5.73 ERA and a 5.03 BB/9 across 141 1/3 innings. He threw 29 2/3 frames with the White Sox this season and logged an 8.49 ERA and an 8.19 BB/9, though he did strike out upward of 12 batters per nine and has regularly run up high K totals in the bigs (11.03 K/9).
It’s a near-certainty that Rondon’s next pact will be a minor league accord, as his deal with the White Sox was. It’s worth noting, then, that the 27-year-old has held his own in the minors. Across 109 2/3 Triple-A innings, he has pitched to a 3.04 ERA and notched 11.2 K/9, but he has also issued 5.5 free passes per nine.
- The White Sox outrighted reliever Bruce Rondon to Triple-A on Friday, per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. Rondon could have rejected the assignment in favor of free agency, but it seems he’ll report to Charlotte. The 27-year-old flamethrower has amassed 40 strikeouts in 29 2/3 major league innings this season, but he has also registered a hideous walk rate (8.19 per nine) and an even higher ERA (8.49). As a result, the Sox designated Rondon on Wednesday and no one took a chance on him via waivers.
- The White Sox received some more tough news on a promising young prospect, as the team announced to reporters this week that outfielder Micker Adolfo will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the season (Twitter link via WGN’s Adam Hoge). The silver lining, if there’s any, is that the procedure comes with a quicker recovery time for position players than for pitchers, and Adolfo is expected to be recovered in eight to 10 months. That would put him on track to be back up to speed anywhere from early Spring Training to early May Adolfo, 21, had turned in a quality .283/.368/.466 slash with 11 homers but a more concerning 27.2 percent strikeout rate through 78 games against older competition in Class-A Advanced. Fangraphs ranked him ninth among ChiSox farmhands earlier this year, while he currently ranks 10th in their system over at MLB.com.
White Sox right-hander Miguel Gonzalez underwent right shoulder surgery and will require a recovery period of nine to 12 months, the team announced tonight. Per the announcement, doctors “performed a labral repair and debridement” on Gonzalez.
It’s a tough blow for the 34-year-old Gonzalez, who made just three starts and totaled just 12 1/3 innings in what is now an injury-ruined season. He’d performed nicely with the Sox in 45 starts from 2016-17, pitching to a 4.02 ERA with 6.0 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 268 2/3 innings before being traded over to the Rangers at the end of August. Gonzalez’s time with Texas didn’t go well, and he ultimately returned to the ChiSox on a one-year pact this offseason.
Gonzalez now, in a best-case scenario, wouldn’t be ready until mid-April of 2019, though the operation could effectively wipe out the first half of the 2019 season for the veteran right-hander as well. He’ll likely generate some minor league offers if not over the winter than early in the ’19 season as teams look to add veteran depth options to their organizations. In 883 2/3 innings between the O’s, White Sox and Rangers, Gonzalez has a 4.06 ERA with 6.3 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.
Rondon, 27, was in his first season with the Sox after previously spending the entirety of his pro career in the Tigers organization. Rondon enjoyed a fairly promising start in his new environs, working to a solid 3.68 ERA with 31 strikeouts against 12 walks through his first 22 innings with the Pale Hose. But things derailed quickly for Rondon, as he was hammered for a stunning 19 earned runs over his next 7 2/3 innings — including another three-run meltdown in Tuesday night’s bludgeoning by the Cardinals. In the end, Rondon’s ERA with the White Sox will be a dismal 8.49. He’s out of minor league options, so the Sox don’t have the luxury of sending him to Triple-A to sort things out without first exposing him to waivers.
Rondon still throws plenty hard, averaging 96.4 mph on his heater, and he clearly has little trouble when it comes to missing bats; he punched out 40 hitters in 29 2/3 innings of work and notched a quality 14 percent swinging-strike rate. As has typically been the case for Rondon, though, he showed a significant lack of control in his time with the Sox, walking 27 batters, hitting another and throwing six wild pitches.
The Sox will have a week to either trade Rondon, run him through outright waivers or release him. It’s possible that another organization will be intrigued by his velocity and ability to miss bats, but they’d have to allow him to try to sort things out at the big league level due to that lack of minor league options. If Rondon does clear waivers, he has enough big league service time to reject a outright assignment and seek a new opportunity with another organization.
As for Gomez, 30, this will be his first shot at the majors since he fell out of fortune last year with the Phillies. He had turned in a few solid seasons, even becoming the Phils’ closer for a stretch, but was knocked around in 2017. Though he carried a career-high 8.5 K/9 in his 22 1/3 innings, Gomez was tagged for 31 hits (seven of which left the yard) and 18 earned runs prior to being cut loose.
Gomez spent a bit of time in the upper minors last year, throwing well but failing to make his way back up. He landed with the White Sox on a minors deal over the winter and has performed admirably thus far at Triple-A. Through forty frames over thirty appearances with Charlotte, Gomez owns a 2.02 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. If he can show well over the next few weeks, perhaps it’s not out of the question that he could turn into something of a trade candidate. If not, he may simply help the rebuilding White Sox fill innings down the stretch.