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Mike Clevinger Heads to South Side of Chicago

Mike Clevinger

Mike Clevinger

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Clevinger Heads to South Side of Chicago

On the South Side of Chicago, in the baddest part of town, a 31-year-old right-hander from the Sunshine State will look to solidify the back half of the White Sox’ starting rotation.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Sunday that Mike Clevinger has reached an agreement to sign with the White Sox. Jon Morosi of MLB Network added some details later in the day, noting that it would be a one-year deal (likely with options) and for a guaranteed total of $8 million or more. There’s likely to be incentives in the deal that could drive the total beyond that figure.

The deal – which is still pending a physical – should become official early this week. Clevinger’s tenure with the Padres could hardly be characterized as memorable. Formerly considered a top-of-the-rotation starter, Clevinger was acquired from the Guardians in a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline in 2020 to bolster their rotation for the postseason. He wound up making just four starts – posting a 2.84 ERA and 0.89 WHIP over 19 innings – before suffering a right elbow impingement and being shut down. He wound up returning to start Game 1 of the NLDS – only to experience a sudden drop in velocity in the second inning. That ultimately led to him undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery – just a day after inking a two-year, $11.5 million extension.

Clevinger missed the entire 2021 season while recovering and didn’t make it back to the hill until the beginning of May in 2022. After his return, he stayed healthy for the duration of the season, but his production fell far short of the previous level that he set prior to the injury. He logged 114 1/3 innings in 23 appearances (22 starts), compiling a 4.33 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a 91/35 K/BB ratio. The decline in performance could be directly tied to his overall drop in velocity, as Clevinger averaged just 93.5 mph on his fastball in 2022 – down 1.5 mph from where he sat during the 2019 and 2020 campaigns.

Can he continue to grow as more of a finesse pitcher and less of the strikeout artist that he was during his time with the Guardians? Sure. His margin for error will be much smaller in Chicago though. He’s leaving the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park to the homer haven that is Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. Clevinger already had trouble keeping the ball in the yard last year – serving up 20 home runs in only 114 1/3 innings (nine of those in nine starts in San Diego).

Fantasy managers – a notoriously optimistic lot – aren’t expecting much. Clevinger’s average draft position in early NFBC Draft Champions drafts sits outside the top 300 players overall, making him an afterthought as late-round rotation-filler. The White Sox are hopeful that pitching coach Ethan Katz will be able to unlock something much more beneficial to their cause.

Dodgers Interested in Willy Adames

Juan Toribio of reported Saturday that the Dodgers have expressed interest in acquiring shortstop Willy Adames from the Brewers.

The Dodgers maintain that they’d like to bring back superstar shortstop Trea Turner, but he’s on the open market and his preference appears to be to land with a club on the east coast. That forces the Dodgers to look for his replacement at shortstop -- and it appears as though they’re investigating all avenues. The free agent market is loaded at the shortstop position, with Turner, Dansby Swanson, Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts leading the way.

Rather than breaking the bank for one of those options though, it sounds like the Dodgers are also doing their diligence to see what’s out there on the trade front. There’s no indication that the Brewers are looking to move Adames -- who is under team control through the 2024 season and arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter -- though they just dealt Hunter Renfroe because they didn’t want to pay his raise in arbitration so anything is possible. Adames hit .238/.298/.458 with 31 homers and 98 RBI for the Brewers in 2022.

If the Dodgers wind up striking out on the free agent market – and via trade – it seems like their fallback plan is to slide Gavin Lux over from second base to become their everyday shortstop.

Pirates Sign Carlos Santana

The Pirates made a blockbuster free agent signing – well, at least for them – on Friday when they signed first baseman Carlos Santana to a one-year, $6.7 million contract.

It’s an interesting move for a couple of reasons. One, is that the team already acquired Ji-Man Choi this offseason to be their regular first baseman. Presumably, the club plans to have Santana function as the regular designated hitter – putting both of those bats in the lineup at the same time.

The second reason that it’s interesting is simply performance-related. The 30-year-old had a disappointing season for the Mariners and Royals in 2022 – slashing just .202/.316/.376 with 19 homers and 60 RBI. In fact, over the last three seasons, he’s slashing a woeful .207/.323/.355 across 1420 plate appearances. He’s not exactly the type of player that you’d expect to sign so quickly in free agency.

What he does bring to the table is his ability to get on base. Throughout his career, Santana has always been able to work a walk and that patience hasn’t dissipated with age. That’s likely not enough to deliver surplus value to the Pirates – or to fantasy managers though. The 36-year-old isn’t even an afterthought in early NFBC drafts, as he currently holds an average draft position outside the top 600 players overall.

MLB Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that 11 teams have expressed interest in signing free agent outfielder Cody Bellinger… Juan Toribio of reports that the Dodgers are among the teams that have shown interest in former Cardinals closer Alex Reyes… The Padres signed Julio Teheran to a minor league contract that could be worth as much as $6 million if he reaches the big leagues… According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, more than 10 teams have expressed interest in free agent right-hander Tommy KahnleAristides Aquino has signed on to play with the Chinichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball… Dan Straily re-signed a one-year deal with the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization… J.B. Wendelken agreed to a one-year contract with the Yokohama BayStars of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball… Kirk McCarty is expected to sign with the SSG Landers of the Korea Baseball Organization… Shaun Anderson has agreed to a deal with the Kia Tigers in the KBO… Willians Astudillo inked a deal with the SoftBank Hawks of the KBO… The Red Sox plan to promote Ramon Vazquez to become their bench coach… The Marlins hired Dodgers co-hitting coach Brant Brown to become their hitting coach… According to Dan Hayes of The Athletic, the Twins have expressed “definite interest” in left-hander Carlos Rodón… The Mariners have expressed interest in free agent outfielders Andrew Benintendi and Brandon Nimmo… Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that Ezequiel Duran and Josh Smith are generating interest in trade discussions… Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner told that he wants shortstop prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza to get opportunities in spring training to compete for Opening Day roster spots… According to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune, the Twins have made multiple contract offers to free agent shortstop Carlos Correa… Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the Mets would like to re-sign right-hander Adam OttavinoJoey Votto (shoulder) has resumed taking swings.