Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko

The White Sox will trade anyone but Sale… and Konerko?

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That’s the word from CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. The White Sox are open to parting with younger regulars like Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham and they’d certainly be willing to move Adam Dunn and John Danks. But ace Chris Sale is unavailable, as is 10-and-5 guy Paul Konerko.

Heyman doesn’t indicate whether that’s Konerko’s preference or the team’s. Konerko has full no-trade protection because of his veteran status. From a performance standpoint, there wouldn’t seem to be a whole lot of reason for the White Sox to keep him. He’s 37, struggling this year (.253/.319/.373 in 249 AB) and he’s a free agent at season’s end.

The White Sox most likely to be traded are relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton. Crain, one of the AL’s best relievers so far this year, is a free agent at season’s end and will probably want another costly three-year contract. Thornton’s contract includes a $6 million option for next year that the White Sox probably won’t want to pick up.

Closer Addison Reed would also be in demand and could bring more in return than anyone else on the White Sox roster, Sale excepted. However, since he’s not going to be a free agent until after the 2017 season, the White Sox would have to be blown away to move him.

The White Sox offense doesn’t have as many intriguing options for potential deals. It is, after all, the AL’s worst offense so far this season. No one on the team has an .800 OPS, though Rios is close at .794. He’s owed a reasonable $12.5 million next year and either $13.5 million or a $1 million buyout in 2015, giving him a fair amount of trade value. He can block a deal to six teams.

It’s hard to imagine the White Sox finding takers for Dunn or Keppinger. Ramirez wouldn’t be a bad pickup for a team in need of a shortstop, but the White Sox have always seemed to overvalue him. Plus, he’s due to make $19.5 million between 2014 and ’15. The White Sox would be selling low on Viciedo, so they’ll probably keep him and hope for the best. Beckham is a more interesting case, since he has hit fairly well in limited action while not sidelined by a broken hamate this year (.309/.340/.383 in 28 games). He still has some upside remaining, but he’s probably going to make about $4 million next year and the White Sox have Carlos Sanchez as a possible second baseman of the future.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: