White Sox

White Sox made higher bid for Zack Wheeler, who took less to stay on East Coast

White Sox made higher bid for Zack Wheeler, who took less to stay on East Coast

The White Sox missed out on another high-priced free agent, but it wasn't because they weren't willing to pay.

According to a source, the White Sox made a higher five-year offer to free-agent pitcher Zack Wheeler than the reported $118 million deal he received from the Philadelphia Phillies. Family considerations, reported to be Wheeler's fiancee's preference to stay close to home, were the deciding factor. Our Chuck Garfien reported that the White Sox contract offer was worth more than $120 million, with the highest amount of guaranteed money Wheeler was offered.

That important information ought to squelch any "here we go again" reactions believing that this situation mirrored the outcome of the Manny Machado derby in February. Then, it was reported that the White Sox fell well shy of the guaranteed money in Machado's deal with the San Diego Padres. This time around, it appears the financials were not the reason the White Sox lost out, which is in line with the teams aggressive approach to the offseason that saw them land free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal on the richest contract in franchise history.

Obviously, had Wheeler accepted the White Sox offer, his contract would own that title.

Wheeler would have slotted in well alongside Lucas Giolito at the top of the White Sox rotation, and his age and contract length would have aligned perfectly with the White Sox plans for a lengthy contention window. Instead, they'll have to pursue alternate options, such as free-agent starting pitchers Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel, or seek an upgrade via trade. The White Sox are in the market for a pair of starting pitchers this winter, a necessity considering the large number of young pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery and some of the other unknowns that exist in the team's current crop of starters.

How the White Sox end up plugging those holes remains to be seen. But the fact they had the highest bid in the Wheeler sweepstakes shows they're willing to pay for the upgrades they need.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Impressions from Summer Camp

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Impressions from Summer Camp

Live from Guaranteed Rate Field, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber give you the sights and sounds as the White Sox prepare to start the season. They also discuss being amazed at Luis Robert in batting practice, and can the young players of the White Sox impact the 2020 season, with little time to adjust?

(1:50) - How good can the White Sox offense be?

(6:00) - Luis Robert is dominating batting practice

(10:30) - What will the Sox look like after a long layoff

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(14:46) - Gio Gonzalez finally gets his shot with the White Sox

(21:28) - More sights and sounds from Guaranteed Rate Field

Listen here or below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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White Sox Insider Notes: Andrew Vaughn expands versatility at third base

White Sox Insider Notes: Andrew Vaughn expands versatility at third base

It’s not uncommon for baseball players to be seen working out at positions they usually don’t play in games. Heck, Jose Abreu somewhat regularly takes groundballs at shortstop.

But in the case of Andrew Vaughn – the White Sox’s No. 3 overall draft pick in 2019 – working out at third base this week, there might be something there. In fact, when Rick Renteria was asked if third base is a position Vaughn can handle, the manager immediately said, “I do.”

“He's got really good feet, his exchange is very good,” Renteria said. “He's got a very good arm. He has all the makings of being able to play that position.”

Someone jumping to major conclusions might suggest that the White Sox are grooming Vaughn to play third base this season in case Yoan Moncada, who is still absent from camp, can’t. While Vaughn having a contribution in 2020 can’t be completely ruled out, it’s important to remember that he didn’t play above High-A ball last season and isn’t being helped by the lack of a minor league season this year. He’s simply one of the high-profile prospects the White Sox are still trying to develop in camp, while also preparing for a regular season.

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“When we got (back to Chicago), the work in terms of trying to get him to have the ability to do a little bit more has come into play,” Renteria said. “So we put him over there with an understanding that we'd continue to work and be mindful obviously of what he's capable of doing. There are several of us that believe he's capable of moving around.”

Ultimately, that’s what this is about. Many within the organization believe Vaughn can be more than a first baseman and the White Sox are using this opportunity to increase his versatility.

“The worst-case scenario would be him just not doing anything,” Renteria said. “Any time you're around baseball, any time you're around the highest level of players that exist in the game, any time you're following routines, things that are helping you learn something about your skill set, it's always a plus.”

It may just be a short three-week period, but the White Sox are trying to maximize Vaughn’s time at Guaranteed Rate Field, knowing developmental time could be limited the rest of 2020. He’s very much in the team’s plans, perhaps even in the short term.

“I look at him as a baseball player. He is a young man that is very bright and that I believe would be able to make adjustments,” Renteria said. “Would anybody say he'll go hiccup free? No. But certainly don't have any lack of confidence in his ability to make a transition should he need to do it. Bare minimum, we allow him to continue to expand his flexibility and value to a ballclub.”

Moncada, Kopech updates

Not much has changed with the two high-profile players that came over in the Chris Sale trade. Neither Moncada or Michael Kopech are currently with the team in camp, but there is some hope that Moncada won’t miss a ton of time.

“Obviously Moncada will be back soon,” pitcher Lucas Giolito said during his Zoom call with reporters Wednesday.

The White Sox haven’t given an official reason for Moncada’s absence, although two unnamed players tested positive for COVID-19 during last week’s intake. Kopech is dealing with a personal issue.

“It's a fluid situation and we'll deal with it as it arises, so I can't really give you any update,” Renteria said about Kopech. “Just to know that we have the ability to have him return with us.”

First intrasquad game plan

Unlike other teams that jumped right into intrasquad games, the White Sox have eased into camp slowly, showing some patience. But that changes Thursday with the first game scheduled for 1:10 p.m. The White Sox will play four innings and the scheduled pitchers include: Steve Cishek, Aaron Bummer, Ross Detwiler, Carson Fulmer and Drew Anderson, although Renteria teased some sort of surprise.

“We got a few sides and then there's a couple guys that we might be able to add,” he said. “That may be your little surprise piece for tomorrow.”

Know this: it will be the most anticipated intrasquad game in White Sox history.

 

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