Chicago declined its $13 million option on Kevin Youkilis earlier this week, buying him out for $1 million instead, but the White Sox are interested in bringing him back at a reduced salary.
New general manager Rick Hahn said during a radio interview with ESPN-1000 that he laid out the situation to Youkilis when informing him the option would be declined:
This is the first time Kevin has had a chance to be out on the open market, and he’s got a young family out on the west coast, and he wants to explore what’s out there. But he knows there is no confusion in his mind about our desire to bring him back. So we’re going to stay on that, stay in communication. It’s not a great time to be a club in the free-agent market looking for a third baseman, the player pool is not real deep, so I expect Kevin will be popular, but we’re going to be in on that until the end, I think.
Youkilis is coming off the first sub-.800 OPS season of his career, has struggled to stay healthy, and will be 34 years old before Opening Day, so it would have been tough to justify paying him $13 million even on a one-year commitment. He hit .236 with 15 homers and a .771 OPS in 80 games after being traded to the White Sox, which is both well below his career norms and still above-average production for a third baseman.
For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East
Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams. The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.
Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.
On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.