The White Sox just officially announced a two-year, $4 million contract with left-handed reliever Will Ohman.
When the agreement was initially reported on Saturday, many immediately speculated (including myself) that his addition to the bullpen would push Matt Thornton to the closer role and Chris Sale to the rotation if Jake Peavy isn’t ready for the start of the season after shoulder surgery.
Well, White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper reiterated to Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago over the weekend that he isn’t into that idea.
“I’m not favor of that,” Cooper said, when asked if Sale would be used as a starter until an injured Jake Peavy returned. “It’s unfair and too much to ask of a young guy until he has a chance to get himself situated.”
“If he starts, he starts and starts all year. To start for a month, I don’t like the sound or the feel of that. But I’m speaking for myself only. I haven’t talked to [manager] Ozzie [Guillen] or [general manager] Kenny [Williams] on any of this.”
Sale, who was selected 13th overall last June, made his major league debut last August and posted a 1.93 ERA and 32/10 K/BB ratio over 23 1/3 innings down the stretch. Though the White Sox used him exclusively in relief, the 21-year-old southpaw was drafted as a starting pitcher out of Florida Gulf Cost University. However, with Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and a healthy Peavy, it’s unlikely Sale will be a full-time starter for the club, at least in 2011.
While Cooper is still optimistic that Peavy will be ready for the start of the season, he named Tony Pena, Charlie Leesman and Lucas Harrell as some potential short-term alternatives for the final spot in the rotation.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.