Lastings Milledge, who was last seen getting into a winter league brawl in Venezuela, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox.
Milledge has gone from one-time top prospect to being non-tendered by the Pirates and unable to land a big-league deal, but he’s not even 26 years old yet and hasn’t been a total bum with a .269 batting average and .723 OPS in 1,655 career plate appearances.
He won’t have an opportunity to claim an everyday job in Chicago with Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, and Juan Pierre set as the outfield starters, but Milledge would be a solid fit as a fourth outfielder who can offer plus defense in a corner spot and an .800 OPS versus left-handed pitching during the past three seasons.
The Red Sox signed catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year, $13.55 million extension, per a team announcement on Saturday. The agreement will keep Vazquez under contract through the 2021 season and covers two years of arbitration eligibility and the catcher’s first year of free agency. It comes with a $7 million club option (and $250,000 buyout) for 2022 that could get bumped up to $8 million if he reaches 502 plate appearances in both 2020 and 2021. Vazquez has also volunteered to make an annual donation to the Red Sox Foundation as part of his new arrangement with the club.
The 27-year-old backstop is entering his fourth year with the Red Sox in 2018. He’s been a steady defender behind the dish over the last three years and was ranked fifth-best in defense among all American League catchers at the end of the 2017 season. He also enjoyed a breakout performance at the plate, slashing a career-best .290/.330/.404 with five home runs and a .735 OPS in 345 plate appearances.
Come Opening Day, Vazquez is expected to be the Red Sox’ primary option behind the plate, with veteran Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart poised to start in backup roles. Swihart is out of options, but has been groomed for a utility role this spring and could take a few reps in the left field and the infield corners if need be, as it doesn’t appear the club is prepared to trade him just yet.