White Sox

Still in Chicago, Jeff Samardzija sees White Sox as contenders

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Still in Chicago, Jeff Samardzija sees White Sox as contenders

After weeks of speculation that a Jeff Samardzija trade was inevitable, the 30-year-old right-hander is still here at U.S. Cellular Field, readying himself to start for the White Sox on Sunday against the Yankees.

Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline passed with the White Sox standing pat, choosing to hang on to Samardzija and continue a playoff push that gained legitimacy after a seven-game winning streak last month. Samardzija said he’s relieved to not have to uproot himself from Chicago for the second straight year and isn’t disappointed to currently be playing for a team that’s over .500 and closer to a playoff spot.

“I think we’ve always thought of ourselves as contenders,” Samardzija said. “I think we just need to go out and do what we’re capable of doing and that’ll take care of most of it. I love this team and think we have a great group of guys and we just need to keep playing like we’ve been playing.”

[MORE: White Sox place J.B. Shuck on DL, recall Scott Carroll for now]

Entering Saturday, the White Sox owned a 49-52 record and were three and and a half games behind a Minnesota Twins team that appears to be fading fast for the second American League wild card spot. But as winners of seven of their last 10 games, the White Sox went from probable sellers to possible buyers at the deadline, and instead of flipping their biggest trade chip for a few minor leaguers decided to keep Samardzija for a playoff push.

A year ago, the Cubs were clear sellers and shipped Samardzija to Oakland in a blockbuster deal that landed them top infield prospect Addison Russell. The A’s wound up blowing their lead in the AL West and Samardzija didn’t appear in a Wild Card playoff loss to Kansas City, leaving him with only one postseason appearance in his career (one inning of relief for the Cubs in the 2008 National League Division Series).

The White Sox are hardly guaranteed to make the playoffs this year, but manager Robin Ventura said he hasn’t seen Samardzija sulk over not going to a club that looks like a lock to play deep into October.

“I think if he doesn’t like his team there could be disappointment, but I haven’t sensed any disappointment from him,” Ventura said. “Even when he was pitching in Boston he was all for it and going. I haven’t seen any change from him being disappointed. He likes being here, he’s a competitor and I have no doubts or anything of sending him out there that he’s not going to be giving his best effort or committed to this.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Samardzija, a free agent after this season, won’t entertain any thoughts of his next move until he’s done playing this year. But the distractions that come with trade rumors are gone, and Samardzija said he’s relieved to get past the deadline and stick around Chicago instead of uprooting his life for two or three months.

“Yeah, it’s nice to not have to get all that help from my wife picking up and moving (to) a house here and there,” Samardzija said. “All the things that go with it, it’s tough. It’s definitely a big adjustment when you get traded. It’s nice to be able to take a deep breath and really get back to concentrating on that five-day routine and getting ready to pitch again.”

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.

He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.

Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.

It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.

Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.

The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.

The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.

Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.

Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.

Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.

However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.

But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.