White Sox

Alexei Ramirez agrees to one-year deal with San Diego Padres


Alexei Ramirez agrees to one-year deal with San Diego Padres

Alexei Ramirez’s tenure with the White Sox has come to an end.

Two baseball sources said the veteran shortstop agreed to a one-year deal — pending a physical — with the San Diego Padres on Thursday. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman first reported the deal.

Ramirez spent the previous eight seasons with the White Sox, the only team he has played for since he moved to the United States from Cuba. A Silver Slugger in 2014, Ramirez produced a .273/.310/.399 slash line with 109 home runs and 135 steals in 4,999 plate appearances for the White Sox. During a recent trip to Cuba, Ramirez had nothing but praise for the White Sox.

“I have to give thanks to the team in Chicago for giving me the possibility,” Ramirez said. “The opportunity to play eight years with them and give them my best in every year, in every game, in every day, I know that I gave 100 percent of my capacity to that organization.

“In fact, I earned the praise from the city of Chicago and this is important for me — to see the fans that love me.”

“But I am so thankful to this organization. They opened the door for me. They gave me a chance to show who Alexei Ramirez is.”

According to FanGraphs.com, Ramirez was worth 19.0 Wins Above Replacement in that period, though he produced a career low minus-0.5 WAR in 2015 when he hit .249/.285/.357 with 10 homers and 62 RBIs.

The White Sox declined to pick up a $10 million offer for Ramirez in November, instead buying out his deal for $1 million. A model of consistency, Ramirez has averaged 157 games in each of the past six seasons for the White Sox.

“It’s not for me to comment on Alexei one way or another right now other than to sing his praises for what he’s done in a Sox uniform from the first day he put the hat on,” executive vice president Kenny Williams said in November.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Before the 2015 season ended, Ramirez said he hoped to return to the only team he knows. Though the White Sox and Ramirez’s camp insisted the door for a return to Chicago wasn’t closed, the sides never engaged in serious discussions about a new deal. Last month, Ramirez suggested he still hoped to play for the White Sox.

But with a strong defender in Tyler Saladino on hand and top prospect Tim Anderson waiting in the wings, the White Sox have focused on improvement in other areas this offseason. The team upgraded at third base and second base, adding Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie, and signed catchers Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro.

“And still if they tell me that I’m leaving or not — it still doesn’t depend on me, you know?” Ramirez said. “Only God knows the destiny, knows the destiny of my career.

“I am so happy with the team. I hope to come back to Chicago.

“I hope to finish my career in Chicago, like I’ve always said.

“Still, they will know what’s best for Chicago.”

The Padres hope Ramirez can fill a void at shortstop similar to what the White Sox have experienced at third base since Joe Crede’s last game. Since 2009, the Padres have used 18 different shortstops.

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked


White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.

The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.

Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.

Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.

Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.

Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.

The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.

Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.

He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.