White Sox

Alexei Ramirez agrees to one-year deal with San Diego Padres


Alexei Ramirez agrees to one-year deal with San Diego Padres

Alexei Ramirez’s tenure with the White Sox has come to an end.

Two baseball sources said the veteran shortstop agreed to a one-year deal — pending a physical — with the San Diego Padres on Thursday. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman first reported the deal.

Ramirez spent the previous eight seasons with the White Sox, the only team he has played for since he moved to the United States from Cuba. A Silver Slugger in 2014, Ramirez produced a .273/.310/.399 slash line with 109 home runs and 135 steals in 4,999 plate appearances for the White Sox. During a recent trip to Cuba, Ramirez had nothing but praise for the White Sox.

“I have to give thanks to the team in Chicago for giving me the possibility,” Ramirez said. “The opportunity to play eight years with them and give them my best in every year, in every game, in every day, I know that I gave 100 percent of my capacity to that organization.

“In fact, I earned the praise from the city of Chicago and this is important for me — to see the fans that love me.”

“But I am so thankful to this organization. They opened the door for me. They gave me a chance to show who Alexei Ramirez is.”

According to FanGraphs.com, Ramirez was worth 19.0 Wins Above Replacement in that period, though he produced a career low minus-0.5 WAR in 2015 when he hit .249/.285/.357 with 10 homers and 62 RBIs.

The White Sox declined to pick up a $10 million offer for Ramirez in November, instead buying out his deal for $1 million. A model of consistency, Ramirez has averaged 157 games in each of the past six seasons for the White Sox.

“It’s not for me to comment on Alexei one way or another right now other than to sing his praises for what he’s done in a Sox uniform from the first day he put the hat on,” executive vice president Kenny Williams said in November.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Before the 2015 season ended, Ramirez said he hoped to return to the only team he knows. Though the White Sox and Ramirez’s camp insisted the door for a return to Chicago wasn’t closed, the sides never engaged in serious discussions about a new deal. Last month, Ramirez suggested he still hoped to play for the White Sox.

But with a strong defender in Tyler Saladino on hand and top prospect Tim Anderson waiting in the wings, the White Sox have focused on improvement in other areas this offseason. The team upgraded at third base and second base, adding Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie, and signed catchers Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro.

“And still if they tell me that I’m leaving or not — it still doesn’t depend on me, you know?” Ramirez said. “Only God knows the destiny, knows the destiny of my career.

“I am so happy with the team. I hope to come back to Chicago.

“I hope to finish my career in Chicago, like I’ve always said.

“Still, they will know what’s best for Chicago.”

The Padres hope Ramirez can fill a void at shortstop similar to what the White Sox have experienced at third base since Joe Crede’s last game. Since 2009, the Padres have used 18 different shortstops.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?


As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”