White Sox

Sounds like a Chris Sale reunion won't be happening as extensions keep shaking up next winter for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Sounds like a Chris Sale reunion won't be happening as extensions keep shaking up next winter for White Sox

A certain segment of White Sox fans were wishing for a Chris Sale homecoming. It looks like those wishes will not be coming true.

Sale, who just won a World Series ring with the Boston Red Sox, is reportedly the latest to jump aboard the extension bandwagon, joining huge names like Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and more who are taking themselves off future free-agent markets and re-upping with their current teams for long terms and big dollars.

Given the current state of free agency — yeah, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper cashed in big, but other great players like Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel remain jobless just a week away from Opening Day — and the looming uncertainty surrounding the collective-bargaining agreement, these extensions make plenty of sense. Even if the goal for every player always seemed to be getting rewarded with a huge free-agent payday, that seems to be changing, and that's changing things for the White Sox.

It might have never seemed that a Sale reunion on the South Side was very likely, even if some fans wanted one of the best pitchers in franchise history to return. Sale had multiple, highly publicized beefs with members of the organization during the 2016 season, including anger over the Drake LaRoche situation and the infamous jersey-cutting incident.

But Sale is just the latest player to remove himself from what figures to be an important round of free agency for the White Sox next winter. Arenado, Sale, Goldschmidt, Aaron Hicks and Miles Mikolas all looked to be part of a loaded free-agent class. Trout was supposed to headline the group of available players following the 2020 campaign. Now, none will be available for the White Sox, who will be looking to add impact talent from outside the organization to a team planned to be transitioning from rebuilding to contending. And other players could follow suit. Anthony Rendon has been mentioned as a possible extension candidate. J.D. Martinez could decide not to opt out of his current deal. And considering how surprising some of these extensions have been, particularly Trout's, these could seemingly come at any time and dramatically shake things up months ahead of the offseason.

Again, while Sale specifically might not have been a White Sox target — same, potentially, for the likes of Trout and others — this trend is altering the landscape on a daily basis. Next winter's free-agent class seemed a safety net of sorts after the White Sox missed out on Machado and Harper this offseason, a shining example of the remaining opportunities Rick Hahn's front office has to add big-time talent from outside the organization. Those opportunities have undoubtedly diminished in recent days and weeks.

They haven't been completely eliminated, of course, and that free-agent class could still feature big names like Rendon, Martinez, Gerrit Cole, Xander Bogaerts, Justin Verlander, Madison Bumgarner, Josh Donaldson, Yasmani Grandal, Nicholas Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna and more. Plus, there's the ever-present trade market, which the White Sox could be in a unique position to take advantage of thanks to their loaded farm system.

And the White Sox, too, are reportedly a part of this trend. They're supposedly close to finishing off a new deal with top-rated prospect Eloy Jimenez, one that could keep him on the South Side for the next eight seasons.

But for a team still likely to be searching for help via the free-agent market over the next two offseasons, some of the biggest potential additions are taking themselves off the market. That limits the opportunities for Hahn's front office, and it might force the White Sox down some previously less-considered paths in an effort to finish off the rebuild.

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MLB The Show: White Sox fall behind big early, drop second straight to Twins

MLB The Show: White Sox fall behind big early, drop second straight to Twins

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: Twins def. White Sox 10-4
Record: 28-31, 3rd in A.L. Central (4.0 GB of Twins)

W: Rich Hill (4-4)
L: Reynaldo Lopez (5-2)

Game summary: All good things must come to an end. In the case of the White Sox' winning streak, things have come to an abrupt end. A day after the Twins put up 11 runs in the first two innings, Minnesota jumped on Chicago early again.

Reynaldo Lopez failed to make it out of the fourth inning. The Twins harassed him with singles a plenty, including RBI base knocks from Alex Avila and Miguel Sano in the second and fourth innings. Then, the big blow came from Jorge Polanco, whose grand slam gave Minnesota a 7-1 lead before the final out of the fourth. Lopez' day came to an end. 

Yasmani Grandal hit a pair of solo home runs in the third and fifth. Yoan Moncada added a couple more runs on a late two-run blast but the White Sox dropped their second straight to the Twins to fall four games back of the division leaders.

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White Sox lineup

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-3 (.316 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, R (.269 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 2-4, HR (12), 2 RBI, R (.261 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-4 (.261 BA)
Jose Abreu: 2-4, 2B (.298 BA)
Tim Anderson: 0-4 (.298 BA)
Luis Robert: 0-4 (.232 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 3-4, 2 HR (21), 2 RBI, 2 R (.309 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 0-3 (.243 BA)

Scoring summary: 

Top first

Luis Arraez grounded into double play, Byron Buxton scored. 1-0 MIN.

Top second

Alex Avila singled to right field, Josh Donaldson scored. 2-0 MIN.

Bottom third

Yasmani Grandal homered to left field. 2-1 MIN.

Top fourth

Miguel Sano singled to left field, Eddie Rosario scored. 3-1 MIN.
Jorge Polanco homered to right field, Sano, Max Kepler and Avila scored. 7-1 MIN.
Nelson Cruz homered to center field, Arraez scored. 9-1 MIN.

Bottom fifth

Grandal homered to center field. 9-2 MIN.

Bottom sixth

Yoan Moncada homered to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 9-4 MIN.

Top eighth

Polanco homered to left field. 10-4 MIN.

Notable performance: With his two homers on Saturday, Grandal now has 21 on the season, which trails only teammate Eloy Jimenez for the team lead. Grandal is third in the AL in RBIs (49) and leads the league in WAR (4.5). Not too shabby for the eight-hole hitter.

Next game: Sunday, May 31 - Game 60: Twins vs White Sox (Devin Smeltzer, 6-2, 2.42 ERA vs Michael Kopech, 0-0, 3.78 ERA)

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: Controversies or not, dominant pitching won the ALCS

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Controversies or not, dominant pitching won the ALCS

“Realistically, I don't know if they could be pitching much better than they have.”

By the end of Game 4 of the ALCS, Joe Buck had a different way to summarize things.

“The dominance continues.”

Realistic or not, the White Sox starting rotation was just plain unhittable in the penultimate series of the 2005 season.

First it was Jose Contreras, setting the tone in a losing effort in Game 1 and coming two outs away from a complete game. Mark Buehrle followed with what he called — to that point, before the no-hitter and the perfect game — one of the best games of his career. Game 3 saw Jon Garland take the baton and stifle the Los Angeles Angels. And then it was Freddy Garcia, dealing as the White Sox cruised to a Game 4 win.

And so while the Fox broadcast spent an awful lot of time on supposed controversies, missed calls by the umpires and breaks for the White Sox, let’s face it: Those Angels weren’t hitting that pitching staff.

After the way Game 2 wrapped up, with A.J. Pierzynski swinging, missing and running to first base in a baffling display that for some reason worked, controversy was a storyline. And boy, did it get milked in Game 4.

Now, this isn’t to say that there weren’t missed calls or that the White Sox didn’t experience a couple breaks in this contest. There were. And they did.

After the Angels chopped the White Sox lead to 3-1 on an RBI hit in the second inning, they still had two men on with only one out. But instead of a rally, Steve Finley hit into an inning-ending double play. His bat, replay clearly showed, hit Pierzynski’s glove on the swing, meaning by rule he should have gone to first on catcher’s interference and loaded the bases. Instead, he turned around to argue while running out the ground ball, hence the double play.

He should have learned from Pierzynski and just busted it down to first base, leaving the details to be sorted out later. No call came, and Finley was out, the Angels’ rally stopped.

The White Sox lead back to three runs in the fifth inning, Scott Podsednik — who had a remarkable game, on base four times with two stolen bases and two runs scored — was seemingly picked off at first base. But the call was safe, and he scored later in the inning to extend a tight three-run game to a four-run game.

But did it really matter? Would any of it made a difference?

Garcia was on point, just like his three rotation-mates before him. He allowed just two runs on only six hits, walking one. He did that 2005 White Sox thing where he pitched fast, pitched to his defense and pitched the Angels into a whole bunch of outs.

You can point to the breaks all you want, attempt to stir up controversy. But the White Sox pitchers were so good that nothing was stopping them as they marched to a pennant.

The only thing that could, as we saw in Game 1 of the series, was an equally strong pitching performance on the other side. That’s exactly what Paul Byrd turned in against Contreras in that first game, and a White Sox lineup that slugged against the Red Sox in the ALDS was stymied. A sick Jarrod Washburn did his best in Game 2, with some help from a terrific crop of relievers, only for Pierzynski to flip the series on its head. In Games 3 and 4 in Anaheim, the Angels couldn’t match Garland and Garcia. An awakened group of White Sox bats hung a crooked number on John Lackey in Game 3 and had the same rude greeting for Ervin Santana — a future member of the South Side rotation, however briefly — in Game 4.

The old sports cliche goes that defense wins championships. In baseball, pitching wins championships. It did in 2005. And no amount of supposed controversy was going to change that.

Keep reliving the White Sox march to the 2005 World Series with #SoxRewind, which features Game 5 of the ALCS, airing at 7 p.m. Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago.

 

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