Chicago White Sox – MLB Trade Rumors 2021-01-18T15:12:44Z WordPress TC Zencka <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Martín Pérez, Coliseum]]> 2021-01-17T02:21:22Z 2021-01-17T02:21:22Z There was some heavy lifting done in the baseball world yesterday: it was arbitration filing day, as well as the opening of the international signing period. Today is a recovery day. Here’s the latest…

  • Before agreeing to terms with the Red Sox, southpaw Martín Pérez had no shortage of suitors. The Astros, Padres, Royals, White Sox, and Rays all showed interest in Pérez, per Chris Cotillo of (via Twitter). The Padres and White Sox have generally set their sights a touch higher than Pérez, but there’s clearly some trust around the league in Perez’s ability to contribute to a playoff-caliber pitching staff.
  • The Oakland A’s have long faced questions about their ability to stay in Oakland because of stadium concerns. The Coliseum sits on land with split ownership between the A’s and the city of Oakland. The organization continues to look for a site to build a new stadium, but the city of Oakland has also received a number of offers for their portion of the Coliseum land. One of those offers comes from former Oakland pitcher Dave Stewart, per Susan Slusser and Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. Stewart, an Oakland native, submitted a $115MM bid with plans to revitalize the area, whether or not the A’s continue to play there. The city of Oakland is reviewing all offers.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: 1/15/21]]> 2021-01-16T03:42:52Z 2021-01-15T16:51:22Z The deadline to exchange arbitration figures is today at 1pm ET. As of this morning, there were 125 arbitration-eligible players who’d yet to agree to terms on their contract for the upcoming 2021 season. Arbitration is muddier than ever before thanks to the shortened 2020 schedule, which most believe will lead to record number of arb hearings this winter. Be that as it may, it’s still reasonable to expect dozens of contractual agreements to filter in over the next couple of hours.

We’ll highlight some of the more high-profile cases in separate posts with more in-depth breakdowns, but the majority of today’s dealings will be smaller-scale increases that don’t radically alter a team’s payroll or a player’s trade candidacy. As such, we’ll just run through most of today’s agreements in this post.

I’ve embedded MLBTR’s 2021 Arbitration Tracker in the post (those in the mobile app or viewing on mobile web will want to turn their phones sideways). Our tracker can be sorted by team, by service time and/or by Super Two status, allowing users to check the status on whichever groups of players they like. You can also check out Matt Swartz’s projected arbitration salaries for this year’s class, and we’ll do a quick sentence on each player’s agreement at the bottom of this post as well, with the most recent agreements sitting atop the list.

Today’s Agreements (chronologically, newest to oldest)

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TC Zencka <![CDATA[Notable International Signings: 1/15/21]]> 2021-01-15T17:35:00Z 2021-01-15T15:43:43Z The 2020-21 international signing period is officially underway, and though this signing period is open until Dec. 15, 2021, many of the big names have already signed. Teams have long since lined up deals with newly eligible teenage players, so the news today largely represents confirmation of what was anticipated. Still, it’s a day of no small moment, particularly for the young men embarking upon professional careers.

Let’s round up some of the most notable signings of the day. Most of these agreements have been known for awhile, as both Baseball America’s Ben Badler (signings tracker; scouting links) and’s Jesse Sanchez (Twitter feed; rankings) have listed each club’s expected landing spot and approximate signing bonus on their rankings for months. You can find each team’s total bonus pool and other information on the process right here. Check the above links for further information and other signings. Despite today’s announcements, many of these deals won’t become official for even a couple of weeks, notes Sanchez. Here are a few key deals:

  • Yoelqui Céspedes, OF, White Sox: The half-brother of outfielder Yoenis Céspedes, the Cuban outfielder joins a strong international tradition in Chicago with the White Sox, who currently field Cuban stars such as reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu, centerfielder Luis Robert, and third baseman Yoan Moncada. has Céspedes ranked as the top international prospect in this class thanks to being a “a five-tool player with above-average tools across the board.” Baseball America is slightly less bullish, putting him at No. 12 on their board, noting that the pandemic limited opportunities for scouting. The 23-year-old will be one of the older prospects from this class to sign, and though he has the ability to play center, Robert’s presence in Chicago means he is probably ticketed for right. The White Sox also signed Cuban hurler Norge Vera for $1.5MM. Vera came in at No. 15 on’s rankings. Fangraphs has Cespedes as Chicago’s new No. 25 ranked prospect, and Vera at No. 14.
  • Armando Cruz, SS, Nationals: Cruz officially joined the Nationals today for the most money the Nationals have ever paid out to single player during the international signing period, with The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli (via Twitter) pegging the final number at $3.9MM. BA writes in their scouting report, “He’s a defensive wizard with phenomenal hands and a strong arm, combining the ability to make acrobatic, highlight plays along with the internal clock and game savvy well beyond his years.” The Nationals signed 11 international players in total, notes Ghiroli.
  • Pedro Leon, OF, Astros: Houston will pay $4MM to add’s 7th-ranked international prospect to their system, per Sanchez. Baseball America has Leon as the top prospect of his class. Like Céspedes, the Cuban outfield is one of the older members of this class, but he brings plus speed, power, and the ability to stick in centerfield.
  • Manuel Beltre, SS, Blue Jays: The Blue Jays added perhaps the most advanced hitter of the class in Beltre. has Beltre as the No. 24 ranked prospect in the class, signing for $2.6MM, though Shi Davidi of (via Twitter) pegs the final number to be closer to $2.35MM. The Dominican shortstop could ultimately end up at second base, Sanchez writes, but he has arm enough to stay at short.
  • Pedro Pineda, OF, Athletics: MLB Insider Jon Heyman (via Twitter) has Pineda signing with Oakland for less than $4MM, but the sum isn’t likely to fall far below that threshold. Baseball America has Pineda as the No. 11 ranked prospect in this class, writing, “Pineda is a strong, athletic, physical center fielder with a loud tool set and a power/speed threat. He has excellent speed, a fast bat and the power potential to hit 25-plus home runs.”

Several other well-regarded prospects also secured bonuses of $2MM or more, with the specifics provided here by Sanchez:

  • Rays, $3MM, shortstop Carlos Colmenarez
  • Cubs, $3MM, shortstop, Cristian Hernandez
  • Pirates, $2.3MM, outfielder Shalin Polanco
  • Tigers, $2.95MM, shortstop Cristian Santana
  • Twins, $2.3MM, shortstop Danny De Andrada
  • Angels, $2MM, shortstop Denzer Guzman
  • Marlins, $3.5MM, shortstop Yiddi Cappe
Connor Byrne <![CDATA[White Sox Sign Liam Hendriks]]> 2021-01-15T15:39:26Z 2021-01-15T15:35:52Z Jan. 15: The White Sox have formally announced the signing of Hendriks to a four-year, $54MM contract. Chris Hatfield of and Joel Sherman of the New York Post point out an interesting wrinkle in the unique structure of Hendriks’ contract (Twitter link): for luxury-tax purposes, the fourth year comes with a zero-dollar hit. Because Hendriks is guaranteed the full $54MM even over a three-year term, the first three years will come with an $18MM hit (dipped slightly because of the 10-year deferrals if the option is bought out).

The White Sox have never flirted with the luxury barrier, but it’s notable in the event that they increase their spending in future years or in the event that another club wants to borrow the concept for future dealings. Of course, with the collective bargaining agreement set to expire next December, it could be rendered a moot point; it’s possible that new luxury limits and/or new means of determining luxury penalization will be bargained.

Jan. 12: If the White Sox don’t pick up Hendriks’ $15MM option for the 2024 season, they’ll pay him a buyout of that same value but defer it over a 10-year period, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. That’s an unprecedented structure for a club option that affords the ChiSox the opportunity for substantial up-front cost savings while still guaranteeing Hendriks the full freight of the $54MM — even if the actual present-day value of the contract is weighed down by the potential deferrals.

Jan. 11: The White Sox have reached an agreement with free-agent reliever Liam Hendriks, pending a physical, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports. It’s a three-year, $54MM guarantee with a club option for a fourth season, per Mark Feinsand of Both the option and buyout are worth $15MM, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, so the right-handed Hendriks will earn that money regardless of how long he’s part of the team. Passan adds that the White Sox would be able to pay the buyout over multiple years. Hendriks is a client of ALIGND Sports Agency.


So far, this is the largest guarantee given to any free agent during what has been a slow-moving offseason. It comes as a surprise when considering how the winter opened for relievers, as Cleveland waived star closer Brad Hand in lieu of paying him a $10MM option for 2021 and no other team claimed him. After that, it would have been easy expect relievers to continue faring somewhat poorly this offseason, but Hendriks will be paid handsomely. In fact, his deal blows past the three-year, $30MM prediction MLBTR made for him before the offseason.

Just a couple of years ago, it would have been almost impossible to imagine Hendriks at this point. The Athletics outrighted him in July 2018, but he came back with a vengeance as a member of the team that September and carried it over into the 2019 and ’20 campaigns. Hendriks was the majors’ most effective late-game arm during that span, as he pitched to a 1.66 ERA with a similarly astounding 33.1 percent strikeout-walk percentage, piled up 39 saves out of 47 chances, and won American League Reliever of the Year honors  in 2020.

Based on what he has done in recent seasons, the 31-year-old Hendriks looks like an enormous loss for the A’s – who didn’t give the hurler a qualifying offer after they knocked off the White Sox in the first round of last fall’s playoffs – and a massive pickup for Chicago. The White Sox earned their first trip to the postseason since 2008 last season, and they’re one of the few teams in baseball that have been active since then. Assuming the Hendriks deal goes through, he’ll be their third noteworthy pickup of the offseason, joining starter Lance Lynn and outfielder Adam Eaton.

Also a former Twin, Royal and Blue Jay, Hendriks should be in line to take over for free agent Alex Colome as Chicago’s closer. The Australia native will be the highest-profile member of a White Sox relief corps that finished seventh in the majors in ERA (3.76) last year, when holdovers Evan Marshall, Aaron Bummer, Matt Foster and Codi Heuer turned in terrific results. With Hendriks coming in, Chicago’s bullpen could be even better in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[White Sox, Nick Williams Agree To Minor League Deal]]> 2021-01-15T14:41:33Z 2021-01-15T14:41:05Z The White Sox have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Nick Williams, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter). Williams, a client of the Boras Corporation, would be paid $900K if he cracks the big league roster.

Now 27 years of age, Williams is a former second-round pick (Rangers, 2012) and highly touted prospect. Ranked as the game’s No. 27 overall farmhand back in 2016, Williams was one of the centerpieces of the trade sending Cole Hamels from Philadelphia to Texas, but he’s yet to replicate his impressive rookie showing from the 2017 season. A 23-year-old Williams debuted for the Phils that year and went on to hit .288/.338/.473 with a dozen homers, 14 doubles and two triples in 343 trips to the plate.

Since that time, however, Williams has struggled both in the big leagues. He batted .234/.298/.388 in 560 MLB plate appearances from 2018-19, though he still posted very strong Triple-A numbers during that ’19 campaign. Williams opened the 2020 season in the Phillies organization but eventually went to the Reds via waiver claim. He never appeared in a Major League game with Cincinnati, though, spending a month at their alternate training site before being designated for assignment and going unclaimed on waivers the second time around.

The White Sox have a full outfield with Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Adam Eaton and Adam Engel, so there’s no immediate path to playing time for Williams. He’ll look to make the club as a bench bat and DH option, though he could also head to Triple-A Charlotte as a depth piece. In some ways, this is a smaller-scale version of last year’s addition of Nomar Mazara, another still-in-his-prime former top corner outfield prospect. Williams, of course, won’t go on the 40-man roster as Mazara did, but if he surprises and finds himself with the ChiSox, he’d be controllable all the way through the 2024 season via arbitation.

TC Zencka <![CDATA[White Sox Interested In Brad Hand ]]> 2021-01-06T17:13:18Z 2021-01-06T17:13:18Z The White Sox make for a natural suitor as they continue to wrench open their window of contention. They know Hand well from his time in their division, and incumbent closer Alex Colomé is also a free agent. Tony La Russa’s club is well-stocked in southpaws with fast-rising rookie Garrett Crochet coming off a very impressive initial Major League showing, as well as Aaron Bummer, who might be the premier wormkiller in the game. Jace Fry has also been a productive southpaw for the ChiSox with a 4.07 FIP, 29.6 percent strikeout rate, 13.7 percent walk rate, and 51.2 percent groundball rate over the past three seasons. To add Hand to that group may seem gluttonous, but slotting him in as the closer would allow Chicago to continue to use Fry and Bummer situationally while protecting Crochet’s usage.

Count the White Sox and Dodgers among the suitors for closer Brad Hand, per MLB Insider Jon Heyman (Twitter links). Along with the Blue Jays and Mets, Hand now has a decent cadre of clubs interested in his services.

The White Sox make for a natural suitor as they continue to wrench open their window of contention. They know Hand well from his time in their division, and incumbent closer Alex Colomé is also a free agent. Tony La Russa’s club is well-stocked in southpaws with fast-rising rookie Garrett Crochet coming off a very impressive initial Major League showing, as well as Aaron Bummer, who might be the premier wormkiller in the game. Jace Fry has also been a productive southpaw for the ChiSox with a 4.07 FIP, 29.6 percent strikeout rate, 13.7 percent walk rate, and 51.2 percent groundball rate over the past three seasons. To add Hand to that group may seem gluttonous, but slotting him in as the closer would allow Chicago to continue to use Fry and Bummer situationally while protecting Crochet’s usage.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Liam Hendriks Visits Blue Jays]]> 2021-01-04T20:19:13Z 2021-01-04T20:02:44Z Free agent Liam Hendriks visited the Blue Jays’ training complex in Dunedin today, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. The 31-year-old (32 in February) is unquestionably the best reliever available on the open market and has been quite arguably the best reliever in the sport over the past two seasons.

Hendriks had been loosely tied to the Blue Jays in recent weeks, but today’s visit seems to underscore the seriousness of those talks. Toronto has been connected to virtually every prominent free agent and trade target available this winter. It seems likely they’ll bring in at least one key player from outside the organization.

It remains to be seen whether Hendriks, who pitched for Toronto between 2014-15, will be among the Jays’ noteworthy additions. The Mets, Dodgers, White Sox and Astros have also been tied to the right-hander at various points this offseason. Chicago remains in play for Hendriks, reiterates Mark Feinsand of Houston is still “all over him,” hears Chris Cotillo of The Dodgers’ “strong interest” in signing Hendriks also persists, adds Robert Murray of Fansided. It’s clear Hendriks is finding rather robust interest, which should aid his attempt to land the four-year contract he seeks.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Five Teams Showing Interest In Alex Colome]]> 2021-01-02T22:54:12Z 2021-01-02T22:53:52Z There hasn’t been much public buzz about Alex Colome’s market this winter, but the former All-Star has been attracting some attention in free agency.  Darren Wolfson of SKOR North (via Twitter) reports that the Twins “recently inquired” about Colome’s services, while FanSided’s Robert Murray (Twitter links) adds that the Nationals, Red Sox, Astros, and White Sox have also shown interest.

For the last five seasons, Colome has been a solid and occasionally dominant ninth-inning option, racking up 138 saves for the Rays, Mariners, and White Sox since the start of the 2016 season.  With Chicago in 2020, Colome posted just an 0.81 ERA over 22 1/3 innings, while posting a largely impressive slate of Statcast metrics (in particular finishing in the 95th percentile in barrel percentage).  ERA predictors, however, weren’t nearly as impressed with his work, as Colome’s 2.97 FIP, 4.26 xFIP, and 4.44 SIERA all reflected his ordinary 6.4 K/9, as well as some good fortune in the form of a .200 BABIP and 86.4% strand rate.  He also didn’t allow a single home run last year, which isn’t likely to be duplicated over a full season.

Colome largely relies on a two-pitch arsenal of a cutter (which he has thrown over 70% of the time in each of the last two seasons) and a four-seam fastball that clocks around the 94.4mph range.  It’s hard to argue with results, of course, though teams could be wary of committing big money to the 32-year-old Colome going forward if they feel his advanced metrics will start catching up to his on-field numbers.

That said, the lack of Colome updates to this point could also be par for the course during an offseason that hasn’t seen much high-priced movement in the relief market.  Trevor May’s two-year, $15.5MM deal with the Mets represents the only significant contract given to a relief pitcher this winter, and such names as Liam Hendriks, Brad Hand, Blake Treinen, and Trevor Rosenthal continue to wait for their next teams (not to mention many other prominent relievers who could be available in trades).

As we inch closer to the projected start of Spring Training, it isn’t surprising that we’ll hear more news about interest in Colome and other relievers as teams start to get aggressive about filling holes in the bullpen.  All five of the teams linked to Colome have needs at the back of their respective pen, even if a provisional closer is already in place to handle the bulk of save opportunities.  For the White Sox in particular, there has been speculation that the team could elevate Aaron Bummer or Evan Marshall to closer if Colome went elsewhere, though it would make sense that Chicago would welcome back a familiar closer (at the right price, of course) if the Sox want some ninth-inning experience for what they hope will be a deeper run into the postseason.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[White Sox, Evan Marshall Avoid Arbitration]]> 2020-12-31T16:22:17Z 2020-12-31T16:22:17Z The White Sox and right-hander Evan Marshall have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2MM, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Marshall, a client of ISE Baseball, was outstanding for the South Siders in 2020. The 30-year-old righty tossed 22 2/3 innings with a 2.38 ERA and even better 2.04 FIP — thanks largely to a 30-to-7 K/BB ratio and a terrific 54.6 percent ground-ball rate. That marked the second consecutive sub-2.50 ERA season for Marshall, who was cut loose by each of the D-backs, Mariners and Indians in 2017-18 before emerging as a key bullpen piece in Chicago after signing a minor league deal with the Sox.

At present, Marshall projects as one of the top late-inning relievers for the White Sox, although the expectation is that they’ll add at least one late-inning arm between now and Opening Day — particularly given the fact that closer Alex Colome is a free agent. Colome himself seems like a candidate for a reunion, and the Sox have also been linked to Liam Hendriks, among others.

Marshall is the second player in as many days to avoid arbitration with the White Sox. Adam Engel signed a one-year, $1.375MM deal with the Sox yesterday. With Marshall now joining him in signing for the upcoming season, only right-handers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez remain among Chicago’s arbitration class.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[White Sox, Adam Engel Avoid Arbitration]]> 2020-12-30T17:48:51Z 2020-12-30T17:48:32Z The White Sox have signed outfielder Adam Engel to a one-year deal worth $1.375MM, avoiding arbitration, per a team announcement.

Engel, 29, had a nice year with the ChiSox in 2020, albeit in a tiny sample of 93 plate appearances. In that time, he put together a career-best .295/.333/.477 slash, adding in three homers, five doubles, a triple and a stolen base. That type of production is a far sight from the tepid .215/.271/.330 batting line that Engel carried into the 2020 campaign.

Of course, Engel won’t be pressed into everyday duties with the Sox in 2021. He’s expected to pair with the team’s other Adam E. (Adam Eaton) to form a right field platoon. Engel is a career .257/.303/.386 hitter against lefties, and while that’s still a rather modest line, it’s passable when factoring in his strong outfield defense and his above-average speed.

This was Engel’s first year of arbitration eligibility. He’ll be eligible twice more and is on track to reach free agency following the 2023 season. With his case now settled, the South Siders’ remaining three arbitration players in need of contracts are right-handers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Evan Marshall.

TC Zencka <![CDATA[White Sox Remaining Needs]]> 2020-12-27T14:40:52Z 2020-12-26T20:28:10Z
  • Despite the additions already made this offseason, the White Sox could use some more rotation depth, a closer, and a designated hitter, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. Andrew Vaughn could be called upon to fill that designated hitter role or to spell MVP Jose Abreu at first base. Vaughn figured to be a fast-riser when the White Sox made him the No. 3 overall selection of the 2019 draft, and he made it to High-A in his first professional season. Had there been a minor league season in 2020, Vaughn might be ready for the Show, but under the circumstances, the Sox could look for a stopgap solution to give Vaughn some seasoning time and further build their offensive depth.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Oscar Colas Declared Free Agent By Major League Baseball]]> 2020-12-23T19:48:30Z 2020-12-23T19:47:05Z 1:47pm: Colas will work out for teams early in 2021, reports ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel (Twitter links), but there’s a “real shot” he’ll wait a year to sign in order to get the largest deal possible. Upwards of a third of the league has some interest in Colas, McDaniel adds, with the White Sox and Astros among the interested parties.

    8:50am: Major League Baseball has declared outfielder/pitcher Oscar Colas a free agent, reports’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). The 22-year-old was recently declared a free agent by Japan’s SoftBank Hawks after an ugly dispute between player and team. Colas and his family publicly alleged that he was deceived when signing his original contract — a deal he believed to be three years in length but one that held several club option years. Jim Allen outlined the saga in a thorough piece for the Kyodo News earlier this summer, and fans unfamiliar with Colas and his story will want to read Allen’s story for full context on the situation.

    Turning to the future for Colas, he’ll now be eligible to sign with a team beginning on Jan. 15, 2021. That’s the official kickoff date for the 2020-21 international signing period — a date that was pushed back from its typical July 2 commencement as teams placed their focus and resources elsewhere while seeking to ramp up for shortened 2020 season.

    Given his age and lack of professional experience, Colas is restricted to signing a minor league contract and is subject to international bonus pools. A team cannot exceed its league-allotted bonus pool in order to sign Colas, and teams aren’t allowed to trade international pool space for the 2020-21 period (another concept agreed to as the league sorted out return-to-play conditions prior to the season).

    That, as Baseball America’s Ben Badler explained yesterday, leads to a tricky situation for Colas. Using the White Sox as an example, Badler writes that between outfielder Yoelki Cespedes, who recently agreed to sign with the Sox once the signing period officially begins, and prior agreements with righty Norge Vera and others, most of the ChiSox’ pool is already used up. Most teams throughout the league are in a similar spot, per Badler.

    That’s not uncommon, as most deals for international amateurs are agreed to months or even years in advance. But it’s also not a good thing for Colas, who is only now becoming a free agent at a time when most teams have committed the bulk of their signing pools to other players. Badler suggests that Colas could consider waiting all the way until the 2021-22 signing period to agree to terms with a deal, although it’s likely that some clubs will try to sway him to sign sooner than that.

    There’s a good bit of hype surrounding Colas, some of which stems from the dubious “Cuban Ohtani” moniker associated with him. That seems an unfair and frankly misleading nickname to place on a player who, despite reportedly possessing a fastball that can touch 95 mph, has pitched just 3 1/3 professional innings, all of which came as a 19-year-old during the 2018-19 Cuban National Series. Colas didn’t pitch during his time with the Hawks. Ohtani, meanwhile, had 543 innings of 2.52 ERA ball with 624 strikeouts in NPB by the time he jumped to the Majors as a 23-year-old.

    Colas spent the bulk of his time in Japan with the Hawks’ minor league club in the Japan Western League, which is certainly sensible given that he was just 18 upon reporting to the Hawks for his first season. He struggled in his first Western League campaign but raked at a .302/.350/.516 clip in 2019, earning a promotion to the Hawks’ big league roster as a 20-year-old. Colas homered in his first plate appearance after the promotion and went 5-for-18 with that homer, a walk and six strikeouts in 21 trips to the plate. During his first two years with the Hawks, he’d also suit up during the winter for his pro team in Cuba. Overall, in parts of three seasons in Cuba’s top league, Colas is a .305/.381/.487 hitter.

    FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen doesn’t have Colas near the top of his international prospect rankings, writing that he’s a “more stable prospect as a lefty first base/designated hitter/right field type” than as a pitcher. That’s not to say that a team won’t try to develop him on the mound, but comparisons to Ohtani simply don’t seem appropriate.

    For all the intrigue surrounding the 22-year-old Colas, there’s also considerable uncertainty, both as to when he might actually sign and whether clubs will view him as a legitimate two-way option or prefer to focus on developing his abilities as a hitter and outfielder.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[White Sox To Sign Yoelki Cespedes]]> 2020-12-22T18:12:46Z 2020-12-22T17:51:11Z The White Sox have agreed to a $2MM bonus with outfielder Yoelki Cespedes, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports.  The deal will be official on January 15 when the 2020-21 international signing window (delayed from last July 2 due to the pandemic) opens.

    As the half-brother of former All-Star Yoenis Cespedes, the 23-year-old Yoelki carries some notable family ties and a lot of potential.  MLB Pipeline ranks Cespedes first in its list of 2020-21 int’l prospects, noting that he has put on “at least 15 pounds of muscle” for “more power and explosive bat speed.”  Cespedes has recently overhauled his swing to closely resemble his brother at the plate.  Pipeline’s scouting grades (on the 20-80 scale) indicate five-tool potential for Cespedes, with a 50 grade for his hitting being the lowest score — his fielding and power earned 55s, while his running and throwing arm earned 60s.

    Not all scouts are quite this optimistic about Cespedes (as we observed back in March when Cespedes was declared a free agent), though naturally more recent evaluations on Cespedes aren’t really available given how the pandemic curtailed scouting activity for months.  Obviously the White Sox felt comfortable enough in Cespedes’ ceiling to give him $2MM, one of the higher bonuses given to any player in the 2020-21 international class.

    As Badler notes, with Cespedes’ deal now taking up much of the available space in Chicago’s international signing pool, the White Sox could be out of the running for Oscar Colas after previously being rumored to have interest in the outfielder.  Colas’ availability was tied up in a dispute with Japan’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks for months, and while that dispute was recently settled, there hasn’t yet been any word on whether or not MLB has officially made Colas a free agent.  It could be that the Sox simply decided to allot their int’l funds towards a player they already knew was available rather than continue to wait on Colas.

    Over four seasons in the Serie Nacional, Cespedes hit .287/.352/.416 with 12 homers over 803 PA, beginning in Cuba’s top league as a 17-year-old.  He also played for Cuba during the 2017 World Baseball Classic, as the youngest member of the team’s roster.

    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Tony La Russa Reaches Plea Agreement Related To February Arrest]]> 2020-12-21T17:26:23Z 2020-12-21T17:25:07Z Dec. 21: A Maricopa County judge has accepted La Russa’s guilty plea for reckless driving, per Jon Seidel of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter thread). He’s been sentenced to a day of jail time, which has been commuted to home detention, and 20 hours of community service. He’ll be fined $1,383 as well. La Russa also recently went through alcohol counseling, according to his attorney.

    Dec. 13: White Sox manager Tony La Russa has agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving, a class 2 misdemeanor under Arizona law, stemming from his February arrest, reports James Fegan of the Athletic. La Russa was originally charged with two counts of driving under the influence, class 1 misdemeanors.

    La Russa’s plea agreement calls for him to serve one day in jail, Fegan reports. However, the state stipulated a willingness to approve work release or house detention in lieu of jail time, so long as the presiding judge approves. The parties’ agreement also calls for La Russa to pay a fine of $1,383 plus incarceration expenses, as well as completing twenty hours of community service. The parties are set for a telephonic hearing in front of a judge to conclude the matter on December 21, Fegan adds.

    The White Sox hired La Russa in October. The organization was aware of the charges against him at the time and is not expected to make a change in the dugout.

    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Dodgers, Astros Interested In Liam Hendriks]]> 2020-12-14T15:38:15Z 2020-12-14T14:39:20Z In a class of his own atop the free agent reliever market, Liam Hendriks is unsurprisingly drawing widespread interest. The White Sox, Mets and Blue Jays have been tied to Hendriks within the past week, and Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that the Dodgers and Astros have joined them among those pursuing the right-hander. Hendriks is looking for a four-year deal, Passan adds.

    Over the past two seasons, Hendriks has arguably been the best reliever in baseball. He’s pitched to a 1.79 ERA across 110.1 relief innings since the start of 2019. In that time, Hendriks struck out 38% of opposing hitters against a 5.7% walk rate and held batters to a .192/.240/.289 slash line. No reliever (minimum 50 innings) has a better park-adjusted ERA, and only Josh HaderNick Anderson and Kirby Yates have a higher strikeout minus walk percentage.

    Quite obviously, every team in the league would benefit from the addition of Hendriks to the back of the bullpen. The Dodgers’ bullpen was quite good in 2020; nevertheless, that’s the area of the roster that has given the team a bit of trouble in prior seasons and is the easiest spot to add depth as they look to mount another World Series run.

    The Astros’ interest in Hendriks also isn’t surprising. Houston’s bullpen was decimated by injuries this past season and looks in need of some outside help. The Astros are facing the potential free agent departures of George SpringerMichael Brantley and Josh Reddick, though, with few obvious in-house replacements beyond Kyle Tucker. It remains to be seen if there’ll be requisite payroll space for the Houston front office to add top-of-the-market relief help while also sufficiently addressing the outfield.

    Widespread interest notwithstanding, Hendriks finding a four-year deal at a strong average annual value might prove to be a tough task. He turns 32 in February, which figures to give some teams pause. The early stages of the offseason also haven’t been particularly kind to relievers. Every team in the league passed on Brad Hand’s $10MM option at the start of the offseason. Trevor May settled for a two-year, $15.5MM deal with the Mets; similarly productive relievers (Jeurys Familia and Joe Kelly, for instance) found three-year pacts in past winters. It’s possible Hendriks’ recent brilliance causes teams to view him as an exception, but the general trend seems to be that of a depressed bullpen market. One factor in his favor: the A’s did not issue him a qualifying offer, so the team that signs him will not have to forfeit draft pick compensation.