White Sox GM Rick Hahn has shaped the team as both a buyer and seller in many major trades over the years, involving Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, and more. Check out today’s video to see Jeff Todd’s evaluation of Hahn’s trade history.
It’s not always fair to judge baseball operations leaders for free agent signings. In many cases, the biggest contracts are negotiated to varying extents by ownership. The same can hold true of major extensions. It’s just tough to know from the outside.
There’s obviously involvement from above in trade scenarios as well. But, when it comes to exchanging rights to some players for others, it stands to reason the role of the general manager is all the more clear.
In any event, for what it’s worth, it seemed an opportune moment to take a look back at the trade track records of some of the general managers around the game. After covering the Diamondbacks’ Mike Hazen, former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, the Brewers’ David Stearns, the Angels’ Billy Eppler and the Rockies’ Jeff Bridich, let’s venture to the South Side of Chicago and evaluate Rick Hahn of the White Sox. Here’s a look at Hahn’s deals since he was promoted prior to the 2013 campaign (in chronological order and excluding minor deals; full details at transaction link.)
- Acquired OF Avisail Garcia, RHPs Frankie Montas and J.B. Wendelken, and SS Cleuluis Rondon for RHP Jake Peavy in three-team trade.
- Acquired OF Leury Garcia from Rangers for OF Alex Rios
- Acquired OF Adam Eaton for LHP Hector Santiago and OF Brandon Jacobs in three-team trade
- Acquired 3B Matt Davidson from Diamondbacks for RHP Addison Reed
- Acquired RHPs Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar from Orioles for OF Alejandro De Aza
- Acquired RHP Nolan Sanburn from Athletics for 1B Adam Dunn
- Acquired RHPs Jeff Samardzija and Gabriel Ynoa from Athletics for SS Marcus Semien, RHP Chris Bassitt, C Josh Phegley and 1B Rangel Ravelo
- Acquired LHP Dan Jennings from Marlins for RHP Andre Rienzo
- Acquired 3B Todd Frazier for RHP Frankie Montas, INF Micah Johnson and OF Trayce Thompson in three-team trade
- Acquired RHP Tommy Kahnle from Rockies for RHP Yency Almonte
- Acquired INF Brett Lawrie from Athletics for RHP J.B. Wendelken and LHP Zack Erwin
- Acquired RHP James Shields from Padres for SS Fernando Tatis Jr. and RHP Erik Johnson
- Acquired OF Charlie Tilson from Cardinals for LHP Zach Duke
- Acquired LHP Colton Turner from Blue Jays for C Dioner Navarro
- Acquired INF Yoan Moncada, RHPs Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz, and OF Luis Alexander Basabe from Red Sox for LHP Chris Sale
- Acquired RHPs Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning from Nationals for OF Adam Eaton
- Acquired OF Eloy Jimenez, RHP Dylan Cease, 1B Matt Rose and INF Bryant Flete from Cubs for LHP Jose Quintana
- Acquired OFs Blake Rutherford and Tito Polo, RHP Tyler Clippard and LHP Ian Clarkin from Yankees for 3B Todd Frazier and RHPs David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle
- Acquired LHP Kodi Medeiros and RHP Wilber Perez from Brewers for RHP Joakim Soria
- Acquired LHP Caleb Frare from Yankees for $1.5MM in international bonus pool money
- Acquired RHP Felix Paulino from Phillies for LHP Luis Avilan
- Acquired RHP Alex Colome from Mariners for C Omar Narvaez
- Acquired RHP Ivan Nova from Pirates for RHP Yordi Rosario and $500K in international bonus pool money
- Acquired 1B Yonder Alonso from Indians for OF Alex Call
- Acquired RHPs Joe Jarneski and Ray Castro from Rangers for RHP Nate Jones, international bonus pool money and cash
What do you think of Hahn’s trade history? (Poll link for app users)
SoxFest is a victory lap trap for the Chicago White Sox this year, but Rick Hahn won’t cop to it. “We haven’t won anything yet,” said the Sox’ GM, per The Athletic’s James Fegan. With the golden boy Cubs hanging a winter goose egg (Steven Souza notwithstanding), the White Sox’ rebuilding efforts are cusping at the right time to steal the spotlight from their crosstown rival. Hahn was promoted to GM late in October of 2012, the last time the Sox posted a winning record. After seven years at the helm of an extended rebuild, Hahn is getting an opportunity to show a different aspect of his GM profile as he oversees the Southsiders’ push for contention. The handling of Nick Madrigal and Michael Kopech, in particular, will be interesting litmus tests, writes Fegan. For Madrigal it’s a question of service time, an issue Hahn and company sidestepped with fellow youngster Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez by signing them to extensions. For Kopech, it’s a question of inning and pitch limits as he returns from injury. After an aggressive winter, look to Madrigal and Kopech to track their pedal-to-the-metal approach into the season. Let’s check in on a division rival…
- A couple of injury updates for key players came out of Kansas City yesterday. Both Salvador Perez and Adalberto Mondesi are expected to be ready by opening day, per The Athletic’s Alec Lewis (twitter links). Perez hit an important benchmark yesterday, throwing down to second base for the first time since Tommy John surgery. Royals catchers were a bottom-10 unit in 2019 by measure of fWAR, wOBA, and wRC+. Power was one of Perez’s calling cards, which should help the unit if he can return without any lingering effects.
- Mondesi, meanwhile, underwent shoulder surgery in the fall and expects to be ready. The 24-year-old is arguably the Royals’ best young player, despite a history of poor on-base skills. Speed (43 stolen bases), dynamism (20 doubles, 10 triples, 9 home runs), and lynchpin defensive skills up the middle (4 OAA, 10 DRS, 9.1 UZR) make Mondesi a key figure moving forward for the Royals. Any push for contention for the Royals will probably come coupled with another development step from Mondesi and/or the other Kansas City youngsters.
The White Sox have been one of the offseason’s busier clubs, and according to GM Rick Hahn, the South Siders may not be making more headline-grabbing transactions. While the Sox are taking a “never say never” approach to further opportunities and “various potential smaller additions” could potentially still occur, “we’re probably done with any major acquisitions,” Hahn told reporters (including NBC Sports Chicago’s Vinnie Duber).
“The nature of the job is you always feel like there’s one more addition you can make, so I’m probably never going to stand up here and say we’re finished,” Hahn said. “But in reality, I think the safe assumption is the bulk of our heavy lifting for this winter, at least, is over.”
The White Sox have erased any questions about whether the organization was willing or able to expand payroll, spending over $201MM on several new faces (i.e. Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion, Gio Gonzalez, Steve Cishek) and a familiar one in Jose Abreu, who first accepted the club’s one-year qualifying offer for the 2020 season and then inked an extension that will run through 2022. If those signings weren’t enough, the Pale Hose also acquired Nomar Mazara in a trade with the Rangers, and locked up star prospect Luis Robert to a long-term extension prior to Robert’s MLB debut.
These moves have already gone a long way to turning the White Sox from an also-ran with a 72-89 record in 2019 to a potential postseason contender in 2020. That said, there are a few areas that could still possibly be upgraded — Duber cites rotation and bullpen depth, as well as a potential platoon partner for Mazara and a more stable veteran to play second base. In regards to the latter position, Hahn did say to “ask me again on March 25” about the second base plan, which could hint that the Sox are still exploring second base options. For now, “some combination of Leury Garcia, Danny Mendick and Nick Madrigal” will handle the keystone.
Madrigal is one of Chicago’s top prospects, and a player expected to eventually take over the position at some point in the 2020 season. Madrigal is likely to begin the season at Triple-A for extra seasoning (and service time reasons), leaving the veteran Garcia and the rookie Mendick with the bulk of at-bats at least early in the season. Garcia has displayed average-to-solid glovework — depending on your defensive metric of choice — and not much hitting over his seven seasons and 1493 plate appearances for Chicago, while Mendick had some good numbers at Triple-A and even over his 16-game cup of coffee for the White Sox in 2019.
Despite the promise on hand, there isn’t a lot of certainty within the group, especially for a would-be contender. There are some interesting veteran second base options still hanging around the free agent market, and would potentially be had for a relatively low price at this late date in the offseason. Signing such a player to even a one-year deal could be a good investment, and it would lessen any pressure on Madrigal to immediately contribute in his first exposure to the big leagues.
Mazara appears to be Chicago’s first choice as the everyday right fielder, as Hahn said “our scouts and coaches think there’s more upside to” Mazara’s hitting potential. The former star prospect hit a middling .261/.320/.435 over his first 2189 Major League plate appearances, though Mazara is still only 24 and could benefit from a change of scenery. The White Sox have often been linked to Nicholas Castellanos this offseason, though it seems like the Sox will give Mazara a clear shot at right field rather than make another splashy addition.
Depending on how things shake out with right field, second base, or other positions over the first few months of the season, Hahn indicated that the White Sox are open to addressing any future needs at the trade deadline.
The White Sox made a big early strike in the free agent market, signing Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73MM contract that stands as the priciest deal in franchise history. Here some of the early reactions to the signing…
- Grandal and White Sox GM Rick Hahn spoke with reporters — including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin and The Athletic’s James Fegan — during a conference call today today, detailing how the two sides came together. The White Sox quickly reached out to Grandal’s representatives as soon as free agency opened, and met with Grandal and his team during last week’s GM Meetings. Manager Rick Renteria was a familiar face to Grandal from their time together in San Diego (when Renteria was the Padres’ bench coach), and Grandal was impressed by Chicago’s core of young pitchers. “If I see that I can help that pitching staff, for me that’s pretty much No. 1,” Grandal said. “So, their sales pitch was, ’Look at the young arms we have, look at the guys we have coming up. We have an opportunity here to win, and we think you can help them out.’ ” To that end, Hahn said that two days after the get-together at the GM Meetings, Grandal asked to see video of Sox pitchers to get more information about his future teammates.
- The White Sox were perhaps something of a surprise suitor for Grandal, given that Chicago was thought to be relatively set behind the plate after James McCann’s solid 2019 season. Since Grandal could see time at first base or DH, however, there appears to be a path for McCann to still receive a good chunk of playing time. “Having too many guys who are quality big leaguers is a good thing, not something we view as a problem,” Hahn said. “We want to provide Rick [Renteria] with enough flexibility and different options to set a quality lineup each day.”
- More roster holes need to be filled before the White Sox can call themselves contenders in 2020, as Hahn was quick to downplay the Grandal signing as a big statement. “There certainly is a level of excitement of what we had done even prior to this signing today, but until we actually convert on some of these targets, the words are just that,” Hahn said. “I leave it to [the media] to interpret messages and all that stuff….If, in fact, other free agents see this move today as reinforcement to some of the things they’ve heard from us over the past several weeks or even going back to last year, that’s great. Hopefully there will be further moves over the course of the next several months that will continue that positive narrative.”
- While the White Sox were the most ardent suitor, Grandal noted that his latest trip through free agency drew much more interest than last winter, when Grandal settled for a one-year deal with the Brewers. “Quite frankly, unlike last year around this time when the market was kind of completely non-existent, this year, it was slightly different,” Grandal said. “It seemed like there were several teams that were working hard within their limits to be able to compete and there were thorough teams that were really interested.”
- The Brewers and Blue Jays were previously known to have interest in Grandal this offseason, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) adds that the Reds, Angels, and Braves were also among the top suitors, though Atlanta may have just “checked in” on Grandal’s status. Cincinnati was MLBTR’s predicted landing spot for Grandal, as the Reds as known to be willing to spend in pursuit of a postseason berth in 2020 and Grandal represented a clear upgrade over Tucker Barnhart. Catcher was also a glaring area of need for the Angels, while the Braves have one capable regular in Tyler Flowers but are in need of a complement after Brian McCann’s retirement.
The Mets have about $20MM to spend to stay under the luxury tax, and though they haven’t ruled out going over for a season, history suggests otherwise, writes MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. The rotation is largely set with Cy Young Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Steven Matz locked into the top four spots. Despite the rumblings, GM Brodie Van Wagenen has been adamant about Syndergaard staying put, and as for the fifth rotation spot, relievers Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman are very real candidates. Free agent upgrades are more likely to bolster the bullpen, which is already a man down if Lugo or Gsellman jump to the rotation. Of course, the best upgrade they could hope for would come in the form of a bounceback season from closer Edwin Diaz. Diaz is putting in extra work this winter in Puerto Rico, and for what it’s worth, new manager and fellow Puerto Rican Carlos Beltran “considers mentoring Diaz one of his top priorities.” Here are some more notes coming out of the GM meetings…
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn attempted to temper expectations before projecting bloated win totals for his club in 2020, per the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan. It’s an exciting time nonetheless for those on the south side of Chicago, with high-end youngsters Nick Madrigal, Luis Robert, and Michael Kopech expected to establish themselves as big leaguers. They have money to spend on pitching or an outfielder, and a tough decision to make on newly-minted gold glover Yolmer Sanchez. Madrigal is likely to unseat Sanchez from his regular role at second, and with Sanchez due to make roughly $6.2MM through arbitration, he’s definitely a possible non-tender. The Sox love him from a character perspective and aren’t eager to kick him curbside, but even with his new hardware in tow, $6.2MM after a .252/.318/.321 season is probably a touch too rich for the ChiSox.
- The Red Sox are facing a different kind of offseason under the leadership of Chaim Bloom, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. Scaling back the payroll is objective A, and the Red Sox are active in trade discussions around just about everyone on the roster. The media has Mookie Betts as the fulcrum of Boston’s trade activity, but he’s expensive on a one-year deal and unlikely to sign an extension, mitigating any trade return and making a deal unlikely. It’s more likely the Red Sox find their desired breathing room by trading from their rotation: David Price, Chris Sale, and/or Nathan Eovaldi. Meanwhile, discussions with free agents are largely on the backburner as they look for creative ways to free up space in the payroll.
It isn’t any secret that the White Sox are eager to keep Jose Abreu in the fold, though another veteran may also be a candidate for a longer-term stint with the club. While expressing to the Athletic’s James Fegan (subscription link) about how much the Sox would like to continue their relationship with Abreu, GM Rick Hahn also praised James McCann’s work at catcher. “He’s been everything we had hoped for in terms of in the clubhouse and from a defensive standpoint and quite frankly more than we had even hoped for offensively,” Hahn said. “He made an adjustment with his stance in the offseason….That’s really clicked for him. He’s been a great acquisition for us. We have control of him through arbitration next year and certainly look forward to having him around for a while.”
McCann signed a one-year, $2.5MM free agent deal with Chicago after being non-tendered by the Tigers in the offseason, and has enjoyed perhaps the hottest stretch of his career at the plate. McCann is batting .366/.404/.581 through 99 plate appearances, absurd numbers for a hitter who had just a .653 OPS over 1658 career PA heading into the season. While some regression at the plate is inevitable, Fegan feels the Sox would prefer keeping McCann over Welington Castillo for 2020, since even McCann on an arbitration raise will cost less than Castillo’s $8MM club option.
Here’s more from around the AL Central…
- Jordan Zimmermann is “probably a month” or so away from returning, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen (Twitter link) and other media. Gardenhire revealed that Zimmermann has been battling a muscle strain in addition to the UCL sprain that initially sent him to the injured list back on April 26.
- Indians manager Terry Francona provided MLB.com’s Mandy Bell (Twitter links) and other reporters with injury updates today, including the news that Adam Plutko will start for Cleveland on Saturday. Plutko has missed the entire season due to a right forearm sprain, and has only a 5.38 ERA over 80 1/3 career innings in the majors, though the Tribe is looking to fill holes in the rotation with both Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger on the IL. Speaking of the Cleveland injury list, Francona also said Tyler Naquin will be kept out of baseball activities for two weeks due to swelling behind the outfielder’s knee.
- “The expectation both within the organization and outside is that the Twins, like so many other teams, must address their bullpen if they want to be real contenders,” The Athletic’s Dan Hayes writes in a look at Minnesota’s relief corps. The Twins are around the middle of the pack in most relief categories, with Taylor Rogers, Blake Parker, Trevor May, and Ryne Harper all delivering excellent results thus far, though there isn’t a lot of experience within that group. While Minnesota will surely explore adding a reliever before the trade deadline if the team remains in the race, GM Thad Levine notes that “I think it’s a little too early to see that market take shape,” noting that teams with bullpen assets to sell right now are putting a big asking price on that pitching.
- While Alex Gordon is posting big numbers and can be a free agent after the season, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) feels “the safer bet is that he stays put, then re-signs with the Royals and finishes his career in Kansas City.” The long-time face of the Royals franchise can’t be traded without his permission due to 10-and-5 rights, though if he did want to be dealt, “the Royals almost certainly would try to accommodate him.” There’s also a notable financial element to any potential Gordon trade, as the $4MM buyout attached to his $23MM mutual option for the 2020 season would become a $4MM assignment bonus in the event of a trade, as the mutual option would then be voided. Plus, Gordon still has roughly $15MM remaining on his $20MM salary for the 2019 season.
The White Sox announced today that southpaw Carlos Rodon has been placed on the 10-day injured list. He’ll be replaced by righty Lucas Giolito, who was activated to take the ball this evening. Dylan Covey will ultimately move into the rotation to take Rodon’s place for whatever duration he’s sidelined.
Rodon is dealing with an “edema in the flexor mass,” James Fegan of The Athletic was among those to report (via Twitter). That initial diagnosis doesn’t provide a clear picture of Rodon’s outlook, but it seems as if there’s some reason for worry here. “Everything is on the table,” GM Rick Hahn told reporters including Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link) when asked about the possibility of Tommy John surgery.
Rodon had been off to an interesting, albeit uneven opening to the season. He’s averaging 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings, nearly twice the rate he managed last year. Rodon is carrying a personal-best 12.1% swinging-strike rate despite losing a full mile per hour on his average fastball. Going to his four-seamer instead of his sinker may be helping generate whiffs, though Rodon has seen year-over-year rises in hard contact and batting average on balls in play.
Despite solid marks from ERA estimators (3.52 FIP, 3.89 xFIP, and 3.92 SIERA), the 26-year-old southpaw carries a 5.19 ERA through 34 2/3 innings this year. Unfortunately, it sounds as if he may need some time off before he can work on bringing his earned run average down.
Over five seasons in the majors, Rodon has contributed 529 innings of 4.08 ERA pitching. That’s not quite the level of consistent, high-end output that was hoped for when he was taken with the third overall pick of the 2014 draft. There’s still time for him to get past the health problems and chase his ceiling, but the end of his initial team control is now in sight. Rodon is earning $4.2MM this year in his second of four seasons of arbitration eligibility.
This represents the latest hit to a White Sox rotation that has been in disarray early on. Rodon and Giolito have led the staff with their 5+ earned per nine; the other three hurlers with three or more starts have earned run averages of six or more. The team already ditched Ervin Santana. While the first two outings for Manny Banuelos have gone well, it’s a limited sample and rather a thin silver lining.
Covey will get another shot at proving himself in the majors after failing to do so in 191 2/3 innings over the past two seasons. He may ultimately be joined by top pitching prospect Dylan Cease, who’s off to a nice opening at Triple-A, but a promotion still doesn’t seem to be imminent. Hahn suggested to reporters that he may end up looking for outside arms to help fill things out.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn recognizes there will be some disappointment and finger-pointing if the White Sox don’t come away with Manny Machado or Bryce Harper this offseason, but he’s not ready to say more about the ongoing negotiations than necessary. Hahn did flat-out reject the idea of signing both free agent stars, as two monster contracts would hamper the long-term flexibility to a harmful degree. While Hahn spoke openly about Machado rumors, he is unhappy with the number of leaks, both true and untrue, coming from the Southside, per the Athletic’s James Fegan. As irritating as the leaks are, Hahn assured the crowds at SoxFest that they will continue to confront leaks of all varieties with honesty. Fegan also notes that former top prospect Manny Banuelos has generated more hype than usual for an unestablished 27-year-old. The Sox preempted Banuelos’ minor league free agency by acquiring him via trade from the Dodgers in November. Banuelos has been around the block, spending time with the Braves and Yankees, starting six games for the former in 2015. He put together a solid campaign last season for the Dodgers’ Triple A affiliate, throwing 108 2/3 innings, with a 9-7 record, 3.73 ERA and 10.52 K/9 versus 3.48 BB/9. Now, rumblings from the league office, and more from SoxFest in Chicago…
- Baseball’s offensive landscape has shifted due to record strikeout totals, increased bullpen usage, shorter stints from starting pitchers and more meticulous long-term bullpen management. These trends have been spotlit by the increased media attention paid to service time manipulation, most-famously in the case of Kris Bryant, as well as the Tampa Bay Rays’ recent revelation that has already made its way into common baseball parlance: the opener. In an effort to curb these trends, Major League Baseball is getting set to present the Players’ Association with rule change proposals that may include the institution of a pitch clock, reinstating the 15-day disabled list and increasing the amount of time an optioned player must spend in the minor leagues, back to 15 days from the current minimum of 10 – though nothing official has yet been released, per Ronald Blum of the Associated Press. The league office could force feed these rule changes with a year’s notice, but Commissioner Rob Manfred is unlikely to use such an aggressive tactic. It will be up to the players, then, to decide whether these proposals are good for the game.
- Of note, the league has made strides in quickening the pace of the game, as average 9-inning game times sped up from 3 hours, 5 minutes, 11 seconds in 2017, to 3 hours and 44 seconds last year. Trimming mound visits without a pitching change from 7.41 to 4.01 certainly had a hand in cutting out those 4+ minutes. Quantifying the impact of these changes is difficult, giving baseball circles more than enough fodder for debate, though it seems the “state of the game” conversations will continue throughout the next two years leading up to the expiration of the current CBA in 2021.
- White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper won’t kowtow to the wisdom of the opener anytime soon, per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun Times. The way Cooper sees it, the role of the starter on the White Sox has not changed, and he still expects to get 6+ innings out of his guys. That’s been a tough ask of late as the Southsiders have built their staff from the ground up via development and trades. Next season is a key year for their young arms, as the trio of Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito look to cement their place in the rotation before the arrival of the next wave of high profile prospects like Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning, the latter two of whom are working their way back from injury. Ivan Nova rounds out the top four in Cooper’s rotation, with Dylan Covey in competition with Banuelos for the five slot. There are still plenty of arms on the free agent market, however, and GM Rick Hahn says the team is working on 3-4 potential acquisitions. Given the collective injury troubles plaguing Chicago’s cavalcade of young arms, it would not be surprising in the least to see one or two veteran arms brought into camp on cheap or minor-league deals.
Buzz from around the American League…
- There haven’t been any extension talks between Justin Verlander and the Astros front office, the right-hander told reporters, including MLBcom’s Brian McTaggart (Twitter and video link). “I don’t know what their organizational plans are. It’s something I wouldn’t be opposed to….we’ll see what happens,” Verlander said. It isn’t necessarily surprising to see a lack of negotiations between the two sides at this point, since most teams wait until their offseason business is complete and Spring Training begins before turning focus to extending in-house talent. Still, there is some urgency in Verlander’s case, given that 2019 is his last guaranteed year under contract (he agreed to waive a possible vesting option for 2020 as part of his trade to Houston in August 2017). Verlander is coming off one of his finest seasons, a campaign that saw him finish second in AL Cy Young Award voting after leading the league in both K/BB rate (a career-best 7.84) and strikeouts (290, another career high) while posting a 2.52 ERA over 214 innings. There certainly doesn’t appear to be much evidence that Verlander is slowing down, even though he turns 36 in February.
- There also haven’t been any long-term contract talks between Carlos Correa and the Astros, the shortstop tells the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome. Persistent back problems limited Correa to just 468 plate appearances in 2018 and a .239/.323/.405 slash line, easily the worst of his four MLB seasons. “For me, right now is not the time to talk about [an extension],” Correa said. “Obviously coming off the injury last year and the down year. I’m looking forward to bouncing back this year, be the player I am and we go from there.” The first step is an arbitration hearing between Correa and the Astros on January 31, with Correa submitting a $5MM salary figure for 2019 and the team counting with a $4.25MM offer. This is Correa’s first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so there is still plenty of time for the two sides to eventually work out a longer-term deal once Correa feels he’s coming off a better platform year.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn said he would “be personally disappointed” if the team didn’t sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, though he told MLB.com’s Scott Merkin and other reporters that the mere pursuit of such top-tier stars represents a new stage of the team’s rebuild. “The fact that we are now sitting here in a potential position — or at least in a position where, if we don’t convert, people are going to be disappointed — I think is an important step forward for this organization,” Hahn said.
- The Orioles aren’t likely to sign any free agents to multi-year contracts this winter, GM Mike Elias told Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com and other media, and the team could avoid any Major League contracts whatsoever for free agents. With the O’s in the early stages of a rebuild, the team wasn’t much of a candidate to be making any long-term commitments, as the focus will instead be on giving time to young players. That said, Elias didn’t close the door on any possibilities for his club, noting “we’re looking for ways to be opportunistic and true with the players that are left unsigned right now.”
- Rays right-hander Wilmer Font has recently started to throw fastball-only bullpen sessions and expects to be ready for Spring Training, he tells MLB.com’s Juan Toribio. Font suffered a lat strain in late June that wound up being a season-ending injury, rather than an eight-week DL stint as originally projected. The injury brought an abrupt end to a very promising start for Font as a Ray, since the righty had a 1.67 ERA over his first 27 innings for Tampa after the club acquired him from Oakland in May. A healthy Font would give the Rays yet another intriguing pitching weapon, able of a traditional bullpen role or perhaps again working as an “opener.”