White Sox

D-backs reportedly would 'love to move' Zack Greinke: Is he or Robbie Ray a potential fit for White Sox?

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USA TODAY

D-backs reportedly would 'love to move' Zack Greinke: Is he or Robbie Ray a potential fit for White Sox?

White Sox fans know Zack Greinke all too well.

He spent seven of his 15 years in the big leagues with the Kansas City Royals and has made 27 appearances against the South Siders. And in those 27 appearances he racked up more strikeouts of White Sox hitters than all but one other team he's faced in his career: 147 punch outs against the White Sox versus 186 against the Colorado Rockies.

Well, how would those fans feel about him finding his way into a White Sox uniform?

According to a Wednesday report from USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Arizona Diamondbacks, who currently have Greinke under contract for three more seasons, could be planning a major selloff this winter.

The White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this offseason, with a gaping hole in their rotation thanks to Michael Kopech's Tommy John surgery. Kopech will miss the entirety of the 2019 campaign, and if the White Sox opt not to bring back James Shields, that will make for another spot that needs filling.

There are a couple routes the White Sox could go. They can add one-year fill-ins and wait until Kopech and Dylan Cease join the rotation in 2020 (perhaps Cease could follow a similar path to Kopech and end up in the majors by the end of the 2019 season). Or they can add higher caliber pitchers on longer term deals as a safety net for their young starters, who might still be experiencing growing pains two seasons down the line.

Acquiring Greinke — or another D-backs starting pitcher, Robbie Ray — via trade would fall under the latter strategy.

Greinke would certainly improve a White Sox rotation that led baseball in walks and had a 5.07 ERA during the 2018 season. He finished with a 3.21 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 207.2 innings this season, making his fifth All-Star team. He's got four Gold Gloves under his belt and finished in the top 10 in NL Cy Young voting four times from 2013 to 2017 (he also won the AL Cy Young Award in 2009).

Ray, meanwhile, had a sensational 2017 season, posting a 2.89 ERA and logging 218 strikeouts for the second straight year. He made the All-Star team and finished seventh in the NL Cy Young vote. His 2018 wasn't as good, as he dealt with a pair of injuries and was limited to 123.2 innings. Still, his K/9 was nearly identical to the NL-best 12.1 he put up in 2017. He finished this year with a 3.93 ERA.

However, neither addition would be a no-brainer for the rebuilding White Sox. Greinke will be 35 in a few days, not exactly putting the "young" in "young and controllable." While Ray just turned 27, he's missing the "controllable" part of that combination, with just two seasons remaining until he hits free agency.

Obviously there's the cost in prospects in making such a trade. If the D-backs are planning a full-scale rebuild, well White Sox fans know what the trades that jump start that process look like. Adding either guy would cost a pretty penny in prospects. And while the White Sox have the prospect depth to one day pull off such a trade that could vault them into contention mode, it still seems a bit early for that kind of deal.

Also, as would be the case with any long-term addition made at this point in the White Sox rebuilding process, it's a mystery how much contending would actually be happening during the years these pitchers would be under control. Contending by 2020 is a possibility for the White Sox, but is it enough of one to trade away valuable prospects for a two-year shot with Ray? Or what if the White Sox are still putting the finishing touches on the rebuild when Greinke's contract runs out?

There's another side of that coin, though, and that's a player the caliber of Greinke or Ray moving the process along and getting the White Sox to contention mode sooner.

Looking at the free-agent market doesn't yield a ton of exciting possibilities for the White Sox to fill the holes in their starting rotation, though, and that's where the trade market could become an interesting option. Here are two All-Star pitchers who could be heading to that market who we weren't thinking about until now.

Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

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USA TODAY

Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

Chris Snopek was born September 20, 1970 in Cynthiana, KY. He was a multi-sport standout in high school, averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 assists on the hardwood, as well as hitting .576 with 20 HR as a senior on the diamond. He was a standout third baseman/shortstop at Ole Miss, hitting .407/.491/.725 with 13 home runs and 62 RBI (a school-record at the time) in 54 games as a junior. The White Sox made him a 6th round draft pick in 1992.

In 1994, Snopek played for the Double-A Birmingham Barons, where he was one of two players on the team with 50+ RBI and 50+ walks. The other one was Michael Jordan.By 1995, Snopek hit .323/.402/.494 with 12 HR in 113 games for Nashville (AAA); that batting average good for second in the American Association. He made his MLB Debut on July 31, 1995, going 2 for 3 with a run, RBI, walk and stolen base as the starting third baseman. The 6’1” right-handed infielder drew a walk in each of his first five career MLB games; the first White Sox player to do so since Ray Morehart in 1924.

The White Sox had Robin Ventura at third and Ozzie Guillen at short, so Snopek had to settle for a start here and a start there. He was sent back down to the minors but returned in September. On September 20, 1995, Snopek connected for his first career home run; the blast coming off Indians starter Joe Roa. The milestone round tripper came on Snopek’s 25th birthday. He remains the only player in White Sox history whose first career home run came on his birthday. It was his lone homer of 1995, though Snopek did quite well in his first taste of MLB action, hitting .324 (22 for 68), .407 vs lefties (11 for 27) in 22 games.

Entering the 1996 season, he was the #52 overall prospect according to Baseball America (in between Jason Varitek and Dustin Hermanson); topping the White Sox organizational top ten:

White Sox top 10 prospects according to Baseball America entering 1996

  1. Chris Snopek
  2. Jeff Abbott
  3. Scott Ruffcorn
  4. James Baldwin
  5. Jeff Liefer
  6. Mike Cameron
  7. Jimmy Hurst
  8. Luis Andujar
  9. McKay Christensen
  10. Greg Norton

Snopek started the 1996 season in a utility role, making spot starts at third and short as well as pinch hitting. On April 28, 1996, he became the first White Sox shortstop to start and hit cleanup since Ron Hansen in 1967 (Only José Valentín & Alexei Ramírez have done it since). In limited duty, Snopek hit 6 home runs in 1996 – all off lefties.

Snopek got his chance in 1997 when Robin Ventura suffered an ankle injury, getting the nod as the opening day third baseman. He went 0 for 5 that game and never got it going, hitting .218/.263/.319 in 86 games. The following season, after struggling to the tune of .208/.291/.248 in 53 games, Snopek was traded to the Red Sox at the end of August, where he finished the season and as fate would have it, his MLB career, with eight final games. He bounced around the minors the next four seasons.

In 2017, Snopek and a business partner purchased P360 Performance Sports in Jackson, Mississippi, where they offer baseball training facilities and instruction programs. Snopek also serves as the Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach at Madison Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi.

Chris Snopek… remember that guy?

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

Thirteen of the White Sox top American born prospects are in the Dominican Republic this week for a cultural exchange trip organized by the White Sox, giving players like Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins and Dane Dunning a first-hand experience to learn about the country where many of their Latin teammates like Eloy Jimenez call home. Chuck Garfien speaks with Ryan McGuffey who is covering the trip for NBC Sports Chicago. They talk about the White Sox training academy in the Dominican Republic (3:50), what the players are learning and how they're bonding on the trip (6:30), the crazy atmosphere going to a Dominican Winter League game (11:10), going with Reynaldo Lopez to the home where he grew up (14:40), personal stories from the trip (23:15) and more.

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