Rick Hahn positive on Scott Boras client Carlos Rodon signing with White Sox

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While some outsiders have concerns about Carlos Rodon’s signability given he’s represented by Scott Boras, the White Sox don’t sound too worried.

Echoing amateur scouting director Doug Laumann’s confidence the White Sox will sign Rodon, the team’s first top-5 draft pick since 1990, general manager Rick Hahn said Monday he is upbeat about the situation.

Saying they wanted the best player on the board no matter what, the White Sox drafted the top collegiate pitcher with the No. 3 overall pick on Thursday despite the presence of Boras. Even though Boras has gained a reputation for driving a hard bargain on his clients’ behalf, Hahn said Monday — in his first public statement since Rodon was drafted — he’s keeping positive thoughts.

“I tend to be an optimistic guy,” Hahn said. “I never anticipate problems. Look, in reality, we have a history with Scott, a positive history with Scott. He had Joe Crede, he’s got (Dayan) Viciedo. We had Andruw Jones here. A fair amount of this concern, or discussion on how this could be difficult, I think is unnecessary and really not significant to us determining what’s going to happen here.”

[MORE: Konerko believes the Tigers are the team to beat]

There’s some thought among baseball analysts that Rodon would ask for a signing bonus similar to what the No. 1 pick is expected to receive. Though top pick Brady Aiken signed with the Houston Astros for $6.5 million, the suggested slot for the No. 1 was roughly $7.9 million.

The suggested slot amount for the third pick is $5.72 million and Rodon could try and command somewhere in between those two amounts. That might hurt the White Sox chances of signing other players as, even though they have a franchise-record $9.5 million bonus pool, Rodon could eat a significant chunk of that money.

One way the White Sox can offset a larger bonus for Rodon, and how they have operated in the past, is to pick players in earlier rounds than they may have been projected to be selected in exchange for below-slot deals.

Last year, the White Sox drafted senior pitchers Nick Blount and Brad Goldberg in the ninth and 10 th rounds and signed them for $10,000 each, far below their slotted values.

This year, the White Sox drafted similar-type players in the sixth (OF Louie Lechich) and eighth (SS John Ziznewski) rounds. While neither has officially signed, their slotted signing bonuses are $272,000 and $162,000.

[WATCH: Hahn discusses three top picks, draft]

“We’re gonna make sure we put ourselves in position to sign as many players as we’re capable of signing,” Hahn said. “We did not take any of these players without the intent of being able to sign them.

“The way the pool works, what you pay one player does influence what you can pay another. We knew going in what our plan was. We hope it plays out.”

One addition the White Sox can include in their package to Rodon — though it’s not a guarantee — is potentially a faster path to the majors. The White Sox could hypothetically tell Rodon, who is perceived to be nearly major league ready, they would bring him to Chicago this season if he signs.

The White Sox did that with Chris Sale after they took him No. 13 in 2010. They don’t want to pressure Rodon and put Sale’s meteoric timeline on him but they won’t rule out the path, either.

“As we enter into this we intend to be aggressive, be fair and make an offer that, hopefully, convinces him it’s time to begin his professional career,” Hahn said.

Rays beat Mets 8-5, clinch 1st AL East title in 10 years

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK (AP) Confetti instead of champagne. Silly string instead of beer.

The Tampa Bay Rays, long accustomed to doing more with less, figured out a way to maximize the division-clinching celebration they were allowed to enjoy during a 2020 season shortened by the coronavirus.

Randy Arozarena homered twice and the Rays clinched their first AL East title in 10 years Wednesday night with an 8-5 victory over the New York Mets.

“I’m completely dry right now, which I’m not a huge fan of,” center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, the longest-tenured Rays player, said with a grin. “But you have to adapt to what we’re asked of.”

With teams instructed to celebrate in a muted and socially distant style, the Rays went old school – or maybe elementary school – with their clinching party.

The team filed slowly onto the field after Nick Anderson fanned Andres Gimenez for the final out. A couple of players shot off canisters filled with confetti that eventually dotted the grass and dirt at Citi Field. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged before the Rays doused one another with silly string and lit some cigars in the visiting clubhouse.

Later, hooting and hollering could be heard from the visitors’ dugout.

“We’re little kids trapped in grown men’s bodies,” Kiermaier said.

Joey Wendle and Brandon Lowe also went deep for the Rays to back Tyler Glasnow‘s six solid innings. Tampa Bay will be home at quirky Tropicana Field for a best-of-three first-round playoff series beginning next Tuesday.

It is the third division crown for the thrifty Rays, whose payroll this season is just over $28 million – more than only the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles. Tampa Bay, which began play in 1998, also won the AL East, home of two big-spending powers in the Yankees and Red Sox, in 2008 and 2010.

“It feels great to win the division, no matter what division you’re in,” Kiermaier said. “But especially the American League East – it’s just a different animal.”

After missing a chance to clinch Tuesday, the Rays went into Wednesday again needing just a win or a Yankees loss against Toronto to lock up the division championship.

The Rays (37-20) broke a 2-all tie in the sixth on Arozarena’s two-run homer off Michael Wacha and pulled away, taking care of business themselves while New York was routed 14-1 by the Blue Jays.

“At the end of the day, a clinch is a clinch,” said Wendle, who homered in the second. “But to do it on a win – everybody’s kind of riding the high of winning the game along with the division. We didn’t want to see it come down to them losing a game.”

Tampa Bay also is closing in on wrapping up the top record in the AL and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Lowe, who had an RBI fielder’s choice in the third, hit a two-run homer in the eighth. Willy Adames added an RBI single later in the inning and Arozarena homered again in the ninth.

The insurance came in handy for the Rays when the Mets scored three times off Oliver Drake in the ninth – via an RBI groundout by Robinson Cano and a two-run homer by Todd Frazier – before Anderson closed the door.

“I think we had the game pretty much in control (and) certainly recognized what was going on in Buffalo, but I don’t know if you can ever prepare for a moment like that – it’s pretty special,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Glasnow (5-1) allowed two runs on three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.

Gimenez and Dominic Smith homered off Glasnow in the final home game of the season for the Mets, whose long-shot playoff hopes were further damaged with the loss. New York began the day 2 1/2 games out of an NL wild-card spot.

“We still have a shot with the four games left and we’re competing,” manager Luis Rojas said. “We’ve just got to do what we do – just keep fighting like we did in the ninth.”

Wacha allowed four runs on six hits and struck out four in six innings.

STABLE SHIRT

Rays pitcher Charlie Morton sported a T-shirt picturing a stable of horses as he spoke with reporters during a pregame Zoom call. Morton did little to discourage the notion the shirt was inspired by Cash’s viral rant earlier this month, when he declared the Rays have “a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 mph” after Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman threw near Mike Brousseau’s head in the ninth inning Sept. 4.

“The stable shirt?” Morton said. “It was in my locker last week and I like horses.”

With a grin obviously growing even behind his Rays mask, Morton said he rode horses as a kid.

“So I was ecstatic to see this shirt in my locker and I wore it,” he said.

As for the fireballers on the Rays’ pitching staff?

“We’ve got some guys that throw really hard,” Morton said.

ANOTHER LOSING SEASON

The loss guaranteed the Mets (25-31) will finish with a sub-.500 record for the ninth time in the last 12 seasons – a total matched or exceeded only by the Chicago White Sox (nine), Miami Marlins (10) and San Diego Padres (10). The White Sox and Padres have already clinched playoff spots and a winning record, while the Marlins are in second place in the NL East.

New York made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016 and went 86-76 last year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: LHP Jose Alvarado (shoulder, lat) is scheduled to throw batting practice to 3B Yandy Diaz (hamstring) and 1B Ji-Man Choi (hamstring) at Tropicana Field on Thursday. Cash said all three players are progressing and he hopes they are available for the playoffs. . Brousseau (oblique) missed a fourth consecutive game. Cash said he would have been available off the bench if needed

Mets: RF Michael Conforto (hamstring) returned to the lineup as the designated hitter after missing two games and went 0 for 4. . The Mets activated RHP Dellin Betances (lat), who last pitched Aug. 29, and optioned RHP Corey Oswalt to the alternate site.

UP NEXT

Rays: After a day off Thursday, Morton (2-2, 4.64 ERA) is scheduled to get his postseason tuneup in the opener of a series against the Phillies on Friday.

Mets: Rookie LHP David Peterson (5-2, 3.80 ERA) opens a four-game road series against the Nationals. Peterson struck out a career-high 10 against the Braves last Saturday.