White Sox

Konerko, Putz decline White Sox arbitration offer

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Konerko, Putz decline White Sox arbitration offer

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
11:53 a.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
The only suspense surrounding Paul Konerkos decision to decline arbitration was when the official word would actually break.

That word finally came late Tuesday, long after reliever J.J. Putz also declined the Chicago White Sox offer of arbitration.

The logic to such a move from Konerkos standpoint is solid -- coming off a near-career year, the longtime South Side first sacker wasnt going to take a one-year deal from andor limit himself to the White Sox. Declining arbitration means that Konerko keeps his options open in every way: length of contract, total salary, and where he suits up.

Ominous in his late-season forum on pending free agency, Konerko noted that the White Sox could make the highest offer to him and he might still opt to play elsewhere. Curiously, he spent more time discussing the White Sox competitiveness within the division than he did an ideal future salary.

Konerko just ended a five-year, 60 million deal signed in the afterglow of the 2005 World Series win, choosing to re-up with the White Sox in spite of more generous offers from the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles. That postseason, Konerko was named the MVP of the American League Championship Series, a series win that propelled the club to its first World Series in 46 years. At age 34 in 2010, he hit 39 homers and drove in 89 runs, posting a .977 OPS and finishing fifth in AL MVP voting -- ensuring that he will receive offers comparable to the 12 million salary he earned.

Several factors are working against the White Sox re-signing their right-handed slugger, beyond his hinting late in the season he had at least one other city besides Chicago in which hed like to play. With the possible loss of catcher A.J. Pierzynski tilting the White Sox lineup even farther to the right, the club is in desperate need of left-handed hitting, something still in ample supply on the first basedesignated hitter market this offseason. Konerko is also highly unlikely to duplicate his 2010 season as his career winds down -- stats guru Bill James is already predicting a 120-point OPS tumble for the first baseman in 2011. Konerkos defensive skills are in decline at a time when the White Sox are placing a higher priority on solid fielding. And finally, the White Sox again have limited funds in which to pursue free agents -- even if Konerko was the teams first choice to add this offseason, any raise on a 12 million salary -- in fact, any deal in excess of 10 million -- would be cost prohibitive to the White Sox.

Finally, the plain fact is that for all his heroism for the Pale Hose, Konerko only outpaced his multimillion-dollar deal in 2006 and 2010, per FanGraphs value analysis. Over the course of his recent contract, Konerko was paid more than he was worth for his performance on the field. Clearly, Konerko offers assets beyond between the lines, evidenced by his five-year captaincy and continual mentorship of White Sox youngsters. Whether thats worth the golden parachute that could be tucked into whatever contract he would re-sign with the club is an elusive question to answer.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

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Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

The Cubs made the Jose Quintana deal knowing it would have been more difficult to give up Dylan Cease if he was already performing at the Double-A level, and that the White Sox organization would be a good place to continue his education as a young pitcher.

While Eloy Jimenez keeps drawing ridiculous comparisons – the running total now includes Kris Bryant, Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz – Cease is more than just the other name prospect from the deal that shocked the baseball world during the All-Star break.

“We still project him as a starter,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during this week’s GM meetings in Florida. “He certainly has the stuff where it’s easy to envision him as a potential dominant reliever. But to this point – for the foreseeable future – we deal with the starting and continue to develop him as a potential front-end arm.”

The Theo Epstein regime still hasn’t developed an impact homegrown pitcher, but that hasn’t stopped the Cubs from winning 292 games, six playoff rounds and a World Series title across the last three seasons, while still being in a strong position to win the National League Central again in 2018.

Without Quintana and his affordable contract that can run through 2020, Epstein’s front office might have been looking at the daunting possibility of trying to acquire three starting pitchers this winter.

While surveying a farm system in the middle of a natural downturn, Baseball America ranked seven pitchers on its top-10 list of prospects from the Cubs organization: Adbert Alzolay, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange, Oscar De La Cruz, Brendon Little, Thomas Hatch and Jen-Ho Tseng.

So far, only Alzolay, an Arizona Fall League Fall Star with seven starts for Double-A Tennessee on his resume, and Tseng, who made his big-league debut in September, have pitched above the A-ball level.

Cease – who went 0-8 with a 3.89 ERA for Class-A Kannapolis in his first nine starts in the White Sox system – has a 100-mph fastball and a big curveball and won’t turn 22 until next month. That stuff allowed Cease to pile up 126 strikeouts against 44 walks in 93.1 innings this year, putting him in the wave that includes Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

“Ideally, we have a lot of guys we project to be part of the future, very good, championship-caliber rotation,” Hahn said. “In an ideal world, there’s not going to be room at the inn for all of them. You only have five in that rotation and some of these guys will wind up in the bullpen. In reality, as players develop, you’re going to see some attrition.”

One spot after the White Sox grabbed Carlos Rodon with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Cubs did Kyle Schwarber’s below-slot deal, using part of the savings to buy out Cease’s commitment to Vanderbilt University ($1.5 million bonus for a sixth-rounder) and supervise his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Cease was never going to be on the fast track to Wrigley Field, and now the White Sox hope he can be part of the foundation on the South Side, where it’s easier to sell a rebuild after watching the Cubs and Houston Astros become World Series champions.

“It doesn’t change really for us internally in terms of our commitment or focus or our plan or our timeline or anything along those lines,” Hahn said. “I do think, perhaps, it helps the fan base understand a little bit about what the process looks like, where other teams have been and how long the path they took to get to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series (was). In Chicago, many fans saw it firsthand with the Cubs.

“There are certainly more and more examples in the game over the last several years to help sort of show fans the path and justification for what we’re (doing).”

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

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USA TODAY

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

The White Sox continued their rebuild Thursday by trading for an intriguing young right-handed pitcher.

The South Siders acquired Thyago Vieira from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for international signing bonus pool money.

The 24-year-old Vieira is a Brazilian native and has only made one appearance in the big leagues, striking out a batter in one perfect inning of work in 2017.

While his career minor-league numbers don't jump off the page — 14-19 with a 4.58 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 13 saves and 7.4 K/9 in 290.2 innings \— Vieira has been reportedly clocked at 104 mph with his fastball and was ranked as the Mariners' No. 8 prospect at the time of the deal. He also held righties to .194 batting average in 2017.

Here's video of Vieira throwing gas:

And this may explain why Vieira was even available:

Control has been an issue throughout his career, as he's walked 4.6 batters per nine innings in the minors. He has improved in that regard over the last few seasons, however, walking only 22 batters in 54 innings across three levels in 2017 and he doled out only one free pass in 5.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

What does this deal mean in the big picture for baseball? How did the Sox pull off a move like this while not having to give up a player in return? 

This may help shed light on the situation from Baseball America's Kyle Glaser:

Either way, the White Sox may have just acquired a guy who could potentially throw his name in the hat for "future closer." Or at the very least, throw his name in the hat for "best name."