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.

MLB proposing colossal changes to minor leagues, including eliminating dozens of teams


MLB proposing colossal changes to minor leagues, including eliminating dozens of teams

If Major League Baseball gets its way, there could be seismic changes coming to the minor leagues.

According to a report from Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, the league has proposed a host of sweeping changes to the minor leagues, including the elimination of 42 affiliated teams.

The proposal is merely the beginning of what are expected to be lengthy negotiations over a new version of what’s called the “Professional Baseball Agreement,” basically the contract that keeps the major and minor leagues connected and minor league teams stocked with players employed by major league clubs. The existing edition expires at the end of the 2020 season, and so a new one will need to be hashed out.

Major League Baseball is looking for control over how the minor leagues are organized, with an eye on improving facilities and clustering affiliates and leagues from a geographic standpoint to cut down on travel costs. There’s also expected to be an increase in salaries for minor league players, which has long been a talking point thanks to the increasing number of descriptions of how financially difficult life can be for those trying to reach the majors.

To accomplish those goals, Major League Baseball is proposing drastic solutions.

The one that will grab the most attention is the elimination of more than a quarter of the existing affiliated teams in the minor leagues, removing affiliated minor league teams from more than three dozen cities across the United States and getting rid of more than 1,000 jobs for minor league players. Simply, the entire short-season rookie ball (excluding squads that play at team-owned facilities in Arizona and Florida) would be eliminated, leaving only four levels of affiliated teams: Low Class A, High Class A, Double-A and Triple-A.

If you’re wondering what would happen to those 42 teams, the proposal is for them to form something called a “Dream League,” which would essentially serve the same purpose as an independent league, allowing players without jobs to keep playing and try to get a job with a major league team.

Additionally, Major League Baseball is proposing radical restructuring of existing leagues in order to cluster teams closer together. That could include changing the level of certain teams, such as making a Class A team a Triple-A team based on the quality of facilities and what makes the most geographic sense. Leagues could also gain or lose a large number of teams, with the Triple-A International League growing to 20 teams and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League shrinking to just 10 teams. One Class A league was described as being reduced to just six teams, while the rest of its current teams would be put into a brand-new league.

As for how the White Sox and their affiliates would be affected, team-specific information was not included in the report. One read of the details of this proposal could see something such as the White Sox affiliates being relocated to Midwestern cities. Another, however, could see the White Sox affiliates mostly staying how they currently are, given those teams are all geographically close to one another, with all but one located in North Carolina.

Buried in all of this is another big change, a proposed move of the draft from June to August, giving players a couple more months to show off for major league teams, and a reduction in the number of rounds from the current 40 to somewhere between 20 and 25. That, and the elimination of short-season rookie ball, would likely prevent draftees from playing minor league baseball in the same year they’re drafted.

It’s all something to keep an eye on, for sure, as many fans across the country who closely follow minor league teams in their hometowns could experience a dramatic shakeup.

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.

State of the White Sox: Manager and coaching staff

State of the White Sox: Manager and coaching staff

Previous: Relief pitching Starting pitching | Designated hitter | Right field | Center field | Left field | Catcher | Shortstop Third base  Second base | First base

The 2019 season is over, and the White Sox — who have been focusing on the future for quite some time now — are faced with an important offseason, one that could set up a 2020 campaign with hopes of playoff contention.

With the postseason in swing and a little bit still before the hot stove starts cooking, let’s take a position-by-position look at where the White Sox stand, what they’re looking to accomplish this winter and what we expect to see in 2020 and beyond.

We’re wrapping things up with the manager and the coaching staff.

What happened in 2019

While it’s easy to cruise through the statistical production of players and determine just how well they performed in 2019, that’s a little more difficult when it comes to manager Rick Renteria and his coaching staff.

In the end, managers and coaches are evaluated on win-loss record — or at least how close they came to meeting the expectations in that department. While the White Sox are a gruesome 83 games under .500 in Renteria’s three years at the helm, that’s not really falling outside the expectations he had when he took over a rebuilding club. So it’s pretty hard to argue that because the White Sox lost 89 games in 2019, Renteria did a poor job.

Truly, his performance as a manager can’t be determined until he’s managing a team with expectations of winning. Renteria more than anyone has been the one setting such expectations for 2020, spending much of the waning weeks of the 2019 campaign voicing his opinion that all this losing stops next season.

“I’m expecting that this is it,” Renteria said. “We’re trying to win. We talk about it, we’re going through it. I know there’s still some refining to do, but I’ll be honest with you, we’re coming in, we’re finishing this season, we’re talking about coming into next season ready to battle. Period. Exclamation point. That’s what we’re looking to do.”

Renteria and his staff did plenty in 2019 to continue developing the team’s young players into the core of the future. But the skipper's most memorable on-field moment came in September, when even after he stopped making mound visits because of shoulder surgery, he went out to the mound and had an animated conversation with Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez made a habit of following up stellar performances with ugly ones, lacking consistency in a fashion that made even the optimistic Renteria throw up his hands at times. Renteria utilized that frustration on the mound in Detroit in an attempt to get some points across to the pitcher.

When it comes to Renteria’s staff, certainly they deserve some credit for some of the breakout seasons on the roster. Hitting coach Todd Steverson did offseason work with both Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson ahead of 2019 campaigns that saw them transform into the best all-around hitter on the team and the big league batting champ, respectively. Pitching coach Don Cooper helped oversee Lucas Giolito’s transformation into an All Star. Infield coach Joe McEwing worked with Moncada, who made a smooth transition from second base to third base.

But if the coaches earn some of the credit for the things that went right, they must also be mentioned alongside the things that went wrong. Steverson coached an offense that ranked near the bottom of the game in most categories. Cooper coached a starting rotation that finished the season with a 5.30 ERA. McEwing coached Anderson, who committed a major league high 26 errors.

None of that is to say those guys are wholly responsible for those negative outcomes. Just as the players have to be the ones to turn in the good results, they’re the ones who have to turn in the poor ones, as well. Steverson, however, along with assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks, will not be back for the 2020 season.

What will happen this offseason

The White Sox have already made their coaching moves this offseason, parting ways with Steverson and Sparks and replacing Steverson with Frank Menechino, who after several seasons on the Miami Marlins staff took over as the hitting coach at Triple-A Charlotte in 2019.

Menechino impressed the White Sox with his work there, spent September with the big league club and was quickly promoted once the season was over. At Charlotte, he worked with top-ranked prospects Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, who both had fantastic seasons playing at three different minor league levels and figure to be everyday players for most of the 2020 season.

The change, in the end, seemed to be more about how the White Sox felt about what Menechino could bring to the table than a reaction to the offensive production from a team that didn’t have expectations of doing much more than it did during another rebuilding season.

General manager Rick Hahn announced that the rest of the staff will be back in 2020.

What to expect for 2020 and beyond

There will be a change in the expectations game come 2020. That should be mostly because of the breakout 2019 seasons from so many young players, the pending arrival of Robert and Madrigal and the offseason additions anticipated to be made by Hahn’s front office. But if nothing else, the expectations, when it comes to Renteria, will be different because he’s already said they will be.

“I'm not going to make any bones about it, it's time to turn the page,” he said just last week, “it's time to get us to another level of performance. That goes across the board, it goes with all aspects of our game.”

And so judging him and his staff can reach another level, too, because it will no longer solely be about hard-to-define development but the cold, hard wins and losses. Plenty of fans have taken to Twitter and complained about Renteria during this losing stretch, suggesting he’s not the one to manage this team into a winning era, but those were conclusions that cannot be drawn considering the quality of the rosters he’s managed in his three years on the South Side. How can you judge a manager’s ability to contend when he doesn’t have the tools to do so?

That’s about to change, so there will finally be some actual evidence to back up either side of that argument.

It’s clear where the White Sox stand in that discussion. They’ve been praising the job Renteria has done for three years now, and they’ve expressed nothing but confidence that he’ll be the guy to get it done.

“When Ricky was put in that role, it wasn't with the idea that he was just going to be the right guy for the first stage, the stage that is coming toward an end here, or is at an end here,” Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference last month. “Obviously, the history and teaching and communicating and holding guys accountable is very important now. But even at the time we hired him, we felt he had the ability to not only set the right winning culture but to put guys in the best position to win.

“His ability to communicate with all 25 or 26 guys on a daily basis, to know where they're at, to know what they're capable of doing and putting them in the best position, makes us fairly confident that once that roster is deep enough and strong enough that he's going to be able to maximize the win potential with that roster when the time comes.”

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.