White Sox

Baseball Prospectus' Top 10 Cubs prospects

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Baseball Prospectus' Top 10 Cubs prospects

On the heels of a 100-loss season, the Cubs' front office is in California trying to better the team at the GM Meetings.

Some of their work has already been done, however. It'll just take a few years to see if it has paid off.

Baseball Prospectus ranked the Cubs' Top 10 prospects and six players on the list are new additions under Theo Epstein's rebuilt front office:

1. Albert Almora, OF
2. Javier Baez, SS
3. Jorge Soler, OF
4. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
5. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
6. Brett Jackson, OF
7. Pierce Johnson, RHP
8. Duane Underwood, RHP
9. Christian Villanueva, 3B
10. Dillon Maples, RHP

Three of those guys (Almora, Johnson, Underwood) are from the 2012 MLB Draft, and two players (Vizcaino, Villanueva) were acquired at the trade deadline. Soler, who defected from Cuba, was signed in late June. Three others (Baez, Vogelbach, Maples) were drafted in 2011, leaving Jackson as the only player who was with the organization to start 2011.

This list is significantly different than Kevin Goldstein's 2011 version, which featured only Jackson, Baez and Maples among the Top 10. Vogelbach was ranked No. 12.

That's quite a turnaround for the front office. It's interesting to see Almora come in above Baez -- who has wowed scouts with his skill-set over the last year-plus -- and Soler -- the hottest international commodity this offseason behind Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish -- but that speaks to how high Almora's ceiling is.

White Sox free-agent focus: Patrick Corbin

White Sox free-agent focus: Patrick Corbin

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

Much of the conversation around the White Sox and free agency has focused on the two biggest fish in this winter's pond: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. But as good as those guys are at baseball, there's one thing they definitively cannot do: pitch.

Maybe it's because the White Sox have the potential to field a homegrown rotation of the future just one year from now, but making a big-splash pitching addition hasn't seemed to be as exciting a talking point as the possibility of adding Harper or Machado. And that's weird because the White Sox have said they're going to go out and get a pitcher, multiple pitchers most likely.

Certainly there are vocal fans out there who want the White Sox to bring this winter's best available starting pitcher to the South Side. Patrick Corbin is just 29 years old and coming off a remarkable season in which he posted a 3.15 ERA and struck out 246 batters in 200 innings. That was good enough to place him in the top five in this year's NL Cy Young vote.

Prior to this campaign, the numbers weren't nearly as good. In his first five major league seasons, he posted a combined 4.12 ERA and averaged 130 strikeouts a year. But the contract year rarely disappoints, and Corbin took full advantage, hitting the free-agent market on one heck of an upswing. He's going to be a very popular man as the winter wears on because everyone's always in the market for premium starting pitching. Given that he's two years younger than fellow free agent and 2015 AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, Corbin is as premium as it gets on this year's free-agent market.

Of course, the White Sox have starting pitching as a stated need, with two holes in their rotation thanks to Michael Kopech's recovery from Tommy John surgery and James Shields' departure. And because of the flexibility this rebuilding process has created, they have multiple ways they could go about filling those holes. They could add a couple one-year fill-ins and simply wait for Kopech to get healthy and for pitching prospect Dylan Cease to reach the majors. Add those two guys to the trio of Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and you've got a homegrown starting staff heading into 2020. Or, they could provide a safety net in the form of a longer-term deal for a bigger-name. That guy would help anchor the rotation as the team plans to transition from rebuilding to contending on an annual basis.

Corbin would fall into the latter category, though he'll likely be in such high demand across the league that the same challenges facing the White Sox in a pursuit of Harper or Machado would apply. They'd have to outbid some of baseball's biggest spenders — including the New York Yankees, who have been mentioned as a likely landing spot for Corbin — and convince a young star to pick planned future success over the ability to join up with a roster capable of winning multiple championships right now.

Corbin is a great pitcher who would line up nicely with the White Sox long-term plans. But like Harper and Machado, there's a big difference between wanting to add an All-Star player and convincing them to sign.

Under Center Podcast: With NBC Sports Soccer’s Arlo White and Roger Bennett

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AP

Under Center Podcast: With NBC Sports Soccer’s Arlo White and Roger Bennett

Two of the biggest Bears fans you’ll meet happen to be two of the most recognizable voices of NBC Sports’ Premier League coverage. Arlo White, the lead play by play announcer for NBC’s Premier League coverage, grew up in Leicester and fell in love with Chicago and the Bears in the 1980s, following games on a faint armed forces radio signal.

Roger Bennett of the Men in Blazers used to call random 312 numbers from a friend’s house as a kid in Liverpool to find out what the Bears’ score was. Hear from both about how they became Bears fans, how they’ve followed the team over the years and what they think of the 2018 side — which they both predict to beat the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. 

0:00: Introductions, and is Arlo White the biggest Bears fan in all of Leicester?

1:10: How a childhood trip to Evergreen Park led White to become a Bears fan

4:35: How did you follow the Bears in England in the 1980s?

7:00: What was it like to get to call the 2008 Super Bowl for British radio?

9:40: How White managed to make it to Green Bay for the Bears’ season opener

11:55: White’s impressions of the 2018 Bears, and what it was like to get to watch Khalil Mack in person 

14:20: Are there NFL fans around Premier League press boxes like there are Premier League fans around NFL press boxes?

16:20: White’s prediction for Bears-Vikings, beyond drinking “nine cups of coffee” to stay awake

19:00: Welcoming Roger Bennett to the pod, and how he became a Bears fan while growing up in Liverpool

21:30: Calling random 312 numbers in Chicago to get the Bears score

24:10: How White and Rog wound up at the same Bears preseason game in 1986 without knowing it

26:10: Rog’s experience greeting the Bears at O’Hare at 2 a.m. after they played the Cowboys in London

31:00: Why Rog moved to Chicago (and specifically Rogers park) right after college

33:00: The Bears are a centerpiece of the Bennett family Sundays, taking part in the “joy that is Tarik Cohen and his ebullience”

34:30: Why Rog *really* likes Matt Nagy #balds

36:45: Rog’s prediction for Bears-Vikings

38:20: Why Rog is an 11/10 in confidence the Bears will win the Super Bowl 

Listen to the full episode here or in the embedded player below!

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.