The White Sox are among the top three suitors to land top-of-the-rotation pitcher Mike Clevinger in a deadline deal with the division-rival Cleveland Indians.
That's what Our Chuck Garfien is hearing a day before the trade deadline.
The idea that the Indians would deal one of the better starting pitchers in baseball to a team they're currently in direct competition with for the AL Central crown is a difficult one to wrap your head around, though reports throughout the day Sunday indicated the two sides are indeed talking about such a swap.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale got things started Sunday morning, writing that the two teams were talking about a deal that would insert Clevinger into the White Sox starting rotation and send outfielder Adam Engel and potentially pitching prospect Michael Kopech the other way. That would be an interesting deal on multiple levels, chief among them the White Sox opting for Clevinger's services through the 2022 season instead of Kopech's through the 2025 season. In such a move, which could include other parts and other teams, even, the Indians would be ridding themselves of Clevinger in the middle of a championship chase with little in the way of big major league impact coming back from the White Sox.
Then The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported that indeed the White Sox and Indians were discussing Clevinger, adding that the Indians are in the market for offense, specifically a power-hitting outfielder the White Sox don't have to offer, but would also take controllable pitching, which again could point in Kopech's direction.
Throughout the day and into the evening, plenty of other rumors flew linking Clevinger to a host of other teams. Such is life leading up to the trade deadline.
But the White Sox are right there with the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees, from what Garfien's hearing. The Padres have already made a few moves leading up to the deadline and appear intent on making some more. That seems to include pursuits of Clevinger and the other big-name starting pitcher on the market, the Texas Rangers' Lance Lynn, who the White Sox were linked to Saturday.
The Padres might have even found themselves out of their short-lived front-runner status as things changed like the wind Sunday night.
Indeed the White Sox could benefit from adding another top-flight starting pitcher. The numbers have been good for the White Sox rotation, but after Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel at the top, there are some big question marks about consistency when it comes to Dylan Cease, Reynaldo López and Carlos Rodón, the third of which remains on the injured list. Dane Dunning has impressed in his first two major league starts, throwing five no-hit innings against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon, but he's just 9.1 innings into his big league career.
With the White Sox on the prowl for the franchise's first playoff berth in more than a decade, a division championship and a chance to make some noise in October, an upgrade would do them good.
It's a tricky decision-making process for Rick Hahn, who has talked about his desire not to mortgage the future or drastically alter his carefully crafted rebuilding plans in exchange for any rental players. Clevinger does not count as a rental, with two more years of club control after this one. Lynn, too, has team control past the 2020 season. But certainly Kopech has been a big piece of the White Sox long-term plans for some time.
Who knows if any White Sox offer for Clevinger even includes Kopech. But these are the kinds of decisions that front offices face once their teams elevate into winning mode. And that's where the White Sox are right now as the clock ticks towards Monday's deadline.