White Sox

Rumor roundup: White Sox mentioned in various reports as trade deadline nears

Rumor roundup: White Sox mentioned in various reports as trade deadline nears

The trade deadline is coming. And with it comes a flood of rumors involving nearly every team in Major League Baseball.

The White Sox are not immune to those figurative waters, and they've popped up as the subject of various reports regarding possible deals.

As discussed numerous times in recent days, this year's deadline is a little different than those of years past for Rick Hahn's front office. The White Sox, thanks in no small part to their 3-11 start to the second half, are not going to be "buying" in the traditional sense in an attempt to chase down a wild-card spot. Of course, they were never going to do that, as Hahn's rebuilding plans don't involve making moves solely for one postseason appearance but rather to set his team up for perennial contention in the years to come.

But because the roster is not rife with players on expiring contracts, the White Sox don't figure to be traditional "sellers" either. While Hahn made a habit of selling off his back-end bullpen pieces in 2017 and 2018, pitchers like Alex Colome, Aaron Bummer and Jace Fry are all under team control for the 2020 season. And while the team isn't playing well right now, a positive-filled first half made it look rather realistic that the White Sox could make their transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode as soon as next season. If they plan on being contenders, a back end of the 'pen featuring Colome, Bummer and Fry would be a valuable asset to have on the South Side, making it seemingly unlikely that those hurlers would be dealt in the coming days.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Hahn could receive an offer that would tip the scales toward moving any of those players or others. Plus, there's the item Hahn has yet to cross off his rebuilding to-do list, acquiring a big-time talent from outside the organization to add to a growing and impressive young core. He tried to land Manny Machado in the offseason, but Machado chose to take his talents to San Diego. The trade deadline presents another opportunity to make such an addition, though it all depends on the players available. Hahn described those in-season opportunities as far less likely to present themselves as ones during the offseason, when free agents are available in addition to trade targets.

With all that, here's a look at some of the recent reports mentioning the White Sox.

Will someone pry a reliever away from the South Side?

Whether because relief pitching is always in high demand at this time of year, because Hahn traded so many relievers during the last two summers or simply because the White Sox have some very good pitchers at the back end of their bullpen, there's been a focus on whether they'll deal Colome, Bummer or Fry.

The Score's Bruce Levine tweeted earlier this week that multiple teams are thinking about being interested in or are interested in Colome and Bummer, specifically mentioning the Atlanta Braves as an interested party.

MLB Network's Jon Morosi added another NL East club to the mix Friday, saying the Washington Nationals are "showing active interest" in Colome.

So will the White Sox deal Colome? It is 100-percent based on what they can get for him. That might sound obvious, but in years past you've seen the White Sox trade away their closers — David Robertson in 2017 and Joakim Soria in 2018 — in attempt to get something. Robertson was part of the seven-player deal with the New York Yankees that most notably returned Blake Rutherford, still trying to work his way into the team's crowded outfield of the future, and Soria was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for pitching prospect Kodi Medeiros, who's been moved to the bullpen after posting a 6.80 ERA as a starter at Double-A Birmingham.

Those were fine pieces to acquire at the time, but neither Robertson nor Soria were lining up to serve as the closer for a contending White Sox team. That could be Colome's job in 2020 if the White Sox hang onto him now. So the question becomes whether the White Sox can get something in return that would prove equally valuable or more valuable than a dominant, All-Star caliber closer on a contending team a year from now. And given how often contenders are shopping for closers at the trade deadline every year, it would seem that would be a valuable asset indeed.

Now, contending teams have been known to part with highly rated prospects on the verge of the majors in acquiring All-Star type closers in the past. The Cubs traded Gleyber Torres, now a two-time All-Star infielder for the Yankees, to get Aroldis Chapman in 2016. The Cleveland Indians dealt highly touted catching prospect Francisco Mejia in acquiring Brad Hand from the Padres last summer. So there is precedent, and a team could call Hahn up and offer up a potential cornerstone for Colome.

Just remember that Colome could potentially have an awful lot of value to the White Sox, so they might not be eager to part with him.

The other two arms discussed, Bummer and Fry, are younger guys who could be part of this bullpen for multiple seasons to come. Bummer, in particular, has been phenomenal this season and earns high praise from the White Sox. He's a guy that could one day be given a shot at the closer's job, whether that's after Colome departs as a free agent or in the event that the White Sox are offered something big for Colome in the next few days. Either way, constructing a bullpen is not easy, even for contenders, and keeping guys like Bummer and Fry might end up being the better decision.

But, it all comes down to what Hahn could get in any such deal.

Do the White Sox want Nomar Mazara?

With the prospect of being a contending group in 2020, the possibility exists that the White Sox could add at this year's deadline. It would have to be someone who has value to them into the future because they obviously wouldn't be buying for a postseason run in 2019.

When discussing that possibility in the past, ideas centered around finding a big-time player who could be added to the core and have the kind of impact Machado might have had he decided to come to the South Side.

Or maybe it could be Texas Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara? According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the White Sox have been one of a couple teams "watching" Mazara, the 24-year-old outfielder in his fourth major league season.

While Mazara has upside, he's hardly of the big-time class you'd put players like Machado or Charlie Blackmon or Zack Greinke in. He'd be an addition to provide outfield depth, you'd have to assume. Mazara isn't exactly blowing the doors off the 2019 season, either, slashing .255/.307/.438 with 14 homers. Those numbers aren't the type that would excite a fan base.

That being said, right field looks like a definite need for the White Sox at the moment. Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert figure to have left field and center field spoken for for years to come. But what looked like a crowded group of prospects vying for the long-term job in right has since been dotted with question marks. The White Sox have a ton of outfield prospects, but almost all of them have had disappointing 2019 seasons due to underperformance or injury. Micker Adolfo is out for the season. Luis Basabe has a .235 batting average in only 47 games this season. Rutherford has a .656 OPS. Steele Walker's batting average is .100 points lower at Class A Winston-Salem than it was at Class A Kannapolis. Luis Gonzalez is slashing .234/.295/.334.

All those players could turn things around, sure, but it's enough to make you wonder how high acquiring a right fielder is on Hahn's to-do list ahead of the 2020 season. Depending on what he'd have to give up to get Mazara, it's possible that the current Ranger would be worth a flier for a two-month audition. We'll see.

Is there a surprise trade candidate on the White Sox roster?

Colome and the relievers have been mentioned a bunch for the various reasons described above. But what about elsewhere on the roster? The White Sox might not be particularly motivated to break up a group that manager Rick Renteria described thusly: "This group in particular, it's a pretty good group. I think they respect each other, love each other. I think they play alongside of each other very, very well."

MLB Trade Rumors took a look at whether Ivan Nova could be dealt before the deadline, mentioning an MLB.com report that teams have been "looking" at Nova. Contending teams often look to give themselves starting-rotation depth, and they've only got one shot to do it this season with the elimination of waiver deals in August. So maybe Nova could be of use to a team or two out there. The numbers would say otherwise, as Nova owns a 5.49 ERA even after his complete-game effort against the Miami Marlins on Monday night. But he's a veteran and has a track record and could be worth a flier for a contending team.

And so the same calculus pops up should a team come calling looking for a Nova trade. Nova, unlike Colome and Bummer and Fry, does not figure to be a part of the White Sox plans past the 2019 season, which could make a "get something for him" deal more likely. That being said, however, he was brought in to eat up innings and help mentor young pitchers, specifically Reynaldo Lopez. He's certainly done the latter, as he chronicled during an interview Thursday. And though his production has not been what the White Sox hoped it would be, the starting rotation has been thin all season and taking another pitcher out of it leaves a lot of innings to soak up in the remainder of the season, something that could overly tax the bullpen. So maybe Nova isn't a "trade him just to get anything" type of veteran.

Jon Jay is in a similar situation, leading to similar speculation. He's not expected to be a part of things past the end of this season. Unlike Nova, Jay has been productive in the short time since his return from a months-long stay on the injured list. Jay would figure to have value to contending teams, and perhaps it makes him the most likely to be dealt. But as for how much the White Sox could get in return, it wouldn't figure to be much.

Leury Garcia is someone who could attract the interest of clubs. But he's also under team control for next season, and his combination of defensive versatility and offensive production would figure to be mighty valuable coming off the bench for a contending White Sox team in 2020.

And then there's Jose Abreu, who I only bring up because of a seemingly constant stream of Twitter suggestions that the White Sox should exploit Abreu's love for the South Side by trading him away for a prospect package this summer only to re-sign him to a free-agent contract this winter. I bring it up also to point out it is a silly suggestion.

Abreu loves playing for the White Sox, and the White Sox love having Abreu play for them. In addition to his consistent production — he's on pace to set new career highs in homers and RBIs in this, his age-32 season — he is remarkably valuable inside the clubhouse, where he's been a guiding force to young core pieces like Yoan Moncada and Jimenez. He figures to play a similar role for his countryman Robert once the latter is called up to the big leagues. Why would the White Sox want to rob those young players of Abreu's mentorship during critical developmental time for them at the major league level?

The White Sox seem to hold Abreu in a similar esteem to the players with retired numbers and statues at Guaranteed Rate Field. Would fans make this same suggestion about Paul Konerko or Mark Buehrle?

You can hardly ever say "never" in baseball, and perhaps it's risky to do so here, too, but it seems there's a near zero-percent chance of the White Sox parting with Abreu in the coming days, particularly as he's constantly talking about how much he wants to stick around past the end of the 2019 season, which seems like something that is likely to happen.

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: Jermaine Dye's slow start yielded to World Series MVP season


White Sox 2005 Rewind: Jermaine Dye's slow start yielded to World Series MVP season

Generally, while the temperatures take their time to rise across the American League Central, the pitchers are said to have the advantage.

So perhaps it should be no surprise that at least one hitter on the 2005 White Sox got off to a bit of a slow start before eventually being named the World Series MVP.

Jermaine Dye was one of four new starting position players for the White Sox as they turned the page from 2004 to 2005, but he was no stranger to the AL Central. Though he arrived on the South Side after three and a half seasons with the Oakland Athletics, he spent the four and a half years before that with the Kansas City Royals.

In this lineup, he didn’t need to stand out as one of the most dangerous bats in the league, though by the time the White Sox were hoisting the trophy at the end of October, that’s what he’d become. In 2006, he was even better and finished fifth in the AL MVP vote.

But things didn’t start so hot for Dye. In April, he slashed a nasty .175/.205/.313.

The game against the Detroit Tigers on April 20, our latest edition of #SoxRewind, was an outlier, with Dye besting his RBI total to that point (three) in a single evening. He drove in four runs with a two-run homer in the first inning and a two-run single in the fifth inning.

The 9-1 White Sox romp was perhaps more notable for another sterling performance from Jon Garland, who tossed eight one-run innings. But it had to be a welcome reprieve for Dye, who was still settling into his new digs in the middle of the White Sox lineup.

Things obviously improved dramatically for Dye once the calendar turned to May, and he slashed an eye-popping .292/.355/.548 with 28 home runs in the other five months of the regular season. He hit .311/.415/.444 during the postseason. Come 2006, he slashed .315/.385/.622 with a career-high 44 home runs and 120 RBIs.

It’s safe to say Dye found his footing.

But for White Sox fans getting their first exposure to Dye in the home dugout, as opposed to him suiting up for the division-rival Royals, a big night like the one he had April 20 was more an exception than the rule in that early stage. Even if it was a sign of what was to come.

What else?

— Base-running gaffes hardly matter when your team wins by eight runs, but Dye made a pair of them in this game, twice getting caught in a rundown between first and second. He was picked off of first base to end the third inning. And after singling in a pair of runs in the fifth, he was again trapped between first and second, caught, thankfully for the White Sox, after those two runs had crossed home plate.

— As mentioned, Garland was again fantastic, following up his seven innings of two-run ball against the Seattle Mariners by holding these Tigers to just one run in eight innings. He ended up going at least eight innings seven times in 2005, including a trio of complete-game shutouts. The White Sox won the World Series because of their starting pitching, and nights like this one showed just how dominant it was.

— Joe Crede joined Dye in having a big night, driving in three runs of his own and extending his hit streak to 11 games. Crede homered in the sixth inning, capitalizing when gifted an extra swing by Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen. Guillen tracked a pop up into foul territory but completely whiffed on the attempt. “Make him pay, Joe,” Hawk Harrelson said. That’s exactly what happened. Crede hit the next pitch for a three-run homer.

— Speaking of The Hawkeroo, he took the viewers on an emotional roller-coaster ride in the fifth inning. With one out and Tadahito Iguchi on first base, Paul Konerko drove a ball to deep right field, not far out of the reach of the right fielder. Hawk cheered the thing on the whole time, but his mood changed when the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. “Get down! Get down! Get down! It will! Dagummit!” Did I mention the White Sox were up three at the time?

— Scott Podsednik, another one of those new position players, kept making his presence felt by making things happen at the top of the order. He scored the game’s first run after stealing third base and coming home on a wild pitch. Sure, he would have scored anyway on Dye’s ensuing home run. But seeing how much difference that elite speed element made on a nightly basis makes you long for more of it in today’s game.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Wednesday, when you can catch the April 23, 2005, game against the Royals, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Some phenomenal work by the White Sox bullpen and extra-inning heroics from Aaron Rowand.

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Lucas Giolito: Playing games in empty stadiums 'not the most enjoyable experience'


Lucas Giolito: Playing games in empty stadiums 'not the most enjoyable experience'

One of the many possibilities being discussed as baseball tries to figure out what the 2020 season could end up looking like? Playing games without fans present.

Obviously, no one would consider that the ideal scenario. But as uncertainty reigns during the global COVID-19 pandemic, any baseball might be preferable to no baseball at all, and if playing games in empty stadiums makes that a possibility, it’s under consideration as a potential outcome.

Chalk up Lucas Giolito as someone who wouldn’t find that scenario all that appealing. But also count him as someone who’d stomach it if it meant getting back on the field.

"That's definitely not the most enjoyable experience for a player,” Giolito said during a Tuesday conference call. “For me, personally, I really love to feed off the crowd's energy, whether that's at home and everyone's rooting for me or if we're on the road and I want to shut all the other fans up.

“I like that part of the game. I think it's a big part of the game. The more fans that are packed into a stadium, the more exciting a game can be, the more it adds to it.

“But at the same time, we're all used to playing those back-field games, chain link fence league games. We've done it coming up through the minor leagues. We even do it in spring training, at times.

“If things matter, if games matter, I think we'd be able to go and get it done with or without fans in the stadium. But I'd definitely prefer to have fans. We'll see what we'll be able to make happen.”

Like everything surrounding the game and American life in general, this is hardly a certainty. Baseball is following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, which entail banning gatherings of at least 50 people until mid May. Any major league game, with two 26-man rosters going up against one another, is a gathering of 50 or more people, fans or no fans.

The recent agreement between the league and the union established certain criteria for returning to action, among them that no governmental edicts exist that make it impossible for teams to play at their home stadiums. Though there is a caveat that special arrangements could be made if there’s no better solution. Different local governments across the country could have different restrictions at different times, complicating things as baseball tries to figure out if it’s safe to play.

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman wrote Tuesday that the season is perhaps likely to start with no fans present as the league and the players aim to play as many games as possible in a short amount of time. But there are obvious reasons why all stakeholders would want that to be a last resort: The more fans in the stands, the more revenue the league can generate. But having any kinds of games to put on TV would provide revenue, as well, even if fans can’t attend.

Throughout his conversation Tuesday, Giolito repeatedly mentioned his realization that baseball needs to take a backseat at the moment. But even baseball fans who share that understanding of the national and global situation are curious about when — and where and how — they will be able to watch their favorite team.

Playing in empty stadiums would be weird for the players and weird for the fans who would be forced to watch on TV. But weird would be better than non-existent.

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