White Sox

Rick Renteria on Yolmer Sanchez's potential departure: 'He’s going to help somebody'


Rick Renteria on Yolmer Sanchez's potential departure: 'He’s going to help somebody'

The White Sox still haven’t officially announced that they are putting Yolmer Sanchez on waivers, but both parties are talking about the move in the past tense.

Sanchez posted to his Instagram feed on Wednesday morning with what sure sounded like a goodbye message.

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⏳🙏🏼 we keep moving forward 🎯👊🏼

A post shared by Yolmer Sanchez (@yolmersanchez5) on

“Nothing to feel upset about but I have a lot to be thankful for,” Sanchez’s message read. “There is no time to be sad. There is still a long way to go, to get up and keep my head up.”

Sanchez just won a Gold Glove, which was arguably the highlight of his MLB career to this point. Three weeks later he is without a team for the first time in his career.

He will get another shot somewhere else, but the emotional ride can’t be easy for Sanchez. White Sox manager Rick Renteria said as much to reporters on Tuesday for a Thanksgiving charity event at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in West Loop.

“This kid is an outstanding, for me, a personality, player, glove, knows how to play the game,” Renteria said. “Can do little things to help you win. I know there are certain numbers and indicators and metrics that people look at that say what he is and what he isn’t. If you just close your eyes or just watch, just watch him play and see the things that he does out there to help you on a daily basis.

“He’s going to help somebody. Maybe it’s us still, but he’s still going to help somebody win some ball games. I know that part of his defense was the reason we had a lot of the successes that we did have last year.”

Renteria’s “he’s going to help somebody” line is the first acknowledgement from the White Sox of Sanchez’s departure. He also left the door open for Sanchez to return, although Sanchez can probably land a better opportunity elsewhere.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported later on Wednesday that Sanchez cleared waivers, making him a free agent.

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Any Yoan Moncada extension would be in line with White Sox strategy


Any Yoan Moncada extension would be in line with White Sox strategy

Is a Yoan Moncada extension in the works?

Moncada's not aware of anything, or so he told reporters Tuesday in Arizona.

"Honestly, I don’t pay too much attention to that," he said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "My focus is just in the game and preparing myself to be in the best position that I can be for the season. Just work hard. That’s my goal right now. That’s where my focus is right now.

"If my agent calls me and tells me there is something ... then we’ll consider it. For now, I’m just focusing on my game and my preparation."

Whether winds blowing throughout the Twittersphere are onto something or not, indeed it is extension season. The White Sox just announced a long-term commitment to reliever Aaron Bummer over the weekend. It was in the run-up to Opening Day last spring that Eloy Jimenez signed his big-money deal that assured he broke camp with the big league club and could keep him on the South Side for as long as seven more seasons.

The big-money deal for Luis Robert — the second for a player yet to play a major league game in as many years — came well before the first full-squad workout at Camelback Ranch. But it shows the continued commitment by the White Sox to keep this core together as long as possible.

Seeing that kind of commitment to Moncada, who emerged as the team's best all-around hitter last season, after struggling through his first full year in the majors in 2018, would not be surprising.

"This tends to be the most productive time of year in terms of getting extensions done," general manager Rick Hahn said the day pitchers and catchers reported to Glendale. "Doesn’t mean anything is going to happen. But especially early in camp when things are a little quieter, it’s a little easier to have those conversations and certainly not distract the player from their in-season games or their late-camp preparation.

"In terms of whether any of those will materialize, we’ll see."

One already has, with Bummer. Could Moncada be next?

Though purely speculation, the White Sox third baseman would perhaps be less inclined than others to jump at big dollars now. After all, he received a record $31 million signing bonus when he signed with the Boston Red Sox as an international free agent. Since coming over to the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade, he's shown why the other color of Sox invested that much in him in the first place. While dancing around some injury issues in 2019, he slashed .315/.367/.548 with 25 home runs and 79 RBIs. He was considered an All-Star snub by many in the home clubhouse at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Whether Moncada and his representation want to cash in now or hold off for a bigger payday in free agency — scheduled to arrive after the 2023 season — is up to them.

The White Sox have shown their dedication to extending a contention window by keeping these youngsters on the South Side for a good, long while. Certainly they would be happy to employ Moncada for as long as possible, particularly if his 2019 breakout was merely a sign of things to come.

Take a look at how long the White Sox have their core under club control:

— Through the 2021 season: Nomar Mazara, Carlos Rodon

— Through the 2022 season: Jose Abreu

— Through the 2023 season: Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez

— Through the 2024 season: Tim Anderson, Michael Kopech

— Through the 2025 season: Dylan Cease

— Through the 2026 season: Eloy Jimenez, Aaron Bummer

— Through the 2027 season: Luis Robert

That's a lot of club control, and moving Moncada down on that list a few spots would only make the long-term future look all the better.

"I feel comfortable on this team," he said. "I have been feeling comfortable on this team since the moment I came here. I actually see myself on this team for a very long time."

We'll see, to borrow a Hahn term, if anything materializes before Opening Day. But if something does, that would be right in line with the front office's strategy as they look to open that contention window.

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White Sox don't need Dallas Keuchel to be a 'savior,' but he can still set the tone

White Sox don't need Dallas Keuchel to be a 'savior,' but he can still set the tone

Mark Buehrle. Jon Lester.

No matter what side of town you want to invoke, the comparisons have already come for Dallas Keuchel.

Keuchel gets comp’d with Buehrle, the White Sox legendary left-hander who helped deliver a World Series in 2005, because of style. Hard-throwing strikeout kings they are not. Elite defenders who can get the job done by pitching to the defense behind them, that’s their game.

Keuchel gets the Lester nod mostly because of what’s going on around him. His arrival on the South Side, where the White Sox are primed to leap from rebuilding mode into contending mode, seems to mirror what happened with Lester on the North Side ahead of the 2015 season. Like Lester brought a packed resume to the Cubs, Keuchel comes to the White Sox with experience as a Cy Young winner and a World Series champ.

But Keuchel is not here to be the ace Buehrle was. And he’s not here to be the franchise-defining arm Lester was, either.

“He wasn’t brought in solely to be a savior,” general manager Rick Hahn said last week. “We’re not looking to him to pitch like a No. 1. If he does, which he’s capable of doing, fantastic. But we have other guys in this rotation and other guys coming that we think have the ability to pitch as No. 1s and No. 2s, and Dallas is just another part of that rotation.”

Don’t read that as a slight against the White Sox big free agent addition to the starting rotation. It’s more so praise of a collection of young arms the team believes contains several guys who can emerge as top-of-the-rotation talents.

Lucas Giolito’s already there after remaking himself into an All-Star last season and finishing sixth in the 2019 AL Cy Young vote. He’s the ace of the staff and the favorite to get the start on Opening Day. The guys behind him bring more questions than answers at this point, but if Dylan Cease can put the rookie year growing pains in the rearview mirror, if Reynaldo Lopez can find some consistency to match his flashes of brilliance and Michael Kopech can be the pitcher who was promised prior to his Tommy John surgery, then yeah, Keuchel will be just another part of the rotation — in a very good way.

“There’s a lot of deep prospects in this organization,” Keuchel said in the early days of White Sox camp. “I threw a bullpen (the day before pitchers and catchers officially reported). … I was very thankful that I threw mine (that day) because some of these guys were coming out of the tank throwing 93 or 95 with little amount of effort.

“The talent is endless. We just have to kind of get working on the mental state of some of these guys. Get them ready for the big league life and the ups and downs of Major League Baseball.”

But none of this is to suggest that Keuchel is going to kick back and take a backseat to the youngsters over the next three years (or four, should he pitch well enough that the White Sox pick up that option for the 2023 season). Part of the reason he was brought in was to be a leader, to set the tone for the starting staff — even if the elite potential of some of these younger arms lead to numbers more in line with the traditional description of an ace.

“There’s different ways to set the tone,” Hahn said. “There’s the ability to eat up innings. There’s the ability to come up with a big start when the bullpen needs a relief and perhaps we’ve had a couple short outings from other guys. And there’s a way of setting the tone simply by how he goes about his business on a daily basis and showing guys how to be a professional and showing guys how to deal with, hopefully, the stress and expectations of a pennant race.”

Reliability. Dependability. Stability. Other -bilities.

The young guys might have the gas, but they don’t have all those things yet. And that’s what makes Keuchel a unique and powerful presence within this group. Even in the early days of spring training, he made a habit of chatting up his fellow hurlers.

“He has naturally gravitated to giving pitchers some of his observations and insight,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He's a bright man. I mean, he can articulate a message. You can articulate a concept and maybe give insight. When you're able to put words to insight and connect with your teammates, it's very valuable.”

Don’t let all this talk of not needing to pitch like a No. 1 and providing pearls of wisdom let you believe that Keuchel is some creaky old man who won’t be a primary piece of the White Sox chase for a playoff spot in 2020. He most definitely will be. Keuchel might not be set to embark upon another Cy Young campaign like his dazzling 2015 season — a 2.48 ERA and 216 strikeouts in an AL-high 232 innings — but he’s just two years removed from facing more hitters than any pitcher in baseball.

Keuchel might not need to pitch like a No. 1 to live up to the White Sox expectations for him this season. But he might just do it anyway, whether the numbers say it’s likely or not.

The numbers didn’t much like Buehrle, either.

“Honestly this is the best I've felt in a number of years. So that really helps out the mental edge coming in,” he said. “This game is always going to be about commanding the baseball and just knowing how to pitch.

“The guys with elite velocity and elite this and that, plus command are the guys who year-in, year-out are in for Cy Youngs and this and that. But at the end of the day it's always going to be about command. That's where guys' average stuff makes them better and that's where I include myself.

“Analytics always has a tough time with me, and I think that's a good thing, though, for me as well. Sometimes it can be a little disappointing just from the fact that they can't draw numbers on me because the numbers say I'm not that good. But then again, you look at my resume and see all this stuff and you think, ‘How can that be?’

“I'm hoping to help out future generations of players, and I think this game will never change in that aspect.”

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