White Sox

Blue Jays spoil James Shields' return in White Sox loss

Blue Jays spoil James Shields' return in White Sox loss

TORONTO — James Shields and the White Sox appeared to have everything under control on Sunday afternoon.

Then Toronto Blue Jays finally arrived.

Shields pitched well into the sixth inning in his first start in two months, but an offensive explosion helped the Blue Jays avoid a series sweep. Russell Martin and Kendrys Morales both homered late as Toronto sent the White Sox to a 7-3 loss in front of 46,599 at the Rogers Centre.

“One through nine you can’t take anything off,” Shields said. “They’ve got a good lineup over there. Just trying to mix up my pitches, my location, trying to get first-pitch outs. For the most part I was doing that. The last inning I needed to bear down right there but pretty good overall.”

Ironic that after he allowed a fair amount of loud outs in the previous two innings that it was a dinker that sent Shields to a no decision. Shields was efficient and stayed out of trouble for much of his first start since April 16. He worked off the outside edge to many of Toronto’s right-handed hitters, which allowed him to avoid trouble much of the way. Shields stranded a pair in the first inning and two more in the fourth after he allowed a pair of deep fly balls outs to Jose Bautista and Morales.

Toronto nearly broke through in the fifth with a bunch of hard contact, including an RBI single by Kevin Pillar to cut the White Sox lead to 3-1. But Yolmer Sanchez made a nice stop up the middle to take a hit away from Bautista and end the inning.

Shields then quickly retired the first two men in the sixth inning before Troy Tulowitzki reached base with a dribbler up the third-base line that somehow stayed fair long enough to hit the base. Shields worked away to Martin but he got enough of a 1-1 cut-fastball to sneak it over the center-field fence for a game-tying, two-run homer.

“I didn’t think it was going to get out,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “I thought Willy (Garcia) had a nice read on it. It looked like it hit the top of the wall. (Shields) gave us a nice outing. …

“He did a very, very good job of keeping us there.”

Shields had hoped to go deeper into the game for a starting staff that is starved for length. White Sox pitchers have produced only five quality starts in the team’s last 26 games. But aside from that, Shields said he felt good in taking the mound after the first disabled list-stint of his career.

“In between innings I was telling the umpire at second base I need to slow myself down a little bit,” Shields said. “Being in the league as long as I have, I still got excited out there. So I was trying to be real methodical with my rhythm. It felt good to be out there.

“I wanted to go deeper in the game. Obviously, 3-1 ballgame, you’ve got to get that out. I got two outs quick in the sixth right there. I’ve got to bear down and get the out.”

The White Sox bullpen struggled to record outs.

Ryan Goins’ two-out RBI triple off Anthony Swarzak put the Blue Jays ahead 4-3 in the sixth. They tacked on three more runs in the seventh inning, including a massive, 460-foot, two-run homer by Morales off Dan Jennings.

The White Sox finally broke through against J.A. Happ in the fifth inning. Sanchez had the third of three consecutive singles to make it 1-0. Jose Abreu’s two-out, two-run single past Tulowitzki gave them a three-run lead. But Happ avoided further damage with a strikeout of Avisail Garcia, one of nine K’s on the day for the veteran left-hander.

“We kept trying to grind. Shieldsy was containing them good up to the homer,” Renteria said. “We were battling when Swarzy came in and we didn't get the result we wanted. I don't think you can put your head down, we won a series.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Could the White Sox trade with the Red Sox?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Could the White Sox trade with the Red Sox?

The crew wraps up the final day of the Winter Meetings for the White Sox.

On the latest White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber and Ryan McGuffey talk about a rumored deal between the White Sox and the Red Sox (2:41) that would move some pieces around.

Rick Hahn speaks for the final time in San Diego and the guys react to his comments.

Later, they debate why fans are disappointed with the White Sox and the outcome for the team at the end of the Winter Meetings.

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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White Sox reportedly 'in play' for David Price, but how much sense would a trade make?

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USA TODAY

White Sox reportedly 'in play' for David Price, but how much sense would a trade make?

SAN DIEGO — David Price on the South Side? Maybe.

According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the Boston Red Sox have had trade conversations involving Price with at least five teams, and the White Sox are “in play” for the veteran left-hander.

Boston is trying to shed salary, and getting rid of the $96 million remaining on Price’s deal over the next three years would be a good way to accomplish that goal.

The White Sox, given their financial flexibility, are a team that could absorb that kind of money in a trade. While much discussion of Rick Hahn’s statement in February that “the money will be spent” has focused on high-priced free agents, the general manager said Wednesday that such fiscal positioning could be beneficial on the trade market, too.

“Absolutely,” he said during his final media session of the Winter Meetings. “You’ve seen over the years us use our financial flexibility to acquire some contracts. I think back to the (Joakim) Soria trade with the Dodgers. The thing we brought to the table there was the ability to absorb some contracts. That flexibility doesn’t always have to be spent on free agents.”

But here’s the thing. ESPN’s Jeff Passan got this whole Price conversation going when he reported the interest of multiple teams on Tuesday, and he suggested the Red Sox might be able to ship Price out of town if they included a “player of value.” A young player with affordable club control would sweeten any such deal, and speculation latched onto outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who is under team control for three more years.

That’s the kind of deal — before we hear what it could cost, obviously — that would look like a good one for the White Sox.

Well, another nugget in Feinsand’s report throws that idea out the window.

“One scenario that has been floated in recent weeks would have the Red Sox attaching a young player — Andrew Benintendi's name has been mentioned often — to Price in order to dump the pitcher's contract.

“A source said that concept has not been considered by Boston's front office — nor will it be, especially not with Benintendi.

“‘That's not going to happen,’ the source said.”

If that’s the case, if the Red Sox are talking about a Price trade that doesn’t involve a young, controllable player coming back, is there any reason for the White Sox to consider such a move? Is there any reason to trade for Price alone?

The White Sox do need pitching, quite badly, as a matter of fact. Their quest for two arms to add to the starting rotation has yielded no additions yet, with their high bid for Zack Wheeler spurned in favor of a lower offer from the Philadelphia Phillies. Price would be an upgrade to the White Sox rotation, and they could potentially get him without having to give up any of their prized prospects (a trade involving someone like Benintendi might cost a high-level prospect, in addition to salary relief).

After turning in some memorable performances during the Red Sox championship run in 2018, Price got off to a great start in 2019, with a 3.16 ERA in his first 17 starts. But due to a cyst in his wrist, he made only two starts over the season’s final two months. He finished with a 4.28 ERA, second highest of his career.

Considering the White Sox are heading into 2020 with just three rotation spots spoken for, they could do a lot worse than Price from a production standpoint. But the veteran lefty doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation as a clubhouse presence. NBC Sports Boston’s John Tomase listed several red flags in a recent piece: “He's no longer a 200-inning pitcher. His elbow could blow. He considers himself a great teammate, but he consistently brings negativity into the clubhouse, which multiple rival executives have noted warily. He's too expensive. He hasn't made an All-Star team or earned a Cy Young vote since 2015. He's past his prime.”

Do the White Sox need those headaches? Aren’t there options out there, via trade or free agency, that would bring in similar levels of production without all that other stuff? It doesn’t seem like a young team that is developing what appears to be a very positive culture needs someone who “consistently brings negativity into the clubhouse.”

Now, if someone like Benintendi — or, for example, the large contract of designated hitter J.D. Martinez — comes along with him, maybe it’s a pill you’re willing to swallow. Of course, that would require other unpleasant possibilities, such as letting a recent first-round draft pick like Nick Madrigal or Andrew Vaughn go. Hahn talked about the team’s unwillingness to deal away its prized prospects for a short-term gain. The White Sox lost a combined 195 games to end up with the draft picks that produced Madrigal and Vaughn. That was an awful lot of suffering just to trade those guys away.

A potential Price trade has its upsides, but ones contingent on other aspects of such a deal. If those aspects go by the wayside, acquiring Price doesn’t make quite as much sense.

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