White Sox

Peavy's flexibility allowed for return to White Sox

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Peavy's flexibility allowed for return to White Sox

The White Sox always wanted to retain Jake Peavy and it only made more sense as the market for free agent pitchers began to take shape. When Peavy showed a strong desire to return, a potential pact became more logical.

Compared with the extended, lucrative deals needed to land Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse this offseason, the two-year, 29 million contract Peavy signed on Tuesday afternoon, just days before he became a free agent, falls directly in line with what the White Sox wanted.

While the club paid a premium price for Peavys next two seasons -- hell make 14.5 million in each and could receive 15 million in 2015 -- they didnt have to overpay to bring in a quality pitcher.

Less than two years after he had potentially career-ending surgery, Peavy showed the White Sox he has plenty left in 2012. The right-hander was 11-12 with a 3.37 ERA in a team-high 219 innings over 32 starts last season and struck out 194 batters.

The length was absolutely key for us, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said on a conference call on Tuesday night. Being able to insulate ourselves against having a long-term deal and the risk involved in any long-term deal, much less with a pitcher, being able to do something on a shorter-term basis had a greater appeal to us. You will see a fairly robust (pitchers market) this offseason -- deals beyond comfortable where we were interested in going. We made a deal and were able to do it on terms we found palatable.

The White Sox can thank Peavy and agent Jeff Barry for their willingness.

Even though Peavy likely would have received a bigger payday on the open market when he became a free agent on Friday, his desire was to return to the White Sox. Therefore, Peavy, who also won the first Rawlings Gold Glove of his career on Tuesday night, did what he could to ensure a return.

I never wanted any games, Peavy said. I was open and upfront about (returning). I certainly did all in my power to return to where Im the happiest.

Hahn and Peavy said contract talks started strong and then cooled off to the point Peavy was concerned he might not return to a club, which acquired him from the San Diego Padres for four pitchers on July 31, 2009.

But talks between the sides gained traction quickly over the last 72 hours, Hahn said.

Part of it was the concession Peavy made to allow the White Sox to pay the 4 million buyout on his 2013 club option from 2016-19. Another aspect is that Peavys 2015 player option kicks in only if he stays healthy and passes certain statistical thresholds, figures Hahn declined to reveal.

(Flexibility) played a huge roll, Hahn said. We got creative.

Peavy said he didnt want the White Sox to hurt their ability to acquire other quality players in order to ensure his return. The team also exercised its 9.5 million option on pitcher Gavin Floyd on Tuesday to bolster its 2013 rotation.

It has to fit for everybody, Peavy said. There has to be give and take from everybody, flexibility. We both gave a little bit on what we both wanted to do. You want to come back on a deal that doesnt hamstring the team.

The final piece to the puzzle is the timing, Hahn noted. Had Peavy gone on the open market, theres no telling what other teams would have offered. The Los Angeles Dodgers, for instance, have a big checkbook a might have opened it to attract the 2007 National League Cy Young winner. With free agency only 72 hours away, Hahn knew the White Sox had to make their move.

Our chances would likely take a serious hit once he got out there, Hahn said. We were aggressive, otherwise we wouldnt have got something done. He knew where he wanted to be and knew it was a fair deal and he was motivated to get something done.

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."