White Sox

Offense goes cold as Sox shut out by Royals

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Offense goes cold as Sox shut out by Royals

CHICAGO -- Luke Hochevar allowed three hits in seven shutout innings Saturday night and the Kansas City Royals scored three first-inning runs off Chris Sale to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-0.Hochevar (3-3) cruised as the White Sox mustered only one real scoring threat against him all night. That came in the second on a walk and single by Alex Rios before Alexei Ramirez hit into a double play.Hochevar walked one and struck out five, and his strong effort came after two rough outings against Detroit and New York Yankees when he surrendered a total of 19 hits and 16 runs in 6 1-3 innings. Greg Holland pitched the eighth and Aaron Crow walked two in the ninth before completing the shutout.Sale (3-2), returning to the rotation after a one-appearance stint in the bullpen with a sore elbow, made his first start since May 1 and lasted five innings. The Royals sent nine batters to the plate in the first with Sale's early wildness a major factor and an error on second baseman Gordon Beckham also hurting the White Sox.Sale's first seven pitches were balls and he walked the first two batters before giving up a single to Alex Gordon that loaded the bases. Billy Butler then drove a ball into the right field corner, but when baserunner Johnny Giavotella didn't get a good break off second, just one run scored and the bases remained full.When Jeff Francoeur grounded to Beckham on a perfect double-play ball, Beckham touched second and threw wildly past first for an error and two runs scored for the Royals. An infield single by Eric Hosmer and bloop single by Irvin Falu re-loaded the bases before Sale escaped after throwing 42 pitches in the opening inning.Sale then settled down and retired nine straight at one point. He gave up seven hits and the three runs during his 103-pitch outing with two walks and three strikeouts.Alcides Escobar delivered a two-out RBI double in the eighth for Kansas City and scored on a single by Humberto Quintero.Notes:
The start of the game was delayed 56 minutes by rain. ... The teams reversed scores from Friday night's opener when the White Sox won 5-0. ... Royals reinstated right-handed reliever Greg Holland (rib cage) from the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-hander Nate Adcock to Triple-A Omaha. K.C. also signed veteran left-hander Doug Davis to a minor league deal. ... Chicago 3B Brent Morel, bothered by disc problem in his back, returned to the lineup after missing two games.

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals

Age: 29

2019 salary: $12,250,000

2019 stats: .241 BA, .328 OBP, .472 SLG, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 80 R, 12/14 SB 

What Ozuna would bring to the White Sox

Ozuna appeared on the verge of becoming an elite star like Anthony Rendon after a breakout season in 2017 with the Marlins. Ozuna came up at 22 and had decent years early in his career. He improved upon his first few years with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS as a 26-year-old.

Unlike Rendon, who broke through in 2017 and has sustained that for three seasons now, Ozuna's breakout year appears to be more of a flash in the pan. Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals before the 2018 season and saw a dropoff in his production.

His power and walk rate took big dips in 2018, although he bounced back in both last season. However, he hit .241, which was the lowest batting average of his career.

Ozuna had a career-high walk rate (11.3%) and had the second-best extra-base hit and home run rates of his career (he was only better in those areas in 2017). His strikeout rate (20.8%) was in line with his career average. So what went wrong? His batting average of balls in play was a career-worst .257, which suggests that maybe he's due for some form of bounce back in 2020 as far as batting average.

To simplify all that, Ozuna was good in some areas and inexplicably poor (and maybe unlucky) in others. Does that mean he will return to his big 2017 year wherever he signs? Probably not, but it does help to alleviate some of the feeling of risk for a player who has been inconsistent in his career.

Defensively, Ozuna has a Gold Glove on his resume from 2017, but the stats say he's just an average fielder. Not to mention, he's become infamous for this fielding gaffe.


What it would take to get him

He's young with a mostly positive track record offensively and if he can recreate his 2017 season offensively, he's an all-star outfielder. He won't be cheap, but he has enough question marks to come up just short of $20 million per year.

Ozuna should be able to get four or five years in the mid-to-upper teens per year, similar to fellow outfield free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

Why it's a fit for the White Sox

The White Sox need a corner outfielder. He fills a position of need, adds depth, patience and power to the lineup and won't be a liability in the field.

Ozuna isn't the splashiest signing the White Sox could make, but it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

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