White Sox

White Sox reportedly interested in two infield options

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White Sox reportedly interested in two infield options

NASHVILLE -- The White Sox reportedly have interest in two players who could fill vacancies on the left side of the infield.

The White Sox were linked to Oakland third baseman Brett Lawrie early Monday and another report surfaced suggesting they have interest in free agent Asdrubal Cabrera.

The team has openings at both third base and shortstop and could try to solve them at the Winter Meetings, which began Monday at The Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

With two third baseman on the roster, the A’s have made Lawrie’s availability known and the White Sox are one of three teams who have some interest, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In his only season in Oakland, Lawrie, who isn’t eligible for free agency until 2018, hit .260/.299/.407 with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs. He walked 28 times and struck out 144. Lawrie was part of the A’s return in a trade that sent American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Oakland is said to want a starting pitcher in return.

The White Sox are reportedly one of four suitors for Cabrera, according to MLB Daily Dish. The New York Yankees, New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels also are in pursuit of Cabrera, a career .267/.329/.412 hitter.

Cabrera, 30, hit 15 homers and drove in 58 runs in 136 games at shortstop for Tampa Bay last season.

The White Sox have flexibility on the left side of the infield because they believe Tyler Saladino can play either spot. Even though he only played half a season, Saladino was fourth among all third baseman in Defensive Runs Saved, according to fangraphs.com.

The team hasn’t had a long-term answer at third base since Joe Crede played his final game on Sept. 2. 2008. The White Sox have since started 22 different players at third, including Saladino, Mike Olt, Gordon Beckham and Conor Gillaspie last season.

The team also could attempt to resign Alexei Ramirez, who is a free agent.

[MORE: Samardzija's departure nets White Sox top pick in next year's draft]

All season long, Ramirez stated his preference was to remain with the White Sox. But in November they bought out his $10 million club option for $1 million and made him a free agent. Both Rick Hahn and Ramirez’s representatives have said the two sides would maintain lines of communication and wouldn’t rule out a reunion. However, the White Sox figured Ramirez, one of the top options at short in free agency, would find too good of an offer to want to come back to them on a lesser deal.

While the market for catchers has been one of the fastest to develop in free agency, no shortstops have signed, including Ian Desmond, who is the best bat of the bunch.

Though he’d like to upgrade his offense and find solutions for his roster as soon as possible, Hahn said he wouldn’t force any deals.

Last December, the White Sox were the early toast of the Winter Meetings after they traded for Jeff Samardzija and signed David Robertson to a four-year deal.

“We would love to be able to make some moves and address other needs as we hit town next week,” Hahn said Friday. “At the same time, there is no extra credit for getting a guy on your roster in the second week of December versus the third or fourth. A lot of more active clubs last year got a fair amount of their work done after they left the Winter Meetings in fact.”

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox need starting pitching, so why not bring in a guy with a Cy Young Award sitting on his mantle?

Dallas Keuchel is one of the two biggest names on the starting-pitching market this winter, along with Patrick Corbin, who will get more attention — and likely more dollars — because he's two years younger. But Keuchel's the guy with the track record, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015 (when he was also a top-five MVP finisher), a two-time All Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 3.28 ERA over the past five seasons, during which he helped the Houston Astros transition from rebuilding to one of baseball's perennial contenders. You might have heard something about them winning the World Series in 2017.

It's true that things have been somewhat up and down for Keuchel since his Cy Young win. After posting a 2.48 ERA with a career-high 216 strikeouts in 33 starts during that 2015 season, he had a 4.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 26 starts in 2016, then a 2.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 23 starts in 2017 and a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 34 starts last season. But three times in the last five years he's finished with an ERA under 3.00. In other words, he's pretty darn good.

How might he fit with the White Sox? Well, in terms of whether or not he lines up with their long-term plans. Keuchel's older than Corbin, but it's not like he's old. He'll be 31 on Opening Day 2019, and a long-term deal, which he's expected to fetch, would keep him around for another planned transition from rebuilding to contention. Keuchel — a veteran who's accomplished a lot already, including putting a World Series ring on his finger — could be viewed as a Jon Lester type for these rebuilding White Sox, a big name who buys into the front office's long-term plan and helps make those plans become reality.

And there's no doubt the White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this winter. Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox decided not to pick up James Shields' option for 2019. That leaves two holes in the starting rotation. An addition like Keuchel would be a long-term one, which means the White Sox would opt to make him a safety net for their still-developing fleet of young pitchers and choose not to roll the dice on a homegrown starting staff for 2020. However, if they're confident in a quintet of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease, then maybe they opt for a couple one-year fill-ins in 2019. Keuchel would not be a one-year fill-in.

Keuchel could also fill the role vacated by Shields, a veteran who could help bring along the young guys in an off-the-field mentor role. His experience going through the dark days of a rebuild — he was a member of Astros teams that lost a combined 310 games from 2012 to 2014 — and coming out the other end a world champ would also figure to be of value.

Of course, the White Sox wouldn't be alone in a pursuit of Keuchel, if they were interested. Thanks to Clayton Kershaw signing a new contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's one of the two biggest names on the market when it comes to starting pitchers. The White Sox would likely have to go through the same bidding war and pitch of planned future success they would with other big names like Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

But there's no doubt Keuchel would be an upgrade to this rotation in 2019 and could provide plenty of value for years beyond.

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

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USA TODAY

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports has made a habit of failing to remember the South Siders in recent years, most notably forgetting (on multiple occasions) that the White Sox did in fact win the 2005 World Series.

It happened enough times that A.J. Pierzynski had some opinions about it.

This time, the omission came in an effort to illustrate how good Mike Trout is, with ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides listing baseball players who appeared in the top four in MVP voting three or more times. Trout, the Los Angeles Angels superstar, has already done it seven times, and boy that is terrific.

But Hembekides left someone out. And that someone let him hear about it.

You tell 'em, Frank.

Yes, the Big Hurt finished in the top four of the AL MVP vote on six separate occasions: 1991 (third), 1993 (first), 1994 (first), 1997 (third), 2000 (second) and 2006 (fourth, while playing for the Oakland Athletics).

ESPN's blind spot for the White Sox doesn't end up meaning much of anything, though it's amusing that they've now managed to leave out a relatively recent World Series champion and a relatively recent first-ballot Hall of Famer.

We all make mistakes. But it's a little funny that ESPN's are, repeatedly, White Sox related.