UPDATE: Whiteside is officially back in San Francisco, getting a minor-league contract, so the Giants made the correct call in non-tendering him. He’ll have to compete for a roster spot during spring training.
Earlier this week the Giants non-tendered Eli Whiteside, making him a free agent, but John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the 32-year-old catcher is “close to a deal” to return at a lower salary.
Buster Posey’s season-ending injury led to a career-high 236 plate appearances for Whiteside and he was predictably stretched too thin as a regular, hitting just .197 with hour homers and a .574 OPS.
By non-tendering him the Giants avoided paying Whiteside around $750,000 via arbitration, so presumably he’s willing to accept a one-year deal for something a little closer to the new $480,000 minimum salary to back up Posey again.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.