White Sox

White Sox acquire James Shields from Padres

White Sox acquire James Shields from Padres

The White Sox acquired James Shields and more than $30 million in cash from the San Diego Padres on Saturday.

White Sox minor-leaguers Erik Johnson and Fernando Tatis Jr. were included in the deal for the 34-year-old right-hander, who is owed roughly $58 million on his current contract.

The teams have talked since last weekend about a trade for Shields, who is 2-7 with a 4.28 ERA in 11 starts this season. Shields’ ERA sat at 3.06 before his last outing in Seattle earlier this week, when he allowed a career-high 10 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.

“He has a very long track record of durability and consistent performance,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “Our scouts and analysts feel he’s going to provide us with a solid presence in that rotation.

“What we’re hoping for from James is, he’s proven he can be an elite starter in the American League historically, but that’s not what we’re asking of him going forward. The higher quality his performance is going forward, the better. But at the same time, with the way our rotation sets up the next few years, we just needed him to be a nice stabilizing presence in the middle of it.”

Multiple National League scouts believes James would thrive playing for a contending team. One said Shields has been hurt by the Padres’ porous defense.

Shields should fit nicely in the team’s rotation behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. He went 114-90 in nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals, including 14 games en route to an American League pennant in 2014. He has started at least 33 games a season since 2008.

Hahn has made no secret he wants to try and add on to a team that has slumped of late after a very hot start. The White Sox are 6-17 since they won 23 of their first 33 games and sit in third place in the AL Central. One area he hoped to improve is the starting rotation beyond Sale and Quintana. The White Sox continue to have high hopes for Carlos Rodon, but they’re also aware he could have ups and downs throughout his second season. They also need more production from the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. Hahn said Saturday the decision on who is the odd man out of the rotation — Mat Latos or Miguel Gonzalez — hasn’t been determined. He also said when Shields would debut is up in the air. Shields’ next turn in the Padres’ rotation was scheduled to come Sunday.

Hahn also made it clear the White Sox have more needs than just the rotation. But he wanted to move quickly to solve that area and had financial flexibility to take on part of Shields’ contract because of the $11.5 million left after Adam LaRoche’s abrupt retirement freed up $13 million (Miguel Gonzalez received $1.5 million in April).

News of the talks surfaced between the sides last weekend. Part of the difficulty in negotiating the deal is the potential for Shields to walk away at the end of the season and become a free agent because he has an opt out in his contract.

Shields is set to earn $21 million each of the next two seasons — the Padres are on the hook for a large chunk of that — and has a $2 million buyout on his 2019 option. While the free-agent market for pitchers is razor thin next offseason, whether or not Shields, who turns 35 in December, would find a more lucrative offer remains to be seen.

“We had to get to the point of being comfortable from an economic standpoint how he was going to fit in going forward given his projected performance and what we were hoping to be able to surround him with it,” Hahn said. “The scenario first on the talent and then what if he leaves, what if he stays. As always, the talent part takes a lot of work in an exchange and this one was more complicated by economic factor.”

The 2015 International League pitcher of the year, Johnson hasn’t been able to stick in the majors with the White Sox. He had nice auditions with the club in 2013 and 2015, winning six of nine decisions in 11 starts. But Johnson struggled when given a chance to make the rotation in 2014 and hasn’t been able to get on track this season.

The former second-rounder out of Cal, Johnson is 7-6 with a 4.50 ERA in 18 major league starts. He’s 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA in two starts this season.

Tatis, whose father played for five teams and hit 34 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1999, signed an international deal for $700,000 with the White Sox last July.

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.

The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.

Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.

Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.

Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.

Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.

The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.

Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.

He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.