White Sox

Sox Drawer: Free Agents, Anyone?

69536.jpg

Sox Drawer: Free Agents, Anyone?

Friday, November 20

Baseballs free-agent market opened for business at 11 p.m. on Thursday night. All of the free agents you want (and can afford) are there on the shelves. Jason Bay, John Lackey, Matt Holliday, Chone Figgins, Jermaine Dye, etc.

But as I write this 12 hours later, it hasnt exactly been a Black Friday Thanksgiving stampede of general managers ramming themselves through the front door of the Baseball Free Agent Store, shelling out wads of cash for John Q. Overpriced Center Fielder or the Scott Boras Overhyped Client of the Week.

At least not yet.

Maybe its a sign of the times. Maybe teams (other than the Yankees and Red Sox) are choosing to sit on the sidelines with the hopebelief that many of these players will be left unsold after the holidays, and they can hunt for bargains when the players end up at the Lighthouse Outlet mall in Michigan City, Ind., come January.

As for the White Sox, they are gradually plotting their course for next season, and putting a priority on defense.

Thank goodness.

Ken Rosenthal reported Friday morning that the Sox are close to signing a one-year deal with 11-time Gold Glove shortstop Omar Vizquel to be a three-tentacle utility infielder, playing shortstop, second base and third base. Yes, Omar is old. Hell turn 43 in April.

But he is still in great shape. He didnt make a single error in 62 games last year with the Rangers. Think Juan Uribe without the strikeouts and large booty.

What do Sox fans think about Vizquel? Heres what some of you sent back to me on Twitter:

OneOfTheMikes@ChuckGarfien: I like the defense and versatility it provides, and its hard to be as bad as Lillibridge was with the bat. So yeah, thumbs up

Kaufmak@ChuckGarfien: Vizquel is getting long in the tooth, but still plays a solid SS and I'm guessing BA is in the high 200s. Me likey.

Lawry29@ChuckGarfien: Love it ... amazing defense

discodan42@ChuckGarfien: No. Isn't he collecting social security?

mukite@ChuckGarfien: Can Omar play manager instead and have Ozzie be shortstop when needed?

Good stuff. And for the record, Vizquel batted .266 last season with a .316 on-base percentage. He even hit a home run. His last Gold Glove came in 2006.

In other news, the White Sox are still looking for someone to play right field. They bought out Jermaine Dyes contract two weeks ago. The Sox could bring him back at a lesser price. Thoughts?

ChiSoxExaminer@ChuckGarfien: as a DH maybe, as a RF no. But JD says he only wants to play RF ... so no.

OneOfTheMikes@ChuckGarfien: Thanks for the memories Jermaine, but your .184 second half bought you a one-way ticket out of Chicago.

pirate_prentice@ChuckGarfien: Time to move on. I love Jermaine, but I don't think he fits into what the Sox need to do.

Not much love for Jermaine.

Yesterday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Yankees are quietly shopping former Sox outfielder Nick Swisher. So soon? A Yankees official said today that the report is untrue, but before he did, I got this reaction via Twitter:

bengarmoe@ChuckGarfien: I only want Swisher if we can get Erstad, Anderson and Mackowiak for an an outfield all-decade bust team.

EversoleJ@ChuckGarfien: How could someone not like his childish behavor? Oh yes, this is professional sports, not the Alpha Beta Phi House.

ryanwallace@ChuckGarfien: Surprise, surprise! Tell them they can have Jeff Marquez, but Jhonny Nunez is untouchable.

joelshoe@ChuckGarfien: We should try to get Wilson Betemit back, and re-acquire Swisher for Betemit. Joking, but he would fit well at DH, I think.

KimmyisAwesome@ChuckGarfien: to quote Journey, I would welcome @NickSwisher with "Open Arms.

I dont think Ozzie would.

And finally, fill in the blank: On Opening Day, the White Sox leadoff hitter will be________

TiffanyHeyy@chuckgarfien: SCOTT PODSEDNIK

Princesss919@ChuckGarfien: Scotty Pods (I hope)

OneOfTheMikes@ChuckGarfien: Johnny Damon

SoxMachine@ChuckGarfien: Lousy.

Nicholas Castellanos or Marcell Ozuna: Who's the better fit for White Sox?

Nicholas Castellanos or Marcell Ozuna: Who's the better fit for White Sox?

SAN DIEGO — The White Sox are searching for a new right fielder, but it might end up as more of an excuse to add a big bat to the middle of their lineup.

They’re reportedly interested in both Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna, the top two names on the free-agent outfield market, neither of which comes with a stellar defensive reputation. But they can both swing it, and that’s what the White Sox could be making a priority.

“I think the key thing right now for the Sox is the one more bat they want to get,” MLB.com’s Jon Morosi said on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “They’ve already got (Yasmani) Grandal in house, but they’re very much involved on Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna, as well.

“I think, at this point in time, they’ve got a pretty good chance to land one or the other. It’s hard to say, percentage wise, at this point in time, but they’re very much involved in both those conversations and I think assessing a pretty high priority there.”

A rumor out of the Dominican Republic that Ozuna signing with the White Sox was imminent got a good debunking over the weekend, and the White Sox surprise at the report was still lingering as the Winter Meetings started Monday.


But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. Still, he might not be the best fit of the two.

“I would think that Castellanos, between the two, has a better chance to be a fit with the White Sox,” Morosi said. “He knows the ballpark, knows the division. I think he loved playing in Chicago for the Cubs.

“Castellanos has really found something, I believe, in his approach. … He came up to the major leagues at such a young age on a veteran-laden team with (Miguel) Cabrera and (Prince) Fielder and so many big names there at the time with the Tigers, Victor Martinez. And it took him some time to find his way. He has done that. And I think with the Cubs, his approach was really good.”

The White Sox are rather familiar with what Castellanos can do. He shredded South Side pitching in recent seasons with the division-rival Tigers. In 2017, he slashed .303/.387/.561 with four homers, five doubles and 11 RBIs in 17 games against the White Sox. In 2018, he slashed .363/.414/.625 with five homers, six doubles and 20 RBIs in 19 games. In 2019, he slashed .389/.410/.722 with two homers, six doubles and eight RBIs in only eight games.

As Morosi mentioned, Castellanos obviously had something working after a midseason trade to the Cubs, slashing .321/.356/.646 with 16 home runs and 21 doubles in 51 games for the North Siders. He ended up leading the majors with 58 doubles.

Of course, Castellanos’ defensive reputation is not good, something backed up by the numbers: He had minus-nine Defensive Runs Saved in 2019. Observers say he’s not quite as bad as those statistics would make it seem. But to combine him with a work-in-progress Eloy Jimenez in left ahead of Luis Robert’s rookie season in center field would be a less-than-ideal situation from a defensive standpoint.

Ozuna had two DRS in 2019, though he got them as a left fielder, where he exclusively played in his two years with the St. Louis Cardinals. His reputation as a defender there was not super strong, either, particularly when it comes to his throwing arm, affected by an injured shoulder during his stint with the Redbirds.

So neither, potentially, would provide as much defensive value as someone, for example, like Joc Pederson, who the White Sox have been linked to in trade rumors for the second straight winter. But with interest in both Castellanos and Ozuna, the White Sox are potentially throwing defensive preference out the window in favor of the offensive upgrades they could provide.

Ozuna is not long removed from a sensational 2017 campaign with the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Those numbers fell to Earth a little bit after the trade to St. Louis, where he hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs over the last two seasons. Of note, new White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino was Ozuna’s hitting coach in Miami.

The longer the White Sox are tied to these two, the longer it will appear that offense is the priority, and there’s nothing wrong with that after the team ranked near the bottom of the game in plenty of different categories in 2019. Robert and Nick Madrigal should provide offensive boosts when they arrive at the big league level, as should the new guy Grandal. But a good way to boost things right away would be to add another sizable bat from outside the organization, and the only positions to do that are right field and DH — and we still don’t know, after the Grandal signing, whether the White Sox even consider DH a need anymore.

Sacrificing defense? It might have to happen for the White Sox to build a fearsome lineup. We’ll see.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Stephen Strasburg returns to Nationals and begins domino effect in free-agent market

Stephen Strasburg returns to Nationals and begins domino effect in free-agent market

Stephen Strasburg returning to the Washington Nationals was something that had been somewhat expected heading into free agency, but now we have a number to put on it.

According to multiple reports, the 2019 World Series MVP is staying in the nation’s capital on a seven-year, $245 million contract.


That number, $35 million per year, is the highest average annual value for a pitcher in league history. Beyond taking one of the two elite free-agent pitchers off the market, it now gives a number for Gerrit Cole, the other elite free-agent pitcher, to base his upcoming contract off of.

Currently, Cole is being most heavily connected to the Yankees and Angels. Strasburg returning to the Nationals takes the backup plan off the board for those teams. Does that increase the urgency from those teams and hasten negotiations?


How much money does Cole get? He is two years younger than Strasburg so getting an eight-year deal isn’t out of the question. He’s also better than Strasburg so he will be expecting more money per year. 


The next piece of fallout from Strasburg’s deal is what this means for Anthony Rendon. Rendon was the other marquee Nationals free agent and word from Nationals owner Mark Lerner was that the Nationals wouldn’t be able to keep both Strasburg and Rendon.

If that’s accurate, that means Rendon is headed elsewhere. Do the White Sox have a shot at him? There isn’t much out there to say the answer to that is yes right now, but any time the incumbent team appears to be out of the running there’s a shot something surprising happens.

Rendon’s connection to the White Sox is tenuous at the moment, but the South Siders have been more tied to other available pitchers like Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu. With Strasburg off the board and Cole potentially signing soon, things could move quickly for the other available pitchers.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.