White Sox

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

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USA TODAY

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

The White Sox best reliever through the first 42 games of this rebuilding season? Undoubtedly, it’s been Jace Fry.

With Rick Renteria’s bullpen hardly the most reliable relief corps the game has ever seen, Fry has been a revelation, starting his 2018 campaign with 7.1 scoreless innings over six appearances.

And now things are getting a bit more dramatic for the 24-year-old lefty, a guy who’s been through a pair of Tommy John surgeries. He pitched some high-leverage ball in Saturday night’s 5-3 win, sitting down all four hitters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings while protecting a two-run lead.

“I was ready the whole game, just waiting for my name to be called,” Fry said. “But it was awesome getting in there in the eighth inning, even getting the first guy in the ninth inning. After I got him I was kind of hoping he’d let me keep going.”

Renteria uses his bullpen in a non-traditional manner, one that perhaps he thinks is a way of the future or one that’s a result of his lack of dominant options out there. Whichever it is, he doesn’t really have a closer but rather a host of guys he uses in those high-leverage situations, whenever they might come during the late stages of a game. Joakim Soria, Nate Jones and Bruce Rondon have all been used to get big outs late in games, and Rondon threw a scoreless seventh Saturday, with Jones getting the game’s final two outs for the save.

But it could be argued that most difficult outs were recorded by Fry, who put away the visiting Texas Rangers’ fourth, fifth and sixth hitters before getting the seventh hitter to strike out to start off the ninth.

Renteria steered away from dubbing Fry one of his new high-leverage guys after the game, but why wouldn’t Fry be in that mix? All he’s done since joining the big league squad earlier this month is get outs. He’s got 10 strikeouts, hasn’t allowed a hit and has just two walks as the lone blemishes on an otherwise perfect season line.

“It just happens to be that it was the eighth inning and the ninth that he pitched,” Renteria said. “I think he’s looking very comfortable in those. It happens to be the eighth and ninth we needed him. He’s been very, very effective. He’s been commanding the strike zone very well, confidently approaching his hitters. He’s got pretty good stuff.

“He’s able to command the zone. Along with that nice breaking ball he’s got to lefties and righties, it’s pretty effective. But he’s continuing to show you he’s capable of coming in and getting some pretty good hitters.”

Fry has been a rarity this season in that he’s appeared to be a candidate for a long-term spot in the White Sox bullpen. Jones would perhaps be the only other guy coming close to qualifying for that, mostly because of his team-friendly contract that keeps him under control a few more years, but he’s had some rough moments, even with his ERA dropping to 3.50 on Saturday.

Fry, though, is young and is dealing at the moment. He even got a shoutout as a potential long-term piece from general manager Rick Hahn earlier this week.

“Take Jace Fry, someone we haven’t mentioned when we’ve had this conversation the last couple of weeks,” Hahn said Thursday, discussing the positives he’s seen during this developmental season. “He’s shown up here and shown that he’s made some progress in his last stint in the minors and now, at age 24, seems like he’s ready to take that next step, and pencil his name in as part of what we’re building here going forward.”

There’s a lot of season left, and no one’s expecting Fry to keep batters hitless and opposing teams scoreless from now through the end of September. But this is a nice development for the rebuilding White Sox at the moment, a guy who’s giving them at least one name to put into that bullpen of the future.

How long can he keep this thing going? As long as he keeps getting ahead of hitters.

“Having the success is awesome, but I realize it’s the plan, the plan of attack,” Fry said. “I’m going out and throwing Strike 1 and getting ahead. Actually doing it, seeing it and having the process work definitely creates more confidence. Once you go back to the blueprint of baseball, Strike 1 is everything.”

White Sox were reportedly one of four teams other than the Brewers to make an offer to Yasmani Grandal

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USA TODAY

White Sox were reportedly one of four teams other than the Brewers to make an offer to Yasmani Grandal

The White Sox are still supposedly in the hunt for the two big free agents fishes of this offseason, but they also made an offer to catcher Yasmani Grandal.

That's what Robert Murray of The Athletic is reporting.

Apparently, the White Sox were one of four teams to offer a multi-year deal to Grandal, along with the Mets, Angels and Twins. He wound up with the Brewers on a one-year deal worth at least $18.25 million ($16 million for 2019 and a $2.25 million buyout if the mutual option for 2020 isn't picked up).

Back in December, it was reported that the White Sox were "looking at" Grandal as a potential upgrade at catcher. Apparently, that resulted in a contract offer to the 30-year-old.

The offer obviously wasn't accepted, but is another sign of the White Sox trying to be active this offseason and showing some willingness to spend money.

 

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It's not exactly a play-by-play, but Rick Renteria gives some insight into White Sox meeting with Manny Machado

It's not exactly a play-by-play, but Rick Renteria gives some insight into White Sox meeting with Manny Machado

We don't know too much more today than we did yesterday about Manny Machado's meeting with the White Sox from back in December, the first stop on his free-agent tour that has still yet to yield a decision on where the 26-year-old superstar will be spending the better part of the next decade.

But someone's talking about it.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria was asked about that meeting Wednesday while at a community event ahead of this weekend's SoxFest, and he provided if not details at least a characterization of how the meeting went.

"Listen, Rick (Hahn, general manager) and the front office put a great presentation together for them," Renteria told reporters, including MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "It was very detailed. I would say this: If I was on the other side, I would have been very, very impressed.

"I thought it was a great meeting, great young man. We expressed our interest. We talked about what we are as an organization. And we looked forward. ... You just don't know yet where things will fall. I thought it was a very positive meeting for all parties involved."

Renteria also revealed that Jose Abreu was involved in the meeting with Machado, which if nothing else perhaps provides some insight into how the White Sox view Abreu as a part of their long-term plans.

"Manny spent a lot of time talking to (Abreu)," Renteria said, according to The Score's Bruce Levine. "I think he spent time getting to know us and vice versa. I thought for me it was a very positive meeting with us for all parties involved. Our industry will paint a portrait of everyone in a particular way. What you are looking at is a player who has great talent and has the ability to impact any club. Nothing is done. We will see what happens and, hopefully, we will be a part of that and move on from there."

So that's not exactly a play-by-play of what went down that day at Guaranteed Rate Field. But those are the first public comments we've heard about the meeting from the White Sox, making them decently noteworthy.

Of course, the White Sox and the rest of the baseball world are still waiting on Machado to make up his mind. The South Siders' offer — which Levine once more described as seven years long and worth $175 million — is the only one that's been reported on, leaving it up to the imagination what other offers Machado could be mulling. Those numbers associated with the White Sox reported offer are far from the beginning-of-the-offseason expectations of what kind of deal Machado would receive. But with the White Sox competing perhaps exclusively with the Philadelphia Phillies for Machado's services, the idea of him receiving a record-breaking contract seems less and less likely as the days move along. Though it's that which could be extending this saga, with Machado's agent waiting for an offer more to his liking. Whether he'll get one from the White Sox, Phillies or those mystery teams that keep floating around out there remains unknown.

What seems like a decently safe bet is that things won't be wrapped up when SoxFest commences Friday afternoon. While a surprise Machado introduction in front of the sold-out crowd would be a moment for the ages, Renteria hasn't been clued in that something like that is coming.

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