White Sox

'Little bit of experience' has helped White Sox infielder Tyler Saladino at plate

'Little bit of experience' has helped White Sox infielder Tyler Saladino at plate

DETROIT — The White Sox have long felt Tyler Saladino would be a player who improves with experience. Saladino wholeheartedly agrees with that assessment.

Now in his second season, Saladino looks like a more complete player. In the midst of a hot streak, the White Sox utility man is hitting .265/.302/.409 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 246 plate appearances this season.

The performance is far removed from when Saladino produced a boatload of defensive highlights in his rookie season but only a .602 OPS at the plate.

“At the beginning I didn’t know any of the (pitchers) really, didn’t know what their stuff was like, how they pitch or what I’m doing,” Saladino said with a hearty laugh. “All that stuff kind of plays into just everything. They’re all factors. I have a little more knowledge and the extra at-bats. You kind of know yourself, know what’s going on and kind of slowed things down a little bit. It’s huge.”

Saladino has played nearly every day with Brett Lawrie on the disabled list since July 22. Those consistent at-bats have resulted in one of the hottest stretches of Saladino’s career. Over the last 12 games, Saladino is hitting .326/.354/.522 with three doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in 49 plate appearances. The stretch doesn’t appear to have been propelled by a ton of luck, either; Saladino’s batting average on balls in play over the 12 games is only up a tick to .333 compared with a .310 season average.

Prior to the season, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Saladino has always improved in his second year at a level. Manager Robin Ventura has seen the difference in how Saladino competes at the plate.

“Just the quality of his at-bats have gotten better as the season has gone along and his experience has got him there,” Ventura said. “And everybody is going to see him a second time, have adjustments and do their adjustments on him. But he’s smart and cagey enough that he’s also making adjustments. He understands what guys are trying to do to him. You see him in one series and see him a couple weeks later he has a better idea what they’re trying to do to him and what he might see. And his recall is very good as far as being able to visualize what they’re trying to do to him and get the barrel to it.”

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Saladino said he expected the same. He said his style has always been to make corrections and improve.

“I definitely believed in it,” Saladino said. “That’s kind of how I’ve always been. I may not get it the first time, but I’m going to get it. I’m going to work at it, I’m going to figure it out the second time around or in the future from that first go at it. That’s how it has always been my whole life. If I didn’t get it in the beginning I was going to figure out how to get it done after that. That’s how a long of things go for me.

“A little bit of experience goes a long way.”

Potential White Sox target comes off board as Madison Bumgarner signs with Diamondbacks

Potential White Sox target comes off board as Madison Bumgarner signs with Diamondbacks

Having already lost out on Zack Wheeler, the White Sox can now scratch another free agent pitcher off the list of potential targets.

Sunday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the Diamondbacks are nearing a five-year deal with former Giants star Madison Bumgarner worth $85 million.

The White Sox weren’t heavily rumored to be pursuing Bumgarner and signing him was somewhat unrealistic. Although the South Siders are looking to add a starting pitcher or two this winter, Bumgarner enjoys hitting and therefore seemed more likely to sign with a National League team. The 30-year-old’s career OPS is .532 but he’s hit 19 homers in 11 seasons.

Adding Bumgarner would have provided the South Siders a veteran starter — one with an excellent postseason track record — to mix with their young rotation featuring Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease. With MadBum off the board, the list of major free agent pitchers continues to shrink. 

Lefties Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu are still available, but other teams that missed out on Bumgarner will shift their focus to the duo. Consequently, the White Sox will face stiff competition if they wish to sign either pitcher. Both were expected to be more affordable than Bumgarner but interested teams may be willing to offer more money to ensure they don’t come out of free agency empty-handed.

Where the White Sox turn next is to be determined. What's certain is they're running out of free agent options to upgrade their rotation.

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Indians signal big shift with trade of Corey Kluber

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USA TODAY

Indians signal big shift with trade of Corey Kluber

The Indians have won more than 90 games in each of the past four seasons, with three AL Central titles in that span, but big changes are coming in Cleveland.

With rumors of a Francisco Lindor trade still floating around, the Indians have dealt two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to Texas. The return package from the Rangers includes outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and reliever Emmanuel Clase.


DeShields Jr. is a 27-year-old speedster who has struggled offensively since debuting with the Rangers in 2015. He has a career .668 OPS with a .591 OPS in 2018 and a .672 OPS last season. For comparison, White Sox outfielder Adam Engel had a .614 OPS in 2018 and a .687 OPS in 2019.

Clase is a 21-year-old righthander who debuted with the Rangers last season. He is a hard-thrower, capable of reaching 102 mph with his fastball while also getting cut action on it. Clase had a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings in the majors in 2019. Still, he is only rated as the No. 30 prospect in the Rangers’ system by MLB Pipeline.

The Kluber trade is relevant to the White Sox because it’s a division power trading away a key player for younger, less established talent. It also shows the price to pay for a noteworthy pitcher in a trade.

If the White Sox fail to land a marquee starting pitcher in free agency, a trade is the next route.

The Kluber deal may have implications for the Cubs as well. Texas appears to be intent on competing with the Astros, A's and Angels in the AL West. The Rangers have been linked to free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, and if he winds up in Texas, that would clarify possible trade partners for Kris Bryant.

Back in the AL Central, Kluber was a stud for the Indians from 2014-2018. He surpassed 200 innings each of those seasons and had a 2.85 ERA in that five-year period.

Last season, however, Kluber was limited to 35.2 innings in seven starts after getting hit by a line drive on May 1, which fractured his right arm. Even before the injury, the 33-year-old righthander struggled with a 5.80 ERA and the highest walk rate of his career (15 in 35.2 innings).

The Indians didn’t win the AL Central last season, but the fact that they won 93 games with only seven mostly ineffective starts from Kluber is a sign that he may not be as essential as he was in previous years.

Perhaps the return for Kluber is more a sign of a lack of belief in him after a tough 2019, but this level of package is something the White Sox could put together without trading a core piece of the future.

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