White Sox

White Sox are reportedly 'in the market for a DH,' but what route makes the most sense for the rebuild?

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USA TODAY

White Sox are reportedly 'in the market for a DH,' but what route makes the most sense for the rebuild?

The hot stove remains mostly frozen, though the White Sox have been active, especially when it comes to adding relievers to the bullpen mix.

But Jon Heyman had an interesting tidbit in his most recent "Inside Baseball" roundup, saying the White Sox are in the market for a designated hitter. Heyman didn't add much to that, the only additional information being that the South Siders are not interested in Matt Kemp, who was dealt from the Atlanta Braves to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this offseason.

It makes sense that the White Sox might be looking to upgrade at that spot in their batting order. During the 2017 season, White Sox designated hitters ranked 13th out of 15 American League teams with a .226 batting average and a .288 on-base percentage.

Much of that is due to the numbers of Matt Davidson, who despite showing some pop with 26 home runs, struggled in other offensive facets, slashing just .220/.260.452. Only one AL player who had as many at-bats as Davidson, Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, had a lower on-base percentage. Davidson walked just 19 times compared to 165 strikeouts.

But Davidson is just 26 years old, and it seems to make sense for the rebuilding White Sox — who aren't expected to compete for a championship in 2018 — to continue to give Davidson more opportunity to show he can stick as a big league hitter. It could be argued he earned that opportunity with those 26 homers, the second-highest total on the team behind Jose Abreu. As the roster stands right now, you have to figure he'd be the most likely player to earn the majority of at-bats at designated hitter.

And what about giving opportunities to the likes of Casey Gillaspie and Ryan Cordell? Those two guys both came over in midseason trades last summer and could impress enough to earn a shot if the White Sox are no longer enamored with Davidson's power potential. Both spent significant time at the Triple-A level and could be ready for a taste of the big leagues.

There's also an argument to be made, though, that the ridiculously large number of available free-agent hitters means the White Sox might be able to find a bargain on a quality player who could help fuel the rebuilding effort — either as a potential piece of the future or as a potential midseason trade candidate who could fetch a prospect or two.

Because of the position and its complete lack of defense, you could assemble a mile-long list of available free agents that could slide into the DH spot. There are five guys listed under the "designated hitter" heading on MLB Trade Rumors' free-agent list: Jose Bautista, Chris Carter, Matt Holliday, Logan Morrison and Mike Napoli. Plenty of other players listed at other positions could DH, too, guys like Melky Cabrera, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gonzalez, John Jaso, Adam Lind, Trevor Plouffe, Mark Reynolds, Seth Smith and Chase Utley. And then there's the trade route, which opens up even more possibilities.

Of course, if none of those names get White Sox fans overly excited, that's kind of the point. This team is still in the thick of rebuilding. It makes little sense to fork over huge money to someone like J.D. Martinez in a year where the team isn't expected to compete, especially until the front office knows what it has in the many prospects still developing in the minor leagues. Today the White Sox might need an extra bat. But what if Eloy Jimenez hits the big leagues in a matter of months? Sticking his bat in the lineup every day solves that problem and costs nothing.

If the White Sox can find a free-agent bat to slot in at DH and flip at the deadline, that makes sense. Signing a big name? It makes far less sense.

But in this completely out-of-the-ordinary offseason, nothing should be considered impossible. Stay tuned.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Zack Collins hits a pair of homers

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Zack Collins hits a pair of homers

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Double-A Birmingham

Zack Collins hit two home runs as part of a three-hit day. He drove in two runs, scored two runs and walked once in a 10-4 loss. Collins now has seven homers on the campaign with an ungodly .421 on-base percentage. He's batting .326 over his last 25 games. Eloy Jimenez had two hits and a walk, and Jordan Guerrero gave up four runs and walked five in four innings.

Class A Winston-Salem

The Dash lost both games of a doubleheader, 10-5 and 7-0. Luis Alexander Basabe, Alex Call and Gavin Sheets each picked up two hits on the day.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and scored a run in a 2-1 loss.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had a hit in a 2-1 win.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.