White Sox

'Aggressive' White Sox among reported 'lead teams' for Manny Machado, making deal seem something more than just 'conceivable'

'Aggressive' White Sox among reported 'lead teams' for Manny Machado, making deal seem something more than just 'conceivable'

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It looks like the notion of the White Sox trading for Manny Machado is a little more than just "conceivable."

That's the word White Sox general manager Rick Hahn used Wednesday at the Winter Meetings when proposed with the idea that his rebuilding organization would try to pursue a player with just one year of control who could potentially be convinced to sign a lengthy contract extension. While the creatively worded question required some verbal gymnastics to avoid saying the word "Machado," that's exactly the player that was being discussed.

And now it looks like the White Sox are doing a little more than just discussing a trade with the Baltimore Orioles. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported that the White Sox are making an aggressive push — the most aggressive push of any team — to acquire the Orioles' star third baseman, one of the headliners of next offseason's monster free-agent class. USA Today's Bob Nightengale followed that up with his own report that the White Sox have made the best offer of a dozen teams to propose trades for Machado. And The Score's Bruce Levine added Thursday morning that the White Sox are indeed among the lead teams in this suddenly hot derby.

A quiet Winter Meetings for the South Siders just got cranked up to 11.

White Sox fans are sure to be ecstatic that the team is pursuing a player they've long coveted. With all the highly touted minor league talent the White Sox have built up over the past year, none of those players play third base, and Machado's pending free agency lines up with the rapidly advancing rebuild, which Hahn described Wednesday as ahead of schedule.

A move still seems shocking, though, considering the rebuilding White Sox have carefully laid plans for the future involving the likes of Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jimenez, Reynaldo Lopez, Luis Robert, Alec Hansen, Micker Adolfo and Dane Dunning. It would figure that the Orioles would expect a sizable return package for Machado, and Rosenthal's report mentioned a package built around either Kopech or Giolito.

Machado, though, is only under team control for the 2018 season. The idea of giving up either of those two highly regarded pitching prospects for just one guaranteed year of Machado seems extremely risky, and it was Hahn who said this week the White Sox are "not looking to jump up and contend for one wild card and then regress back." The White Sox, even with Machado, wouldn't figure to be a championship club in 2018. Without a guarantee that Machado would sign a contract extension with the White Sox, a trade would seem to put the much-discussed rebuild in a precarious position.

The flip side, obviously, is that Machado could be a long-term piece, a centerpiece of the White Sox future, bringing many of these prospects along with him. Hahn talked Wednesday about the benefits of having a player with the team as opposed to being a "cold" free agent when he talked about hypothetical extensions.

"Sometimes you need to be creative. Sometimes you need to perhaps take a risk," Hahn said. "I think it’s probably slightly easier after a player has been part of this organization, understand what we’re about, to extend him as opposed to meeting him cold free agent and trying to sell him on the organization. We’ve had success with both, so we’re not afraid to do either, but perhaps there is a little advantage from time to time to have a guy already be on campus when you’re talking about extending him into the future.

"You guys have heard from a many of players how much they enjoy being with us, how they want to stay here, they want to be part of this rebuild. That’s in part due to the type of guys we’ve brought in and in part due to the culture and direction we’ve created."

Machado, of course, is one of baseball's best players. The 25-year-old is already a three-time All Star. In 2017, he slashed .259/.310/.471 with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs for a last-place Orioles team that was 12 games under .500. He's extremely durable, playing in every regular-season game save 11 over the last three seasons. He's a slick fielder with a pair of Gold Gloves to his name, and he's already finished in the top 10 in American League MVP voting in just six major league seasons.

Interestingly, a report earlier this week from Rosenthal said Machado wants to play shortstop moving forward. Should the White Sox acquire Machado, it will be interesting to see what happens with Tim Anderson, who has been touted as the team's shortstop of the future. Though you figure any team would make room for a player the caliber of Machado.

Hahn will address the media one more time in Florida following the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning. Of course, any deal could still take time to play out.

Buckle up. The White Sox are officially on the hot stove.

Eloy Jimenez celebrates new contract with monster day in spring training

Eloy Jimenez celebrates new contract with monster day in spring training

The ink on Eloy Jimenez's contract is still drying, but the outfielder already celebrated with a big game in spring training.

Jimenez and Rick Hahn spoke at a press conference mere hours before Saturday's Cactus League game against the Dodgers took place. Then Jimenez did his thing with the bat in the game.

The 22-year-old opened with a walk then followed with a pair of singles later in the game. He saved his best for last with a home run in the eighth inning.

Jimenez had not been having a good spring training and was even sent down to minor league camp nearly two weeks ago. Saturday's action was his first game in big league camp since March 11.

Before Saturday he was hitting .154/.154/.346 in nine games. The 3-for-3 game moved Jimenez's spring numbers to a much more respectable .241/.267/.517. His walk on Saturday was his first in the Cactus League. He now has two home runs.

During Saturday's press conference, Hahn went out of his way to say they are not making any announcements about the Opening Day roster yet. It is still assumed the Jimenez will start with the White Sox, but Hahn said they would like to have face-to-face conversations with the other players involved when it comes to the 25-man roster decisions.

With that said, Jimenez did bat sixth on Saturday. That could be a glimpse of where he will bat on Opening Day with Yoan Moncada (who continued his hot spring with two doubles and a home run on Saturday), Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Yonder Alonso and Welington Castillo batting ahead of Jimenez in the lineup.

Plenty of eyes with remain on Jimenez for the rest of spring and in 2019. He delivered in his first game since signing his new contract.

 

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Nicky Delmonico sent to Triple-A, but do White Sox need to cut another outfielder to clear room for Eloy Jimenez?

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USA TODAY

Nicky Delmonico sent to Triple-A, but do White Sox need to cut another outfielder to clear room for Eloy Jimenez?

The White Sox made a notable outfield cut Saturday, sending Nicky Delmonico to Triple-A Charlotte not long after Eloy Jimenez signed his new six-year deal.

Rick Hahn wouldn't 100-percent confirm during the press conference whether or not Jimenez would be on the team's Opening Day roster, but the new deal eliminates the service-time conversation surrounding Jimenez and allows him to make his major league debut when the regular season starts next week in Kansas City.



If Jimenez is going to end up on the Opening Day roster, the White Sox will need to make room for him. That could mean cutting another outfielder in addition to Delmonico, but not necessarily. More on that in a bit.

Delmonico might have had a tough time making the Opening Day roster even if Jimenez would've started the season in the minor leagues. The White Sox outfield is a crowded one after the offseason addition of veteran Jon Jay. The presence of Adam Engel, Daniel Palka and the versatile Leury Garcia made it difficult to envision a place for Delmonico, who had a disappointing, injury-filled season in 2018 after showing promise at the end of the 2017 campaign.

It seems as if, eventually, the White Sox could have to move another one of those aforementioned outfielders to make room for Jimenez, who figures to be the team's everyday left fielder in 2019. But that decision could be delayed until mid April thanks to a bunch of built-in off days at the start of the regular-season schedule.

Both Hahn and manager Rick Renteria have discussed the possibility of the White Sox using only four starting pitchers at the outset of the season. Thanks to those off days, those four starters can all pitch on regular rest until as late as April 17. So, theoretically, Ervin Santana, who figures to wind up as the team's fifth starter, wouldn't be needed on the major league roster until that finale of a home series against the Kansas City Royals in mid April. That's one less pitcher that needs to be on the roster and one more position player that can be on the roster.

The versatility of Garcia, who has torn the cover off the ball this spring, and infielder Jose Rondon, who has added a little bit of outfield to his repertoire this spring (and is out of options), means they're likely not going anywhere. But instead of having to potentially dispatch of fan favorite Palka before the season even begins, there are potentially two spots available for three players, those two and Engel. Palka brings power, while Engel brings defense. Both have their weaknesses, too, Palka seeming best suited for a DH role that has been given to the combination of Jose Abreu and Yonder Alonso, and Engel the owner of a career .207/.260/.314 slash line.

It's important to note in all of this, too, that Renteria has said that Jay might not be an everyday player. Jay's versatility in the outfield also means he might be playing at one set position all season. So for those arguing that the White Sox could have an everyday outfield of Jimenez, Jay and Palka for the next six months, it might not be so simple. And if Jimenez and Palka are in the corners, that makes Engel's glove all the more valuable.

Jimenez returned to the White Sox lineup for Saturday's Cactus League game, perhaps another sign that he could return to the major league roster after being optioned to Charlotte prior to the announcement of the new contract.

Whether his making the roster would force off another outfielder remains to be seen.

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