Chicago White Sox

White Sox Get Melk, Headley Re-Ups With Yankees

The Melkman is back delivering across the border.

The Melkman is back delivering across the border.

The latest free agents are comprised of a player moving on to his sixth team in seven years and one that is staying where he was two-month rental. The Chicago White Sox have been busy this offseason and they continued their re-tooling over the weekend with the free agent signing of outfielder Melky Cabrera. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees agreed, on Monday, with Chase Headley to keep the free agent third baseman for the next four years (at a cost of $52MM).

Cabrera, who played four full seasons with the Yankees, then spent one season in Atlanta, one in Kansas City, one in San Francisco, and two years in Toronto. He’ll replace the lackluster bat of Dayan Viciedo in left field and join newcomers Jeff Samardzija and former Yankees teammate David Robertson on the list of big time acquisitions by GM Kenny Williams.

The Melkman was suspended for 50 games in the second half of the 2012 season due to his involvement in the Biogenesis Clinic scandal. The Giants could have brought him back for the playoffs, but chose not to. With the suspension impacting a new deal, Cabrera signed a two-year, $16MM contract with the Blue Jays prior to the 2013 season. 2014 saw him produce the second best home run (16) and RBI (73) totals of his career.

Cabrera had his best season to date when the Yankees won the 2009 World Series, but he was sent with pitchers Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino to Atlanta for pitchers Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan. The deal was a disaster for both teams. Cabrera produced a .671 OPS with 4 HR and 42 RBI with the Braves. A year later he was a new man, and maybe Biogenesis was the reason.

The then-26-year old put up career numbers in batting average (.305), HR (18), RBI (87), hits (201), and stolen bases (20). With free agency to come after the 2011 season, the Royals dealt Cabrera to San Francisco for pitcher Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo.

Headley played his first six-plus seasons with the San Diego Padres until the 2014 trade deadline came around. The Yankees, who had been interested in Headley since his 2012 MVP-like season. (31 HR 115 RBI, .875 OPS, 17 stolen bases) Headley had never approached those caliber numbers before 2012 and has not after. The price to obtain the third baseman was much lower than during or initially after his magical season. The Yankees were able to acquire Headley for rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte and pitcher Rafael De Paula.

While the Yankees’ defense on the left side of the infield has improved drastically with Headley and the two-headed platoon at shortstop with Brendan Ryan and Didi Gregorius, the production of the lineup has not. In fact, it’s gone in the opposite direction.

The move has produced some head scratching, particularly the length of the contract.  A four-year deal based on a very good September after a terrible August. Two months in pinstripes, one good, one bad. It also shows that Headley most likely did not have a four-year, $65MM offer from another team.

The Yankees starting nine hitters, for now, are

1B Mark Teixeira
2B Martin Prado
SS Brendan Ryan/Didi Gregorius
3B Chase Headley
LF Brett Gardner
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
RF Carlos Beltran
C Brian McCann
DH Alex Rodriguez

Not exactly intimidating.

Cashman and Dombrowski Set The Record Straight on Robertson and Scherzer

drob

The Yankees never intended to resign David Robertson once they signed Andrew Miller.

 

New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski met with the media at the Winter meetings in San Diego Tuesday afternoon and had something interesting things to say.

Cashman admitted that once the Yankees signed Andrew Miller (four years, $36MM), they had no intention of resigning closer David Robertson, preferring a 2015 draft pick instead. The Yankees never made an official offer to Robertson, who signed a four-year, $46MM deal with the Chicago White Sox. Miller and Dellin Betances will each get a shot to close in the coming season, with manager Joe Girardi using them situationally.

There’s been some speculation that 2014 2nd round pick (from Mississippi St.) Jacob Lindgren could be in the mix, but although he struck out 48 batters in 25 innings, he also walked 13. Lindgren will likely start the season at Double-A Trenton, the highest of the four levels he pitched (and struggled) at this past season, or advanced ‘A’ Tampa.

Dombrowski addressed a statement attributed to the Tigers earlier on Tuesday concerning their free agent starter Max Scherzer. ESPN’s Buster Olney had reported that Scherzer remained a top priority for the Tigers and that they were willing to spend the money necessary to keep him.

Earlier this year, Scherzer had turned down the Tigers six-year offer worth $144MM. This time it was Dombrowski’s turn to do the rejecting.

“I don’t know where he (Olney) got that from,” Dombrowski said. “That’s not accurate. I’m not sure where it comes from, how it comes. I know it didn’t come from this room, but that’s not accurate.”

“The other thing I’ll say is I hope Mr. I (owner Mike Ilitch) didn’t see that,” Dombrowski said, “because he’d be saying, ‘Well, where did that come from?’1

Dombrowski went on to add that starting pitching “was not a priority” and no talks had taken place between the two sides.

 

1 – mlive.com

Starter and Closer: White Sox Obtain Samardzija and Robertson

chi

The Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams can’t be blamed if he’s feeling a bit giddy this morning. Last night, Williams started the finalization of a deal that brought starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija from the Oakland A’s and he also came to terms with Yankees closer David Robertson on a four-year, $46MM deal.

Samardzija began last season with the Chicago Cubs, was dealt to the Oakland A’s at the trade deadline, and now returns to Chicago, albeit this time to the south side of the Windy City. Along with the 29-year old right-hander, the A’s sent pitcher Michael Ynoa for infielder Marcus Semien, pitcher Chris Bassitt, 1st baseman Rangel Ravelo, and catcher Josh Phegley.

Samardzija was 2-7 despite a 2.83 ERA in 17 starts for the Cubs before he and Jason Hammel were sent to the west coast for shortstop prospect Addison Russell and two others. The man with the long mullet made 16 stars for Oakland and finished with a 5 and 6 mark despite a 3.16 ERA. The Notre Dame product is in the third year of arbitration eligibility and will be a free agent after the 2015 season. He earned over $5.3MM last season.

Semien played 64 games for the White Sox last season after he had appeared in 21 contests in 2013. He put together a .673 OPS with 28 RBI in 64 games, most of which were played at second base. Baseball America ranked Semien as the 91st best prospect in this past January’s Top 100. Semien, who will be going home (born in San Fran; attended UC-Berkeley) hit 15 HR and drove in 52 runs in 84 games for Triple-A Charlotte. He also  slugged .502 en route to an .881 OPS.

Shortstop has been Semien’s primary position in the minor leagues and that’s where he is slated to play for Oakland after the departure of free agent Jed Lowrie.

Bassitt was a reliever for the University of Akron, but was converted to a starter by Chicago. He’s shown improvement, but it still a work in progress. Phlegley was a first round pick, 38th overall, in the 2009 amateur draft. The 26-year old produced 23 HR and 75 RBI and slugged .861 for Charlotte last season.

He played up with big club for 65 games in 2013, but his OPS was a below par .522. Phegley put up outstanding numbers (.966) in 61 games for Charlotte that same season. With 270 games under his belt at the Triple-A level, Phegley is at the make or break point of his career. He’ll have a shot to at the backup role to Derek Norris.

Know When To Close ‘Em

David Robertson had the best seat in the bullpen school of pitching. The Yankees reliever watched and learned from the best closer in the game, Mariano Rivera, from 2008-2013. Rivera taught Robertson his cutter and more importantly, helped him with the physical and mental aspects of the game.

After averaging 67 appearances from 2010-2013, Robertson became the full-time closer upon Rivera’s retirement. He responded with 39 saves in 44 opportunities and struck out 13.4 batters per nine innings. A first time free agent, Robertson and his agents looked to match the contract Philadelphia had given to Jonathan Papelbon (four years, $50MM) prior to the 2012 season. The Yankees were willing to go four years, but they weren’t willing to part with as much money as even the White Sox were.

With the emergence of set up man Dellin Betances, the free agent signing of Andrew Miller, and the acquistion of Justin Wilson, the Yankees felt Robertson was expendable. Kenny Williams is glad they did.

Rumors: A Pair of Sox in on Samardzija, Padres Talk Kemp

Kemp

On the heels of Saturday’s reported discussions between Oakland and Atlanta about A’s starter Jeff Samardzija, came reports later in the day that the Chicago White Sox were talking to Oakland as well. On Sunday, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that Boston is also talking to the A’s about Samardzija.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Daryl Van Schouwen, the A’s are interested in White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez and prospect Tim Anderson, also a shortstop.

After a pair of down years at the plate, Ramirez hit 15 home runs and slugged .408 in 2014. He also drove in 74 runs, the second highest total of his career. The 33-year old native of Cuba has one year and $10MM remaining on his contract, with a $10MM team option and $1MM buyout for 2016.

Anderson was ranked this past January by Baseball America’s John Manuel as the third best prospect in the White Sox organization. He was the 17th overall pick in the MLB Amateur draft in 2013 out of East Central Community College (Decatur, MS).

The 21-year old played at three different levels last season, including 68 games played at Advanced ‘A’  Winston-Salem (Carolina League) and 10 games at Double-A Birmingham (Southern League). He was limited to 83 total games due to a fractured wrist that caused him to miss two months.

Marcus Semien, who played 64 games for the White Sox last season, is also thought to be a possibility for Oakland. Semien is a third baseman/second baseman, who Manuel ranked as the 5th best prospect in the organization prior to the 2014 season. He had a mere .300 on-base pct. for Chicago, but slugged a respectable .372.

No names have been mentioned in any Red Sox rumors with Oakland, and Cafardo feels Samardzija would be a plan B or C if they Red Sox can’t bring back Jon Lester or deal for the Phillies’ Cole Hamels.

According to FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal, the San Diego Padres have talked to the Los Angeles about outfielder Matt Kemp. It’s hard to tell what exactly San Diego’s offseason plans are. This is a team with a low payroll that has talked to Lester and other high priced free agents.

Does it represent a change in philosophy or a way to promote season ticket sales? Kemp finished second in the NL MVP vote in 2011, also known as the year Ryan Braun cheated his way to it, after he hit 39 HR and drove in 126 runs. Hamstring and shoulder injuries limited Kemp to 179 games combined over the next two seasons, but he turned in a respectable, healthier 2014.

Playing in 150 games, Kemp hit 25 HR, drove in 89 runs, and put up an .852 OPS. The biggest deterrent in any trade for the 30-year old is the five years and $107MM still due to him on his current contract.

Signed: LaRoche Checks Into White Sox Hotel

LaRoche

Adam LaRoche is bringing some power to the Windy City.

 

While the Boston Red Sox have been making a lot of noise on the Monday before Thanksgiving, the Chicago White Sox quietly made a good addition of their own this past Friday. With the departures of Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn to retirement (Dunn to Oakland in between), the White Sox needed some depth at first base. (Jose Abreu likely to be the main DH). And while he’s not youngster in a baseball sense, Adam LaRoche was an economical two year, $25MM pick up for Chicago.

The 35-year old, whose American League experience is limited to nine game stint with the Red Sox in 2009, has become one of the most consistent power hitters in the game. LaRoche has hit 20 or more home runs 10 times, including two seasons in which he has topped the 30 HR mark. His career high is 33 long balls, which he hit for Washington in 2012. That season he also drove in 100 runs, won his lone Gold Glove Award and made his only All-star appearance, and finished 6th in the NL MVP voting.

The son of former Major League pitcher Dave LaRoche (he of the eephus pitch, the “LaLob”), LaRoche has a career .811 OPS over 11 seasons with Atlanta (twice), Pittsburgh, Boston, Arizona, and Washington. The Braves drafted him out of Fort Scott Community College (KS) in the 29th round of the 2000 amateur draft.

Lester Scratched as MLB Deadline Nears

Will Lester get the ball back in Boston?

Will Lester get the ball back in Boston?

by Drew Sarver

We’re less than two days away from the Major League Baseball trade deadline and the number of rumors is starting to add up. The biggest name among them is Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester. The veteran left-hander has been scratched from his Wednesday start, which means Boston will be making a heavy push to trade him for a boatload of prospects and/or Major Leaguers prior to Thursday’s 4 pm EDT deadline.

With the team and Lester unable to agree on a new contract to keep the left-hander in Boston beyond this year – he becomes a free agent after this season – a trade is now very likely.

Lester’s a grade ‘A’ player; a top performer, team leader, and whose departure would leave a major vacancy in the Red Sox rotation. The 30-year old, who beat anaplastic large cell lymphoma eight years ago, holds a 110-63 (.636) record as of this writing and is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career. His K’s per nine innings (9.4) is the highest in four years and he has career bests in ERA (2.52) and WHIP (1.119).

He’s also been solid in the post-season. Last year he helped lead the Red Sox to their third World Series title in 10 years. He won four games, including two in the World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. It will be difficult to cut the cord, but if the Red Sox truly feel they cannot resign him, they might as well try to deal him. Needless to say, they’ve getting calls from many teams. That includes the Pittsburgh Pirates, who last night emerged as a “dark horse favorite”.

Lester could be part of a Boston fire sale now that the Red Sox have dropped 12 games out in the AL East and 9.5 games out of the second wild card position. The team, which dealt starter Jake Peavy to San Francisco on July 26, has been fielding calls on John Lackey, Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, and Jonny Gomes.

The Red Sox are also rumored to be interested in Matt Kemp, which makes no sense whatsoever. The injury-plagued LA Dodgers outfielder is owed $107MM over the next five seasons. The Red Sox would be better off spending money on starting pitcher. They don’t have to look that far back to see how injured and/or overpaid players (Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez) failed in Boston.

The next best pitcher available is Cole Hamels. After not being able to pull off a Cliff Lee deal so far, the Phillies have reportedly either been shopping Hamels or steadfastly refusing to trade him. Even if Hamels is dealt, the Phillies would like to deal Lee and the minimum $37.5MM he stands to make the next two years. He’s also owed the remainder of $25MM this season. Lee will not command the return of players he once was able to unless Philly eats the majority of the salary.

Hamels stands to make $90MM through 2018, with a possibility of making an addition $20MM-$24MM in 2019. Like Lester, Hamels is 30-years old and is having a very good season. Tuesday night he tossed eight shutout innings in a win against the New York Mets. It lowered his career-best ERA to 2.55 and a very good ratio to 1.128 His 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings is his highest total since 2006. The Phillies certainly won’t give him away and are probably going to hold on to him.

Like the Red Sox, the Phillies could move several players. Outfielder Marlon Byrd is in high demand and inquiries have been made about A.J. Burnett. The Phillies would love to rid themselves of Ryan Howard’s remaining $60MM over the next three years (the last year is an option with a $10MM buyout.), but that’s not likely to happen.

Other pitchers that could move today are the Mets’ Bartolo Colon, who has one year and $11MM remaining on his contract. The Minnesota Twins would part with Kevin Correia, though there isn’t much demand for a pitcher who leads the AL in losses and whose ERA is over 5. The Twins have also been fielding calls for catcher Kurt Suzuki and outfielder Josh Willingham.

The Kansas City Royals will likely lose James Shields to free agency after the season, but with the team five games behind Detroit in the AL Central and 3.5 games behind Toronto for the second wild card, how could they not keep him?

The Cleveland Indians face a similar dilemma. They’re 6.5 behind Detroit and sit five games in back of Toronto. Do they think they can make a run and become buyers or do they go ahead and become sellers? The Indians are a team that might try to do a little of both. Rumor has it they are trying to move starting pitcher Justin Masterson, who is having a disastrous season. Another player having a bad year is Nick Swisher (.615 OPS as of this writing), though the two years and $30MM will make it harder to move him. Add on his failure in several post-seasons, and Swisher won’t bring much return at this point. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera could be in a new home by Friday, as he enters free agency after this season.

The Padres are reportedly shopping reliever Joaquin Benoit, who can either set up or close. Other players that could move on are pitcher John Danks, outfielder Dayan Viciedo, and 1B/DH Adam Dunn of the White Sox, pitcher Colby Lewis and outfielder Alex Rios of the Rangers, Cubs’ Pitcher Edwin Jackson, Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, and Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra.

Stay tuned!

Done Deals

Cleveland sent Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfield prospect James Ramsey. Masterson has been having an off-year in a contract year, but the Cards are hoping he can be the second coming of Jake Westbrook. The Cardinals depth in the outfield allowed them to deal Ramsey, the 23rd overall pick in the 2012 draft.

The Red Sox have traded a left-handed pitcher, but it’s not Jon Lester..yet. They’ve sent Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.  A Cubs official told Peter Gammons that Doubront was getting “One more change to grow up.”

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Drew Sarver is the founder, publisher, managing editor, and a contributor for Designated For Assignment. He can be followed on twitter at @mypinstripes and @d4assignment or contacted by email at dsarver@d4assignment.com.

Paul Konerko’s Final Year With the White Sox and in Baseball

pauly[1]Paul Konerko hopes to make the postseason one more time before he hangs up his cleats.

Paul Konerko has spent eighteen impressive seasons playing Major League baseball. This year, the longtime White Sox captain and first baseman will play his final season.

Konerko, who has been with the Sox since 1999, has played for only two other teams, the Dodgers and the Reds, at the beginning of his career. For the past seventeen years, fourteen of those spent with the Sox, Konerko has developed into a potential Hall-of-Famer. As of now, Konerko has a .280 career batting average, 434 home runs, and 1392 RBIs. Those are impressive numbers, potentially impressive enough to earn Konerko a spot among other legends in Cooperstown. 1

The White Sox have been Konerko’s team for many years and it seems only fitting that he end his career with the team he has spent so much time with.

So far this year, the face of the White Sox has had to adjust to a limited role, playing only twelve games thus far, most of them as a DH or pinch hitter. 2. Konerko initially struggled with this reduced playing time, going 0-for-17 before breaking that stretch with a RBI single against Detroit on April 22. However, after playing eighteen seasons in the big leagues, he knows that every new role takes time to get used to.

“Just because I’ve had so many thousands of at-bats in my career doesn’t necessarily mean anything for this role,” Konerko said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. 2 However, the veteran first baseman will likely find a way to adjust to his new role.

While Konerko has taken a step back during his last season, the rest of the White Sox club has managed to find a way to win even without a large contribution from him. As of this writing, the Sox currently sit at 13-13, good enough for third place in the AL Central, 1.5 games behind first-place Detroit.

Thus far, the team has been powered by Jose Abreu and Dayan Viciedo. Abreu leads the team in home runs (10) and RBI (31- a rookie record for April), while Viciedo has his team-leading .367 batting average and .413 OBP. 3 The Sox have some tough competition in the AL Central, but it’s far too early in the season to predict what this team is capable of.

If Konerko steps up and puts together a memorable season like he did in 2005, and if the rest of the club continues to play consistently, the White Sox have a legitimate chance to win the division.

Whether the Sox make it deep into the playoffs or not, Paul Konerko’s last season is sure to be a memorable one for the White Sox, as well as for Chicago’s fans.

1- espn.com
2 – chicagotribune.com
3 – espn.com stats

Alli Baker is a hockey fanatic and contributor for Designated for Assignment.  She can be reached at allibaker23@aol.com or followed on Twitter at @allibaker23