White Sox

Jake Petricka's injury rehab continues to gain speed

Jake Petricka's injury rehab continues to gain speed

PHOENIX -- Jake Petricka is thrilled to spend the next few days around his White Sox teammates. He’s also happy that he has begun to feel better and can see some results in his rehab assignment.

But the White Sox reliever had a big smile after he participated in a simulated game on Monday, one of three he’ll spend with the White Sox, and hung out in the clubhouse.

Much like Carlos Rodon, Petricka’s rehab from a lat muscle strain has been longer than he first thought and tedious. The right-hander has spent much of the last six weeks in extended spring training at the team’s Glendale, Ariz. facility.

“I was excited,” Petricka said. “When they were coming in, I knew we would get to come in and be part of the team again and get back into a couple of days of normal routine. It’s fun.”

Petricka’s appearance on the mound was his second. Both have come since his lat muscle calmed down about two weeks ago. Petricka threw 20 pitches and could get back on the mound after one to two days off.

While it took time to reach this point, Petricka is upbeat about his status.

“It’s been slow,” Petricka said. “I’m just kind of waiting on that muscle and letting it tell us when we can push it harder each day. Finally about the last two weeks we’ve been able to get back out there throwing and start pushing it in ways that you can see the progress. It’s been much better the last couple of weeks.”

Petricka doesn’t know how much longer he’ll stay in Arizona, but he knows the next step isn’t too far off if he doesn’t have a setback. His wife and two young children have spent the past two weeks with him in Arizona. But they head out later this week just in case a rehab assignment begins soon.

[MORE: Carlos Rodon 'getting closer' but still without time fram for return]

After he missed much of last season with a hip impingement that required surgery, Petricka joked he’s spent so much time in Arizona he could be considered a resident.

“I feel like I am,” Petricka said. “It’s either that or I might own my hotel room. I think we put enough money into it for them. Instead of a room number, it might be my name.”

White Sox reportedly talking with Dodgers about potential Joc Pederson trade

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USA TODAY

White Sox reportedly talking with Dodgers about potential Joc Pederson trade

While the White Sox wait on a former Los Angeles Dodger to make his much-anticipated free-agent decision, they're reportedly talking with the Dodgers about a current member of their roster.

According to Jason Kinander and later backed up by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox are having conversations with the Dodgers about a potential trade that would bring outfielder Joc Pederson to the South Side.

Pederson has hit at least 25 home runs in three of the last four seasons, earning an All-Star spot during his rookie season in 2015. He showed more extra-base ability with a career-best .522 slugging percentage in 2018. Add that power to his outfield versatility — he played in all three spots last season — and that could certainly bring some value to the White Sox outfield, even if his .248 batting average and .321 on-base percentage leave something to be desired.

Top-ranked prospect Eloy Jimenez is ticketed for the everyday left-field job once his major league career begins a couple weeks into the 2019 season. The newly acquired Jon Jay figures to bring his high batting average and on-base skills on a daily basis, either in center field or left field, depending on the day-to-day need of manager Rick Renteria. But the rest of the outfield puzzle is tricky. Adam Engel was a Gold Glove finalist in center field, but he's spent the majority of his two seasons on the South Side struggling offensively. Daniel Palka, boxed out of the designated hitter spot by the tandem of Yonder Alonso and Jose Abreu, could get opportunity in right field after hitting 27 home runs as a rookie last season, but his defense needs improvement, something he's been working on since arriving in the big leagues.

Pederson could help stabilize that outfield mixture. He played in 148 regular-season games for the Dodgers in 2018 and got 42 plate appearances during the postseason, hitting a pair of home runs.

An element that's a bit of a head-scratcher is that Pederson has just two years of team control remaining before he hits the free-agent market following the 2020 season. That would make him a curious addition to the White Sox, who are constantly thinking about the long term. But should the organization's highly rated prospects reach the major leagues and find relatively instant success, and if a premier talent (like Manny Machado) arrives on the South Side this offseason or next offseason, the White Sox could potentially include Pederson as part of a contending roster.

Bringing in a former All Star like Pederson could also make the White Sox roster more attractive to Machado, who has yet to make a decision on where he will spend the better part of the next decade.

Another interesting aspect to the Dodgers' involvement is the still-undecided Bryce Harper, the other mega free agent on the market who the White Sox are pursuing, as well. The Dodgers were listed as a potential landing spot for Harper earlier this offseason but had a crowded outfield and an expensive payroll. They made a blockbuster trade with the Cincinnati Reds to help with both of those logjams, and trading another outfielder could allow the Dodgers to get into the Harper sweepstakes, which to this point has seemed to include just the White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals.

While the baseball offseason has seemed to move at a glacier pace, the White Sox have been active. They've acquired Alonso, Alex Colome and Ivan Nova via trade and signed free agents Jay and Kelvin Herrera. Adding Pederson would be another move that would improve on a roster that lost 100 games last season, but we'll see if these conversations end in a deal or not.

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Enter the mystery team: The Manny Machado sweepstakes is getting kind of mysterious

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USA TODAY

Enter the mystery team: The Manny Machado sweepstakes is getting kind of mysterious

You're more than welcome to believe or not believe in the idea of the "mystery team." But accounts of the reported existence of such mysterious teams are growing in the previously down-to-two Manny Machado sweepstakes.

We all thought this was down to the White Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies — and maybe it still is — two teams with financial flexibility and visions of a bright future vying for the 26-year-old superstar, one of the two biggest names on this winter's free-agent marker and one of the best players in baseball.

The White Sox have made their offer. As for how rich it is and how long it is, it seems to depend on who you're talking to at any given moment. Our Chuck Garfien reported last week that it's fewer than eight years in length and worth "less than what's being reported." At the time, that latter descriptor seemed to mean less than the $250 million reported by ESPN's Jeff Passan. But then came a report from ESPN's Buster Olney that the offer was worth $175 million over seven years. Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, didn't like that one bit and released a formal statement calling the report "reckless."

And so now we have a new flurry of reports pointing to the involvement — perhaps heavy involvement — of a mysterious mystery team.

Let's start on Friday, when Machado's dad told Hector Gomez that in addition to the White Sox — who prior to this had the only reported offer on the table for Machado — the Phillies, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers have all made offers.

That raised more than a few eyebrows, considering the Yankees appeared to be out of the derby after acquiring a pair of free-agent infielders in Troy Tuolwitzki and D.J. LeMahieu and were spending money elsewhere, notably on giving themselves the most terrifying bullpen in baseball. And this was the first mention anywhere of the Dodgers, the team Machado played for during the second half of last season, going all the way to the World Series. But he was only a Dodger because of an injury to shortstop Corey Seager. The Dodgers no longer need a replacement with Seager back, and they don't need a third baseman with Justin Turner at the hot corner. So where exactly would Machado play if he stayed in L.A.?

And then came the mystery team. According to Fancred's Jon Heyman, there exists a mystery team, and it's possible that team is the current high-bidder.

And Mr. Machado agrees.

SNY's Andy Martino had some more details, saying Machado is still having meetings and met with at least one mystery team in recent days. He said the mystery team is not the Yankees, though they have "kept an open line of communication" with Machado's people and aren't out. He's also eliminated the Atlanta Braves.

OK. So where does that leave us? The Machado sweepstakes could be bigger than we thought it was just a few days ago, with another team or more entering the bidding and perhaps able to top the White Sox reported offer — however close to $175 million or $200 million it might be.

The Phillies, as is the case with the White Sox, are still in pursuit of the other huge name on the free-agent market, Bryce Harper. The "spend stupid" Phillies could be trying to create a baseball version of the Miami Heat and lure both guys to the City of Brotherly Love. That would be an expensive proposition, of course. But the Phillies' pursuit of both guys could be what's throwing a wrench into this whole process.

But it's also likely that Lozano is looking for a bigger contract offer than the one(s) Machado currently has. After all, the expectations at the beginning of the offseason were that Machado and Harper could both receive record-breaking deals. There was talk of a $400 million contract or two. There were expectations of heavy competition for two of the best players in the game, both of whom are just 26 years old and firmly in their primes. That's not how it's played out, though, with just two or three teams in on both players. And while Harper reportedly turned down a $300 million contract offer from the Washington Nationals, if Machado's biggest offer is south of $200 million, that is shocking in comparison to those early expectations, regardless of how good it might be for the team that could get him to sign such an offer.

The White Sox seem to remain in good position to actually win this thing. They have made their offer, while it's unclear if other teams have or haven't. They have a strong pitch of Machado as the centerpiece playing alongside Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Luis Robert and others for the better part of the next decade. They can offer what no other team can in the opportunity to play alongside Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay, two of Machado's good friends from Miami and, in Alonso's case, his brother-in-law.

Machado supposedly prefers to play for the Yankees, though as Martino reports it's still unlikely there's a match there. Martino has also reported that Machado will take the biggest contract offer out there, and so the waiting could be because his agent thinks he can get a bigger one. Whether the biggest offer ends up coming from the White Sox, the Phillies, the Yankees or the mysterious bidder behind Door No. 4 (during the week, we had some thoughts on who that might be, by the way) remains to be seen.

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