Chicago White Sox – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-06-06T02:40:39Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Remembering A Yankees-White Sox Blockbuster]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=198055 2020-05-29T02:17:12Z 2020-05-29T02:14:39Z In late July of 2017, the Yankees were mired in a weeks-long skid and working to avoid their second straight season without a playoff berth. After a 38-23 start to the season, the Yankees suffered a loss to the Twins on July 17 to fall to a so-so 47-44. They were in the midst of a free-fall, and general manager Brian Cashman decided he had seen enough. While the Yankees did get a win on the 18th, Cashman acted aggressively that night to acquire third baseman Todd Frazier and two relievers – right-handers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle – from the White Sox. In doing so, Cashman surrendered three prospects – left-hander Ian Clarkin and outfielders Blake Rutherford and Tito Polo – as well as reliever Tyler Clippard.

The deal played some role in helping the Yankees to a 91-win finish, a playoff berth and a trip to the ALCS, where they lost to the eventual champion Astros in seven games. Frazier seemed to be a hugely positive influence in the clubhouse (remember the thumbs-down craze?), and on the field, he slashed a decent .222/.365/.423 with 11 home runs in 241 plate appearances. Frazier was only a rental at the time, though, and he wound up with the Mets the next offseason on a two-year, $17MM guarantee.

Robertson, a Yankee from 2008-14 before he signed a four-year, $46MM contract with the White Sox prior to 2015, was excellent in his return to the Bronx. He threw 104 2/3 innings of 2.49 ERA ball with 12.21 K/9 and 2.37 BB/9 over parts of two seasons, though he left the Yankees as a free agent yet again when the Phillies inked him to a two-year, $23MM in advance of the 2019 campaign.

Kahnle, meanwhile, is still in the Bronx. The year the White Sox gave him up, Kahnle (who entered the pros as a fifth-rounder of the Yankees back in 2010) was amid a breakout season in which he wound up throwing 62 2/3 frames of 2.59 ERA/1.83 FIP ball with 13.79 K/9 and 2.44 BB/9 between the two teams. The 2018 season proved to be an injury-shortened disaster for Kahnle, who could only manage a 6.56 ERA/4.19 FIP in 23 1/3 innings, but he bounced back last year with a 3.67 ERA/3.33 FIP and 12.91 K/9 and 2.93 BB/9 across 61 1/3 innings.

The Yankees can control Kahnle at reasonable prices through 2021, so he should continue to be an important part of their bullpen for at least a little while longer. However, when they made this deal, the Yankees were no doubt hoping it would help propel them to a championship. That hasn’t happened, though they have made three consecutive playoff appearances since swinging the trade. As for the White Sox, who were still a long way from contention when they agreed to the swap, here’s how their return has gone so far…

  • Ian Clarkin: The former first-rounder (No. 33 in 2013) struggled enough in Double-A in 2018, his first full year in Chicago’s system, for the team to designate him for assignment. He threw 13 1/3 innings with the Cubs’ Double-A club last season and is now in the San Diego organization.
  • Blake Rutherford: The 18th pick in 2016, Rutherford topped out as Baseball America’s 45th-best prospect after 2017, though his stock has dropped since then. After the 23-year-old batted .265/.319/.365 with seven homers in 480 PA at Double-A last season, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen ranked him as Chicago’s No. 15 prospect.
  • Tito Polo: Now 25, Polo only lasted in the White Sox’s system through 2018. He divided last season between the Mariners’ Triple-A team and the Mexican League. He’s currently a free agent.
  • Tyler Clippard: Less than a month after acquiring Clippard, the White Sox traded the veteran to the Astros for cash considerations.

Almost three full years since this trade occurred, it seems Kahnle has emerged as the most valuable long-term asset involved. Now, Chicago’s only hope is for Rutherford to turn into a viable major leaguer, as the other players it received left the organization and didn’t bring back any assets when they departed.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Furloughs, Pay Cuts Among MLB Clubs]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197945 2020-05-28T00:08:21Z 2020-05-27T23:09:46Z 6:09pm: The Rangers have committed to $400 a week for their minor leaguers through at least June, Levi Weaver of The Athletic was among those to report. The same goes for the Braves, per David O’Brien of The Athletic, as well as the Diamondbacks, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds.

12:59pm: The Padres will also pay their minor leaguers the $400 weekly stipend through the end of August, Dennis Lin of The Athletic tweets.

12:34pm: Most of MLB’s 30 organizations agreed a ways back to pay their employees through the end of May. There were instances of lengthier commitments, but May 31 was broadly used as an initial endpoint, at which time fiscal matters would be reassessed. Minor league players have been receiving $400 weekly stipends during this time, but that arrangement is also only promised through the end of May. As you’d expect, clubs have begun to inform employees (both on the business and baseball operations side) and minor leaguers of their next steps. And, as you’d expect, in some instances it’s not pretty.

Yesterday was a particularly dark day in the Athletics organization, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the team informed minor league players they will no longer be paid their stipend as of June 1. Robert Murray of The Score shares the email that was sent to Oakland minor leaguers — one which was signed by GM David Forst rather than managing partner John J. Fisher. (Forst, of course, is being asked to play the messenger in this instance and is not the one making the decisions.)

Minor league players are generally undercompensated as a whole, and the $400 weekly stipend they’ve received over the past two months will now seemingly go down as the only baseball-related compensation they’ll receive in the calendar year. Their contracts, which are in a state of suspension but not terminated, bar them from “perform[ing] services for any other Club” and also render them ineligible for unemployment benefits, per The Athletic’s Emily Waldon (Twitter link).

As for the operations side of the equation, Athletics front office personnel will be either furloughed or see their pay reduced effective June 1 and running through the end of October, The Athletic’s Alex Coffey reports (Twitter thread). She adds that the maximum cut is 33 percent, and those determinations are based on seniority. Scouts aren’t considered front-office personnel, but they’ll be hit hard as well; USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that A’s amateur and pro scouts alike will be furloughed from June 16 through Oct. 31. Fisher did write a letter to the club’s fanbase confirming the dramatic cuts (Twitter link via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser), emphasizing the pain that went into the decisions and his “deep commitment to the long-term future of the A’s.”

Those cutbacks are similar to the substantial cuts the Angels put in place earlier this month, but other L.A. club isn’t taking such rash measures. The Dodgers have informed all employees earning more than $75K that they’ll be subject to pay reductions beginning June 1, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Twitter thread). The extent of the reductions is dependent on overall salary — larger salaries get larger percentage cuts — and will be capped at 35 percent for the most part, although that they could be greater for the team’s very top executives. Those measures are being taken in an effort to avoid the type of large-scale furloughs being put in place in Oakland and Anaheim.

Across the country, the Nationals have implemented a series of partial furloughs both in baseball ops and business ops, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reports (Twitter thread). The Nats are still covering full benefits and haven’t made any layoffs, but they’re implementing a sequence of 10 to 30 percent reductions in pay and total hours. The Brewers, meanwhile aren’t making any baseball ops furloughs but are furloughing some business operation employees, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets.

It’s not yet clear how every organization plans to handle the minor league pay dilemma, but Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser has heard from at least three clubs that plan to continue varying levels of compensation. The Phillies will keep paying their minor leaguers through at least June, but likely at less than the current $400 stipend. The White Sox are paying $400 per week through the end of June, and the Marlins have committed to paying their minor leaguers the full $400 per week through August — the would-be conclusion of the 2020 minor league season. The Marlins already informed players earlier this month that about 40 percent of the baseball ops department will be furloughed on June 1.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[White Sox Release 25 Minor Leaguers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197911 2020-05-27T01:35:05Z 2020-05-27T01:32:29Z The White Sox are the latest team to make significant cuts in the minors, per The Athletic’s James Fegan, who reports that they have let go of 25 players (Fegan provides the entire list in his tweet). The White Sox will pay all of their minor leaguers, including those they just released, through the end of June, Fegan adds.

As you’d expect, most of the names here aren’t especially familiar. However, there are at least a couple notable players, including outfielder Josue Guerrero, whom the White Sox signed to a $1.1MM million bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. Josue Guerrero, the nephew of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero and the cousin of the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr., didn’t post inspiring numbers as part of the White Sox’s system. In 244 plate appearances in rookie ball from 2017-19, the 20-year-old hit .224/.282/.365 with five home runs.

The White Sox also said goodbye to left-hander Byron Andre Davis, who Fegan notes was part of the return they received from the Royals in a 2017 trade centering on outfielder Melky Cabrera. Davis, now 26, dealt with injuries over the past couple years and hasn’t pitched in the minors since 2017.

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On MLB Teams’ Plans For Employees]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197595 2020-05-22T00:55:42Z 2020-05-22T00:55:42Z A variety of MLB teams have already revealed plans for the year for non-player employees. Some have instituted furloughs and/or pay cuts while others have committed to carry employees through the fall. Still other teams are taking things on a month-to-month basis, with several revealing their latest plans in recent days.

At least three teams have decided to continue paying employees in full through at least the end of June. The Cardinals are one such team, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on Twitter. The Twins are also in that camp, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com tweets. And the White Sox are adjusting work hours but not take-home pay, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Elsewhere in the central divisions, there were some cuts. The Cubs are keeping their full slate of employees at full-time capacity, but are instituting some salary reductions, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com reported on Twitter. And though the Pirates will not draw down their baseball operations staff, they will reduce pay in that arena while furloughing some business employees, as Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Out west, the Giants will retain their entire full-time staff but will be trimming pay for those earning over $75K, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Part-timers have been furloughed.

The Astros have committed to maintaining full pay and benefits for full-time employees, but only through June 5th, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. Whether some action could occur beyond that point remains to be seen. The Orioles are also still in flux, but the organization appears to be leaning towards keeping staff as usual through June, per Dan Connolly of The Athletic (via Twitter).

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[12 Years Later, This Trade’s Still Paying Off For Yankees]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197589 2020-05-22T04:25:09Z 2020-05-21T23:59:06Z It has been a dozen years since the Yankees swung a trade for outfielder Nick Swisher, who paid immediate dividends as part of the franchise and whose acquisition continues to benefit the organization to this day. On Nov. 13, 2008, the Yankees sent two minor league pitchers – Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez – as well as veteran infielder Wilson Betemit to the White Sox for Swisher and young hurler Kanekoa Texeira. Most of the pieces in the swap – Marquez, Nunez and Texeira – failed to pan out in the majors, but the move revived the switch-hitting Swisher’s career and helped him land a sizable payday in free agency down the road.

If we go back to the start, Swisher opened his career as a rather effective member of the Athletics, who chose him 16th overall in the 2002 draft. As a member of the big club from 2004-07, Swisher batted .251/.361/.464 (118 wRC+) with 80 home runs and 10.0 fWAR over 1,924 plate appearances, aiding Oakland in three plus-.500 seasons and a playoff berth. However, almost six years after spending a high pick on him, the A’s sold the affable Swisher, dealing him to the White Sox in January 2008 for a package led by left-hander Gio Gonzalez. That worked out fine for Oakland, which received a couple terrific years from Gonzalez before trading him to the Nationals in December 2011 in yet another notable transaction.

While the A’s profited from Gonzalez’s presence, his career took a bad turn in his first year out of Oakland. The 2008 campaign was one of the worst of Swisher’s time in the game, and he was unable to win the favor of then-White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen as a result. While Swisher was seemingly a solid clubhouse presence in the majors, Guillen thought the opposite. He said in November 2008, a little while after the White Sox parted with Swisher: “To be honest with you, I was not happy with the way he was reacting at the end of the season. He wasn’t helping me either.”  Maybe the relationship would have been better had Swisher produced, though he instead struggled to a .219/.332/.410 line (93 wRC+) in 588 PA. But Swisher did pop 24 home runs, his third of nine straight seasons with 20-plus, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman decided to buy low on him.

To this day, the Swisher pickup looks like one of the most brilliant decisions of Cashman’s lengthy tenure atop New York’s front office. Swisher was a quality contributor throughout his time as a Yankee, including in a 2009 campaign that saw the team win its most recent World Series championship. From that season through 2012, Swisher’s last as a Yankee, he hit .268/.367/.483 (128 wRC+) with 105 HRs and 14.4 fWAR across 2,501 PA, also earning his lone All-Star berth in the process. But the Yankees were not willing to commit to Swisher once he became a free agent before 2013, which, for multiple reasons, was a wise call in hindsight.

In January 2013, the Ohio-born Swisher returned to his native state on a four-year, $56MM contract with the Indians. Unfortunately for Cleveland, it didn’t get anything close to the Yankees’ version of Swisher. Owing in part to knee problems, Swisher slashed a below-average .228/.311/.377 (92 wRC+) with 32 homers and minus-0.5 fWAR in 1,146 PA in an Indians uniform. They dealt Swisher and fellow outfielder Michael Bourn to the Braves for infielder Chris Johnson in August 2015. That proved to be Swisher’s final season in MLB, though he did return to the Yankees on a minor league contract in 2016 before his career came to an end later that year.

The season after Swisher said goodbye to pro baseball, another star was born in New York. Towering right fielder Aaron Judge, a top 100 prospect in his younger days, exploded on the scene in 2017, batting .284/.422/.627 (174 wRC+), smacking 52 homers and racking up 8.3 fWAR. Judge fell short of AL MVP honors then, but he won Rookie of the Year in his league and was part of a club that took the eventual title-winning Astros to a seven-game LCS.

While injuries have somewhat limited Judge’s availability since his initial season, you can’t argue with the production he has managed when he has been able to take the field. Since his second year, Judge has recorded a line of .278/.392/.528 (good for a 146 wRC+) and amassed 54 dingers with 9.7 fWAR.

Judge is now 28 years old, a two-time All-Star and perhaps the face of the Bronx-based franchise, but he may have never gotten there if not for Swisher. Allowing Swisher to depart in free agency entitled the Yankees to a compensatory selection in the ensuing draft. They used that pick, No. 32 in 2013, on Judge – a former Fresno State Bulldog. So, not only did the Yankees benefit from Swisher’s best seasons as a pro, but stealing him from the White Sox 12 years ago is still paying off for them in a big way.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[How Does White Sox’ Future Payroll Look After Busy Offseason?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197441 2020-05-20T14:05:03Z 2020-05-20T12:53:55Z 2020 salary terms are set to be hammered out in the coming days. But what about what’s owed to players beyond that point? The near-term economic picture remains questionable at best. That’ll make teams all the more cautious with guaranteed future salaries.

Every organization has some amount of future cash committed to players, all of it done before the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe. There are several different ways to look at salaries; for instance, for purposes of calculating the luxury tax, the average annual value is the touchstone, with up-front bonuses spread over the life of the deal. For this exercise, we’ll focus on actual cash outlays that still have yet to be paid.

We’ll run through every team, with a big assist from the Cot’s Baseball Contracts database. Next up is the White Sox:

(click to expand/view detail list)

White Sox Total Future Cash Obligation: $317.75MM

*includes buyout of club options

*2023 option over Dallas Keuchel vests with clean physical, IP thresholds

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Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Which 15 Players Should The White Sox Protect In An Expansion Draft?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197328 2020-05-18T20:29:53Z 2020-05-18T16:36:56Z In a few weeks, we’ll be running a two-team mock expansion draft here at MLBTR.  Currently, we’re creating 15-player protected lists for each of the existing 30 teams.  You can catch up on the rules for player eligibility here.

So far, we’ve done the RaysYankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Orioles.  The White Sox are next.

First, we’ll take Edwin Encarnacion, Gio Gonzalez, Steve Cishek, Kelvin Herrera, Leury Garcia, Alex Colome, and James McCann out of consideration, because they’ll be free agents after the season (although some have club options).  We’ll lock in Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, and Jose Abreu on our protected list due to no-trade protection in their contracts.  I’m also going to lock in these eight players:

Yoan Moncada
Lucas Giolito
Eloy Jimenez
Luis Robert
Michael Kopech
Nick Madrigal
Tim Anderson
Dylan Cease

That leaves four spots for the following 14 players:

Carlos Rodon
Nomar Mazara
Evan Marshall
Reynaldo Lopez
Adam Engel
Jace Fry
Aaron Bummer
Carson Fulmer
Jose Ruiz
Jimmy Cordero
Zack Collins
Ian Hamilton
Danny Mendick
Seby Zavala

With that, we turn it over to the MLBTR readership! In the poll below, select exactly four players you think the White Sox should protect in our upcoming mock expansion draft. Click here to view the results.

Create your own user feedback survey

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[A Shortstop Showdown]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=196610 2020-05-06T02:21:15Z 2020-05-06T02:02:10Z While they’re not in the same division, a pair of centrally based major league teams have produced a couple of the majors’ top-performing shortstops. The White Sox of the American League Central have seen Tim Anderson turn into a rather valuable player. The same goes for the Cardinals of the National League Central and Paul DeJong. They’re pretty similar in value, age and contract situations, but which of the two would you rather have?

Anderson, 26, was a first-round pick in 2013 who debuted in ’16 and took some time to find himself as a major league hitter. In 1,643 plate appearances from his first year through 2018, he hit a below-average .258/.286/.411 (86 wRC+) with 46 home runs and 51 stolen bases. A high strikeout rate (26 percent) and a low walk percentage (3.4) were part of the problem. Those K/BB trends largely stayed in place last year (2.9 percent and 21 percent, respectively), but Anderson nonetheless found another gear a hitter. He slashed .335/.357/.508 (130 wRC+) with 18 homers and 17 steals en route to a career-best 3.5 fWAR (he combined for 4.1 in the prior three seasons) and an AL batting title. Of course, he was also the beneficiary of a .399 batting average on balls in play – up .110 points from the previous year – and Statcast wasn’t as bullish as his bottom-line production (.363 weighted on-base average versus .328 expected wOBA).

Shifting to the defensive side, Anderson hasn’t been a consistently good player, at least not according to the metrics. By Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, he has been a plus player twice and a minus fielder twice. The most recent campaign fell into the latter category, as he posted minus-12 DRS with a minus-9.1 UZR. DeJong, meanwhile, has greatly outdone Anderson as a defender since debuting with the Cardinals in 2017. Last season, for instance, DeJong put up 26 DRS and 11.4 UZR, making him one of the sport’s top fielders.

Also 26, DeJong has graded as a solid performer on a regular basis dating back to his first game in the majors. He has been at least a 3.0-fWAR player every season, including a career-high 4.1 mark in 2019. DeJong, unlike Anderson, has struggled to hit for average of late, but he was a 30-HR man last year – a season in which he finished with a .233/.318/.444 mark (100 wRC+) across 664 plate appearances. Going by wRC+, it was the third consecutive time that DeJong registered league-average or better offensive numbers. That and his excellent defense have combined to make DeJong quite valuable for St. Louis.

Beyond the production on the field, you have to consider the two players’ contracts when comparing them. They’re pretty alike in that regard, too. Anderson inked a six-year, $25MM extension heading into the 2017 season. That deal also includes a $12.5MM club option for 2023 and a potential $14MM salary the next season. Whether or not the White Sox pick up either option, they’re surely not regretting the gamble now. Likewise, the Cardinals must be happy that they locked DeJong into a six-year, $26MM pact prior to 2018. That deal includes a $12.5MM option for 2024 and $15MM in ’25.

There’s a lot to like about both of these shortstops, but if you have to pick one, whom would you want on your team? (Poll link for app users)

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George Miller <![CDATA[How Nomar Mazara Can Reach His Potential With The White Sox]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=196475 2020-05-07T21:37:25Z 2020-05-03T21:47:22Z One of the wild cards of the 2020 season will be the development of 25-year-old outfielder Nomar Mazara, who will look to finally break out, this time in a new environment. By now, Mazara has had four whole seasons to prove himself at the Major League level, and in 2019 he was largely the same player as he was when he debuted with the Rangers in 2016. Last year was critical for the marriage between Mazara and the Rangers; if Mazara were to establish himself as a building block for Texas, he needed to take the leap that the club has been expecting since it signed him in 2011 as an amateur. Unfortunately, that progress didn’t really come, and the Rangers dealt Mazara to the outfield-needy White Sox in December.

At 6’4″ and 215 lbs., Mazara looks the part of an MLB slugger: his frame alone is enough to convince spectators that he’s got superstar potential. He’s almost in the Giancarlo Stanton/Joey Gallo class of physicality, and his mammoth home runs lend credence to that comparison—Mazara hit the longest homer in MLB last year with a Statcast-measured 505-foot blast. When Mazara gets into one, your eyes light up at the thought of him mashing with regularity.

But the fact of the matter is that Mazara has yet to hit more than 20 homers in a season, and has in fact never put up a season of even 1.0 WAR by FanGraphs’ measure (Baseball-Reference agrees). It’s been frustrating for Rangers fans to follow his development, not because he’s been a bad player, but simply because they recognize he could be so much more.

While his average exit velocity of 89.1 mph only ranked in the 51st percentile last year, his hardest-hit balls tell a different story: his maximum exit velo, 114.6 mph, ranked number 41 among all MLB hitters. That’s something you might expect from a perennial 30-homer guy, not someone who’s plateaued at the 20-home run threshold. So what’s holding him back?

For one thing, his ceiling has thus far been limited by just average on-base skills: Mazara has never walked at a rate higher than 9% in a single season, meaning that his yearly on-base percentage has consistently hovered around .320, which is just about MLB-average. Even when he does tap into his prodigious power, that leaves him a step below the likes of Gallo or Stanton, who command enough respect from pitchers—and are disciplined enough—to generate above-average walk rates.

Last year, Mazara was at his most aggressive since entering the big leagues: he swung the bat more often at pitches both inside and outside the zone, and that change yielded mixed results. As you might expect, more swings means that he also missed more often than ever, though that didn’t adversely affect his strikeout rate. His walk rate was the lowest of his career, but the more assertive Mazara was able to post his best hard-hit and slugging numbers yet, though not by a huge margin.

But none of that looks to be the driving force behind Mazara’s stagnation; we’ve seen plenty of players put up big power numbers with subpar plate discipline. To this point in his career, the most frustrating part of Mazara’s game is the frequency with which he does damage. Mazara just hasn’t been able to get to that power as often as we’d like to see. And whether he reaches his ceiling in Chicago seems to hinge on one particularly troubling facet of his game, and that’s his inability to pull the ball in the air.

To preface: generally, pulling fly balls is an undeniably good thing, at least for players with the strength to swing for the fences: in 2019, MLB hitters posted a cumulative wRC+ on pulled grounders of -5. That’s really bad. 100 denotes average, so we’re talking about 105% below average. On the other hand, that number for pulled fly balls was an astronomical 403. So pulling the ball tends to be a profitable endeavor for MLB sluggers. That’s no surprise, and it’s the reason baseball has experienced a “fly ball revolution” in the last half-decade.

But Mazara has thus far been unable to take advantage of that revolution. When he pulls the ball, the results just haven’t been there simply because he hits the ball on the ground too often: in 2019, 66% of the balls Mazara hit to right field were grounders, by the far the least favorable outcome for a player of his stature. In essence, the best way to get extra-base hits—fly balls to the pull field—just haven’t been a significant weapon in Mazara’s arsenal. When he does pull the ball, he simply isn’t doing as much damage as he could be by elevating the ball. That’s been the case for his entire career, and frankly I think it’s the single biggest thing preventing Mazara from becoming an All-Star.

Interestingly, the same trend isn’t true of his hits to the opposite field: in fact, he hit the ball in the air much more often when going to left field (54.1 FB%, compared to just 23.9 GB%), and that translated to better results: Mazara posted a 139 wRC+ when going the other way, which is well above league average. His production on opposite field swings gives us a glimpse of what could be if he’s able to generate a similar batted-ball distribution to his pull field. And one figures those numbers would only get better when he pulls the ball, where it’s easier for hitters to get to their strength. He’s capable of elevating the ball, and good things happen when he does, but to this point he’s failed to do so when it’s most advantageous.

He’ll get the starting right field gig with the White Sox this summer, and while Chicagoans might have preferred their team to go after someone with a more solid track record, the fruits of acquiring Mazara might be sweeter than any other outfielder on the market. The South Siders have had success developing young players in recent years, and Mazara could fit right in with their burgeoning young core. So whatever the mechanical or mental source of the trend we described above, they’ll hope the player development staff can unlock what Texas couldn’t and tap into Mazara’s electric talent. That could make the difference between whether he merely tantalizes with his potential, or actualizes it.

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George Miller <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Bloom, Draft, Krause, White Sox, Rangers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=196438 2020-05-02T20:48:06Z 2020-05-02T20:48:06Z Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom described some of the challenges that will come out of the unique circumstances surrounding this year’s MLB Draft in a discussion with the Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. Bloom’s organization is particularly aware of the value of an additional year of scouting, which allowed the team to select Andrew Benintendi in the first round in 2015—something that probably wouldn’t happen if teams’ exposure was limited to his nondescript freshman season the year before. But that’s precisely the scenario teams find themselves in now: they won’t have the same feel for which draft-eligible players would have taken an additional leap this season and might have to base those judgments on just a few weeks of play. In addition, the shortened format of the draft (no more than 10 rounds) could influence teams’ strategy, especially in the later rounds, where clubs might look to take risks on players who will command more than $20K (the maximum amount for which teams can sign undrafted players). All this means that more high school players might opt to forego pro ball in favor of a collegiate scholarship.

  • Former Chicago Bulls front office executive Jerry Krause has received plenty of scrutiny recently, thanks to ESPN’s Michael Jordan docuseries, “The Last Dance.” But Krause’s tenure as the Bulls’ GM was bookended by a career as a baseball scout, where he worked most prominently with the White Sox. The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales reflects on Krause’s astute eye and resolution as a scout; he was instrumental in swaying White Sox higher-ups to make a play for shortstop Ozzie Guillen (then a Padres minor-leaguer), who would of course go on to play 13 years and rack up 19.5 WAR with the South Siders—not to mention his role in managing the 2005 World Series team.
  • Beginning May 15, the Rangers will institute pay cuts for some of their full-time employees, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Per Grant, employees above a certain salary threshold will have their pay reduced by roughly 10-20%, which will affect approximately half of the team’s full-time staffers. That said, there won’t be any layoffs or furloughs at this time. A number of high-rankings Rangers execs, including GM Jon Daniels, had already begun taking pay cuts in April, but this round will expand the scope of those measures. They’re one of just a few teams that won’t be paying teams in full through May, with a handful of teams implementing similar pay cuts, while the Rays have furloughed some of their employees.

 

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[When A Can’t-Miss Prospect Misses]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=196356 2020-05-01T15:40:02Z 2020-05-01T14:29:27Z This isn’t how Carson Fulmer’s career was supposed to go. The former Vanderbilt ace was one of the top-ranked prospects in his draft class back in 2015, and virtually no mock drafts compiled by Baseball America, FanGraphs, MLB.com, etc. that spring had him dropping out of the top 10. At one point, Baseball America projected Fulmer to go to the D-backs with the No. 1 overall pick. “Fulmer is the surest big leaguer on the board, with a floor of elite closer,” BA wrote of Fulmer at the time — a pretty resounding endorsement considering that three of the players eventually selected ahead of him were Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Andrew Benintendi.

Carson Fulmer | Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, things haven’t played out for the now 26-year-old Fulmer as hoped. Everything went according to plan following that ’15 draft. Fulmer pitched a scoreless frame in the Rookie-level Arizona League before being jumping up to the ChiSox’ Class-A Advanced affiliate. Despite being about two years younger than the average competition in that league, Fulmer allowed just five runs on 16 hits and nine walks with 25 strikeouts in 22 innings (2.05 ERA). That strong debut landed him on the top 100 lists at Baseball America (70) and MLB.com (38).

Fulmer’s numbers a year later weren’t as stout. He averaged better than a strikeout per inning but also more than five walks per nine frames while working to a 4.76 ERA out of the Double-A rotation. The Sox called him up to the big leagues that July despite the shaky numbers — just 13 months after he was drafted. Some will suggest that the organization rushed him to the Majors, but Fulmer was viewed as a potential quick mover from the time he was selected. He closed out the game in his big league debut, firing two shutout innings of relief in a loss to the Angels. The righty struggled in a handful of subsequent appearances and went back to Triple-A to finish out the season.

Since that time, Fulmer has been optioned back to the minors eight different times. He’s generally remained healthy but hasn’t succeeded either in Triple-A (5.39 ERA in 243 2/3 innings) or in the Majors (6.56 ERA in 94 2/3 innings). Now, Fulmer is out of minor league options, so the White Sox will have to carry him on the Major League roster or expose him to waivers whenever play resumes. In that regard, the likely expansion of rosters for at least part of the 2020 season will work nicely in Fulmer’s favor.

Fulmer’s velocity isn’t as high as it once was. A heater that reached 97mph “often” in college, per Baseball America, has averaged 93.2 mph in the Majors (93.7 mph in 2019). His command issues have been exploited by more advanced hitters, and his walk rate and frequency of wild pitches have spiked since reaching Triple-A.

Despite the lack of success at the game’s top levels, Fulmer isn’t without positive indicators. The spin rate on his four-seamer and curveball were both elite in 2019, ranking in the 91st percentile and 87th percentile among big league hurlers, respectively, per Statcast. He recorded healthy swinging-strike rates on his curve, cutter and changeup. In Triple-A, he racked up 51 strikeouts in just 34 innings — a 13.5 K/9 and 33.6 percent overall strikeout percentage that were both easily career-bests at any level.

Might a change in approach benefit him? A look at his career fastball usage at Brooks Baseball shows that he’s long worked down in the zone with the pitch and did so almost exclusively in 2019 — even at a time when much of the league is favoring four-seamers at the top of and above the strike zone. His avoidance of elevated fastballs would help to explain the paltry 4.2 percent swinging-strike rate on his four-seamer in 2019.

At this point, Fulmer has been leapfrogged by a host of new young arms in the Sox’ system — Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez among them. The White Sox’ initial hopes of Fulmer quickly ascending to the Majors to anchor a rotation alongside Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon have long since been dashed. There’s still room for him to carve out a long-term place in the team’s bullpen if he can piece it all together once games resume, but it’s far from certain that he’ll ever right the ship with the Sox. Chicago’s clear switch to a win-now mode should shorten whatever leash he’s been given in recent years. A change of scenery and a new outlook/approach could perhaps be best for Fulmer, but he’ll likely get one final shot to make things work with the South Siders.

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Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Offseason In Review: Chicago White Sox]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=195749 2020-04-23T06:43:04Z 2020-04-23T06:42:43Z The White Sox made clear their three-year rebuild is over, aggressively pursuing veteran free agents and landing several of them.  They also locked up multiple core pieces with extensions.

Major League Signings

Trades and Claims

Extensions

Notable Minor League Signings

Notable Losses

Though the White Sox’ offseason got off to an inauspicious start with the shedding of international bonus pool money in the Welington Castillo trade, they quickly made that deal a footnote by signing catcher Yasmani Grandal to the largest contract in franchise history.  Grandal may be the best hitter and pitch framer among all MLB catchers, and he could represent a four-win improvement over incumbent James McCann (who moves into a backup role).  The signing also allowed the White Sox to move past last winter’s failed pursuit of Manny Machado, proving they actually were willing and able to win the bidding on a top free agent.

Back in August, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times quoted White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu as saying through an interpreter, “[Owner] Jerry [Reinsdorf] several times has told me and my family that I am not going to wear a jersey other than a White Sox jersey.”  Though Abreu was briefly on the open market after the White Sox issued a one-year, $17.8MM qualifying offer, he later told reporters he didn’t consider other teams.  With multiyear extension talks underway, Abreu chose to accept that one-year qualifying offer when the decision came due on November 14th.

In a cold and calculating sense, the White Sox could have exploited the situation and simply let the one-year deal stand, covering Abreu’s age-33 season.  Pragmatically, restructuring the one-year, $17.8MM deal as a three-year, $50MM pact to snag Abreu’s age 34 and 35 seasons was not a good baseball decision by White Sox Senior Vice President/GM Rick Hahn.  But clearly Abreu means more to the team’s owner and the franchise than just his WAR, and there’s no reason for fans to object to his contract unless it hamstrings the club from making other improvements.

That was certainly not the case in the short term, as the White Sox aggressively pursued the next item on their winter shopping list: a major starting pitching addition.  There’s no evidence they were in the mix for Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, who signed record deals for $324MM and $245MM, respectively.  So there was an expected level of restraint from a White Sox franchise that has always balked at the idea of guaranteeing more than five years to a starting pitcher.

Instead, the White Sox did about all they could to sign the third-best starting pitcher on the free agent market: hard-throwing righty Zack Wheeler.  Wheeler ultimately signed with the Phillies for five years and $118MM, with the White Sox rumored to have reached $120MM.  As Jim Margalus of Sox Machine put it, “For the first time in documented history, the White Sox reportedly finished with the highest bid for a free agent who landed a nine-figure contract…only it wasn’t good enough to actually land the player.”  Wheeler reportedly had a strong preference to remain close to New Jersey.  As Margalus noted in his post, it’s true that the White Sox could have pushed up into the $125-130MM range, but “at some point in the negotiations the losing party has to take the hint.”  Plus, if the White Sox had overwhelmed Wheeler’s geographic preference by overpaying, there’s no telling how that kind of mercenary arrangement would have worked out in terms of Wheeler’s performance.

Veteran lefty Cole Hamels might have been second on the White Sox’ wish list, but he wound up with the Braves on a one-year, $18MM deal.  If you look back to the December 4th scoops from Marc Carig of The Athletic and Jeff Passan of ESPN, news of the Wheeler agreement came two hours after Hamels’ deal broke.  Both sets of negotiations involved the Phillies and White Sox, but it seems possible that the White Sox wanted to see what happened with Wheeler before signing Hamels – perhaps because they didn’t feel comfortable landing both and paying them more than $40MM in total in 2020.  The end result: the White Sox continued going further down their starting pitcher preference list.  Though there was sufficient time to pivot to a pursuit of Madison Bumgarner, it’s unclear whether the Sox had interest or if geography would have again rendered Chicago the bridesmaid anyway.  So who was going to take the White Sox’ money?

Not Jordan Lyles, as he went to the Rangers a few days later for two years and $16MM.  The White Sox were among the runners-up.  Perhaps Lyles was intended as the secondary rotation piece, which eventually became Gio Gonzalez on a one-year deal.  It will be a homecoming for the 34-year-old lefty, who was drafted 38th overall by the White Sox in 2004 but traded to the Phillies in the Jim Thome deal in ’05.  Gonzalez then rejoined the White Sox, along with Gavin Floyd, in the December ’06 Freddy Garcia trade.  Yet the Sox would trade Gonzalez again a year later, this time to Oakland in the Nick Swisher deal.  Only then did Gonzalez make his MLB debut, so the 12-year veteran has yet to don a White Sox uniform in a regular season game.  The lefty has often outperformed his peripheral stats, perhaps due to his success in limiting hard contact.  An ERA in the low 4.00s would be sufficient to term the one-year contract a success.

By the latter half of December, the White Sox had turned to Scott Boras clients Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu by necessity.  It seemed that both pitchers were willing to sign with the highest bidder.  The White Sox wound up with Keuchel, who commanded a lesser commitment.  The 32-year-old comes with a lower ceiling than Ryu but may also be the safer choice based on their health records.  Keuchel is not nearly as exciting as Zack Wheeler, but it’s difficult even with hindsight to say the White Sox should have chosen a different free agent hurler.  Perhaps the trade market could have offered a more interesting addition, with Corey Kluber and David Price eventually changing teams.  But the Indians may not have been willing to move Kluber within the division, and the White Sox were in contact with the Red Sox on Price.

Alongside this pitching pursuit, the White Sox were simultaneously trying to upgrade at right field and designated hitter.  They struck first on right field, adding Nomar Mazara straight up for center field prospect Steele Walker.  Walker was expendable for the suddenly win-now White Sox, as the 23-year-old might top out as a fourth outfielder and has yet to play at Double-A.

Mazara, 25 this month, has logged almost 2,200 plate appearances for the Rangers but is mostly appealing for his potential.  In his four seasons with Texas, Mazara has never exceeded a 95 wRC+ (100 is league average).  The White Sox and new hitting coach Frank Menechino must believe they can find another gear in Mazara.  The club explored alternatives before settling on Mazara, reportedly including Marcell Ozuna, Joc Pederson, Kole Calhoun, Nick Castellanos, and Yasiel Puig.

The White Sox made a solid addition at the DH spot with Edwin Encarnacion.  Even at age 37, Encarnacion remains capable of a 120 wRC+ season.  He’s cranked at least 32 home runs in each of the last eight seasons.  No matter how the 2020 season shakes out, the White Sox will have the chance to try again with Encarnacion by exercising a $12MM option for 2021.

In late December, the White Sox turned their focus to augmenting their bullpen, which is anchored by Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera, and Aaron Bummer.  With most of the top free agents already off the board, Hahn snagged sidearmer Steve Cishek.  The 33-year-old will jump across town after two successful seasons out of the Cubs’ bullpen.  Though this group has had success at times, it’s still easy to picture the bullpen as a weak spot for the 2020 White Sox.

With most of their offseason shopping done, the new year was about locking down core pieces for the White Sox.  First came uber-prospect Luis Robert, whose $50MM deal is a record for a player who has yet to appear in the Majors.  The contract shuts down potential service time manipulation of Robert, and the Sox now figure to put him on the Opening Day roster.  Other potential top 2020 rookies like Nate Pearson and Jo Adell, without big league contracts, are in a position where they will fail to gain any big league service in 2020 should the season be canceled.  Robert wouldn’t gain service time either, but the result would be his first club option covering his last arbitration season and his second club option covering his first free agent year.

Putting aside potential coronavirus effects, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted that “Robert will be paid at the top of the arbitration market, earning more than Anthony Rendon ($49.4 million), Harper ($47.9 million) and Manny Machado ($34 million) did before reaching free agency.”  As a rival executive termed it to Rosenthal, the White Sox paid “superstar insurance” on Robert.  Meaning that if Robert becomes one of baseball’s best players, he had a chance to exceed $50MM through arbitration, as Mookie Betts did and Kris Bryant and Francisco Lindor will.  There are certainly scenarios where the White Sox overpaid for Robert’s arbitration years – namely if he deals with significant injuries – but the contract could still be a wash for the team given the potential surplus value of the free agent year they bought out.

Next, the White Sox locked up Bummer.  This, too, seems to be designed to protect against the chance Bummer would have started racking up huge arbitration salaries — which is a bit odd.  He’s only accumulated one save so far in his career and wasn’t slated for the ninth inning in 2020.  So it’s hard to see how he might have earned more than $16MM through arbitration.  The White Sox still get club options on his first two free agent seasons, but trying to predict whether a reliever will be valuable five years out is a fool’s errand.  Perhaps the Sox feel Bummer is a pitcher who will perform the best knowing he’s set for life financially.

The club’s third extension of the offseason went to Yoan Moncada.  Like Robert, Moncada is a Cuban defector who had already banked a large signing bonus.  It’s a bit of a surprise Moncada jumped at this offer given the $31.5MM he already had in the bank from signing with the Red Sox five years ago.  Moncada didn’t reach the heights of Alex Bregman’s extension, which makes sense since his accomplishments didn’t quite stack up.  But with all arrows pointing upward on Moncada, another season similar to his 2019 campaign would have set the bar above $100MM.  So the White Sox did well to lock him up at $70MM and buy out two free agent years.

Perhaps the White Sox would benefit from a shortened 2020 season, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd has suggested.  For example, their rotation was set to get a boost this year, with Carlos Rodon and Michael Kopech potentially returning from Tommy John surgery in June.  I imagine the White Sox are kind of like someone who spent three years restoring a car in their garage and is now itching to take it out for a drive.  While uncertainty reigns during this stage of the coronavirus pandemic, the White Sox are now built for an extended run of success.  Even without a long-term deal in place (yet) for ace Lucas Giolito, the White Sox control him through 2023.  Moncada is controlled through 2025, Eloy Jimenez through ’26, and Robert through ’27.  And we haven’t even discussed prospects like Andrew Vaughn and Nick Madrigal.  Things are looking up for the White Sox, whenever they are able to take the field.

How would you rate the White Sox’ offseason? (Link to poll for Trade Rumors mobile app users.)

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[How Did The White Sox Trade Fernando Tatis Jr.?!]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=194357 2020-04-22T04:36:10Z 2020-04-22T04:35:21Z You have to give the White Sox credit for signing Fernando Tatis Jr. in the first place.  They snagged the 16-year-old as an international signing out of the Dominican Republic back in 2015 for a bonus of $700K, years after Marco Paddy had restored credibility to the team’s efforts in Latin America following the David Wilder scandal.

At the time, MLB.com ranked Tatis Jr. 30th in his class, which also included Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Juan Soto, and Cristian Pache.  The biggest available international player was Cuban star Yoan Moncada, at a time when a team could elect to exceed its bonus pool and pay a 100% tax, as the Red Sox did.

Tatis’ father had played 11 years in the Majors, cracking 113 home runs, so the bloodlines were strong.  In their scouting report, MLB.com said, “Scouts like Tatis Jr.’s swing, his strong arm and his fluid actions on defense. He’s shown decent arm strength and raw power to his pull side. Tatis Jr.’s knack for barreling up balls and his repeatable swing have also impressed evaluators.”  Jeff Buchanan of FutureSox wrote, “Tatis clearly doesn’t have the same upside as [White Sox top 2015 international signing] Franklin Reyes, but his well-rounded skillset, high baseball IQ and professional mentality mean he likely comes with less risk than Reyes and is a better bet to maximize his potential as a possible everyday player.” 

Tatis Jr. was certainly an interesting July 2 international signing, but according to Dennis Lin’s excellent oral history in The Athletic, the Blue Jays, Indians, and Rays were the only other teams to attempt to sign him, which is why he didn’t land the multi-million bonuses others in his class did.  If teams had an inkling of what Tatis Jr. would become, he would have signed for ten times as much money.  Most of these players were six years away from the Majors, and projecting that far out is very difficult.  Many of these guys could have been traded for a veteran starting pitcher the year after signing and we would have never spoken of it again.

11 months passed between the date of Tatis Jr. signing and the date of his fateful trade to the Padres.  How much height the infielder gained in the interim could develop into a tall tale one day, but in Lin’s article, the player himself said he added two inches.  Padres GM A.J. Preller, then a member of the Rangers’ front office, had seen Tatis Jr. multiple times before the player signed with Chicago.  Members of the Padres’ front office observed him at least twice after he joined the White Sox organization: during the Arizona Instructional League in the fall of 2015, and again during extended spring training in 2016.  So Tatis Jr. was on the Padres’ radar as the 2016 season progressed.

Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler told Lin that the team’s efforts to trade veteran starter James Shields “became accelerated” after the pitcher endured a May 31st, 2016 drubbing in Seattle in which he allowed ten earned runs while recording eight outs.  In the outing, Shields’ ERA jumped from 3.06 to 4.28.  The day after that start from Shields, Fowler went on the radio to term it an “an embarrassment to the team, an embarrassment to him.”  After trading both Shields and outfielder Matt Kemp, Fowler would throw shade in saying, “We made a conscious decision to ship them out because we want people that are prepared to improve.”

So if the James Shields trade talks picked up around June 1st, 2016, where did the White Sox stand at that point?  The club’s record stood at 29-25, two games behind the Royals in the AL Central and firmly in the Wild Card race as well.  According to FanGraphs, the White Sox had a 33.8% chance of making the playoffs, which was actually better than teams that sat ahead of them like the Royals and Orioles.  The White Sox hadn’t reached the playoffs since 2008, and GM Rick Hahn was justified in seeking reinforcements.

At the time, the White Sox starting rotation was fronted by Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Carlos Rodon.  Free agent signing Mat Latos held down the fourth spot, but had a 6.54 ERA over his previous six starts.  The club had recently released longtime rotation fixture John Danks, eating significant money in the process.  Miguel Gonzalez was able to step on and temporarily hold the fifth starter job, with Hahn looking to make an acquisition.

As Hahn put it to Jon Greenberg of The Athletic, “That was a move, in going out to get James, that was due to the lack of depth in the organization. We did not have internal answers when (John) Danks wasn’t getting back to a form that was serviceable and (Mat) Latos was taking on water and regressing back to his more likely form for the rest of the season. So we had to do something stem the flow here. And that’s very fair to say that transaction is sort of emblematic of that past way of doing things and trying to fix it on the fly.”  The team’s lack of rotation depth didn’t come out of nowhere, though, as depth seemed thin even prior to the season.

In just about every write-up of the Shields trade at the time, Tatis Jr. was listed after Erik Johnson, the other prospect the Padres acquired.  Johnson, a 26-year-old righty, had been drafted by the White Sox in the second round out of UC Berkeley back in 2011.  Coming through Chicago’s farm system, Johnson was seen as a potential No. 3 starter.  His value peaked prior to the 2014 season, when Keith Law (then of ESPN) ranked him as the 59th-best prospect in baseball. But Johnson failed to stick in the White Sox rotation from 2014 up until the trade.

Could the White Sox have acquired Shields for different prospects?  According to Preller in Lin’s article, “We talked about two of their top prospects. They weren’t going to move those guys. And we talked about Tatis as well. You got the sense that he might be the guy they would talk about in the initial conversations, just because he was further away and hadn’t played a game yet.”  The top White Sox prospects prior to the 2016 were Tim Anderson and Carson Fulmer, as they had shipped off Frankie Montas in the offseason in the Todd Frazier deal.  At the time of the Shields trade, Anderson was less than a week away from supplanting Jimmy Rollins to become the team’s starting shortstop.  Fulmer had been drafted eighth overall by the White Sox the previous year, and it would be ridiculous revisionist history to suggest they should have had the foresight to trade him instead of Tatis Jr.

Was it reasonable for the White Sox to expect a midseason boost from Shields?  MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth and Connor Byrne wrote at the time:

Shields, 34, isn’t the pitcher he was during his best years with the Rays and Royals, but he remains a competent innings eater who’s on pace to exceed the 200-inning plateau and surpass the 30-start barrier for the 11th straight season. That aside, Shields does come with red flags. After a dreadful final start with the Padres, Shields’ ERA (4.28) is at its highest since 2010. Further, his strikeout rate – which spiked to a personal-best 9.61 per nine innings last year – has regressed to 7.62 (closer to his 7.84 career average) and the control that he displayed in his earlier days has declined. Shields’ walk rate is at 3.61 per nine innings, which is in line with last year’s 3.6, and his velocity has dipped. To Shields’ credit, he has long been a capable ground-ball generator – at 48 percent this year, there’s no sign he’s slowing down in that area. That should help his cause as he shifts to the hitter-friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field, but he does have the third-highest home run rate among qualified starters since last season (16.9 percent).

While Shields may have been an innings eater at that point in his career, no one expected him to post a 6.77 ERA for the remainder of the season.  It wasn’t crazy to view him as a useful veteran addition.  Plus, the Padres kicked in over $30MM, more than half of the money remaining on his contract.  To the White Sox, Shields looked to be an affordable rotation piece for the remainder of 2016 as well as the ’17 and ’18 seasons.

The White Sox pounced on Shields early, basically kicking off the 2016 trading season.  Later that summer, the Padres would also go on to trade their best starter, Drew Pomeranz, as well as Andrew Cashner.  The Orioles picked up Wade Miley, the Dodgers acquired Rich Hill, the Pirates snagged Ivan Nova, the Angels and Twins swapped Ricky Nolasco and Hector Santiago, and the Blue Jays got Scott Feldman.  There are many alternate universes where the White Sox acquire someone other than Shields, and who knows whether Tatis Jr. would have been involved.  They also could have plugged in Miguel Gonzalez in June, held off on trades for a month like most teams, and realized they should be sellers rather than buyers.

Hahn has owned the Tatis Jr. trade, calling himself a “jackass” in front of fans and telling MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, “That was probably the last deal we made with having a short-term mindset in mind.  Ultimately when this thing gets right, we are going to once again have a shorter time arising goal with our trades. It doesn’t mean you want to make a deal that haunts you for the long term, obviously.”  Every GM has a trade he’d like to take back.  Around that same time, the Marlins traded Luis Castillo, got him back due to a medical dispute, and then traded him again in the offseason.  It was also the summer where the Dodgers traded Yordan Alvarez, as outlined here.

Though Hahn admitted to Greenberg in 2017, “I probably physically cringe whenever I see a Tatis highlight,” the club embarked on what seems to have been a successful rebuilding effort after the ’16 season.  The White Sox brought in Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, and Michael Kopech in subsequent trades and pounced on Luis Robert in the international market.  Tatis Jr. may always be the one that got away, but an extended playoff run should take the sting off for the White Sox.

For more on the topic of the Tatis Jr. trade, be sure to check out Jeff Todd’s video on our YouTube channel.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Revisiting The Jon Garland Trade]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=195532 2020-04-20T03:18:28Z 2020-04-20T03:17:41Z
  • The Jose Quintana-for-Eloy Jimenez (and Dylan Cease) trade may not be a fond memory for Cubs fans, though an even more lopsided deal between Chicago’s two teams took place back in 1998.  The Athletic’s James Fegan looks back at what he described as the best trade in at least the modern era of White Sox history, when the Sox acquired Jon Garland from the Cubs in July 1998 for right-handed reliever Matt Karchner.  The Cubs wanted some bullpen help for their playoff drive, and picked up Karchner even though he was in the midst of struggles that lasted both before and after the trade.  Karchner pitched two more injury-plagued years and was out of baseball after the 2000 season, while Garland went on to become a mainstay of the White Sox rotation.  Garland averaged 179 innings per season from 2000-07, and played a major role for the Southsiders’ World Series-winning team in 2005.
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    George Miller <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Braves, Rays, Cubs, White Sox]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=194983 2020-04-11T19:38:14Z 2020-04-11T19:38:14Z The Braves have pledged to continue paying their employees—both full-time and part-time—through May 31, according to Kiley McDaniel of ESPN. Several teams extended a stipend to employees through March, but the Braves are the first team that will compensate its staff through the end of this month, let alone the end of May. McDaniel would go on to clarify in a later Tweet that gameday employees, whose pay is normally tied to games, will be paid in accordance with the $1MM fund established last month. However, workers whose earnings aren’t attached to games will be paid as usual. It’s encouraging that teams are willing to offer a helpful hand to their staff, and it’s possible that more teams will follow in the Braves’ footsteps. And while there are plenty of problems that still need solving, this kind of decision can go a long way towards relieving the stress that comes with these circumstances.

    • The Rays, meanwhile, have a plan for how they’ll divvy up the $1MM fund established by all 30 MLB teams in March, as explained by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Some 1,200 Rays gameday staffers will receive a one-time payment to help support them during the delayed season: Team employees (ushers, guest services, etc.) will receive $1,000 and concessions workers, security, and others will receive $500.
    • Similarly, Chicago’s Cubs and White Sox have offered grants of $500 to their part-time ballpark employees as their means of allocating the aforementioned $1MM fund, writes The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg. Importantly, Cubs VP of Communication tells Greenberg that the Cubs’ fund “will go way beyond a million,” but at the same time is uncertain whether there will be a second round of payouts to employees. It’s notable that the referenced $1MM figure was established merely as a baseline, and it’s possible—perhaps even likely—that many teams will go above and beyond that threshold, especially depending on the length of the season delay, which can have a profound impact on the livelihood of the thousands of employees who make MLB games possible.
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