White Sox

White Sox sign Keppinger to three-year deal


White Sox sign Keppinger to three-year deal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The diversification of the White Sox offense began Wednesday with the free agent signing of infielder Jeff Keppinger.
Keppinger -- whose reported three-year, 12-million deal is pending a physical -- is expected to take the reins in a potential third base platoon for the White Sox. The team also hopes he can help diversify an offensive attack that thrived on the long ball in 2012.
Though industry sources confirmed the signing, the White Sox cannot officially comment until Keppinger passes his physical. The deal for Keppinger -- who should be ready for spring training even though hes in a walking boot after breaking his fibula -- wont be finalized until early next week.
But the move wont be the last made by the White Sox this offseason, general manager Rick Hahn said. Late Tuesday, a report indicated the club also has interest in former Cleveland Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan.
We are not at the point where we feel were done, Hahn said. Were still in talks with a number of different clubs, as well as free agents and may well have additional moves in the coming weeks.
Manager Robin Ventura, who last season sought diversity in his lineup down the stretch, would welcome those moves.
Last season, the White Sox averaged 4.6 runs per game as they blasted 211 homers the eighth highest total in franchise history. But the same group produced only nine homers and scored 31 runs over a 2-10 stretch in late September that ultimately cost them an American League Central title.
The hope is Keppinger, one of three players with more combined extra-base hits and walks than strikeouts since 2007 along with Albert Pujols and Dustin Pedroia, brings a different type of offense with him to the South Side. Whereas former third baseman Kevin Youkilis owns a career .482 slugging percentage, Keppingers is .396.
Though Hahn said earlier this week he hoped to bring Youkilis back, a source said a deal was never close though both sides had established parameters. The White Sox informed Youkilis late Tuesday they needed an answer by early Wednesday or they would seek a backup plan.
Weve had real, honest, direct and clear communication with the representatives for our free agents that are out there, Hahn said. Theyve known what weve been planning to do prior to it even hitting Twitter. Weve had a sense of what it would take to sign them or kind of what their expectations and time frames are.
The White Sox wanted Eric Chavez to be a part of their plan until he opted to play near his offseason home and sign a one-year deal for 3 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Though Keppinger has been in a walking boot since he broke his right fibula late last month, the White Sox moved forward. Three separate sources, including two outside the organization, feel Keppingers injury wont prevent him from being ready by the start of spring training.
Keppinger made a strong impression on White Sox assistant GM Buddy Bell when he managed him for a short time in Kansas City in 2006. Not only does Keppinger play solid defense, he has a .288.337.396 slash line and has struck out once every 14.21 at-bats for his career. But the White Sox also know theyll need a complement at third base as Keppinger has never had more than 514 plate appearances in one season.
Im not sure any one player would address all those things, but one of the themes weve hit on this offseason are wanting to try and diversify the offense a little bit, have some players that can put the ball in pay a little more, get on base at a little higher clip perhaps, as well as the defense being important to us which is always something were cognizant of, Hahn said. But especially in a situation where we may have at least three left-handed starters, youre going to want to be pretty strong on the left side of your infield defensively, at least on the days that those guys start. Those were and are some of the items we have on our checklist when we started looking at third base acquisitions.

White Sox get lesson in why they need their own Justin Verlander type to finish off rebuild


White Sox get lesson in why they need their own Justin Verlander type to finish off rebuild

Who will be the White Sox version of Justin Verlander? Their version of Jon Lester?

The big-name veteran brought in from outside the organization to be the cherry on top of a rebuilding effort and push things into contention mode. Who will Rick Hahn & Co. bring in to play that role on the South Side?

The White Sox got a firsthand lesson in why such a player is a necessity, dominated in every sense by Verlander on Tuesday night in Houston. Verlander, who long tormented the White Sox when he played for the division-rival Tigers, took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and finished with one run, one hit and one walk allowed in eight dazzling frames. Jose Abreu's solo homer that broke up the no-hitter in the seventh was the one moment on the evening in which Verlander looked human.

That's the kind of thing Verlander's been doing since the Astros traded for him during the 2017 season, which ended with them winning the World Series. They might do it again this year, the best team in baseball halfway through this four-game series against the White Sox. And he's a big reason they've stayed atop the list of championship contenders the last two years.

Verlander's acquisition was a little different than that of Lester on the North Side of Chicago. The Cubs needed to inject some legitimacy into their rebuilding project and got it by giving Lester, who knew Theo Epstein and his front office from the Boston days, a ton of money to top their rotation. The Astros needed a similar push from one of the game's best pitchers, and they got it by trading for Verlander in a waiver deal with the Tigers. But Verlander accomplished the same goal for the Astros that Lester did for the Cubs. Even in 2019, they're two of the more reliable arms around.

The White Sox might not be ready to vault into contention mode on Day 1 of the 2020 season. Michael Kopech's next start will be just his fifth as a big leaguer. Dylan Cease won't have much more than a month or two of big league experience. Eloy Jimenez has already missed a month of developmental time. Luis Robert will likely be getting his first taste of the majors.

But adding a Verlander type to that group could make a huge difference.

Now, Verlander is one of the best pitchers ever, plain and simple, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. To suggest that kind of pitcher will be available this offseason is perhaps unrealistic. Verlander was set to be among a loaded free-agent class before he signed an extension to stay with the Astros. He wasn't alone, and that thought-to-be-loaded free-agent class is now significantly less loaded. But there are still options, and perhaps more than ever a trade looks like it might be the way to go. If the White Sox do have a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher on their wish list, Verlander's teammate and Wednesday night's scheduled starter, Gerrit Cole, is on track to be among the available free agents.

So, too, is Madison Bumgarner, who more closely fits the mold of accomplished guys like Verlander and Lester. Bumgarner's got an unparalleled amount of postseason success, but he comes with plenty of questions, too. He pitched in just 38 combined games in 2017 and 2018, and while longevity hasn't been an issue this season — he's failed to go six innings in only one of his 10 starts — effectiveness has been an issue. He's got a 4.21 ERA through 62 innings. His highest single-season ERA prior to 2019 was 3.37 in 2012.

It doesn't have to be Bumgarner. And maybe it doesn't even have to be a pitcher. The White Sox have a list of potential starting-pitching options that includes Kopech, Cease, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning and others. The Cubs and Astros couldn't craft rotations of homegrown players. The White Sox might be able to, though considering the injuries that have plagued those young arms and the current lack of major league ready starting-pitching depth, a big-time starting-pitching addition would really fortify things.

It could also add that kind of legitimacy that Lester brought to the Cubs. Get one big name to come aboard a still-emerging group, and that could draw more talent that could really kick things into high gear.

There might be no one way to do a successful rebuild, but if the White Sox want to follow the template the Astros and Cubs have used to win championships in recent years, a Verlander type would be a good way to go about doing that. The opportunity has to exist, but you'd have to imagine it's an opportunity the front office will be looking for this winter.

Certainly they're already motivated to do just that. Watching Verlander cut through their lineup Tuesday night should back that motivation up.

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: The White Sox are running out of starting pitchers. Should they bring up Dylan Cease now?


Sports Talk Live Podcast: The White Sox are running out of starting pitchers. Should they bring up Dylan Cease now?

Connor McKnight, Kevin Fishbain and Jay Cohen join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel.

0:00- Ozzie Guillen joins the panel as the White Sox get ready to face the Astros. The guys discuss if there are any similarities between the Astros rebuild and the one the Sox are currently in.

4:00- The White Sox are running out of starting pitchers. Should they bring up Dylan Cease now?

7:00- Yu Darvish allowed 3 runs over six innings with 3 walks and 7 strikesouts. Is that considered a good start for him?

11:00- The Bears continue to unveil their top 100 players. Khalil Mack is 60th after just one season. The guys debate that and the fact that Jim McMahon is 32 spots ahead of Jay Cutler.

16:00- Scott Paddock joins Kap to talk about the fight in the NASCAR All-Star race and to preview a big few weeks at Chicagoland Speedway.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast