White Sox

J.D. Martinez? Mookie Betts? Red Sox upheaval adds big names to White Sox fans' offseason wish list

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USA TODAY

J.D. Martinez? Mookie Betts? Red Sox upheaval adds big names to White Sox fans' offseason wish list

The Boston Red Sox are in a state of change, to say the least, after firing team president Dave Dombrowski after Sunday night’s game against the New York Yankees.

White Sox fans are no strangers to this occurrence. Hawk Harrelson, in his lone year as general manager, fired Dombrowski, who was then a youthful assistant general manager with his hometown team. But they’ll be less interested in what it means for the Red Sox future and far more interested in what it means for their own team’s prospects.

While a regime change in Boston doesn’t initially seem to have much to do with the Pale Hose, already reports are describing the roster change that could be coming to Fenway Park. And that’s where the rebuilding White Sox come in.

According to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the Red Sox, in a bit of a financial pickle after Dombrowski inked Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi to lucrative contracts this year, will “likely end up parting with J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, or possibly even both this winter.”

Oh?

The White Sox are likely to be in the market for a right fielder this winter — or just power hitting in general — even if starting pitching might be higher on the to-do list for Rick Hahn’s front office. While current major or minor leaguers can be projected to fill in at pretty much every other spot on the diamond, right field is a mystery, thanks to injuries and under-performance that made the organization’s bunch of outfield prospects far less attractive than it was mere months ago.

Betts is Boston’s right fielder, a three-time Gold Glover out there and not even a year removed from being named the American League MVP. His numbers have dipped this season amid the Red Sox significant World Series hangover that has them 17.5 games back of the Yankees in the AL East standings. But Betts is still slashing .291/.389/.525 with 27 homers and 77 RBIs. He’s got 40 doubles for the fifth consecutive season and leads baseball with 128 runs scored. Those numbers are still obviously very good, just not the out-of-this-world figures he posted en route to a world championship in 2018.

Betts is the more attractive of the two, simply because he can do a lot more things on the field and he’s younger, 26 years old compared to the 32-year-old Martinez. He would figure to be a much better fit with the White Sox long-term plans, given his age aligns more closely with those of the rest of the team’s young core. Of course, Betts also has just one more year of team control remaining, slated to become a free agent following the 2020 season.

Martinez, meanwhile, might have been heading toward free agency this winter anyway. His monstrous contract allows him to opt out after this season, as well as after next season and after the season after that. He, too, was an MVP-caliber hitter in 2018, and he, too, is experiencing a backslide from those elite numbers, owning a .308/.384/.577 slash line to go along with his 35 homers and 95 RBIs. Again, still very good.

Martinez is not known as a quality defender, though that wouldn’t necessarily prevent him from playing right field for the White Sox. He’s started 35 games in the outfield for Boston this season and has played 486 career games in right. That includes during the three and a half seasons he terrorized the AL Central as a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Martinez, too, would be a natural fit at designated hitter, where he’s played the bulk of his games this season. This is all speculation, of course, but would the White Sox add Martinez as a DH, it would force Jose Abreu to be an everyday first baseman (where he’s played a lot more than initially anticipated, anyway, considering how poorly Yonder Alonso’s brief tenure with the team went) and potentially limit Zack Collins, just returned from a highly successful offensive stint in the minor leagues, to backup catcher, where there are a lot of questions over his defensive future.

If Martinez doesn’t opt out, he and Betts would both need to be acquired via trade. That’s where things could get tricky for the White Sox. The aforementioned rash of injuries and under-performance wasn’t limited to the team’s outfield prospects this season, also affecting many pitchers, as well. The point being that it might be rather difficult to create an alluring package of prospects that would net a player of this status.

It doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But the most attractive names in the White Sox system — Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, Michael Kopech, Andrew Vaughn — figure to be key parts of Hahn’s long-term rebuilding plan. So those guys aren’t going anywhere. And then it becomes difficult to envision a guy one year removed from an MVP win or a top-five MVP finish being acquired for a package built around second-tier prospects.

Remember what it took for the Red Sox to fetch Sale from the White Sox in 2016. The White Sox don’t have prospects the caliber of Yoan Moncada and Kopech that they’d be willing to part with this winter.

But if Martinez hits the open market, then there’s no reason the White Sox — who have pledged to be aggressive with money to spend an offseason after they tried and failed to bring Manny Machado to the South Side — can’t go after that kind of big fish.

Certain baseball people already seem to be mentioning the White Sox and Martinez in the same breath.


It seemed like the market might be light this winter after the flurry of extensions that locked up so many expected free agents. But between Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon and these two suddenly available Red Sox, there will be plenty of high-level names that if acquired would help kick the White Sox rebuilding project into overdrive and make the 2020 season look like a contending one.

It’s still September, but the Hot Stove is already simmering.

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: The time A.J. and Marte saved the day

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AP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: The time A.J. and Marte saved the day

Sometimes you’ve just got to shout out a game-saving play.

In this instance, the fact that the play was needed was actually the fault of the person who made it. But that’s baseball for you: You always have a chance to make up for what you just did.

On April 23, 2005, the White Sox and the Royals were locked in a two-all tie in the bottom of the ninth of a tilt in Kansas City. Damaso Marte, however, was in a bit of a jam. After Luis Vizcaino gave up the tying run in the previous inning, Marte loaded the bases with one out.

In a pressure-packed moment that could have instantly ended with the White Sox the losers, Marte did not help his own cause by throwing a way-off-the-mark pitch right past A.J. Pierzynski.

The runner on third, Matt Diaz, came home in an attempt to score the game-winning run and walk off the visiting White Sox. But Pierzynski and Marte sprung into action. Pierzynski fed Marte, Marte met Diaz at home and the reliever tagged the runner for the second out of the inning.

Game saved.


You’ve got to love Hawk Harrelson’s call on that one, too: “Here comes the runner! Give it to him! You got him! Yes!”

Marte followed that up with an inning-ending strikeout, allowing the White Sox bats to score the game-winning run in the 10th inning. Ozzie Guillen sent Marte back out for the bottom of the 10th, and Marte went 1-2-3 to lock down the win.

Every championship season — and plenty of those that don’t end with a trophy — features those kinds of game-saving plays. And it was, in general, a game-saving performance by the White Sox bullpen as a whole in this one.

Jose Contreras lasted just 3.1 innings — details on that below — forcing the South Side relief corps into duty for a whopping 6.2 innings. They limited the Royals to just one run.

I talked earlier during our #SoxRewind about how good the White Sox bullpen was, combining with that sensational rotation to make a truly championship-caliber pitching staff. And Adam Hoge wrote about Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts, two of the four White Sox relievers who stepped up to fill the Contreras-less innings in this one.

It’ll be a recurring theme, that great relief.

And on this day back in 2005, a reliever even got in some defensive excellence, too, saving the game for the White Sox.

What else?

— After giving up a leadoff homer to David DeJesus, Contreras was dealing. He struck out six of the last eight batters he faced coming into the bottom of the fourth. But coming off the mound on a ground ball hit by Mike Sweeney, he tweaked something in his leg. After a lot of hobbling around the infield, he faced Matt Stairs, who tried to take advantage of Contreras’ physical condition with a bunt attempt. When Contreras hit Stairs with the next pitch, Guillen took his starting pitcher out of the game. Darrin Jackson was under the impression the hit batter had nothing to do with Contreras’ leg hurting and instead was in retaliation for Stairs’ bunt try. Whatever the reason, perhaps both, Contreras lasted just 3.1 innings, his shortest outing of the 2005 season.

— How good was the White Sox rotation in 2005? Contreras’ 3.1-inning outing April 23 was the shortest start made by any of the team’s top four starters that season. The team experienced just three shorter outings by a starting pitcher in 2005, two by Orlando Hernandez and one by Brandon McCarthy.

— The Royals lost 106 games in 2005, and it's not difficult to see why. Kansas City made mistakes all over the place in this one, including two huge ones in crunch time. Diaz coming home on that wild pitch with the bases loaded and just one out was ill advised and potentially prevented the Royals from scoring the winning run in the ninth. Then in the 10th, the Royals botched a double play, only getting one out when the ball was lost on the transfer at second base. It allowed Pierzynski to stay at first base, and he eventually came around to score the winning run on an Aaron Rowand base hit.

— One of the best pitchers in modern baseball history was not so great in 2005. Zack Greinke was a 21-year-old kid when he faced the White Sox in this one. He was good in this game, giving up only one earned run in his seven innings. But he ended up losing 17 games, the most in the AL, in 2005, finishing the campaign with a 5.80 ERA. Fast forward four years, and Greinke was the AL Cy Young winner thanks to a pencil-thin 2.16 ERA that led the major leagues. In his 16-year big league career, Greinke has finished in the top 10 of Cy Young voting five times, turned in six 200-strikeout seasons, made six All-Star teams and won and won six Gold Gloves.

— Pierzynski isn’t the prototypical speed demon. But he motored home from first base on a Juan Uribe double in the second inning. Any sort of good relay would have been sure to nab Pierzynski at the plate. But the Royals couldn’t put that together, and he scored easily. Even Jackson was surprised at the decision to send Pierzynski home: “There's no way he's supposed to send Pierzynski home on that play.” Well, it worked.


— The White Sox 14-4 start was the best through 18 games in club history.

Since you been gone

While #SoxRewind is extensive, it doesn’t include all 162 regular-season contests, meaning we’re going to be skipping over some games. So what’d we miss since last time?

April 21, 2005: The White Sox took back-to-back walks to force in a run in the first inning, but Jeremy Bonderman was otherwise strong. The South Siders needed to make a late comeback to topple the Tigers this day, Scott Podsednik driving in a pair with a seventh-inning single to flip a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 win. White Sox win, 4-3, improve to 12-4.

April 22, 2005: The White Sox wore out Royals pitching, scoring eight runs on 12 hits, but hit no homers. Podsednik drew three walks and stole three bases. White Sox win, 8-2, improve to 13-4.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Thursday, when you can catch the April 25, 2005, game against the A’s, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Jon Garland goes the distance, and Chris Widger goes deep.

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NBC Sports Chicago to simulate White Sox games with MLB: The Show

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MLB: The Show, via Forbes

NBC Sports Chicago to simulate White Sox games with MLB: The Show

Chicago, IL (April 1, 2020) – NBC Sports Chicago will present weekly Chicago White Sox MLB: The Show game simulations - based on the team’s original 2020 same day game schedule - beginning tomorrow, Thursday, April 2.  The network’s 2020 White Sox MLB: The Show “Game of the Week” simulations, which will include the same video and audio components of MLB: The Show gameplay, will debut every Thursday at 2:00 PM CT exclusively on NBCSportsChicago.com, the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app and YouTube.com/NBCSportsChicago.  NBC Sports Chicago’s White Sox experts Jason Benetti (@jasonbenetti) and Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) will also be a part of every game simulation, providing entertaining play-by-play and analysis via an in-game video chat.  (NOTE: Fans located anywhere in the U.S. can download MyTeams for free on iOS and Android devices in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.)

In addition, for all games that were originally scheduled to take place in between NBC Sports Chicago’s MLB: The Show “Game of the Week” simulations, fans can visit NBCSportsChicago.com and the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app for a quick “In :60” video highlight reel, along with a complete game recap.  Please note NBC Sports Chicago’s complete White Sox MLB: The Show game simulation schedule below (NOTE: All games debut at 2:00 PM CT; schedule subject to change):

Thursday, April 2 -- WHITE SOX at BOSTON (Red Sox home opener)
Thursday, April 9 -- WHITE SOX vs. SEATTLE (from Wed, Apr. 8 due to off day on Apr. 9)
Thursday, April 16 -- WHITE SOX vs. TEXAS
Thursday, April 23 -- WHITE SOX at LOS ANGELES (Angels)
Thursday, April 30 -- WHITE SOX at COLORADO (from Wed, Apr. 29 due to off day on Apr. 30)
Thursday, May 7 -- WHITE SOX vs. TAMPA BAY
Thursday, May 14 -- WHITE SOX vs. TORONTO
Thursday, May 21 -- WHITE SOX at MINNESOTA
Thursday, May 28 -- WHITE SOX at BALTIMORE

NOTE:  For the latest news, analysis, team/league updates and team-specific podcasts, fans are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com or download the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app.  

NBC Sports Chicago, a partnership between the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago White Sox (MLB) and the NBC Sports Group, features over 275 live pro games in high definition each year.  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago delivers extensive pre/post-game coverage for its core pro team partners, as well as Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs multi-platform coverage, plus - local sports discussion programs that includes SportsTalk Live, and massive cross-platform coverage provided by the network’s growing digital platform, NBCSportsChicago.com, the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app, and its variety of fan-focused social media outlets. Fans can follow the network on Twitter via @NBCSChicago.

NBC Sports Regional Networks is NBC Sports Group’s portfolio of nine regional networks that delivers more than 2,200 live sporting events and original content to more than 35 million homes. Aligned within Eastern and Western Divisions, the NBC Sports Regional Networks are: NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Philadelphia +, NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Washington + and SNY; and NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago/NBC Sports Chicago+, and NBC Sports Northwest. For more information on NBC Sports Group properties, including press releases, photos, talent and executive bios, headshots and logos, please visit www.NBCSportsGroupPressBox.com.