White Sox

White Sox make ‘tough’ decision to DFA Emilio Bonifacio

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White Sox make ‘tough’ decision to DFA Emilio Bonifacio

Trayce Thompson played his way into a major league roster spot, though the White Sox had to jettison a clubhouse favorite to keep him around.

With outfielder J.B. Shuck returning from the 15-day disabled list Sunday, the White Sox designated utility man Emilio Bonifacio for assignment. The White Sox signed Bonifacio to a one-year, $4 million contract in January but the 30-year-old only garnered 82 plate appearances in 47 games this season.

“You always make tough decisions,” manager Robin Ventura said. “With kind of the emergence of Trayce, you are getting Shuck back and you can have him as a pinch-hitter playing the outfield. You’ve got to be able to keep some guys who play in the infield and move around.

“It’s a tough one. That stuff is never easy. It didn’t really pan out the way we really saw it happening with him. It’s always tough. He’s a great guy inside the clubhouse.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Bonifacio had just 13 hits, two walks and two extra base hits (both doubles) in his 82 plate appearances, good for a .167/.198/.192 slash line. He stole one base in five attempts and struggled to find a role on an American League team with an established pinch-hitting outfielder (Shuck) and versatile reserve infielder (Gordon Beckham).

Bonifacio was owed $3 million in 2015 with a $1 million buyout on a $4 million club option for 2016.

Thompson was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte Aug. 3 and made his major league debut the next day. In a small sample size, Thompson has six hits in 12 at-bats and ripped his first home run Aug. 11 against the Los Angeles Angels. The White Sox like Thompson’s defense, too, which is why they decided to stick with him and ship out Bonifacio.

“You look at what Trayce has done since he’s been up here, you have some options there,” Ventura said. “We are going to run into some lefties coming up here on the road trip. He’s going to get some playing time. You like what he has done and it’s a credit to him and you have to make a decision based on that.”

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

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USA TODAY

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

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USA TODAY

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

This season, Matt Davidson became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a season opener. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, especially after Paul Konerko noted during spring training that a 40-home run season and an All-Star selection isn’t out of the question for the California native. After clobbering nine home runs (seven of them coming at Kauffman Stadium) in his first 21 games, anything seemed possible.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way, though he did rack up his second straight 20-homer season. But it’s hard to argue that 2018 wasn’t a success for Davidson — mostly because of the swings he didn’t make.

Everything else aside, Davidson walked as often as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in 2018.

OK, the more meaningful comparison would be Davidson to himself.

What stands out is his walk rate. One hundred fifty three players had at least 400 plate appearances in both 2017 and 2018. Among them, Davidson had the second-highest increase in walk percentage this past season.

Consider this: In 2017, Davidson and Tim Anderson became (and still are) the only players in MLB history with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 20 walks in a season.

Davidson, while logging 20 more at-bats in 2018, had the same number of strikeouts, 165, but he increased his walk total from 19 to 52. Give him credit for that. It’s a tough adjustment to make at the minor league level let alone in the major leagues. The increased walk rate brought his on-base percentage from .260 in 2017 (well below the AL average of .324) to .319 in 2018 (a tick above the AL average of .318) and pushed his overall offensive production from 16 percent below league average (as measured by his 84 weighted runs created plus, or wRC+) to four percent above league average (104 wRC+).

And I haven’t even mentioned the most fun aspect of his 2018 season: He pitched! And he pitched well.

Thirty pitchers took the mound for the White Sox in 2018, all of whom made at least three appearances. And only one of them didn’t allow a run: Davidson.

He topped out at 91.9 MPH and had as many strikeouts, two, as baserunners allowed in his three innings of work. The two batters he struck out, Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton, combined for 56 home runs in 2018. They combined for 89 home runs (and an MVP award) in 2017.

In his career, Stanton had a combined 16 plate appearances and zero strikeouts against Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Edwin Díaz. He struck out in his one plate appearance against Davidson.

Davidson is one of just three players with 20 or more home runs and at least three mound appearances in a season in MLB history:

— Babe Ruth (1919): 29 home runs, 17 games on the mound
— Davidson (2018): 20 home runs, three games on the mound
— Shohei Ohtani (2018): 22 home runs, 10 games on the mound

Facts are facts. Davidson is actually serious about expanding his role on the mound.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he said in July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Whether or not it ever happens, Davidson’s 2018 was all about finding ways to increase his value. For the White Sox, that’s a good problem to have.