White Sox

Sox Drawer Q&A: Roadtripping to Spring Training


Sox Drawer Q&A: Roadtripping to Spring Training

Glendale, Ariz. — White Sox spring training is here! Well, almost here. Pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch on Wednesday. Position players aren’t due until February 17 (although some players like Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez have already arrived).

I’ve been covering White Sox spring training since 2005. This was the first time I actually made the drive from Chicago. It took three days to complete the 1,500-mile trip. We stopped in Tulsa, Okla. the first night, then Albuquerque, N.M., the second night before arriving in Phoenix on the afternoon of the third day.

A shout out to a man named Ralph Teetor. Who’s he? The mechanical engineer who invented cruise control in 1948. Me and my right foot owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

I was hoping to spot Manny Machado or Bryce Harper hitchhiking on the side of the road with a sign that read, “Glendale, Arizona or bust.”  

Unfortunately, no Machado. No Harper. But here’s one last winter edition of the Sox Drawer!

Q: When will Sox sign Machado? Or Harper? Or Machado and Harper? You didn't expect that kind of a question, did you? -- @kwiat07

CG: Oh, I did. They came flooding my direction once again. I think I speak for everyone when I say I cannot wait for this Harper/Machado suspense to mercifully come to an end! And hopefully with the White Sox signing one of them. Will it happen? I still believe the White Sox have a 50-50 chance to sign Machado. Harper seems like a longshot.

At some point, both of them will have to make a decision. I’m guessing sometime between when position players are due to report and the first spring training games. That means we “should” know where Machado and Harper are signing in the next two weeks. Expect a big ripple effect of signings (Kimbrel, Gonzalez, Keuchel, etc.) to occur soon after that.

Q: Enough w Machado and Harper questions. Best move the White Sox made this offseason? Include who they got rid of and who they got. -- @RyanPokorny27

CG: I think the best move the White Sox made was one of their first moves: acquiring reliever Alex Colome for catcher Omar Narvaez. Colome has one of the best bullpen arms in the American League. He’s a high strikeout guy who had 47 saves for the Rays in 2017. He was used more as a setup man last season, but figures to be the closer come Opening Day. The White Sox sold high on Narvaez, who was probably going to back up Welington Castillo this year, with Seby Zavala and Zack Collins waiting in the wings.

Q: How come the White Sox haven’t signed Adam Jones yet? -- @courtney883

CG: Good question. I’ve been driving the Sign Adam Jones train since October! The veteran free agent outfielder remains unsigned. I think he’d be a great leader and mentor for the young guys, especially for Eloy Jimenez who told me last year how big of a fan he is of Jones. I spoke to Jones in December when he showed up at the winter meetings looking for a job. By the way, he’s been a longtime teammate of Manny Machado. Just sayin’. What kind of role would he like to play on a team? Here’s what he said:

“At this point, I’m older so I’m going to have to be that veteran presence. I’ve had Manny (Machado) and (Jonathan) Schoop under my wings the last six years, so it’s been great to see that transition and see how players look up to the older players. When I came into the game, I had some very good people to look up to. I just want to be that same influence that the younger generation could look up to.”

Q: Are the White Sox still in the market for a veteran starting pitcher? -- @alabamachuck

CG: Rick Hahn said at SoxFest that they are looking at the veteran starting pitching market. I’d expect you’ll see them sign one or even two of them in the next week or so. Don’t hold your breath for a Dallas Keuchel. They’ll likely sign someone to a low-risk, high-reward one-year deal or minor league deal. Ervin Santana, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez are some possibilities. I’d personally take a long look at Clay Buchholz. The 33-year-old dominated for the Diamondbacks last year (7-2, 2.01 ERA in 98.1 IP). Injuries have been an issue, but when healthy last year, he was really good. He’s someone the White Sox could potentially flip at the trade deadline to make room for Dylan Cease. Or else, they can always sign 45-year-old Bartolo Colon. I won’t object.

Q: Which of our prospects will we see this year? -- @Bed_Hola

CG: It’s tough to say 100 percent, but here’s a list of players who are good candidates to make it to the majors in 2019: Jimenez, Cease, Zavala, Collins, Burdi, Medeiros, Stephens and possibly Dane Dunning, Bernardo Flores, Tyler Johnson, Zach Thompson, Luis Basabe, Joel Booker and Jimmy Lambert. I might have left out a few, but those are the ones that come to mind.

Q: Which starting pitcher will get the most wins for the White Sox and will it be more than 13?? -- @MJK171002

CG: I’m going with Reynaldo Lopez. I’m predicting that he takes a big step forward in 2019. Although I’m not sure if he’ll win more than 13. And don’t look past Ivan Nova.

Q: How was your road trip? -- @vinnyc52

CG: Definitely on the long side, but lots of fun. We drove through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Ate a whole lot of fast food. Best meals: Cracker Barrel and Texas Roadhouse.

Q: What was your favorite part of Oklahoma on your drive here? -- @scottmerkin

CG: The gas prices in Oklahoma City! $1.87?!!!

Q: What SPF do you use? -- @Southpaw

CG: 55. I don’t mess around.

Q: Why doesn’t @Southpaw make the trip to get in game playing shape out in AZ? Why didn’t you let him sit shotgun and be your co pilot... u coulda brought him out this year Chuck! Some of the other teams have their mascots out in AZ, but I guess he is already perfect though -- @scottgarcia35

CG: It would have been great to have Southpaw as my co-pilot! Maybe next year. And I agree with you. Southpaw is the perfect mascot. Although the next time it rains, he needs to bring me a bigger umbrella.

Thanks everyone for your questions! Baseball season is coming!

Kenny Williams: White Sox could not go to $300 million level

Kenny Williams: White Sox could not go to $300 million level

Manny Machado is reportedly signing with the San Diego Padres for $300 million and that is apparently a number the White Sox could not reach.

At least that's what White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams said to the media on Tuesday.

There is no clarity on what the White Sox offer looked like, but Williams is basically confirming the Padres had a higher offer on the table, to his surprise.

For any White Sox fans holding out hope that the other big fish free agent, Bryce Harper, will sign with them, this isn't good news. If the White Sox weren't willing to spend $300 million on Machado because they needed to put "together a total winning roster," spending that much (or likely more) on Harper doesn't sound like it is on the table.

Williams added that they believed they were the high offer for Machado, but that obviously turned out to be inaccurate.


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White Sox reportedly miss out on biggest-ever free-agent splash as Manny Machado heads to Padres

White Sox reportedly miss out on biggest-ever free-agent splash as Manny Machado heads to Padres

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox rebuild is still on track, but they’ve reportedly missed out on making what would have been the biggest free-agent addition in team history.

Manny Machado, one of the two 26-year-old superstars on this winter’s free-agent market, is going to the San Diego Padres, according to a report from ESPN's Jeff Passan, passing over the White Sox and their vision of the future in favor of a deal worth a reported $300 million over 10 years.

The White Sox pitched Machado on being front and center in the transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode and starring in a situation where the organization’s highly rated prospects would rise to the major league level and grow around him to form a perennial contender.

Well, the Padres pitched the same thing, with an equally loaded farm system and an equally bright future. It was reported that Machado would end up taking the richest offer, and the Padres — who handed out a nine-figure contract Eric Hosmer last offseason — might have simply outbid the White Sox and everyone else vying for Machado’s services for the better part of the next decade.

A big-time acquisition might have seemed to be a year early for the rebuilding White Sox, and it’s true that even adding a player the caliber of Machado might not have made them a playoff contender in 2019. But as general manager Rick Hahn has mentioned several times this offseason, it’s out of the White Sox control when superstar talents like Machado become available, and the South Siders were looking to capitalize on the opportunity to make Machado the “finishing piece” of this project, even if it hasn’t reached the finish line quite yet.

It will not at all be surprising to see detractors pop up on social media, those complaining that the White Sox aren’t willing to spend big money for the game’s most elite talent. Hahn said during SoxFest that he hopes to dispel of what he called a “false narrative” surrounding the franchise, saying: "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. So if for whatever reason we fail to convert this time around, perhaps that narrative will exist for another year, but we look forward to proving that one false like we have the others."

And that’s the biggest takeaway now that the White Sox will head into 2019 without Machado or potentially Bryce Harper, the game’s other top free agent who the South Siders were pursuing: These opportunities will come again, and they’ll come soon. Whether that’s via a trade utilizing the farm system’s remarkable depth or via the next round of free agency, which is jam-packed with star players, remains to be seen. But there are many “Plan Bs.” And the team’s commitment to being in the mix for the best players in the game moving forward is something Hahn hammered home during SoxFest.

“We belong at the table in these negotiations, we belong as part of negotiations for premium talent,” he said. “And regardless what happens over the next several weeks with either of these two players, we plan to be at the table and continue to attempt to convert on these guys.”

Machado is obviously a game-changer for the Padres. He’s a four-time All Star, a two-time Gold Glover and a three-time top-10 finisher in American League MVP voting. He’s fresh off a career year that featured a .297/.367/.538 slash line, 37 home runs, 107 RBIs and a trip to the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who acquired Machado in a midsummer trade with the Baltimore Orioles, where he spent the majority of his first seven seasons in the majors.

While the Padres play in the National League West, far away from crossing paths with the White Sox, South Side baseball fans are going to start to harbor quite a bit of resentment toward that franchise. Before they beat out the White Sox for Machado, the Padres pulled off a trade with Hahn’s front office that brought Fernando Tatis Jr. to Southern California. Tatis was just 17 years old then, but he’s now the No. 2 prospect in baseball.

Machado would have been a very nice addition to help steer this rebuild into the final phase. But the White Sox long-term plans never hinged on him, and the White Sox will move forward, full steam ahead.

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