The White Sox were supposedly talking with the division-rival Cleveland Indians about Mike Clevinger. But in the end, the uber-aggressive San Diego Padres made yet another deadline deal.
The Padres, making their own loud noise this season in emerging from rebuilding mode, completed their fifth deal in 48 hours, sending a six-player package to Cleveland in exchange for Clevinger and more.
It was more than a little mind-boggling that the Indians would consider trading a pitcher of Clevinger's front-of-the-rotation caliber to a team they're in active competition with for the AL Central crown. It got even more difficult to understand when their reasoning for parting with Clevinger in the first place — a pitching-rich roster's desperate need for offense — didn't seem applicable in a deal with the White Sox, who have no intention of shedding any major league ready bats from their best-in-baseball lineup.
Nonetheless, both USA Today's Bob Nightengale and The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported on the talks between the two rivals Sunday, and Our Chuck Garfien tweeted that the White Sox were among the top three suitors to land Clevinger in a trade — as were the Padres.
Despite the head-scratching caused trying to figure out what the Indians might have gained from such a swap — Nightengale mentioned Michael Kopech as a possible candidate for the White Sox to send the other way, and he's one of baseball's top pitching prospects, under control through the 2025 season — there was little doubt that the White Sox would have benefitted greatly from the addition of a pitcher of Clevinger's caliber.
While the South Side starting staff has posted some good numbers so far this season, there are questions about consistency past the elite 1-2 punch of Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel at the top of the rotation. Dylan Cease has a low ERA but has had issues with walks, homers and jams. Reynaldo López hasn't logged many innings in his first two starts back from the injured list. And Carlos Rodón remains on the IL with shoulder soreness that's caused him to miss almost all of August.
Though Dane Dunning has impressed in his first two major league starts — he threw five no-hit innings in Sunday's win — it would make sense for the White Sox to keep shopping for starting pitching before the 3 p.m. deadline Monday afternoon, if they can find an upgrade for the right price, that is. They were tied to the Texas Rangers' Lance Lynn, the Los Angeles Angels' Dylan Bundy and the Arizona Diamondbacks' Robbie Ray in various rumors Saturday before the Clevinger reports thrust the spotlight in that direction.
But Clevinger's off the market, heading to Southern California. For fans hearing that the Padres beat the White Sox out in another derby for a top player in the game and having flashbacks to the outcome of the Manny Machado sweepstakes, realize this: The White Sox woke up Monday tied for first place in the AL Central, while the Padres woke up five games out of first place in the NL West. And the team the White Sox are tied with just traded away one of its best players.
It's obviously not apples to apples, but things are going just fine for the White Sox these days.