The White Sox and outfielder Brett Phillips are in agreement on a deal, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. It’s a minor league pact, per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. He’ll make $1.2MM if he makes the big leagues, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Phillips, 30 in May, has appeared in each of the past seven big league seasons. He hasn’t hit much in that time but has provided value with his speed and defense. His career batting line is .187/.272/.347, which translates to a wRC+ of 71, indicating he’s been 29% below average overall. But he has 39 stolen bases in 45 attempts and excellent grades for his glovework: 41 Defensive Runs Saved, 32 Outs Above Average and a grade of 24.5 from Ultimate Zone Rating.
Around this time last year, Phillips signed with the Angels on a one-year deal that paid him $1.2MM. He didn’t get much playing time in an outfield that featured Mike Trout, Taylor Ward and Hunter Renfroe in regular roles, with Mickey Moniak also pushing for a larger role. Phillips was outrighted off the roster in mid-May, having received just 15 plate appearances in that time, utilized mostly as a pinch runner or defensive replacement. He went to Triple-A and hit .230/.352/.366 over 264 plate appearances, leading to a 79 wRC+. He was added back to the big league roster in September but was outrighted again after the season.
The White Sox currently project to have an outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Luis Robert Jr. and Óscar Colás. Eloy Jiménez will likely be in the designated hitter slot most days but factoring into the outfield mix at times as well. In terms of bench/depth options, Gavin Sheets is also on the roster, though he’s considered a poor defender. Zach Remillard and Romy González can play a bit of outfield but are primarily infielders.
Having a glove-first outfielder on the bench would be a logical move for the club, especially since Colás didn’t receive strong grades for his glovework in his debut season. Jiménez is also considered weak on defense, which is why he’s likely to be the primary DH. Phillips could perhaps help the club bolster its defense late in games or do some pinch running from time to time. If he is added to the roster at any point, he is out of options and can’t be sent back down to the minors without being exposed to waivers.