White Sox

With trade deadline approaching, White Sox enter Shark Week

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With trade deadline approaching, White Sox enter Shark Week

BOSTON — With his next start looming on Tuesday, the pursuit of Jeff Samardzija remains in full force.

Baseball sources said Monday that the Toronto Blue Jays continue to make the biggest push for Samardzija, who has a 2.55 ERA over his last eight starts and pitched at least seven innings in each of the last nine. The San Francisco Giants have also checked in on Samardzija, though they reportedly have cast a wide net in the search for a No. 2 starter behind Madison Bumgarner.

None of this continued interest makes life any easier for White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, who must determine what direction to take over the next five days.

Samardzija “loves” how the White Sox have played and understands how parity in the American League could play a role in slowing down a decision.

[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox have Jeff Samardzija penciled in for Tuesday]

“Sometimes the record doesn’t totally show the situation of the team, so I’m sure they assess that amongst themselves and go from there,” Samardzija said. “All we can do is show up and play every day. We love how we’ve been playing. ... We need to come in and handle our business, and when the deadline comes down the road, you see where you’re at.”

The White Sox are fresh off their best series of the season, sweeping a four-game series as they finally combined all three facets at once — albeit against a lousy Cleveland Indians team. An offense dormant for most of the season broke out with 24 runs in the first three games of the series as the White Sox earned their first four-game sweep since July 2010. Even though the team is 46-50, they’re only five back from the second wild-card spot, the closest they’ve been in some time.

Still, this is a team that has sent its fans, coaches and the front office on a roller-coaster ride all season. While they very well could win three of their next four games and leave Fenway Park with a 49-51 record, they just as easily could lose three of four as they have proven to be inconsistent all season.

“We are playing our best baseball at the time of the trade deadline, we’re making Rick have a lot more white hair, I’m sure,” leadoff man Adam Eaton said.

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After Saturday’s 10-3 victory, White Sox manager Robin Ventura conceded his team could get back into contention if it played exactly as it had all weekend. But even with the recent offensive revivals of Melky Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez and even Carlos Sanchez, that’s a big if for a team averaging 3.5 runs per game through its first 96 contests.

The White Sox are said to still be contemplating what route to take, but they’ve also been clear all along they don’t intend to sell off future assets for this season.

As if the picture isn’t already difficult enough, Cincinnati landed Brandon Finnegan and two other minor leaguers from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Johnny Cueto on Sunday. Some observers believe the Reds did very well in the deal, though that opinion relies heavily on Finnegan remaining a starting pitcher and not everyone is convinced he will. While Cueto is seen as a having a higher value than Samardzija, the White Sox might still be able to get back a strong return. Over the weekend, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted that the White Sox expect to receive a “significant” haul if they deal Samardzija.

Were they to not trade Samardzija and make a run at the postseason, the White Sox would almost certainly make a qualifying offer this offseason toward the future free agent, which would net them a compensatory draft pick if he went to another team.

Whether they keep him or not, it is believed the White Sox would have strong interest in re-signing Samardzija in free agency.

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.