Now that free agent starter Zack Wheeler has signed, the entire pitching market looks set to take off.
The next domino to fall could be Madison Bumgarner. The free agent left-hander has two major suitors in AL Central rivals Minnesota and Chicago, according to Andy Martino of SNY.
In the wake of Wheeler signing with Phillies and Hamels signing with Braves, Bumgarner market is clarifying. Per sources, White Sox and Twins among heaviest suitors there. Yankees involved to some degree.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) December 4, 2019
Both the Twins and White Sox are eager to upgrade their rotations, so it’s no surprise that they’re aggressively chasing Bumgarner. Both teams were in on the Wheeler sweepstakes, with Chicago actually making the highest known offer there. It’s not clear what the asking price is financially for Bumgarner, but it’s probably not that dissimilar from what Wheeler was asking. Given that both teams were willing to pay up there, they likely won’t back down when it comes to Bumgarner.
Bumgarner is still only 30 and should have several good years left. That said, his 3.90 ERA for the San Francisco Giants in 2019 was a career worst.
Zack Wheeler is getting an impressive sum of money from the Phillies, but reportedly left some cash on the table in order to sign with the team.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Wheeler turned down more money from the Chicago White Sox than the $118 million he got from Philadelphia. His desire to stay close to his wife’s New Jersey home was apparently a major factor in his decision to sign with the Phillies.
#WhiteSox’s offer to Wheeler was for MORE than the $118M he will receive from the #Phillies, sources tell The Athletic. As @MarcCarig said, Wheeler’s wife is from New Jersey, and that proximity was an important consideration in his decision.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019
We can take a couple things from this. First, the Phillies had a huge inherent advantage geographically that allowed them to land Wheeler at something of a discount. With that in mind, it’s hard to see anyone else as having a great chance unless they blew Philadelphia’s offer out of the water financially.
Second, the White Sox are serious. They’ve already brought in catcher Yasmani Grandal, and the fact that they were willing to go big in a Wheeler deal suggests that they want to take a big step forward in 2020. Some of the trades they’ve reportedly discussed also bear that out.
The Chicago White Sox have shown a willingness to spend big already this offseason, and that has allowed them to bring back one of the most important hitters in their lineup.
On Friday, the White Sox announced that they have agreed to a three-year, $50 million deal with first baseman Jose Abreu.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) November 22, 2019
Abreu was named an All-Star for the second consecutive year last year. He hit .284 with 33 home runs and a career-high 123 RBI, which led the American League. The 32-year-old had signed one-year contracts in each of the past three seasons, having been paid $16 million last year and $13 million the year before. Abreu originally signed a six-year, $68 million deal with Chicago as an international free agent six years ago, but he opted out after the first three seasons.
The White Sox had extended Abreu a qualifying offer worth $17.8 million for next season, which meant any team that signed him in free agency would have been required to forfeit a draft pick.
Abreu should continue to provide a steadying presence in Chicago’s lineup alongside emerging youngsters Eloy Jimenez and Joan Moncada. The White Sox also made another big free agent signing this week when they added an All-Star catcher, so they appear to be committed to contending in 2020 after 11 straight seasons without a playoff appearance.
- Chicago White Sox
The New York Mets look poised to lose starting pitcher Zack Wheeler in free agency.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, Wheeler is likely to reject the Mets’ $17.8 million qualifying offer amid free agent interest elsewhere. Wheeler has preliminary interest from the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox, and San Diego Padres.
There is some belief that Wheeler could become the consensus third-best starter on the market behind Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, and he could be a backup choice for teams who fail to land either of them. That’s down to Wheeler’s relative youth — he doesn’t turn 30 until next May — and his success when healthy. He posted a 3.96 ERA last year.
In addition to the aforementioned teams, there’s an NL East team that reportedly has its eyes on Wheeler. He looks like he’ll be an in-demand starter.
Jose Abreu is a free agent this offseason and could be looking at re-signing with the Chicago White Sox.
Abreu and the White Sox are discussing a long-term contract extension, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Initially an international free agent, Abreu signed a 6-year, $68 million deal with Chicago six years ago. He opted out of the deal after three years and signed one-year contracts each of the last three seasons, making $16 million last year and $13 million the year before.
The White Sox extended Abreu a qualifying offer for $17.8 million next season, which would hinder his suitors in free agency, as teams would be reluctant to lose a draft pick to sign him. If he does not want the one-year deal, some long-term security could make sense for both parties.
Turning 33 in January, Abreu has made All-Star teams in consecutive years for the Sox and led the league in RBIs last season with 123. He has a career .862 OPS, though that mark was at .834 last season. The White Sox could use his steady bat in a lineup that now features emerging youngsters Eloy Jimenez and Joan Moncada.
The Chicago White Sox are at least superior to the Houston Astros in one aspect of the game: their troll game.
Tuesday saw the two AL teams face off against each other in a doubleheader at Guaranteed Rate Field. During the second leg of it, the White Sox flashed a funny message on their scoreboard about how this was technically the first doubleheader between the two teams since they swept the Astros in the 2005 World Series. MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart shared an image of the troll job.
Sox trolling pic.twitter.com/9tPiU0CV0l
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) August 14, 2019
Though they did fall short in 2005, the Astros are now one of the best teams in baseball (currently a full 24 games better than the White Sox in the standings) and won a World Series of their own in 2017.
Still, 2005 obviously brings back some great memories for the White Sox, and it’s not their first time trolling Houston about that year’s World Series title.
Alcides Escobar carved out a lengthy MLB career as a light-hitting, glove-first shortstop with the Kansas City Royals, where he spent eight years as a reliable everyday player and won a World Series. He left Kansas City after 2018 and landed in the Chicago White Sox organization on a minor league deal. His time there does not appear to have gone well.
The White Sox quietly announced Friday that their organization had released Escobar, who had spent the entire season with the team’s AAA affiliate in Charlotte. The Knights thanked Escobar for his time there with a video, but Escobar made quite clear in a reply that he was not happy with how the organization had treated him.
I asked for my freedom they did not let me free and I did it because they lied to me they are not honest
— alcides escobar (@alcidesescobar2) August 2, 2019
Escobar doesn’t give a lot of context why the White Sox were “not honest.” It may well be that he felt he had earned or had been promised a promotion to the MLB level, and he’d hit .286 for the Knights this season. He still hadn’t appeared in the majors, and perhaps it wasn’t going to happen as things stood.