White Sox

Jace Fry emerging as bright spot in an otherwise unreliable White Sox bullpen

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USA TODAY

Jace Fry emerging as bright spot in an otherwise unreliable White Sox bullpen

The White Sox came into the season with a bullpen stocked with potential flip candidates and guys trying to carve out a spot in this organization's bright future.

Neither party has fared too well.

Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan haven't done much to convince a contender to cough up a prospect or two in a midseason trade. Juan Minaya and Gregory Infante, who both showed promise at the end of last season, were both quickly demoted to the minor leagues. Nate Jones and Aaron Bummer have had their stumbles. Hector Santiago and Chris Volstad have taken turns plugging holes in the White Sox leaky starting rotation to varying degrees of effectiveness.

But at least one guy is showing signs that he could maybe become something out there in the 'pen and be part of the relief corps when the White Sox open up their contention window in the next couple years.

Jace Fry hasn't allowed a hit this season, his most recent appearance coming in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Fry has faced 20 batters over six innings of work, and the only men he's put on have reached via a pair of walks. He's struck out eight of those 20 hitters.

Fry, a third-round pick of the White Sox back in the 2014 draft, got his first taste of the majors last season, and things did not go well. He logged 6.2 big league innings over 11 appearances and finished 2017 with a gargantuan 10.80 ERA. He was promoted right from Double-A Birmingham, where things did go well, with Fry posting a 2.78 ERA in 45.1 relief innings there. This season, he started at Triple-A Charlotte, and he gave up just one run in 6.2 innings before getting the call to come back to the bigs.

And now he's perhaps the most reliable option Rick Renteria has to go to in that bullpen. Four of Fry's five outings have last at least an inning, and he's struck out multiple hitters in three of his five appearances.

Compare that to the rest of the White Sox relief corps, which has struggled. Soria coughed up the game-winning run in the seventh inning Wednesday and now has a 4.72 ERA. Jones, who White Sox fans are likely still associating with that four-run ninth last week against these same Pirates, got his ERA down under 4.00 (it's 3.86) with back-to-back scoreless eight innings Sunday against the Cubs and Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Chris Beck is the third pitcher in the 'pen whose ERA is under 4.00, at 3.94 after 3.2 innings of relief in Tuesday's loss.

Bruce Rondon has arguably joined Fry as another bright spot, though that's pretty relative considering his ERA is all the way up at 4.15, even after he picked up the save in Sunday's win at Wrigley Field. He's got strikeout stuff but also has a four-run appearance to his name this season.

In other words, Renteria's options aren't numerous.

Fry, though, because of his age (24) and his status as a homegrown member of the White Sox organization, could find a way to stick around not just in 2018 but beyond. The sample size is small, but he's been impressive out of a bullpen that's been mostly the opposite so far this season.

Perhaps Rick Hahn was again trying to execute the same strategy he did a season ago, when he traded away much of the relief corps in midsummer deals. That doesn't seem likely to happen unless this group radically changes its performance. But in Fry, he might have a arm to stick in that future bullpen.

White Sox being linked to Nomar Mazara trade talks with Rangers

White Sox being linked to Nomar Mazara trade talks with Rangers

The White Sox have two major needs in their lineup: a left-handed bat and a right fielder. They are reportedly in trade talks to fill both holes with one player.

Jim Bowden first reported that the White Sox are in trade talks with the Texas Rangers for outfielder Nomar Mazara. Others have since confirmed the report. There appears to be some real smoke with this one.


Working with the premise that these trade talks are happening, let’s take a look at what Mazara would bring to the White Sox.

For starters, he plays right field and is a left-handed bat. The White Sox don’t have much in the way of left-handers in the lineup. Zack Collins is a lefty, but his place in the lineup is far from secure. After that it’s switch-hitters Yoan Moncada, Leury Garcia and now Yasmani Grandal. Mazara is a lefty who had an .844 OPS against right-handers last season.

On top of that, he’s 24 years old so that part lines up with what the White Sox are trying to build in terms of having young pieces on the roster. Mazara debuted in 2016 so he hits free agency after 2021.

Mazara is a below average defender according to defensive metrics and his offensive numbers don’t stand out. Considering his age, it’s plausible to think he gets better though.

He has a career .754 OPS, including a career-best .786 OPS last season. Mazara hit .268/.318/.469 last year in 116 games. That’s decent production, but not eye-popping.

Mazara hit exactly 20 home runs in each of his first three seasons and then hit 19 last season (albeit in less playing time). He also blasted a mammoth 505-foot home run off of Reynaldo Lopez on June 22.

He mashed against the White Sox last year with three home runs in three games. Mazara has a 1.016 OPS against the White Sox in 91 plate appearances. Maybe the White Sox have been impressed and want to bring him on board.

Maybe Mazara is a change-of-scenery candidate that can breakthrough after leaving Texas. He also likely wouldn’t cost the White Sox one of their untouchable prospects like Andrew Vaughn, for example. It wouldn’t be a show-stopping move from the White Sox, but it would fill two holes while also having some upside.

The Rangers have an excess of outfielders and the White Sox are looking for one. It’s a logical move that has been discussed here before. The Cardinals are in the same boat as the White Sox, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted on Tuesday, so there could be competition for Mazara.

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White Sox reportedly interested in reliever Craig Stammen

White Sox reportedly interested in reliever Craig Stammen

For all the talk of the White Sox getting starting pitching help this winter, talk of the bullpen has been secondary.

Here’s a rumor connecting the White Sox to right-hander Craig Stammen.

Stammen has been with the San Diego Padres the last three years and was effective in his tenure in Southern California. He had a 3.06 ERA in 209 appearances with 235 strikeouts, 60 walks and 213 hits allowed. Last season was a similarly effective 3.29 ERA with 73 strikeouts, 15 walks and 80 hits allowed in 82 innings.

Stammen’s resume has been solid since moving from a starting role to the bullpen full-time in 2012 with the Washington Nationals. He has a 2.93 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in his career as a reliever.

On paper, he would be a solid addition to the bullpen. The interesting thing about the rumor is that Stammen will turn 36 in spring training. He hasn’t shown any signs of declining yet, but he doesn’t line up with the White Sox long-term view of their contention window. That said, bullpens turnover quickly so it’s not entirely reasonable to plan a bullpen for three years from now.

The top three right-handers in the 2019 White Sox bullpen in terms of appearances were Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera and Evan Marshall. Colome was solid as the team’s closer and Marshall was surprisingly effective, but Herrera struggled.

Herrera was last year’s big free-agent signing for the bullpen and is under contract for $8,500,000 in 2020. He had a 6.14 ERA and batters hit .288 against him in 51.1 innings last season.

Stammen could be what the White Sox were hoping Herrera would be when they signed him last year. He’s older, but has a better track record. It wouldn’t be a flashy high-priced pitcher to add to the starting rotation, but you can never have enough bullpen help.

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