White Sox

McCoy deal doesnt matter in Forte talks, unless.

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McCoy deal doesnt matter in Forte talks, unless.

Every time a premier running back gets a contract done, the immediate reaction is to gauge its significance with respect to Matt Fortes visavis the Bears.

This time it is LeSean McCoy getting a five-year pact worked out with the Philadelphia Eagles, one that is set for 45 million overall but more important, 20.8 million guaranteed, according to the reporting of Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk.com.

Thats substantially more guaranteed and in total than the Bears have on the table for Forte. But it is unlikely that this alone moves the needle enough for a Forte deal.

McCoy ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,309 rushing yards last season and led the league with 17 rushing TDs. No other running back had more than 12; Forte had three and 997 yards in his slightly more than 11 games (he was injured early in game 12).

But working against Forte, who has been offered more than 13 million guaranteed, are the franchise tag option that the Bears have and exercised, guaranteeing Forte 7.7 million for the 2012 season.

The bigger issue, however, is that McCoy is 23 and heading into his fourth season. The Eagles can reasonably count on McCoy to be in place for the five years of his deal, or at least four, followed by an extension or restructuring to adjust a cap number and give him more cash.

Forte is 26, turning 27 in December. He is not attending the voluntary offseason program this week and is not expected to show up for the organized team activities beginning Monday. He has not signed his tender offer and is not under contract at this point.

His bargaining position is simply not as good as McCoys, and positionleverage is everything.

But

The reality of an impasse of this nature is that it is commonly broken when one side makes enough of a concession to allow the other to take the offer and not lose face for caving in.

The McCoy deal and its 20 million guaranteed doesnt obligate or pressure the Bears in any real way. But as the market is being further set, the Bears, who have taken typically good care of their own veterans who have been and are still expected to be major contributors.

That would be Forte. And if the Bears sweeten the deal just a little, that may get it done.

Meet the Prospects: A.J. Puckett

Meet the Prospects: A.J. Puckett

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

A.J. Puckett

Puckett, the 22-year-old right-handed hurler, came over in one of Rick Hahn's lower-profile moves last summer. While trades with the Cubs and New York Yankees brought back high-profile prospects like Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease and Blake Rutherford, an under-the-radar July move that sent Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals fetched Puckett and left-handed pitcher Andre Davis to bolster the rebuilding effort.

A California native, Puckett was a second-round pick of the Royals in the 2016 draft. He made 11 starts at Class A Lexington in 2016, posting a 3.66 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 51.2 innings of work. Prior to last summer's trade, Puckett made 20 starts for Class A Wilmington, turning in a 3.90 ERA to go with 98 strikeouts in 108.1 innings. After joining the White Sox organization, he made five starts at Class A Winston-Salem, where he had a 4.28 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 27.1 innings.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Puckett rated as the No. 23 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Puckett in the video above.

What’s next for Fire after making three trades on draft day?

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USA TODAY

What’s next for Fire after making three trades on draft day?

For much of this winter, it appeared the Fire would enter 2018 with much of the same team that had the third best record in the league in 2017.

There were only minor surprises when the team announced which options it picked up and which players were cut loose. Homegrown signing Grant Lillard was the first addition of the offseason on Jan. 10 and that was expected after he completed his college career.

However, Nelson Rodriguez was apparently busy in the week leading up to the draft and saw that work turned into three trades on Friday. The Fire got two picks in the top 10 and sent away two starters from last year, including key winger David Accam.

There were already holes to fill on the roster, but the exits of Accam and goalkeeper Matt Lampson mean there are a couple more position needs with training camp starting on Monday.

“The roster is very much incomplete,” Rodriguez said after the draft. “There’s still quite a bit of work left to do. While it’s ideal to go into training camp with something that more closely resembles the roster that you’re looking to get into the season with. In our case, it is more important that we continue to add pieces that we think fit our style, fit our mentality, fit our philosophy and it’s important now that we remain disciplined in that pursuit and not feel pressure to just close the deal.”

A look at a potential starting lineup based on the current roster isn’t by any means bad, but it does need some improvement to match or improve upon last year.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty again give the Fire an elite central midfield pairing, Nemanja Nikolic is back after winning the Golden Boot in his first year and the defense should be somewhat solid depending on how Lillard and Jonathan Campbell fill in for the departed Joao Meira. However, goalkeeper is a question mark with Richard Sanchez and Stefan Cleveland having two MLS appearances between them and Nikolic needs help in the attack with Accam and Arturo Alvarez gone and Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic expected to be out until at least July while recovering from torn ACLs.

Seeing Accam leave seemed like an inevitability at some point after years of rumors and complaints. Now that it’s a reality, it’s up to Rodriguez and the Fire to deliver an attack that can be productive without him after he had 14 goals and eight assists last year.

Second-year player Daniel Johnson is the immediate fill-in for Accam. He showed flashes of his potential last year as a rookie, but was limited to 125 after dealing with multiple injuries in 2017. Jon Bakero has the ability to step in underneath Nikolic, but that is an important role to throw at a rookie. The Fire’s dip at the end of last season coincided with de Leeuw’s injury so getting production out of that spot will be important.

The Fire could probably do just fine with one of Johnson or Bakero playing significant minutes in the first half of the season, but both? That’s asking an awful lot out of inexperienced players and it’s why the attack is likely where other moves will come.

Rodriguez said after the draft that there had been more trades in the works and some may still happen.

“We were very aggressive in Florida and here in Philadelphia in trying to make trades within the league and we were unsuccessful,” he said. “Some of those opportunities were by design, by our pursuit. There are still some opportunities which we wish to continue exploring and we will continue to make efforts.”

Rodriguez said the Accam trade gave the team “a lot of flexibility.” The allocation money gives the Fire an expanded salary cap of sorts to work with. Rodriguez said it “further opens up targets in the league” and he also added that they have specific players in mind.

“We also have three targets in particular outside of MLS,” he said. “I would say it’s possible given our current stated resources, our salary budget against the cap, it’s possible to potentially add two of those. Again, those are international deals. You first have to get the deal done before you can worry about the salary budget implications, but we will continue to be deliberate in our actions and disciplined in our attention.”

The Fire's roster is at 21, with two of those going to miss half the season due to injury, after finishing last season with 30.