White Sox

Peavy's flexibility allowed for return to White Sox

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Peavy's flexibility allowed for return to White Sox

The White Sox always wanted to retain Jake Peavy and it only made more sense as the market for free agent pitchers began to take shape. When Peavy showed a strong desire to return, a potential pact became more logical.

Compared with the extended, lucrative deals needed to land Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse this offseason, the two-year, 29 million contract Peavy signed on Tuesday afternoon, just days before he became a free agent, falls directly in line with what the White Sox wanted.

While the club paid a premium price for Peavys next two seasons -- hell make 14.5 million in each and could receive 15 million in 2015 -- they didnt have to overpay to bring in a quality pitcher.

Less than two years after he had potentially career-ending surgery, Peavy showed the White Sox he has plenty left in 2012. The right-hander was 11-12 with a 3.37 ERA in a team-high 219 innings over 32 starts last season and struck out 194 batters.

The length was absolutely key for us, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said on a conference call on Tuesday night. Being able to insulate ourselves against having a long-term deal and the risk involved in any long-term deal, much less with a pitcher, being able to do something on a shorter-term basis had a greater appeal to us. You will see a fairly robust (pitchers market) this offseason -- deals beyond comfortable where we were interested in going. We made a deal and were able to do it on terms we found palatable.

The White Sox can thank Peavy and agent Jeff Barry for their willingness.

Even though Peavy likely would have received a bigger payday on the open market when he became a free agent on Friday, his desire was to return to the White Sox. Therefore, Peavy, who also won the first Rawlings Gold Glove of his career on Tuesday night, did what he could to ensure a return.

I never wanted any games, Peavy said. I was open and upfront about (returning). I certainly did all in my power to return to where Im the happiest.

Hahn and Peavy said contract talks started strong and then cooled off to the point Peavy was concerned he might not return to a club, which acquired him from the San Diego Padres for four pitchers on July 31, 2009.

But talks between the sides gained traction quickly over the last 72 hours, Hahn said.

Part of it was the concession Peavy made to allow the White Sox to pay the 4 million buyout on his 2013 club option from 2016-19. Another aspect is that Peavys 2015 player option kicks in only if he stays healthy and passes certain statistical thresholds, figures Hahn declined to reveal.

(Flexibility) played a huge roll, Hahn said. We got creative.

Peavy said he didnt want the White Sox to hurt their ability to acquire other quality players in order to ensure his return. The team also exercised its 9.5 million option on pitcher Gavin Floyd on Tuesday to bolster its 2013 rotation.

It has to fit for everybody, Peavy said. There has to be give and take from everybody, flexibility. We both gave a little bit on what we both wanted to do. You want to come back on a deal that doesnt hamstring the team.

The final piece to the puzzle is the timing, Hahn noted. Had Peavy gone on the open market, theres no telling what other teams would have offered. The Los Angeles Dodgers, for instance, have a big checkbook a might have opened it to attract the 2007 National League Cy Young winner. With free agency only 72 hours away, Hahn knew the White Sox had to make their move.

Our chances would likely take a serious hit once he got out there, Hahn said. We were aggressive, otherwise we wouldnt have got something done. He knew where he wanted to be and knew it was a fair deal and he was motivated to get something done.

In Astros' dominance, White Sox fans might catch a glimpse of their team's future

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USA TODAY

In Astros' dominance, White Sox fans might catch a glimpse of their team's future

It might end up an ugly week for the White Sox in Houston. But try to find some beauty in what this Astros team looks like. Because it's what the White Sox hope to look like, eventually.

While White Sox fans were likely staring with a frown at Brad Peacock mowing down their team's lineup and at a couple home runs absolutely blasted out of Minute Maid Park in the first of this four-game series Monday night, know that the inverse of that feeling is what the White Sox front office is hoping to deliver in the coming seasons.

The Astros, along with the Cubs on the North Side of Chicago, are the template for what the White Sox are trying to do with their ongoing rebuilding process. Houston experienced some hideous seasons on the way to becoming a perennial contender and a World Series champion in 2017, losing a combined 416 games in four seasons from 2011 to 2014. In 2015, the Astros made their first postseason appearance in a decade. Two years later, they were the world champs, and they remain an annual title contender and are currently the best team in baseball two years after that.

The first part of that should sound familiar, as the White Sox have lost a combined 195 games in the two seasons since this rebuild officially began. Things are better now than they were during last year's 100-loss campaign, but it's expected to be another season of more losses than wins and another season without a playoff berth on the South Side, which would be the franchise's 11th straight to end without a trip to the postseason.

The second half of the Astros rags-to-riches story is yet to come for the White Sox, who are still waiting for young players to develop at both the major league and minor league levels, still waiting for the entire core to assemble in the big leagues. That includes, right now, waiting for certain players to recover from serious injuries. That includes watching growing pains up and down the organization. It's not unexpected for such things to happen in the middle of a rebuild. But when mired in the losing years, they become constant sources of frustration for fans.

Just like no one in Houston looks back fondly on the 100-loss seasons of 2011, 2012 and 2013, it's unlikely South Side baseball fans will look back fondly on these loss-heavy campaigns. But it's part of the process, as maddening as that might be to keep hearing.

Fortunately, there are examples of what the end of the tunnel looks like, and the White Sox are up against one of those examples this week. The Astros are dominating the competition so far this season, their young core of sluggers and a few overpowering starting pitchers fueling the best team in baseball. George Springer and Jose Altuve might have been out of the lineup Monday night, but Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman were still on display. And none of those guys were the ones to blast home runs halfway to Oklahoma off the White Sox on Rick Renteria's otherwise successful bullpen day. Peacock was traded a few times before landing in Houston, and Justin Verlander and Geritt Cole were trade acquisitions, as well. All of those guys have made the Astros a formidable force once again.

The White Sox are likely going to have to make a few outside acquisitions, too, before they can finally reach baseball's mountaintop. General manager Rick Hahn says that's the plan. But the homegrown portion of those rosters of the future could resemble what the Astros have put together in recent seasons. Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins. That's the planned core on the South Side. And Hahn has a number of young pitchers who could make up a fearsome rotation, too, in Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito. There are more names White Sox fans are familiar with who could play big roles, too.

That's a lot of talent, and while White Sox fans might remain skeptical until the wins start coming at an increased rate, the blueprint is there for those pieces to come together and create something special. The blueprint is what's across the field from the White Sox this week in Houston.

The Astros might cause some bad feelings for the White Sox and their fans over the next few nights. But if they look closely, they might catch a glimpse of the White Sox future if this rebuild goes where Hahn & Co. envision it going.

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Eloy Jimenez returns to White Sox a little more than three weeks after spraining ankle

Eloy Jimenez returns to White Sox a little more than three weeks after spraining ankle

Things looked grim when Eloy Jimenez, the White Sox top-ranked prospect and a centerpiece of the South Side rebuilding plans, was down in pain on the warning track.

But a little more than three weeks later, Jimenez is back in the lineup, returned from his stay on the injured list for the start of a four-game series against the Houston Astros.

Jimenez made a leaping attempt to catch a home-run ball in the April 26 game against the Detroit Tigers. In the process, his foot got stuck in the padding of the left-field wall, and the 22-year-old suffered a high ankle sprain. He limped off the field and needed help getting into the dugout and clubhouse. Thoughts of "here we go again" flashed through a fan base that's watched top prospects suffer one significant injury after another in recent seasons.

The White Sox said Jimenez would be reevaluated in a couple weeks, while cursory Google searches revealed recovery times of more than a month for this type of injury.

But Jimenez seems to have healed quickly. He went on a minor league rehab assignment last week, playing in five games with Triple-A Charlotte before being deemed ready to return Monday.

This is phenomenal news for the White Sox and their fans, of course, who in the time Jimenez has been sidelined have seen another key piece go down with Carlos Rodon's Tommy John surgery. Jimenez hasn't got off to the rip-roaring start some predicted — he's slashed .241/.294/.380 with a trio of home runs in his first 21 major league games — but all playing time for the youngster is good playing time as he continues his development in his first big league season. Throw in Jimenez's four-game stay on the bereavement list prior to that game against Detroit, and he's had just one at-bat since April 21.

So maybe expect some rust, and manager Rick Renteria said Jimenez could perhaps be eased back with a game at DH here and there as he continues to work on improving his defense in left field.

Jimenez did go 7-for-22 (a .318 batting average) with a homer and a double in his rehab stint in Charlotte. Now he's back in the major league outfield, a good thing for everyone following along with this rebuild.

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