White Sox

What the Phillies' meeting with Bryce Harper could mean for the White Sox and Manny Machado

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USA TODAY

What the Phillies' meeting with Bryce Harper could mean for the White Sox and Manny Machado

The baseball world already made its trip to Las Vegas. The Philadelphia Phillies are going back.

The White Sox are competing with the Phillies in not only the derby for Manny Machado but for the other 26-year-old superstar on this winter's free-agent market, Bryce Harper. And while the White Sox have reportedly twice met with Harper in Sin City — once early in the offseason, with Hall of Famer Jim Thome supposedly present, and again during the Winter Meetings, when the baseball world descended on Harper's hometown — the Phillies are just now sitting down for a face-to-face meeting with one of the best players in the game.

While it's been reported that the Machado saga could soon be reaching its end, there's seemingly no end in sight for the Harper sweepstakes, which more than one report has suggested could last into February.

And because there's no apparent rush for Harper to ink what's expected to be one of the biggest contracts in baseball history, perhaps there's time for a little chess.

Not long ago, it seemed the Harper derby was down to three teams: the White Sox, the Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Well, the Dodgers haven't been making any noise on the Harper front, even if they did clear outfielders from their roster and salary from their books in that blockbuster deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Then the Washington Nationals re-entered the picture, despite Harper having reportedly rejected their initial offer of 10 years and $300 million. Harper, agent Scott Boras and Nationals owner Ted Lerner reportedly sat down for five hours just before Christmas, and now the possibility that Harper will return to the team with which he spent the first seven seasons of his big league career is looking like a mighty strong one.

So where does that leave the Phillies? You'll remember their owner saying they might "be a little stupid" with their spending this winter, and it wouldn't come as any surprise if they end up bringing a big bag with a dollar sign on it to their Saturday meeting in Vegas.

But remember, too, that the Phillies and Nationals are division rivals. And so whichever team doesn't get Harper is going to have to face him 19 times a season for the next decade. So what will the Phillies do if they're on the short end of that stick?

Enter The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, who has a suggestion that ties all of this together. He wrote Thursday that the Phillies still prefer Machado to Harper. And with the New York Yankees continuing to add infielders to their already crowded infield, the Machado derby appears to be down to the White Sox and Phillies. If the Phillies want to spend that "stupid" money on Machado, why are they meeting with Harper? Rosenthal has a guess:

"A contingent from the Phillies’ front office is scheduled to meet with Harper in his native Las Vegas on Saturday. If the Phillies’ preference is Machado, as some in the industry believe, then the meeting from their perspective might simply be a ploy to drive up the price for the Nationals, a division rival. Harper and Boras, in fact, might be proceeding with the same motivation."

Oh really?

The White Sox have recently been considered "long shots" on Harper and have, like the Phillies, been reported to be more "in" on Machado, who by everyone's guess is expected to sign before Harper, with Boras likely waiting to ensure his client gets the biggest payday of the offseason. But if the Phillies throw their "stupid" money at Machado and reel him away from the rest of the "Miami Baseball Brotherhood" on the South Side, then does the Harper derby get whittled down to two teams, with the White Sox as one of them?

It's all a bunch of "what ifs" as this whole thing continues to be a head-spinning mess, with the rest of baseball along for the ride as much as fans of the involved teams.

Machado's decision could reportedly be made by next week, and perhaps the goings-on in Vegas will have something to do with that. In other words, stay tuned.

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Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

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USA TODAY

Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

Chris Snopek was born September 20, 1970 in Cynthiana, KY. He was a multi-sport standout in high school, averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 assists on the hardwood, as well as hitting .576 with 20 HR as a senior on the diamond. He was a standout third baseman/shortstop at Ole Miss, hitting .407/.491/.725 with 13 home runs and 62 RBI (a school-record at the time) in 54 games as a junior. The White Sox made him a 6th round draft pick in 1992.

In 1994, Snopek played for the Double-A Birmingham Barons, where he was one of two players on the team with 50+ RBI and 50+ walks. The other one was Michael Jordan.By 1995, Snopek hit .323/.402/.494 with 12 HR in 113 games for Nashville (AAA); that batting average good for second in the American Association. He made his MLB Debut on July 31, 1995, going 2 for 3 with a run, RBI, walk and stolen base as the starting third baseman. The 6’1” right-handed infielder drew a walk in each of his first five career MLB games; the first White Sox player to do so since Ray Morehart in 1924.

The White Sox had Robin Ventura at third and Ozzie Guillen at short, so Snopek had to settle for a start here and a start there. He was sent back down to the minors but returned in September. On September 20, 1995, Snopek connected for his first career home run; the blast coming off Indians starter Joe Roa. The milestone round tripper came on Snopek’s 25th birthday. He remains the only player in White Sox history whose first career home run came on his birthday. It was his lone homer of 1995, though Snopek did quite well in his first taste of MLB action, hitting .324 (22 for 68), .407 vs lefties (11 for 27) in 22 games.

Entering the 1996 season, he was the #52 overall prospect according to Baseball America (in between Jason Varitek and Dustin Hermanson); topping the White Sox organizational top ten:

White Sox top 10 prospects according to Baseball America entering 1996

  1. Chris Snopek
  2. Jeff Abbott
  3. Scott Ruffcorn
  4. James Baldwin
  5. Jeff Liefer
  6. Mike Cameron
  7. Jimmy Hurst
  8. Luis Andujar
  9. McKay Christensen
  10. Greg Norton

Snopek started the 1996 season in a utility role, making spot starts at third and short as well as pinch hitting. On April 28, 1996, he became the first White Sox shortstop to start and hit cleanup since Ron Hansen in 1967 (Only José Valentín & Alexei Ramírez have done it since). In limited duty, Snopek hit 6 home runs in 1996 – all off lefties.

Snopek got his chance in 1997 when Robin Ventura suffered an ankle injury, getting the nod as the opening day third baseman. He went 0 for 5 that game and never got it going, hitting .218/.263/.319 in 86 games. The following season, after struggling to the tune of .208/.291/.248 in 53 games, Snopek was traded to the Red Sox at the end of August, where he finished the season and as fate would have it, his MLB career, with eight final games. He bounced around the minors the next four seasons.

In 2017, Snopek and a business partner purchased P360 Performance Sports in Jackson, Mississippi, where they offer baseball training facilities and instruction programs. Snopek also serves as the Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach at Madison Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi.

Chris Snopek… remember that guy?

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

Thirteen of the White Sox top American born prospects are in the Dominican Republic this week for a cultural exchange trip organized by the White Sox, giving players like Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins and Dane Dunning a first-hand experience to learn about the country where many of their Latin teammates like Eloy Jimenez call home. Chuck Garfien speaks with Ryan McGuffey who is covering the trip for NBC Sports Chicago. They talk about the White Sox training academy in the Dominican Republic (3:50), what the players are learning and how they're bonding on the trip (6:30), the crazy atmosphere going to a Dominican Winter League game (11:10), going with Reynaldo Lopez to the home where he grew up (14:40), personal stories from the trip (23:15) and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: