White Sox

Day after report of eight-year offer to Manny Machado, others say White Sox are sticking at seven years

Day after report of eight-year offer to Manny Machado, others say White Sox are sticking at seven years

The late-night frenzy over a reported eight-year offer from the White Sox to Manny Machado is getting some pushback now that the sun has come up.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Sunday night that the White Sox, whose contract offer to Manny Machado had previously been reported to be seven years for about $200 million, upped their offer to eight years, with Hector Gomez following shortly thereafter with a report that the new offer was worth $250 million. That would come as a huge change of plans, as the White Sox had been reported as unwilling to go past seven years in their offers to Machado and fellow mega free agent Bryce Harper (though supposedly they still haven't even offered a contract to the latter).

Well, it might have been too big a change to be true, with USA Today's Bob Nightengale (both Sunday night and Monday morning) reporting the White Sox are sticking with that "original" seven-year offer and The Score's Bruce Levine adding the same thing, also saying that "the offer is for closer to $200 million than $250 million" with an average annual value of between $25 million and $30 million.

As Levine mentioned, such a jump in offers would be the White Sox bidding against themselves. There are so few suitors still in the mix, potentially only the White Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies, that it would be ridiculous to offer a gargantuan number if you didn't have to. It is obviously difficult to guess at what "more than you would have to" would be when the details of a Phillies offer have not been reported and remain a mystery. The Phillies owner said they might "be a little bit stupid" with their spending this winter, but how much does that mean?

Certain fans might be wondering why the White Sox wouldn't just offer a ton of money and assure they would land Machado. Why not overpay? That is a decision that could have a negative effect on the White Sox payroll for years to come and prevent them from making necessary moves once the contention window is open. Just look across town to the Cubs as a contending team struggling to make any roster adjustments because of the large contracts handed out in recent offseasons.

And it's also a complaint likely made considering the expectations at the beginning of the offseason, when Machado was expected to receive a contract worth $300 million. But we've come a long way since then, and recent reports that Machado's agent is still seeking a contract that would be baseball's largest ever — worth more than Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million deal — struck as almost laughable, particularly because this whole sweepstakes seems to be down to just two teams.

There's no telling quite yet how this weekend's meeting with Harper in Las Vegas has affected the Phillies' pursuit of Machado. Perhaps they want to convince both to go to Philly in some sort of LeBron-Wade-Bosh type situation, though even in that scenario the Phillies' championship chances would seem much less favorable than the Miami Heat's did. Or perhaps it's all a big chess game to try to convince one or the other to sign and sign quickly. The Phillies have been reported to prefer Machado and to be the "clear-cut favorite" to land Harper.

Where does all that leave the White Sox? Well, it would seemingly leave them with a seven-year, approximately $200 million offer on the table for Machado.

Whether or not that ends up as enough to get him or not, we'll find out one day. Hopefully one day soon.

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White Sox promote catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte as Welington Castillo lands on IL

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USA TODAY

White Sox promote catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte as Welington Castillo lands on IL

The White Sox catching depth will reportedly be put to the test.

According to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times, the White Sox placed catcher Welington Castillo on the injured list on Saturday. In a corresponding move, the team promoted catcher Seby Zavala from Triple-A Charlotte, according to Van Schouwen.

In 26 games this season, Castillo holds a .176/.286/.318 slashline with three home runs in 85 at-bats. He exited Friday's game against the Twins in the eighth inning after taking a foul ball off of his catcher's mask. 

While White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Friday that Castillo didn't go into concussion protocol, the team is likely being precautious due to the nature of the injury. 

Zavala, 25, has yet to appear in the big leagues, though he's played in 360 minor league games since the White Sox selected him in the 12th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He holds a career slashline of .267/.335/.457 across all minor league levels, reaching Triple-A for the first time last season. 

Zavala's slashline this season is currently below his career averages (.218/.253/.506 in 21 games), but he's hit six home runs in 87 at-bats. Last season, he hit 13 in a combined 380 at-bats between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

Although the circumstances of his promotion are not ideal, Zavala is leaving Charlotte on a high-note. In last night's game against the Durham Bulls, he went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run.

With Castillo out, the White Sox will likely lean on James McCann more. In 31 games this season, McCann holds a stellar .333/.373/.523 slashline

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White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

When the White Sox drafted Nick Madrigal with the fourth overall pick in last June’s draft he was known as an elite contact hitter who could play good defense on the infield.

In nearly a year in the minors, that has mostly held true, but not exactly according to plan. Madrigal raced through three levels of the minors in 2018 and hit .303 in 43 games between those three stops. He only had five strikeouts.

This season has not gone as smoothly. Madrigal is hitting .261 for Single-A Winston-Salem, but he still isn’t striking out much at all. In fact, according to a write-up on Milb.com, Madrigal leads of all minor league baseball with a 3.3 percent strikeout rate.

“Madrigal has plus speed, and that should lead to more hits as his sample increases, but he'll have to hit a lot more to provide value from his specific profile,” Sam Dykstra wrote.

So what’s with Madrigal not hitting for higher average? How can a batter strikeout so rarely and not find more hits?

White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, one of the key decision makers in drafting Madrigal, talked about Madrigal’s progress on an episode of the White Sox Talk podcast earlier this week.

“The one thing he’s still doing is making contact,” Hostetler said. “So that is what we expected. We expected that out of him. I’m not sure he was probably expecting the streaks. I think he’s dealt with a lot of streaks in his offensive game this year. I think he had one stretch that was 0-for-16 or 17 and he came back with a couple hits. So he’s been a little streaky this year. But I think he’s starting to learn. He’s starting to develop. He’s had one home run. He’s starting to hit some doubles, but he’s starting to learn to get the ball in the air a little bit. He’s learning how teams are shifting him, how they’re playing him.”

The shifts Hostetler referred to are another interesting part of Madrigal’s unusual profile. He is actually going to opposite field more than pulling the ball down left field and opposing defenses are playing him accordingly. That could be one reason to explain why Madrigal isn’t getting more hits out of all the balls he is putting in play.

He is showing a bit more power this year as opposed to last year (11 extra base hits vs. 7 in only 10 more plate appearances). His spray charts for 2018 and 2019 show he is pulling the ball more than he used to, a sign that he is adjusting.

2018 spray chart:

2019 spray chart:

Note that Madrigal has more balls resulting in hits getting pulled down the left field side than he had last year. As defenses are shifting him to hit the ball to opposite field, as Hostetler noted, this will be a key part of his development.

He is showing progress in other areas. He is drawing more walks (14 this season vs. 7 last year) and is showing off his speed with 12 stolen bases.

Hostetler isn’t pushing the panic button on Madrigal.

“This is part of development,” Hostetler said. “Unfortunately the new wave we’re in everybody thinks ‘well, they’re a college guy and he’s drafted so high he needs to hit like this and go right away and be there in a year.’ Some guys just take a little bit.

“The one thing I’ll say is the defense has been exactly what we thought it would be. It’s Gold Glove caliber defense and he’s making contact. As long as he keeps making contact, keep fielding those balls like he is, he’ll figure out the rest.”

 

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