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Nick Doran

Offseason Lowdown

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Lowdown: White Sox Get Busy

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


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White Sox Bolster Bullpen


The White Sox and Kelvin Herrera have come to terms on a two-year, $18 million contract with a vesting option for 2021. The flame-throwing reliever registered a 2.44 ERA with 17 saves for the Royals and Nationals last year. He struck out 38 batters in 44 1/3 innings and saw his season end early when he suffered a severe foot injury on August 26th. He had surgery to repair a torn Lisfranc ligament in his left foot and even now has not yet been cleared for full baseball activity. He did pass his physical though before this trade was made official and surely the White Sox wouldn't have shelled out this much money if they thought he might not be ready for the start of the season. The White Sox have needs all over the diamond, but so far their two biggest investments this offseason have been in acquiring Herrera and Alex Colome to fortify the bullpen. The 29-year-old right-hander will probably open the 2019 season in a setup role for the White Sox, with fellow newcomer Colome handling the bulk of save opportunities. But nothing is set in stone yet on those roles, and Herrera has been dominant in the past when healthy. Herrera has 60 career saves compared to 96 for Colome.

 

Jay + Alonso = Machado?


USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that the White Sox have agreed to terms with Jon Jay, pending a physical. It will be a one-year, $4 million contract. Jay, who will turn 34 in March, batted .268/.330/.347 with three homers in 586 plate appearances for the Royals and Diamondbacks last season. Jay could get a lot of playing time in the White Sox' depleted outfield rotation but he has been in the major leagues for nine years and has a grand total of 36 home runs to show for it. He has a solid .285 career batting average and that is his only good fantasy category. But hey, every fantasy baseball team owner knows that Jon Jay is not much of an asset in any league format, so why is he being featured in this column? Because the speculation is that the White Sox have an ulterior motive for signing him: Jay, Yonder Alonso and Manny Machado all train together in their hometown of Miami and have been friends since they were kids, so perhaps this would be another way for the White Sox to help recruit Machado to Chicago. Alonso was also acquired by Chicago earlier this offseason. Now they've added Jay. Coincidence? Probably not. Will it be enough to convince Machado to choose the White Sox over the Phillies and Yankees? Doubtful -- unless they offer him significantly more money. It does show just how badly they want Machado and the lengths to which they are willing to go in order to reel him in.


Phillies Still Trying to Get Someone to Take Their Stupid Money


The Phillies' general manager said they were willing to spend stupidly this offseason and they have their sights set on both of the superstar free agents available this winter. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Phillies will meet with free agent outfielder Bryce Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, in Las Vegas on Saturday. The Phillies are clearly one of the finalists in Harper's job search but there haven't been any leaks regarding any potential offer on the table. The Dodgers are another finalist after they cleared salary space by unloading Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood in a deal with the Reds last month. The White Sox also want Harper badly, but there hasn't been much indication that Harper wants to play for them. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says the Cubs are likely out of the running because they are in a bind financially and "would need to clear money to sign even a modestly priced reliever." The Yankees are lurking in the corner as well and can't be ruled out, but right now it seems the Nationals are Harper's most likely landing place. Jim Bowden of The Athletic recently reported that the Nationals offered him "much more" than the $300 million that was originally reported. Are Harper and Boras using the Phillies to put pressure on the Nationals to increase their offer even higher? Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Phillies are expected to make another offer to shortstop Manny Machado. The details of the Phillies' preliminary offer are unclear, but it appears they will bump it up this week. While Philadelphia has a meeting with Bryce Harper scheduled for this Saturday, Salisbury says they "remain primarily interested" in Machado among the two mega free agents. Machado also has an offer in hand from the White Sox and the Yankees are very interested in the infielder, as well.

 

Around the League


** According to MLB.com's Jon Morosi, the White Sox and Phillies are monitoring the Mike Moustakas market. The veteran third baseman could be a fallback option for any team that loses out on the Manny Machado sweepstakes. Moustakas batted .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 162 games last year between the Royals and Brewers.

 

** Jon Morosi of MLB Network believes the Brewers are the most likely landing spot in a trade for the Giants' Madison Bumgarner. The 29-year-old posted a 3.26 ERA last year, but he was limited to just 129 2/3 innings because of a fractured left pinkie a year after throwing only 111 innings in 2017. Morosi says the Brewers would have to include a young starting pitcher to make the deal work. He lists Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta as possible names that could intrigue the San Francisco front office. Bumgarner is set to become a free agent next offseason. His trade value isn't as high as it once was despite his excellent 3.26 ERA, which somewhat masked the fact that his strikeout rate fell to 7.57 K/9 and his xFIP climbed to 4.32 -- both were career worsts by a wide margin. Fantasy owners would be wise to avoid drafting him as early as he was taken in previous seasons, especially if he moves from pitcher-friendly San Francisco to hitter-friendly Milwaukee.

 

** According to Craig Mish of SiriusXM, the Braves and Marlins "have talked again" about a J.T. Realmuto trade. Mish writes that the Braves "appear to be waiting [the] Marlins out" while adding that the Rays "remain a possibility." There is also known to be some level of interest from the Dodgers, Padres, Astros, and Reds. Realmuto seems certain to be dealt before spring training gets underway, but it's hard to identify a frontrunner for his services at this point. Miami still wants a massive return for the 27-year-old catcher, who batted .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs and 74 RBI over 125 games last season. He is under contractual control through 2020. There has been lots of smoke surrounding Realmuto trade talks for the past two years but never any real fire. It seems like every team in the league has contacted the Marlins to ask about Realmuto and then they've all run away when the Marlins tell them what they demand in return.

 

** Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic writes that the Angels "have been in constant contact" with the Giants about relievers Will Smith and Tony Watson. Both of them are among the top left-handed setup men in the league. The Giants went 73-89 last year and need to upgrade their roster at many positions, so their two elite relievers seem like an unnecessary luxury at this stage of their rebuild cycle. Smith posted a 2.55 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 53 innings last year. Watson registered a 2.59 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 66 innings and owns a 2.67 ERA in 546 career games. Both are entering the last season of their contracts.

 

** CC Sabathia (heart) underwent a follow-up stress test on Tuesday and checked out fine. Sabathia has been cleared to resume his offseason workout program after successfully recuperating from a December 11 angioplasty procedure. The veteran left-hander should be fully healthy for the opening of Yankees camp in February. He was re-signed to a one-year, $8 million free agent contract in early November coming off a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts last season. Sabathia's 246 career wins rank him second among all active pitchers, one win behind Bartolo Colon.

 

** Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Padres remain interested in acquiring Sonny Gray. The Yankees had been shopping Gray all offseason until recently. They took him off the market briefly due to uncertainty surrounding CC Sabathia's heart condition, but the big lefty has checked out fine so Gray is once again likely to be moved.

 

** While he's not yet completely recovered, Joe Musgrove expects to be ready for spring training after surgery in October to repair his abdominal wall. Musgrove went 6-9 with a 4.06 ERA in 19 starts during his first season with the Pirates. He was acquired from the Astros along with third baseman Colin Moran in exchange for Gerrit Cole last offseason.

 

** Gregory Polanco, who resumed swinging off a tee today, thinks he'll return from surgery prior to June. Perhaps it's wishful thinking on his part, but that estimate is more optimistic than original reports at the time of his surgery to repair a torn labrum and dislocated left shoulder. The outfielder batted .254/.340/.499 with 23 home runs, 81 RBI and 12 steals in 130 games last year. It was the best all-around season of his career, although it got cut short when he injured his knee and shoulder on an awkward slide into second base on September 7th.

 

** Mets released 3B David Wright. Wright's playing days are officially over. He will remain in the organization in a part-time role as a special advisor to COO Jeff Wilpon and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. He is still owed $27 million, although the Mets are expected to recoup some of that in an insurance settlement. Wright finishes his career with a .296/.376/.491 batting line and 242 home runs. He made seven All-Star teams and won two Gold Gloves.

 

** Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Blake Parker and the Twins are finalizing a one-year contract worth slightly more than $3 million. The money is roughly the same as he would have gotten via arbitration if the Angels hadn't surprisingly cut him loose last month. The reliever will be arbitration-eligible again in 2020, so the Twins will actually have him under control for two years. As it stands right now, Parker looks like the favorite to close in Minnesota. He has posted a 2.90 ERA and 156/35 K/BB ratio over 133 2/3 innings while notching 22 saves across the last two seasons. He has been very inconsistent but has been dominant at times. He started last season as the Angels' closer but quickly lost the role after a bout with gopheritis.

 

** Still in need of a backup shortstop, the Mets have talked to reps for Asdrubal Cabrera, Freddy Galvis and Alcides Escobar. Escobar is the only one of that bunch that would be likely to accept a role as a backup. Cabrera is familiar with the Mets, but he's probably holding out for a starting job at second or third somewhere, and Galvis still seems likely to be some team's primary shortstop next year.

 

** According to Fancred's Jon Heyman, the Mets have had recent talks with free agent Brian Dozier even though they don't seem to need a second baseman. They recently traded for Robinson Cano and they also have Jeff McNeil, who put up one of the bigger breakouts of the 2018 season.

 

** Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Braves could turn to Adam Duvall as the starting left fielder if they're unable to acquire an outfielder. Duvall had a dismal 2018 season but had some strong seasons when he was with the Reds.

 

** Angel Luis Mercedes of El Nuevo Diario reports that Hunter Pence has "several" offers. He struggled to a .226/.258/.332 line last year in 248 plate appearances, so it's likely he's looking at a one-year deal that wouldn't offer much in terms of guaranteed money or playing time. It would be an upset if he was a viable fantasy player in 2019.


** Reds signed RHP Odrisamer Despaigne to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The deal will pay out a salary of $875,000 if Despaigne cracks the major league roster in Cincinnati. The 31-year-old right-hander posted an ugly 6.69 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, and 35/19 K/BB ratio in 39 major league innings (five starts, 14 relief appearances) between the Marlins and Angels last season.

 

Quick Hits: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that teams are interested in trading for Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud. ... Rangers signed RHP Michael Tonkin to a minor league contract. Tonkin spent the 2018 season in Japan, posting a 3.71 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 33/23 K/BB ratio over 51 innings of relief with the Nippon Ham Fighters. ... Orioles signed C Carlos Perez to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. ... Sean Burnett, who spent part of last season in the Marlins' system, has hired an agent and hopes to pitch in 2019. Burnett made 10 appearances with the Nationals in 2016, but he's now seven years removed from his last full season in the majors. He had a 5.49 ERA and a 23/5 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings for Triple-A New Orleans last season. ... White Sox designated LHP Ian Clarkin for assignment. A former supplemental first-round pick, Clarkin holds a 3.55 ERA in 349 2/3 career minor league innings. ... Dodgers acquired RHP Jaime Schultz from the Rays for RHP Caleb Sampen... Brewers signed RHP Jake Petricka to a minor league contract. Petricka owns a rough 5.54 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in 71 1/3 innings since the beginning of the 2017 season. ... Orioles signed RHP Gregory Infante to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Infante, 31, posted a 3.82 ERA over 62 relief appearances across the last two seasons for the White Sox.




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