The White Sox made a long-awaited move in their bullpen Wednesday, designating the struggling Bruce Rondon for assignment and bringing Jeanmar Gomez up from Triple-A.
Gomez has been the subject of many queries this season as he's put up fantastic numbers in a relief role at Charlotte, with a 2.02 ERA in 40 innings of work. Given the White Sox 4.49 bullpen ERA heading into Wednesday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals, it's been a wonder to a number of social-media using fans why Gomez wasn't added to the relief corps sooner.
Gomez was one of several veteran relievers signed to minor league contracts over the winter, players who looked like ideal sign-and-flip candidates after Rick Hahn's front office traded away so many relievers last summer. Rondon, as well as the currently succeeding Xavier Cedeno, fell into the same category. You could look at the trade that brought in Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan, both potential trade candidates, as a similar move.
Gomez has relatively recent closing experience, saving 37 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016. But he appeared in only 18 big league games last season with the Phillies and turned in an oversized 7.25 ERA.
Rondon flashed some potential when he was first added to the White Sox bullpen early this season, but he's had numerous multi-run outings, including in Tuesday's loss to the Cardinals, when he allowed a run to score on a wild pitch, walked in a run and was responsible for the three runners who scored on Dexter Fowler's grand slam. That three-run performance bulged his ERA to 8.49 on the season.
This is a developmental season for the White Sox, but there's one area in which the leash might be shorter than the rest of the team.
For the second time in a week, the White Sox sent one of the members of their Opening Day bullpen to Triple-A Charlotte, this time Gregory Infante following in Juan Minaya's footsteps.
Both pitchers have undoubtedly struggled at the season's outset. Minaya got sent down after walking four straight batters in a loss to the Detroit Tigers. Infante was sent down after Wednesday's win over the Tampa Bay Rays, a game in which he didn't pitch (though he did pitch Tuesday and gave up a run). His season totals aren't pretty: a 16.62 ERA with five walks in 4.1 innings.
Both Minaya and Infante showed promise at the end of last season. Minaya ended the 2017 campaign as the White Sox closer and racked up nine saves, while Infante had a 3.13 ERA in his 54.2 relief innings.
But they're being replaced now while also given a chance to work through these struggles at the Triple-A level.
Bruce Rondon came up to replace Minaya and has been electric in his two appearances. He struck out all four batters he faced in his first outing against the Tigers, his old team, and he pushed the streak to five by retiring the first Rays hitter he saw on Wednesday before a flyout and groundout kept him perfect on the season.
Another potential sign-and-flip candidate could join Rondon when the corresponding move to replace Infante comes Thursday before the White Sox start their series with the Minnesota Twins. Veterans Jeanmar Gomez, Robbie Ross Jr. and Xavier Cedeno are all pitching at Charlotte. So, too, is Thyago Vieira, a young flamethrower on the 40-man roster.
After Wednesday's game, the White Sox bullpen ERA was at 5.59, and while that number is significantly smaller than it was as recently as the weekend, it's still one of the highest in baseball as of this writing.
The White Sox added utility man Jake Elmore on a minor league deal, the team announced Thursday.
Elmore has nearly 200 major league games under his belt with a bunch of different teams, most recently appearing in the bigs with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016, when he played in 59 contests.
Last season, he spent the entire year in the minors, playing in the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins organizations. In 110 games at the Triple-A level, Elmore slashed .236/.324/.281 with 41 RBIs and 29 runs scored. He also stole 12 bases and played second base, shortstop, third base and outfield.
Elmore received an invitation to spring training, as well. The White Sox also made a trio of reported moves official Thursday, announcing minor league deals for relief pitchers Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon, who all received spring training invites.