White Sox

Is White Sox adding Jon Jay a precursor to Manny Machado signing?

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USA TODAY

Is White Sox adding Jon Jay a precursor to Manny Machado signing?

Are the White Sox really going to sign Manny Machado?

The 26-year-old superstar free agent still hasn't announced that he's made up his mind between the White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. And if he still hasn't actually reached a decision, he's now got something else to think about. The White Sox are reportedly adding Jon Jay to their outfield, a solid move under non-Machado circumstances but a really intriguing one given the ongoing Machado sweepstakes.

Jay, Machado and Yonder Alonso — the White Sox recently acquired first baseman/designated hitter and also Machado's brother-in-law — have known each other forever. They're all great friends and train together every winter in Miami. And you don't have to look too hard to find evidence of how tight a group this is.

"As a kid coming up, I’d see Jon and Yonder out there making their mark, and it gave me something to shoot for. They set the example. I looked up to those guys."

That's Machado from a February 2017 piece for the Players' Tribune titled "The Miami Baseball Brotherhood."

"The three of us all come from the similar backgrounds," Jay said in the same piece. "I’ve known Yonder since he was 10. And we’ve both known Manny since he was a young kid coming up. We’re from the same neighborhoods, the same culture, so it's just natural for us to stick together."

"We all play on different teams now, but everyone knows we have a special bond," Alonso said. "When one of these guys comes to town, my teammates will be like, 'Look out ... the Miami crew is here.' We’ll pick each other up at the airport! Everybody just knows how it is. Miami guys stick together."

Well, now two of the three are on the same team, and the White Sox would very much like to complete the set. The White Sox aren't going to come out and say they spent millions on two veteran players to take up two roster spots and not project to be a part of the oft-discussed long-term plan just to lure Machado to the South Side. But that sure as heck seems to be what they're doing. And if Machado does choose the White Sox over the "spend stupid" Phillies and the Yankees, his supposed preference, it will have been worth it because Machado is that potentially transformational for this team.

The White Sox have reportedly made their offer to Machado, and connecting some dots — off Bruce Levine's report that they're not willing to go past seven years for either Machado or the other mega free agent, Bryce Harper, and off Bruce Nightengale's report that it's closer to $200 million than $300 million — it could be in the ballpark of seven years and $210 million, perhaps higher. Maybe it won't be the biggest contract offer, but only the White Sox can offer Machado the opportunity to play with his brother-in-law and his good friend.

But Jay's value to the White Sox is of course about more than just his relationship with Machado, perhaps even more so than Alonso's.

Jay fills a definite offseason need for the White Sox, who opened up a big hole in their outfield when they non-tendered Avisail Garcia. While Eloy Jimenez is expected to take over daily left-field duties beginning at some point in April and Adam Engel is still incredibly gifted with the glove in center field, the prospect of choosing from Daniel Palka, Nicky Delmonico and Leury Garcia in right field didn't look quite as appealing. Jay is an upgrade, offensively and defensively.

He owns a .352 career on-base percentage, an area where the White Sox needed to improve, and was excellent with the Kansas City Royals last season, a .307 batting average and a .363 on-base percentage in 59 games before getting dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He didn't fare so well in Phoenix, with a .235/.304/.325 slash line in 84 games there. But the track record is there, and he swings a better bat than Delmonico, Leury Garcia, Engel and Palka (save the home-run aspect) did in 2018.

Jay is an obvious upgrade defensively, should the idea be to play him mostly in right. If that ends up being the case, the White Sox will have two 2018 Gold Glove finalists in their outfield. Of course, Jay brings versatility in the outfield, playing all three positions every season since 2014. So Rick Renteria could easily opt to mix and match Jay, Engel and Leury Garcia in center and right.

And Jay has a stellar reputation in the clubhouse. The White Sox needed an influx of veteran clubhouse presences, positive ones, of course, that could help mentor an otherwise young-and-getting-younger roster and the prospects that have already begun making their way to the South Side. Jay will help with that, and while his reported deal will only last one season, he can have a long-term impact in the short term, even if he's not the kind of guy anyone's going to pencil into a lineup of the future.

But Machado is that kind of guy.

Jay brings plenty of positives to this White Sox team, but until the Machado sweepstakes has a winner, his connection to the guy who would be the biggest free-agent splash in White Sox history is going to be a focal point.

Hey, what better way to make a long-term impact than help convince Machado to sign up for the better part of the next decade?

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Dane Dunning undergoes Tommy John surgery as another White Sox prospect goes on the shelf

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Dane Dunning undergoes Tommy John surgery as another White Sox prospect goes on the shelf

Another highly rated White Sox prospect will spend much of the next year in recovery mode.

Dane Dunning underwent Tommy John surgery Monday, the team told reporters in Arizona, pairing him with Michael Kopech as pitching prospects in recovery mode.

https://twitter.com/ JRFegan/status/1107788100170768384

Dunning was shut down last June because of a forearm issue, the White Sox hoping to avoid Tommy John at that time. He wasn't invited to big league camp this spring, with general manager Rick Hahn explaining that decision away as a way to ease Dunning into the 2019 campaign. But Dunning again experienced forearm discomfort during camp, and Hahn said last week that all options were on the table, including the Tommy John surgery that came Monday.

Dunning will presumably go through the standard recovery process following the surgery, which lasts many months. Kopech, the organization's top-rated pitching prospect, underwent the procedure not long after making his major league debut in late August, and he will not pitch in 2019.

The surgery is a tough turn of events for Dunning, who was putting together a terrific 2018 campaign when he was shut down last summer. He had a 2.71 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 86.1 innings between Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham. Hahn spoke glowingly of Dunning, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 80 prospect in the game, as someone who could've competed for a spot in the major league rotation this spring, if not for the injury.

Dunning becomes just the latest White Sox prospect to have a significant injury in the last couple seasons. Third baseman Jake Burger, the team's first-round pick in the 2017 draft, suffered a pair of Achilles tears last year and missed the entire season. Kopech will not pitch again until 2020 while he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Springtime injuries delayed the 2018 debuts of both pitcher Alec Hansen and outfielder Luis Robert until the summer. Outfielder Micker Adolfo is on the mend from Tommy John surgery, as well. Outfielder Luis Basabe suffered a broken bone in his hand this spring.

Individually, these injuries do little to dim the bright futures of the players. Even with time off to recover, their ceilings remain high. But both individually and collectively, they do figure to affect the timeline of the White Sox ongoing rebuilding project, thanks to missed developmental time. Enough players experiencing those delays on their path to the majors can add up to the team's planned contention window perhaps opening later than initially hoped.

 

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Will this be a breakout season for Yoan Moncada?

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Will this be a breakout season for Yoan Moncada?

Chuck Garfien and Chris Kamka come to you from spring training where they discuss if 2019 will be a breakout season for Moncada (1:20).

Chuck spoke about Moncada with Jose Abreu (4:00), Yonder Alonso (7:20), and hitting coach Todd Steverson (11:50). Kamka provides a whole bunch of Moncada stats throughout the podcast. Chuck and Chris also discuss Carlos Rodon being named the Opening Day starter (20:30) and more.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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