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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White Sox Talk Podcast: Chris Getz on Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal and more!

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Chris Getz on Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal and more!

Chuck Garfien gets the inside info about some of the top prospects in the White Sox organization from director of player development Chris Getz.

They talk about the wow factor of Luis Robert, what he's working on before being promoted to Triple-A, if he can make the majors in 2019, what kind of major league player he will be and more (3:45)

-Why Nick Madrigal has the "it" factor and why he might have been disappointed with Getz at the start of the season (10:10)

-Why Zack Burdi has struggled this season and a great sign of things to come (16:30)

-Why Kyle Kubat is so highly thought of in the White Sox farm system (18:20)

-How close Dylan Cease is to the major leagues (20:15) and more.

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

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Jon Jay finally joins White Sox after months battling injury

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AP

Jon Jay finally joins White Sox after months battling injury

Jon jay is finally ready for his White Sox debut.

The veteran outfielder was recalled from his rehab assignment and activated from the 60-day injured list Monday, joining the team's active roster for the first time this season ahead of their three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Jay has been on the injured list since the season began in late March, bothered by an injury that at various times was attributed to his hip, back, groin and leg. He's been working his way back since the end of spring training and recently completed a rehab assignment split between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. All in all, he played in 16 minor league games and got 63 at-bats, posting a .333/.354/.365 slash line.

Jay was brought in during the offseason to provide veteran leadership in the White Sox clubhouse, as well as to bring on-base skills to the lineup and a defensive presence to the outfield. Being injured this whole time, obviously Jay has been unable to provide anything on the field. But there's still plenty of baseball left to play, and the White Sox would surely love to insert him into the lineup on a regular basis. Manager Rick Renteria hinted even during spring training that Jay might not be an everyday player, though Jay's outfield versatility could allow Renteria to try out many different kinds of lineups.

That being said, Leury Garcia has been a pleasant surprise as the team's everyday center fielder. Garcia's .285 batting average and .324 on-base percentage both rank fourth among the White Sox qualified hitters. With Eloy Jimenez entrenched in left field, Jay could become the team's third regular outfield. That job has belonged mostly to Ryan Cordell in recent weeks, though he's struggled at the plate with a .224/.287/.336 slash line in 49 games this season. We'll have to wait and see how Renteria plans to use Jay, who missed the team's first 75 games of the campaign, but he included the veteran in Monday night's lineup as his starting right fielder.

While many fans chose to associate Jay's signing with the team's failed attempt to land mega free agent Manny Machado during the winter, Jay was a Gold Glove finalist last season and owns a career .352 on-base percentage over nine years in the big leagues. He's earned rave reviews as a clubhouse presence, including from his time with the Cubs during the 2017 season. There's still plenty he can bring to these White Sox over the next few months.

To clear room for Jay, the White Sox designated starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne for assignment. The team brought him in as a minor league free agent and used him to aid their depleted rotation. But things didn't go so well, with Despaigne tagged for 14 runs in 13.1 innings in his three starts with the White Sox.

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