White Sox

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts could challenge Adam Eaton for Gold Glove award

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts could challenge Adam Eaton for Gold Glove award

Adam Eaton added another highlight reel catch on Wednesday night to a campaign full of fantastic plays.

When the Rawlings Gold Glove finalists are named next month, Eaton is expected to be among them for the second time in three seasons. But as outstanding as the White Sox outfielder has been, he’s also sure to face a strong challenge from Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts. With 2 1/2 weeks to go, Eaton and Betts appear to be in a tightly-contested race for the award. One factor that could disrupt Eaton’s chances — besides the fact that Betts is having an MVP-type season at the plate — is that the White Sox outfielder has 336 fewer innings in right field headed into Thursday.

“We’ve had to use him in center out of necessity,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “But in right field, I haven’t seen anybody that’s better than him this year.”

The numbers are close depending upon your defensive metric of choice. Eaton — who because of Austin Jackson’s injury has logged 344 1/3 innings in center field and 902 1/3 in right — holds a 24.0 to 16.8 edge over Betts (1,208 innings in right) in Ultimate Zone Rating in right field, according to fangraphs.com.

He also holds an edge in assists, with 15 of his 18 coming when he plays in right field. Betts has 13 assists. And Eaton leads in UZR/150 22.9 to 18.9.

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One area where Betts has a big lead is in Defensive Runs Saved as he’s produced a major-league leading 29. Eaton has 23.

Eaton feels good about his candidacy.

“Across the board it's been relatively good,” Eaton said. “Yeah, you take a lot of pride in that. We all talk in spring training about wanting to win a Gold Glove. It's always been on my list to win. I take a lot of pride in that. You work your butt off to be in a position to hopefully be in the top three and want to win every year. It takes effort and focus and some good luck and some great teammates.”

A finalist as a center fielder in 2014, Eaton has been superb in right field since he made the switch earlier this season. His routes have been smooth and his arm is not only strong, it’s extremely accurate. Eaton said the addition of Jackson in center allowed him to go out and play the outfield freely.

“When he’s in right, he just gets better jumps,” Ventura said. “I think it just suits his eye better, reading balls off the bat. Throws are better. He just seems to be online. You never know why a guy has comfort in that. But he is remarkably better in right.”

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


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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