Here’s something you may have missed during the slumber of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times was told by a source that the White Sox thought only five or six teams would be interested in Mark Buehrle and that it would ultimately take a two-year deal in order to sign him. Really, now?
It’s pretty hard to believe White Sox general manager Ken Williams could be that naive, as everybody knows there are only a few quality starting pitchers available in free agency this winter. In fact, our own Matthew Pouliot has him ranked No. 7 on his top 101 free agents, with only C.J. Wilson and (potentially) Yu Darvish ranked higher.
Predictably, the veteran left-hander has drawn interest from nearly a dozen teams and Cowley hears he has already received multiple three-year offers. If this is the White Sox attempt to spin Buehrle’s seemingly inevitable exit from Chicago, it doesn’t exactly cast them in the most favorable light.
Last month White Sox general manager Ken Williams revealed that he expects Jake Peavy to begin the season on the disabled list following shoulder surgery, but yesterday pitching coach Don Cooper shared a far more optimistic view of Peavy’s status with Scott Merkin of MLB.com.
Cooper, who along with trainer Herm Schneider watched Peavy throw earlier this month, said: “With my eyes, he looked free and easy and was going through what he was doing pretty damn well.”
Cooper also quoted Peavy as saying “I feel normal” about five months after suffering a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his right shoulder.
“He did a heck of a job to be where he’s at,” Cooper told Merkin. “I really didn’t think he would be right there. I thought it would be slower, but he hopped right into it and has a chance to be ready. Regardless, the next step is to build up strength and break through mental barriers common with this sort of injury. One is to let it go more and more, picking up the intensity of throws, and constantly climbing.”
Chris Sale has been preparing to start in case Peavy isn’t ready to begin the season in the rotation, but Cooper indicated that regardless of Peavy’s status he’d prefer to keep Sale in the bullpen after he thrived there as a rookie.
Last offseason the Royals acquired Josh Fields from the White Sox along with Chris Getz in exchange for Mark Teahen, but after one injury wrecked season in Kansas City the former top prospect and 2004 first-round pick was non-tendered a few weeks ago.
Fields has latched on with the Pirates, agreeing to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training, where he’ll likely compete with fellow prospect bust Andy Marte for a bench job.
Fields showed lots of power as a 24-year-old rookie in 2007, hitting .244 with 23 homers and a .788 OPS in 418 plate appearances, but has managed just 10 homers since then while hitting .228 with a .649 OPS and ugly 102/29 K/BB ratio in 353 trips to the plate.
Kerry Wood has turned down a one-year, $3.5 million offer from the White Sox in order to return to the Cubs for $1.5 million, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Wood, who was drafted fourth overall by the Cubs in 1995 and spent the first decade of his career calling Wrigley Field home, will likely be the primary setup man in front of closer Carlos Marmol.
Wittenmyer writes that Wood’s decision to turn down the White Sox’s far more lucrative offer “surprised even the Cubs” and he may also have turned down multi-year offers from the Yankees and Red Sox.
Wood missed all of April with a back injury and struggled for the Indians once he returned from the disabled list, but posted a 0.69 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 26 innings following a midseason trade to the Yankees. Originally a starter–and owner of one of the best starts in baseball history–Wood has a 3.45 ERA, .213 opponents’ batting average, and 237/93 K/BB ratio in 204 career relief innings.
Given some of the two- and three-year contracts being handed out to other middle relievers, $1.5 million is an amazingly below-market deal. He probably won’t miss the extra money, as Wood has already earned over $70 million during his dozen-year career, but it’s always interesting to see someone willing to take less to play where he wants, particularly when the decision involves choosing between sides of Chicago.