White Sox

White Sox: Carlos Sanchez used April demotion as motivation

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White Sox: Carlos Sanchez used April demotion as motivation

OAKLAND — Carlos Sanchez performed well enough in spring training where he just as easily could have been named the White Sox starting job second baseman.

Rather than sulk after he was sent down to Triple-A Charlotte on April 11, Sanchez, who was recalled on Friday, said he used it as incentive to get back to the majors.

A two-time International League player of the week in 2015, Sanchez is starting and hitting ninth against the Oakland A’s on Friday night after he replaced fellow rookie Micah Johnson, who was sent to Charlotte on Thursday. Sanchez followed a strong spring by hitting .344 with 10 doubles, two homers and 17 RBIs at Charlotte.

[MORE: From experience, Rowand understands Johnson demotion]

“I knew I had a good spring training, and I tried to transfer that to Triple-A when the team sent me down,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “I took it like something motivational for me, something good, to try to be the best player possible I could and try to develop all of my skills. I’m glad this opportunity came sooner than I was expecting.”

Sanchez has been on the White Sox radar since he was one of their top prospects headed into 2013. After he struggled that season, Sanchez has been on the rise, including a solid September performance in 2014. Sanchez said he was at his apartment in Charlotte on Wednesday when manager Joel Skinner called to inform him of his promotion.

“It’s always special,” Sanchez said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time or second time. It’s always special when you get that news because you are welcomed to the big leagues again.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura knows exactly what he has in Sanchez and is glad to be able to plug him in the lineup. Looking for a defensive boost, Sanchez brings a strong defensive skillset to the majors. Sanchez also has held his own in 107 major league plate appearances and hit .440 this spring.

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

“To have the ability to reach down and get somebody like Carlos in here to fill in we feel that’s one of our strong points is having guys like him that are down in the minor leagues and you’re able to reach down and get those guys,” Ventura said. “They know how to play and you trust them.”

Sanchez said he tried not to worry about getting back to the majors, instead focusing on how everyday reps at Charlotte might help him. He feels prepared to help the White Sox no matter what they ask of him.

“I kept doing what I was doing in spring training and the first week in the majors,” Sanchez said. “Being sent down, I took it as motivational, something to help me and to push me to be a better player. I think, in the end, the work was valuable because of the results. I am here because of that. I hope to continue doing my job and continue progressing as a player.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Bob Nightengale shares his thoughts on what starting pitcher is right fit for White Sox

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Bob Nightengale shares his thoughts on what starting pitcher is right fit for White Sox

It's Day 2 of the Winter Meetings. USA Today's Bob Nightengale joins Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber.

Nightengale shares his thoughts on what starting pitcher is the right fit (2:00), the message the Grandal signing sends to the rest of the league (6:00), predictions for who the White Sox will sign this week (12:00) and when the Sox window is open (13:30).

Plus, he shares some memories of past Winter Meetings including his favorite cocktail napkin trade and the best late-night stories from past years (16:00).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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If the White Sox are looking for a trade, how about Starling Marte?

If the White Sox are looking for a trade, how about Starling Marte?

SAN DIEGO — Rick Hahn said Monday night that his front office spent more time talking trades than it did free-agent signings during the first day of the Winter Meetings.

That doesn't mean anything is imminent — with Hahn adding that the White Sox felt "no urgency" to get any specific moves done during this four-day excursion to Southern California — but it means the South Siders are exploring the trade market with some level of gusto.

Well, given the White Sox need in the outfield, how about this trade candidate: Starling Marte. Who knows if the White Sox have any interest, but they seem to line up as potential fit for his services.

According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking for a "young, controllable catcher" in exchange for the 31-year-old outfielder. The White Sox just happen to have one of those in Zack Collins, who currently sits third on the catching depth chart behind the recently signed Yasmani Grandal and James McCann, both of whom were All Stars in 2019.

Now, the White Sox have been strong in their belief that Collins can help the team into the far future. They spent a top-10 draft pick on him back in 2016, and he's put up some promising numbers in the minor leagues. He got his first taste of big league action in 2019, slashing .186/.307/.349 in 102 at-bats, a pretty small sample size. The numbers that still provide the most hope came after he was sent back to Triple-A in July, when he hit .323/.441/.631 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs in 38 games.

The White Sox want to get his bat in the lineup more often. Problem is, they just went out and gave the bulk of the catching duties to Grandal, with another All Star ready to soak up the majority of the backup opportunities behind him. Major league rosters will expand to 26 players in 2019, and there's a good deal of belief that many clubs will use that extra spot to carry a third catcher. Collins has also been mentioned as part of a potential rotation at DH, and he's been working defensively at first base, as well.

Of course, there are also the defensive questions that have hounded Collins since he was drafted. Talk of DH and first base didn't just pop up once the White Sox got Grandal. They were viewed as a potential necessity in case Collins struggled defensively as a big league catcher. Certainly the sample size to this point is nowhere near big enough to determine how he'll fare behind the plate in the long term. But it's a mystery, nonetheless, and something other teams probably know about, too.

As for what kind of fit Marte would be, he posted a career-high .845 OPS in 2019 to go along with a career-high 23 home runs and a career-high 82 RBIs. He was a Gold Glove left fielder when Andrew McCutchen still roamed center field for the Pirates but played center field exclusively the last two seasons, with less-than-ideal production: He had minus-nine Defensive Runs Saved in center in 2019. Of course, the White Sox don't really need a center fielder, with Luis Robert figures to man that position for the bulk of 2020 and beyond, and maybe Marte could be a solution in right field, where they have a pressing need. Marte, though, has never played right field in the major leagues.

The White Sox could use some hitters with better on-base skills, and Marte does not walk, doing so just 25 times in 2019. But he did reach base at a .342 clip, his highest mark since his All-Star season in 2016.

Marte would be an obvious upgrade, but he doesn't have a ton of team control left, which could make the White Sox hesitant to move a top-ranked prospect like Collins in such a deal. Marte is under club control for 2020 and has a team option for 2021. Hahn talked about the front office's lack of desire to move the prospects they've accumulated Monday night.

“There’s been, obviously, the pains and suffering that comes along with the early stages of a rebuild. We endured all that so we would be able to be in a position of building something that was going to be able to win on an annual basis, that was going to have some success for an extended period of time,” Hahn said. “Right now, we are in a bit of an interesting spot.

“Fundamentally, as a fan that has dealt with the hardships over the last three years, you want that benefit, that promised-land side of things to come more quickly. At the same time, we have to keep in mind why we started this and that was to build something sustainable. You don’t want to do anything short-sighted that’s just going to, trade wise, give us a quick bump next year but compromise the extended window we foresee coming when this all comes together.

“You need to be cognizant of that temptation to try to accelerate things. We want to get this to where it needs to be as quickly as possible. We don’t want to do that at the expense of shortening the window or making the window more difficult when it does open, whether that’s in the next few months or it takes a little longer.

“If we are trading a premium type prospect, it’s going to be for someone who will be here for a while.“

So it depends on how "premium" the White Sox believe Collins to be. What's true is that he plays a position that the White Sox now have in surplus, and that's the kind of thing that was supposed to create trade possibilities for this rebuilding organization. That hasn't materialized in many spots, thanks to injuries and under-performance throughout the minor leagues in 2019. But it has materialized at catcher, creating the conditions for a potential deal.

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