White Sox say La Russa will not return to dugout this season

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals
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CHICAGO – Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa will not return to the dugout this season.

La Russa, who turns 78 on Oct. 4, had “additional testing and medical procedures over the past week,” the team said, and doctors have directed the Hall of Famer to stay away from managing for the rest of the season.

Bench coach Miguel Cairo will continue to serve as acting White Sox manager.

“Right now the focus is on his health,” general manager Rick Hahn said when asked if La Russa still wants to manage.

La Russa left the White Sox before an Aug. 30 game against Kansas City to deal with a heart issue. He rejoined the club in Oakland on Sept. 11 and flew back to Chicago for a two-game series against Colorado.

La Russa was waiting for clearance to return to the dugout and managing during games. Chicago lost to Detroit 7-2 on Saturday night.

“We are going to continue to follow his wishes of keeping much of the specific details and his personal information quiet,” Hahn said Saturday. “I did speak to him on the way in this morning, and he had no issue with us letting everybody know that there is a treatment protocol in place that he plans on adhering to. As a result, he won’t be managing the remainder of this season.

“As for the inevitable question, `Well what does that mean for next season?’ We are going to finish up this season first and then address everything when it’s appropriate to turn the page at the end of this year.”

Cairo said he spoke to La Russa for about 15 minutes on Friday night, and he was doing well. When asked if he wants the managerial job, Cairo said he is focused on the current season.

“Right now we’ve got 11 more games,” Cairo said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s got one more year.”

“I talked to the players today, I let them know and it’s 11 more games,” said Cairo, who was the bench coach. “Let’s finish strong.”

The White Sox won 10 of their first 14 games under Cairo but have dropped five straight to tumble to a season-high nine games behind AL Central leader Cleveland.

“Miggy and the coaches have done a very fine job,” Hahn said. “We’ve seen at various stretches, unfortunately not over the last four days or so, but for extended stretches over the last few weeks, this team showing flashes of playing at the level we thought was capable over the course of the entire season. It’s a little too little too late over the course of the year.

“But I think those guys deserve a lot of credit for what was thrust upon them on the fly and the way they responded, both in the coaches room and the way they responded.”

The White Sox began the season with high hopes of defending their division title under La Russa.

“He’s a Hall of Famer,” outfielder Eloy Jimenez said. “He impacted every way in the clubhouse. For us, he wasn’t available to be there for those games that we were playing, and he’s battling for his life, so it’s not good. That’s all I can say right now.”

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said La Russa’s health is the “No. 1 concern.”

“These are stressful jobs; you can’t take your health for granted,” Hinch said. “We as men in this sport often don’t ask for help, so I’m glad he’s good. On the managing side of it, he’s a Hall of Famer. He’s done everything any of us who have ever had this position would dream of doing. His accomplishments across different teams, different leagues, different jobs in his role in baseball and the number of players he’s touched, staff he’s developed, his resume speaks for itself, and his impact in the game should be forever respected.”

The White Sox also made several roster moves. Outfielder Luis Robert will be shut down for the season because discomfort in his sprained left wrist has worsened after he was hit by a pitch, Hahn said. Chicago placed Robert on the 10-day injured list Saturday. Outfielder Mark Payton was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte.

Reliever Joe Kelly was reinstated from the family medical leave list, and left-hander Tanner Banks was optioned to Charlotte.

Shortstop Tim Anderson could return this season after he went on the injured list for a sagittal band tear in his left middle finger Aug. 9, Hahn said. Anderson was expected to miss six to eight weeks.

“It’s really a question of does it make sense at this point in the year to try to rush into that two-week window or let nature take its course and send him into the offseason fully healed,” Hahn said.

Right-hander Michael Kopech‘s right shoulder is doing well, but the White Sox have discussed when a cyst in his knee will be removed, Hahn said. Kopech went on the 15-day injured list for right shoulder inflammation Sept. 17.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.