Nate Jones entered camp as the favorite to take over as the White Sox closer. A mid-February glute strain threatened to complicate matters, but the right-hander now appears to be back on track.
Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports that Jones threw his third bullpen session of the spring on Wednesday and experienced no lingering discomfort in his backside. “It’s completely gone,” Jones said of the glute strain. “They just want to take it as slow as possible because we still have playing time in the spring. That’s why we have increased it just a little at a time. … We’re still doing fine and once we start playing the games I think I’ll be right where I need to be.”
Jones, 28, owns a cool 3.31 career ERA and 154 strikeouts in 149 2/3 major league innings.
The White Sox traded former closer Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks in December.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.