White Sox

Sox Drawer Q&A: Machado, next year's closer, sleeper prospect and more

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USA TODAY

Sox Drawer Q&A: Machado, next year's closer, sleeper prospect and more

The White Sox season might be over, but interest in the rebuild and the team's future rages on.

White Sox fans flooded my Twitter feed with questions about what Rick Hahn and company might do this offseason and beyond. I'll get to as many as I can! Look for a new Sox Drawer Q&A on Monday's during the offseason.

Let's do this!‏ 

Q:  I keep dreaming that the White Sox sign Patrick Corbin this offseason. How close to a possibility is that? -- @theGREATdanny94

Q: JA Happ, Gio Gonzalez, Patrick Corbin all seem like good fits to fits to fill out the rotation do you think there is a likelihood of any of them signing on the south side? --  @dbh1127 

CG: Let's first get to Corbin. On paper, he's everything the White Sox would want: a 28-year-old, left-handed starter coming off a career-season. 11-7, 3.15 ERA, 200 innings, 246 strikeouts. Sign me up!

There's just one problem. Corbin is a pitcher. Let me rephrase that. A FREE AGENT STARTING pitcher, arguably the top one available if Clayton Kershaw doesn't opt out of his deal. I'm guessing he's going to command a 5-6 year deal, worth north of $100 million. If you follow White Sox history, Jerry Reinsdorf is adverse to signing free agent pitchers to contracts of that length, and frankly I don't blame him. The last time he agreed to do that, he went out of his comfort zone and signed off on the John Danks 5-year, $65 million contract extension in 2011. We saw what happened there.

Pitchers too often break down, get hurt, lose their stuff, or flat-out stink, and you're left signing a monster check for very little in return. See Kevin Millwood, Jason Schmidt, A.J. Burnett, Denny Neagle, Barry Zito, Mike Hampton and quite possibly Yu Darvish. If there were more successful examples like the Nationals signing of Max Scherzer, I'd be all-in on signing Corbin. I'm guessing the White Sox would be too. Better to save the huge free agent money for hitters. They have a greater track record of staying healthy and living up to the contract. I think a short-term deal with pitchers like Happ, Lynn, Morton, and Buchholz (if he's healthy) might be the way to go.

Q: Keuchel is a ground ball pitcher who doesn’t rely on heat. He therefore should age very well IMO. I personally would be willing to give him a lot of years and if we end up pitching heavy, trade from that strength/front load the deal to make him moveable, thoughts?  -- @colinska4

CG: Hmmmm. Plus, Keuchel has a ring, three Gold Gloves and personal experience with going through a rebuild. Forget what I just said. Sign him! Easy for me to say, but he might be an exception.

Q: Who will be the closer for next year?  -- @sidkid80

CG: To be determined. The White Sox have a lot of young arms in the bullpen, but lack anyone with serious closing experience. Fortunately, the free agent market is loaded with closers/potential closers this offseason: Kimbrel, Allen, Familia, Herrera, Britton, Ottavino, Robertson, Norris, etc. I do expect the White Sox to spend money adding veteran bullpen arms to the mix, and while you can argue that it's not smart economically to sign a long-term deal on a closer for 2019 when the White Sox might not start to contend until 2020. You have to react to the market. The free agent closers available this winter are much better than next, when it's Dellin Betances and a big drop off after that.

Having a veteran closer in the pen to take the pressure off the young guys who are still developing sounds like a good idea to me. And if say, Zack Burdi or Ian Hamilton prove that they can handle the closer job in a year or two, the Sox can potentially trade the closer they sign and get some prospects or a player of need in return.

Q: Who will be the surprise prospect contributor in 2019? I’m not asking about the obvious guys, but who else, maybe outside the top 10, can really have an impact next year. Maybe Zavala? -- @abwdawson

CG: Zavala is a good choice. Same with pitchers Jordan Guerrero and Spencer Adams. There's also a chance we see Zack Collins and Luis Basabe come September. But I want to focus on one prospect out of the top 10 who is flying under the radar a bit and that's Gavin Sheets. He probably won't be ready in 2019, but very quietly slashed .293/.368/.407 with 52 walks and 81 strikeouts in 119 games for Winston-Salem.

At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds he certainly has the body to hit for power, but it has yet to show up in the box score with only six home runs in 2018. Why such low power numbers? Because Sheets says he doesn't want to just be a home run hitter. He wants to be a HITTER, period. He hates striking out. He likes putting the ball in play and is spending his time in the minors learning to develop as a hitter. How about that? The White Sox believe that the power will come eventually. If it does, look out for Sheets.

Q: Chuck, How much does it concern you that the rebuild has no high average or obp guys? Moncada, Anderson etc.  --  @ledzep33

CG: See above with Sheets. There's also Zack Collins, Nick Madrigal, and Eloy Jimenez. I do believe that Moncada will get there in the OBP department. Give him time.

Q: We have seen Giolito and Moncada struggle this past season and up in the majors for the most part while both have shown signs of potential. Can you please explain to fans that they still have development to work on and are not finished products and not write them off yet? --  @chitownhawkeye

CG: Glad you asked. Because Moncada and Giolito represent the first wave of the rebuild, it makes sense that White Sox fans had high expectations for both of them right from the start. I get that. But the reality is, they are still developing as major league players and honestly, if the White Sox weren't in a rebuild, they probably would have spent more time in the minors honing their skills before getting called up. But since they aren't contending yet, the White Sox are able to have them learn/develop at the major league level. The results aren't always pretty in the short run, but the payoffs can be huge in the long run.

How about a couple of comparisons. In 2013, in his first full season in the big leagues, a 23-year-old Anthony Rizzo slashed .233/.323/.419 for a Cubs team that lost 96 games. This year in Moncada's first full season, he slashed .235/.315./.400, also at 23 years old. Very similar numbers. And the White Sox got that production from a second baseman, not a first baseman. Rizzo showed big improvement the following year. I'm hopeful that Moncada can do the same.

In 2014, the Astros called up George Springer for his major league debut. He was a year older than Moncada and Rizzo. He played 78 games and slashed .231/.336/.468. The next year, he was batting .185 in the middle of May and Astros fans were freaking out.

Maybe what he needed was more protection and balance in the lineup. That arrived on June 8 when the Astros called up Carlos Correa. Springer went .304/.373/.464 in the second half. Don't be surprised to see a bump in Moncada's numbers next year because he will have one year of development under his belt, and the addition of Eloy Jimenez somewhere behind him in the order. Imagine a lineup with Moncada batting second, Abreu third, Jimenez fourth. Or Moncada batting first, Abreu second, Jimenez third and Palka fourth? This doesn't include a possible free agent addition to the lineup.

And one more thing on Springer. I asked him at the All-Star Game what it was like to be in a rebuild and what advice he'd give to frustrated White Sox fans. Here's what he said: "You just have to believe. I came up with Altuve and Keuchel and Marwin (Gonzalez), a lot of guys who were here for some tough, tough years, but they knew that if they continued to play and our team continued to develop that a lot could happen. Enjoy the team. This game is hard. They're trying to go out there and win. Hang in there. That's a good team over there. They'll be good."

Q: Why won't the White Sox make a play at Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? -- @HotRodBlago30

CG: Who's to say they won't? I don't see them going after Harper, but Machado is right in the wheelhouse of what they need. They have $10.9 million on the books in 2019 before arbitration. In 2020, that number drops to $4.5 million. In 2023, it's zero. Machado will be 30 years old in 2023. Eloy Jimenez will be 26. If you're going to hitch your wagons to a major free agent in the next five years, Machado should be the guy.

The White Sox reportedly tried to acquire him last off-season, so there definitely seems to be interest there. The question is: will Machado be interested in playing for the White Sox? I can't answer that. Rick Hahn and company will need to be uber-aggressive to try to sign him. And if you think Reinsdorf won't pay top dollar for a hitter, the White Sox signed Albert Belle to the biggest free agent deal ever in 1996. Yes, that was 22 years ago, but with a huge core of cost-controlled players all reaching the bigs in the next few years, you gotta pay somebody the big bucks. That somebody should be Machado.

Q: Over under for how many games I will attend next season. I'll set the bar at 3.5 -- @BillBoreman

CG: The over.

Q: Chuck, what is your favorite food item at the guaranteed rate field? P.S. mine is “the heater” --  @oshfacekillah

CG: Favorite thing I injested last season at the park was the root beer float. Nothing came close. It was 90 degrees. Needed something cold. It was perfect. I demolished it.

Q: What is your favorite non BTR (Born to Run) Springsteen album? p.s. mine is probs The River. --  @rthdmc9

CG: Sorry for the non-White Sox question, but as some of you know, I'm a huge Springsteen fan, so bear with me. It used to be Darkness on the Edge of Town, mainly because I listened to so many bootlegs from this incredible tour in the decade when Bruce wasn't playing with the E Street Band. It helped get me through it. But now, I'm like you and leaning towards The River. There's a greater depth of songs and they mean more to me as I get older.

Q: How will the Sox start getting the fan base back engaged into the MLB product? Is it just as simple as once they start winning all the casual fans will be back? Is there something they can start doing to get people engaged for the rise or will that not happen until they are great? -- @PeteCha56613119

CG: The short and easiest answer is this -- win, and win consistently. They can't just be good for one year and then be bad the year after. They need something that's sustainable. That will bring out the casual fans who filled the ballpark from 2005-2011 when attendance surpassed 2 million every season. Fortunately, so many of these young players in the rebuild like Jimenez, Kopech, Cease, Collins, Dunning, Madrigal, etc. are great guys and quite media savvy. They aren't afraid of the bright lights and attention. They embrace the rebuild and the challenge that lies ahead of them. They want to be great. Surround them with the right group of veterans and I believe special things will happen with the White Sox bringing more and more fans to the ballpark.

Thanks everyone for all your questions! If I didn't get to yours, check again next week!

Padres might have just topped everyone — including White Sox — with reported offer to Manny Machado north of $250 million

Padres might have just topped everyone — including White Sox — with reported offer to Manny Machado north of $250 million

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Enter the San Diego Padres as potential party-crashers in the Manny Machado sweepstakes.

Aside from an offhand mention of an offer from the New York Yankees, the only widely reported contract offer for the 26-year-old superstar free agent with numbers attached to it was the one from the White Sox. Depending on who you believe, it was for seven years and between $175 million and $250 million, though the high number was shot down by a flurry of counter-reports.

Well, the Padres have joined the club now, with multiple reports Sunday night indicating they've gone near or over $250 million — and gone to an eighth year — with their bid for Machado's services. One reported number was $280 million, which could potentially be as much as $100 million above the previously reported White Sox offer.

If those numbers are accurate, that's big news and could spur the need for a new offer from the White Sox, if they are in fact willing to do so.

General manager Rick Hahn has talked about his team's seriousness in acquiring a "premium talent" like Machado and has vowed that the White Sox will spend the kind of money that it takes to bring in a player of this caliber.

Asked during SoxFest about what he called the "false narrative" that the White Sox aren't willing to spend, Hahn said: "We’d love to disprove that during the coming weeks. We certainly have extended offers that would ruin that narrative, if accepted, but we're not there yet."

A new high offer out of San Diego could force the White Sox to make a new decision.

The Padres offer much of the same things that the White Sox have pitched to these big-name free agents. They have even more prospects ranked in the MLB Pipeline top 100 (10 of them, to be exact) than the White Sox and can pitch an equally bright future over the better part of the next decade. They have shown recent willingness to spend, handing out a six-figure contract to Eric Hosmer just last winter. Hosmer and Machado would make two pretty attractive centerpieces as Padres prospects, such as Fernando Tatis Jr. — the No. 2 prospect in the game who the White Sox traded for James Shields in 2016 — arrive in the big leagues.

And so with similar pitches being made, money would figure to make the difference. This isn't the Yankees, supposedly Machado's preferred destination, and so there could be fewer, if any, non-financial factors in a choice between these two teams.

Also of interest were a couple of reports from earlier Sunday describing talks between Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies as "intensifying." The Phillies have been the White Sox most prominent competition for Machado (and Harper, for that matter) this winter, but if they were able to land Harper, they would presumably be done chasing Machado. That would be good news for the White Sox. But if the late-arriving Padres are as serious as they're being reported to be, there's a possibility the White Sox walk away from this offseason without landing a monster free agent.

That wouldn't be the end of the world, with the franchise's rebuilding plans still firmly on track. But fans with raised expectations after hearing the White Sox tied to Harper and Machado for months would certainly feel disappointment. Hahn would, too. He said as much during SoxFest.

It's important to remember, of course, that there will be other opportunities to land premium talent. And it's also important to remember that news of an offer from the Padres doesn't mean Machado has accepted. The White Sox are in it until they aren't.

But things just got a little more interesting. Stay tuned.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Eloy Jimenez talks about winning a World Series

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Eloy Jimenez talks about winning a World Series

Eloy Jimenez sits down with Chuck Garfien at spring training. Jimenez talks about:

-Getting hit in the head in his very first at-bat when he was nine years old and later his first home run (06:05)

-Why he has long believed that he was meant to play in Chicago (08:00)

-Meeting Jim Thome for the first time (10:40)

-Why he thought about quitting baseball in his first season in the Cubs organization (12:15)

-Not getting called up to the majors last season (15:40)

-Michael Kopech calling him "the Babe Ruth of our generation (18:10)

-How he, Micker Adolfo and Luis Basabe talk everyday about winning a World Series (19:40)

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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