White Sox

Out of action since last July, Brett Lawrie released by White Sox

Out of action since last July, Brett Lawrie released by White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Brett Lawrie is no longer a member of the White Sox.

The team requested waivers on the second baseman Friday morning for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release.

Lawrie, who signed a one-year deal for $3.5 million in December, hasn't played this spring as he continues to deal with a series of health issues that dates back to last season. Acquired from the Oakland A's the previous offseason, Lawrie last played for the White Sox on July 21 when he sustained a left leg injury.

Neither Lawrie or the team could find the cause of the malady for the remainder of the season, which left him frustrated. Lawrie — who hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs in 384 plate appearances last season — tweeted in the offseason that he believed an injury Robin Ventura accurately described as "tricky" was caused by the use of orthotics. Until he informed the team last Friday that he didn't feel quite right, Lawrie believed he was on the mend and had been happy with the progress he's made this spring. Both he and manager Rick Renteria said that Lawrie had participated at full speed in all of the team's workouts.

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"I haven't really gone backwards, and that's been key for me," Lawrie said on Saturday. "I guess the biggest thing is being able to trust myself when I get out on the field and not have to worry about my body and just worry about the game. If I can't do that then I'm not going to go out there and do that. So once I can clear that stuff up, and it's in the near future.

"I just need to keep being positive and keep putting the work in every single day and I'll be OK."

The move eventually opens the door for top prospect Yoan Moncada, who is expected to start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. In the interim, the White Sox are likely to give the bulk of time to Tyler Saladino and Yolmer Sanchez. Saladino hit .282/.315/.409 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 319 plate appearances. He was even better when he played in the everyday starting lineup, hitting .301/.332/.409 from July 20 to September 21.

"I'm not too concerned about it, to be honest," Renteria said Thursday when asked about Lawrie's injury. "It's a situation where we do have coverage."

For White Sox, offseason expectations mean little without results: 'They want to see the baby'

For White Sox, offseason expectations mean little without results: 'They want to see the baby'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The time for talk is over.

So of course, Rick Hahn spent 45 minutes talking about the White Sox approach to this important offseason Tuesday afternoon at the GM meetings.

His message, among others, had to do with all the talk that goes on this time of year and that no one really cares about it. Certainly that’s the way things seem to be playing out in the White Sox fan base. After last offseason, when there was a new update every couple of minutes on where Manny Machado was leaning in his free-agent search for a new home, White Sox fans are understandably a little tired of that process.

So forget the process. Bring on the results.

“It's my experience that people aren't too interested in hearing about the labor, they want to see the baby,” Hahn said. “So if we wind up converting on any of these potential free-agent targets or via trade, then we will happily go into great detail about how it came to be. But until we have an actual closed deal to talk about, not too much to say along those lines.”

Of course, the White Sox opting not to discuss their individual free-agent pursuits and fans getting tired of hearing about them via one report after another isn’t going to stop the avalanche of rumors that will slide through the next few months. It’s speculation season, after all, and that’s how the hot stove rolls.

And on cue, there were the White Sox, linked to Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler in early free-agent rumors. Yasmani Grandal and Nicholas Castellanos and Madison Bumgarner all seem like fits, so why not discuss?

But there’s a valid argument to be made that none of that matters. What matters is that the White Sox get one of them, any of them. Call it the scar that healed over the wound from last spring, when Machado picked a decade-long deal with the San Diego Padres. The White Sox, meanwhile, got a pretty crummy consolation prize: more fuel added to a difficult-to-shake reputation that they’re unwilling or unable to land the game’s biggest names.

While the Machado result still colors the fan base’s thoughts on everything, it hasn’t changed the thinking inside the White Sox front office. They plan to remain aggressive and remain adamant that the South Side is an enticing destination.

And don’t worry, Hahn knows it’s on him to prove it.

“We've shown a willingness to be aggressive at the top of the market,” he said. “No, it didn't work (with Machado), and yes, that hurt. But that certainly isn't going to change our approach in trying to attract premium talent to the ball club. That's not going to change.

“Part of what we were trying to do and what we were trying to make clear was that the eye level has changed around here, meaning that we are a logical destination for premium talent. Players want to come play for us, play for the White Sox, play on the South Side, play for (manager Rick Renteria) and be part of what we're building. And if last year we announced that perhaps a little too loudly, it was in part a response to the general narrative that we weren't legitimate players for such talent.

“I think the message has already been delivered that we are a true destination for such talent, and now it's incumbent upon us to convert on some along the way.”

As long as they’ve been rebuilding, the White Sox have had plans to add some of that premium talent from outside the organization, to complement an exciting young core with the kind of “finishing piece” that would get them over the top.

Fans are clamoring to finally get to celebrate such an addition, and it’s making for a high bar to clear. An offseason “win” is hard to pin down, but there’s no shortage of suggestions that the White Sox winter will be a bust without multiple top free agents joining the fold.

Hahn doesn’t really care about winning the offseason.

“We've won the offseason before. We've taken home the offseason championship belt a few times. So it really doesn't do a whole lot of good if those guys don’t perform in July,” he said. “We want people to be excited, just as they were in previous offseasons where we added some names, where people were really fired up at SoxFest, the expectations were high. That's great. Hopefully that happens again this winter.

“In reality, none of that matters come September if we're not in the thick of things.”

That’s the truth. But the White Sox won’t be able to do either — win the offseason or win the World Series — without converting on some kind of target somewhere along the line. Once they do, it can really start to be winning time on the South Side.

Wisely, Hahn has shied away from setting any expectations for 2020 until he knows what his roster looks like. Renteria and his players inside the White Sox clubhouse have been a little less cautious. But neither party is wrong. The White Sox have the possibility to be a contender next season. They also have the possibility to be in a more wait-and-see state come spring training.

We won’t know which is more likely until the front office starts popping out babies.

"Certainly the goal is (to win in 2020). But let's wait to see what we're able to put together this offseason until we start coming up with projected win totals,” Hahn said. “But we're certainly not ruling out the possibility that this all comes together in a big way next season."

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Eloy Jimenez hammers home White Sox need for outside fix: 'I don't feel comfortable playing DH'

Eloy Jimenez hammers home White Sox need for outside fix: 'I don't feel comfortable playing DH'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Eloy Jimenez has said it before, but in case you needed a reminder, he's got one for you.

“I don’t feel comfortable playing DH,” he said in an interview with MLB.com's Jon Morosi on Monday. “I like playing the outfield. I don’t care if it’s right field or left field, but I feel comfortable in the outfield. I don’t like being the DH. For me, it’s boring.

“Maybe one time in my career — when I’m 35 or 37 — I can DH. But not now.”

So that suggestion that the White Sox can plug their hole at designated hitter with Jimenez? Forget about it.

That never really seemed like it was going to happen, anyway, despite a defensive performance in left field during the 2019 season that sparked questions of where Jimenez's long-term future will be. Manager Rick Renteria went as far as saying that he believed the White Sox wouldn't be doing what was best for the young slugger if the team moved him to a full-time DH role so early in his career.

"He's too young for me to view him as a DH, to be honest,” Renteria said in August. “And I think he's shown so much improvement in the outfield that it would be, I think, derelict on my part and on our part as an organization to limit the ability for him to play on both sides of the baseball.

“He's an extremely hard worker, he's very conscientious, he's been going through a lot of the things that we need him to go through. He sincerely has improved out there a lot. And so we want to see if we can maximize his ability to do everything he can as a Major League Baseball player.

“And then time will tell us. If that ends up ultimately being his lot — I don't foresee that. But if that ultimately becomes his lot, that becomes his lot. But I think right now we're going to continue to use him on both sides of the baseball, for sure.”

Indeed, Jimenez looked like a defensive work in progress in left field during his rookie season. He had plenty of less-than-graceful plays, communication errors, minus-11 Defensive Runs Saved and a couple of trips to the injured list sparked by miscues in left field. But Jimenez views himself as an all-around player, as do the White Sox, and he obviously has plenty of time to develop into just that. He's already got the power down, with 31 homers as a rookie.

His comments to Morosi hammer home the need for the White Sox to look outside their own roster to fill that hole at designated hitter, where they got some of the worst production in the American League last season. Jimenez harbors the same opinion toward the position that Jose Abreu does, the free-agent first baseman who's still expected to re-sign with the White Sox saying numerous times how much he dislikes DH-ing. Zack Collins might find the job more palatable, and the White Sox are looking for ways to get his bat in the lineup more often. But he remains a bit of a mystery from a production standpoint and wouldn't figure to line up for a shot at an everyday job at this very early stage of his career.

J.D. Martinez deciding to stay in Boston and stay away from this winter's free-agent market took the perfect solution off the board. But that market or the trade market — one that could still include the possibility of Martinez coming to the South Side — still seem the best way for Rick Hahn's front office to find a fix.

One thing's looks to be certain: Jimenez isn't signing up for everyday DH duty any time soon.

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