Going into this offseason, it was unclear whether the White Sox were going to be buyers or sellers. They answered that question by picking up Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie in trades while signing Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro as their new catching tandem.
Many have considered a corner outfielder as the missing piece for Chicago, as Avisail Garcia disappointed to the tune of a .675 OPS last season. Yoenis Cespedes was an obvious fit, but the White Sox were reportedly reluctant to give him a long-term deal. Now that the free agent market has thinned out, the club is keeping an eye on possible trades.
It’s unclear if there have been any substantive talks between the two clubs. Rogers also hears that the Dodgers would prefer to deal Carl Crawford. Either, who turns 34 in April, is coming off a strong bounceback season where he batted .294 with 14 home runs and an .852 OPS over 445 plate appearances. He’s owed $38 million over the next two seasons.
The White Sox also continue to be linked to free agents Dexter Fowler and Ian Desmond. Both players are attached to draft pick compensation.
The Giants and reliever George Kontos have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.15 million contract, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
Kontos was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 30-year-old right-hander requested $1.35 million and was offered $850,000 by the Giants when figures were exchanged last month, so the two sides settled just a shade over the midpoint.
Kontos thrived out of the Giants’ bullpen last season, posting a 2.33 ERA in 73 appearances. While he made some big strides with his control, oddly he struck out only 44 batters in 73 1/3 innings. He averaged 8.1 K/9 over his previous stints in the majors from 2011-2014.
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy recently indicated that he and the team would likely be better off if he was traded in the near future. Meanwhile, the Nationals have reportedly expressed interest in him as a potential upgrade over Wilson Ramos behind the plate. It sounds like a good match on the surface, but it might not be that simple.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has the scoop:
Now, this doesn’t mean that Lucroy wouldn’t accept a trade to the Nationals under any circumstances. Usually in these sort of situations, a player asks for some sort of financial incentive to waive their no-trade clause. Lucroy is an interesting case in that he’s owed $4 million this season, with a $5.25 million club option for 2017 or a $250,000 buyout. The Nationals obviously wouldn’t have a problem picking up that option as a condition of the trade, but perhaps Lucroy could insist that the option be renegotiated.
Lucroy, who turns 30 in June, was limited to 103 games last season due to a fractured big toe and a concussion while batting .264/.326/.391 with seven home runs and 43 RBI. He’s a big chip for the rebuilding Brewers, so they might prefer to wait to see if he rebounds.
You might recall that former major leaguer Andy Van Slyke went on a bizarre rant during an appearance on a St. Louis radio station in November, during which he spread some gossip that the highest-paid player on the Dodgers told the team to get rid out of polarizing outfielder Yasiel Puig. It was strongly implied that the player in question was ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
Many naturally speculated that the source of the information was Van Slyke’s son, Scott Van Slyke, which is pretty darn awkward since he’s still on the Dodgers. The issue was raised during the team’s FanFest event today and Van Slyke denied that he ever told his dad what was said on the radio.
According to new Los Angeles Times beat writer Andy McCullough, Van Slyke said he also apologized to Kershaw for the controversy. Meanwhile, Kershaw told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that he addressed the matter with Puig during MLB’s goodwill trip to Cuba. Puig also told McCullough he expects to meet with Kershaw again this spring to make sure they are “on the same page.” We may never know the whole story here, but it’s ultimately not surprising that everybody involved is saying the right things about trying to move forward.
The Royals just announced that they have signed outfielder Travis Snider to a minor league deal contract with an invitation to spring training.
A former top prospect in the Blue Jays’ organization, Snider was productive in a part-time role with the Pirates in 2014, but he batted just .213 with four home runs and a .663 OPS in 265 plate appearances at the major league level last season. He began the year with the Orioles before being designated for assignment in August. He then returned to the Pirates and served as a September call-up.
Snider doesn’t turn 28 until February, so it’s easy to understand why he continues to get chances, but he now owns a disappointing .244/.311/.399 batting line in the majors.