Mat Latos will attempt to get back on track with the White Sox, who found a deal too hard to bypass.
Slowed by injuries the previous two seasons, the veteran pitcher signed a one-year contract for $3 million on Tuesday.
A 14-game winner three times, Latos has been limited to 40 games the last two seasons by a knee injury. Latos made one trip to the disabled list in 2015, finishing 4-10 with a 4.95 ERA in 24 games (21 starts) for the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels.
Even so, Latos produced 1.5 Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs.
Latos, 28, produced 16 WAR from 2010-13 when he averaged 32 starts per season. He is 64-55 with a 3.51 ERA in 177 career games (174 starts).
“Mat adds another quality veteran arm to our rotation and also increases our overall pitching depth, which always is essential to having a successful season,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a press release. “While we believe in the futures of several of our young starters, the chance to add a pitcher of Mat’s caliber was too good of an opportunity for us to pass up. He has proven over his career that when healthy, he takes the baseball and logs quality innings.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
During that four-year run of dominance, Latos went 51-35 with a 3.27 ERA in 799 innings. But he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow before the 2014 season and then tore cartilage in his left knee that spring, which delayed his 2014 season debut for the Cincinnati Reds until June.
Latos was traded to Miami in December 2014 to help the Marlins combat the loss of Jose Fernandez. But the right-hander had fluid drained from his knee during spring training and told the Miami Herald in May he tried to do his job at “60, 70, 80 percent” health. He went on the DL from May 23-June 12.
Latos went 4-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 16 starts in Miami before he was traded to the Dodgers in a three-team deal in late July. There he went 0-3 with a 6.66 ERA in six games (five starts) before he was released in September and picked up by the Angels.
Latos has also been traded by the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati, for whom he went 33-16 with a 3.31 ERA in 81 starts from 2012-14.
Latos gives the White Sox depth at a position at which they were previously thin. Beyond their original projected starting five, the White Sox have a shortage of major-league ready pitchers to contribute in the case of an injury. The White Sox prefer to take their time in developing last year’s first-round pick, Carson Fulmer, and Chris Beck had elbow surgery last July, leaving only Scott Carroll and Jacob Turner with MLB starting experience.
The Latos signing also could be the precursor to another move, though the White Sox are likely satisfied to have depth. With Latos on board, the White Sox have six starting pitchers. The club previously had plans to employ Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, Erik Johnson and John Danks in their starting rotation. Turner, who was claimed off waivers from the Cubs and later signed a one-year deal for $1.5 million, could also figure into those plans.
ZiPS projects Latos will produce 1.0 WAR this season.