White Sox

Jeff Samardzija: Trayce Thompson needs to be in the lineup


Jeff Samardzija: Trayce Thompson needs to be in the lineup

Trayce Thompson got his strongest endorsement to date on Tuesday night from Jeff Samardzija after he made another catch bound to end up on highlight reels.

Thompson continues to make a strong case for playing time next season when he ended the seventh inning of a 4-2 White Sox victory with an all-out, diving grab in left-center field. Afterward, Samardzija, the benefactor from the game-saving catch, said he thinks Thompson’s glove is so good he deserves considerable playing time next season.

“That guy needs to be in the lineup,” Samardzija said. “I think he's proven here in the last few weeks that he's going to be there and be there for awhile. Dude can hit .050 for all I care. If you put that glove out there in the field, he's going to make plays for you, a lot like that (Lorenzo) Cain guy they have out there in their center field. So, he's got to play.”

[MORE: Jeff Samardzija bests Royals in potential last start for White Sox]

Samardzija said he nearly “blew out giving a fist pump” when Thompson dove and, arm fully stretched, robbed Ben Zobrist of extra bases. The White Sox led 3-2 at the time and Kansas City had the speedy Alcides Escobar on first base with two outs. Adam Eaton had the close-up view of the grab and was equally impressed.

“If that ball gets down or through it’s a tie ballgame,” Eaton said. “For him to do that in that situation it was awesome. Like I said, I don’t know if I’ve seen somebody go all out like he did; that was impressive.”

Thompson’s bat has done much of the talking so far. He has a .295/.357/.552 slash line with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 39 games this season and had another homer robbed by Lorenzo Cain in the second inning.

But he’s known more for his glove and natural ability in the outfield. No matter which field he plays in, Thompson has looked outstanding and is the best defender the team has.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The rookie enjoyed his part in the play and described Samardzija as “happy.”

“All these pitchers have been great to me soit’s nice to help them out,” Thompson said. “Seeing them get pumped up after a catch like that is the most gratifying for me. It was a lot of fun.”

Samardzija described the effort as unbelievable and one of the coolest he has seen in a while because of the ground Thompson covered and the diving effort. He hopes to see a lot more of it next season.

“He's a heck of a player and you want to see guys want to make those plays,” Samardzija said. “You've got to want to be in the top 10 (plays) every night, and that's what it's all about. And he has that.”

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.