White Sox

Jeff Samardzija's departure nets White Sox extra top draft pick

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Jeff Samardzija's departure nets White Sox extra top draft pick

Forfeiting a draft pick wouldn’t prevent a free agent signing, but the White Sox are excited to possibly possess three top-50 selections in the 2016 amateur draft.

The franchise receives an extra pick (in between the first and second rounds) as compensation for the loss of free-agent pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who signed with the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.

Not only do they draft 10th overall next June, but the White Sox now have an additional pick (perhaps as high as 25th) in a draft that’s expected to be full of college and prep hitters, White Sox amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said in October.

[MORE SOX: Additions of Navarro, Avila have White Sox confident at catcher]

And while they wouldn’t shy away from signing a free agent with a qualifying offer if it’s the right fit, the White Sox plan to weigh any decision against the potential loss of adding another talented amateur player to a farm system in need of more.

“I love the idea of loading up picks like that,” general manager Rick Hahn said last month. “I think that’d be great. I might not love it quite as much as Doug (Laumann) and Nick love it. We’ll have to balance their passion for having extra picks versus what we can do via free agency and if it makes sense in the end. But it certainly would be a nice shot in the arm in continuing to add quality prospects to the organization, which is a priority.”

Similar to last offseason, the White Sox are already in an advantageous position to sign free agents courtesy of a poor 2015 season. Because they finished with the 10th-worst record in the majors last season, the White Sox have a protected first-round selection, meaning they could sign any free agent without forfeiting their top pick.

Instead, they would forfeit their second-highest pick if they chose to splurge on a Jason Heyward. Last offseason, the White Sox surrendered their second- and third-round draft picks in order to sign free agents Melky Cabrera and David Robertson.

But after Samardzija signed a five-year, $90-million contract with the Giants, the White Sox have an additional pick to part with, if need be. So were they to decide that Daniel Murphy or Yovani Gallardo is the answer to all their woes, the White Sox would still pick 10th and then again in the second round.

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Either way, the White Sox should be able to add talent to an improved farm system that could still use a boost.

“We haven’t ruled out a free-agent move strictly because the loss of a pick,” Hahn said. “It’s a consideration, but it’s a different analysis when you have the 10th pick locked in.

“But our goal has been for the last several years is to get to the point where we’re self-sustainable -- where we’re only dipping into the free-agent market to add those complementary pieces to a solid developing core. Obviously last year we saw the opportunity to be aggressive in certain areas of need and to build around that smaller core. But ideally that core is a little bigger.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

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?

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AP

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.”