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Frank Thomas Jersey White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have had some great players play for them over the years but not many were better than Paul Konerko.
The Chicago White Sox are in the midst of a very exciting offseason. 2020 is going to be a very fun year for them. With that said, a big part of the offseason this year is seeing Paul Konerko on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Konerko is one of the biggest fan-favorite players in the history of the franchise. He deserves lots of recognition from not only Chicago fans but baseball fans in general.

White Sox fans got to see first hand how good number 14 actually was but when you look at his numbers you can see it. He also put up these numbers during the steroid era and was never even in the conversation to be one of those users. His numbers might be a little bit short of some of those guys who did use PEDs but he chose to stay clean and got the job done for the White Sox.

He had 439 home runs and had 1412 RBIs on 2340 hits. He is second on the White Sox all-time home run list, only behind Frank Thomas. He won the World Series with the White Sox and was the ALCS MVP during that run. He hit a grand slam during the World Series that year and it is one of the most memorable moments in the history of the franchise. He also was an American League All-Star six times throughout his career.

RELATED STORY: Yasmani Grandal helps the team with walks
Konerko is on a Hall of Fame ballot that has some White Sox flavor on it but out of all of those former Sox players, he deserves it the most. He might not get in on his first ballot but he deserves to be in at some point. His number is retired and he has a statue at Guaranteed Rate Field which shows how important the organization believes he was. Paul Konerko had a great career and it is nice to see him be recognized to some degree by the baseball world.

Jimmy Lambert Jersey White Sox

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Rick Hahn will, along with the rest of baseball’s team-runners, make the trip to the desert this week for the general managers meetings.

Hahn will speak to reporters for the first time since his end-of-season press conference in September. And while not too much has happened in terms of player movement in the perennially slow-to-get-going baseball offseason, his comments could shine some new light on what the White Sox are hoping to accomplish this winter.

We know Hahn’s front office will look to plug holes in right field, at designated hitter and in the starting rotation. But there’s a lot about the specifics that we don’t know. Hahn’s not the type to come out say exactly which free agents the White Sox will attempt to sign, so don’t expect that. But his answers to questions this week could provide some clues about what kinds of players the team will look to add to the mix.

Here are five things we could learn about the White Sox offseason.

1. Are the White Sox still focused solely on long-term additions? And will that prevent them from signing potentially helpful short-term pieces?

Hahn has long preached a long-term vision during this rebuilding project, and rightfully so. It’s that valuing the long term over the short term that has created the White Sox exciting young core and put them in position to potentially vault into contention mode in the near future. But that dedication to the long term has disappointed certain fans who have craved additions that would make the team more competitive in the immediate.

The idea that the White Sox will continue to try to enhance their success over a long period of time isn’t going anywhere, but Hahn said the White Sox are moving into the “next phase” of the rebuild. Rick Renteria said that “it’s time to turn the page.” Lucas Giolito said this: “Our goal will 100-percent be making the playoffs and getting as deep as we can. If we don’t, then I don’t think we’ve come close to what we should be doing.”

Does all that declaration mean that those short-term additions are suddenly on the table?

Hahn refuses to set specific expectations for next season until he knows what his roster looks like, a wise stance. But he’s also pledged aggressiveness and that “the money will be spent” on premium free agents. The kind of move he’s envisioned as a goal of his rebuilding project — like the ultimately failed attempt to land Manny Machado last winter — has always seemed an obvious long-term move, one that will fuel the White Sox for years to come. The best players in the game rarely sign short-term contracts, and teams often want to lock those players up with long-term deals that will extend their championship window.

But once that window opens, short-term moves can be mighty beneficial.

Insight into this thinking will apply to how the White Sox go about numerous things this winter. For example, let’s look at that vacant designated hitter spot. J.D. Martinez seemed like the perfect long-term fit, but he opted to stay with the Boston Red Sox. So does Hahn turn to a short-term option like Edwin Encarnacion to plug that hole? Or does that kind of short-term move — one that would benefit a run at a title in 2020 and nothing more — still not make sense for these White Sox?

2. Are the White Sox in a position to consider a trade for only one guaranteed season of one of the best players in baseball?

This kind of goes with the first item, but the Red Sox quest to get under the luxury tax has made them the most notable sellers in the game. Martinez. Mookie Betts. Jackie Bradley Jr. Andrew Benintendi. David Price. Nathan Eovaldi. Those are some pretty gigantic names, and every one of them has been speculated about potentially leaving the Bay State in the name of fiscal responsibility.

The first two names on that list are arguably the best designated hitter and right fielder in the game, respectively, so perhaps the White Sox, given their positional needs, should be interested. But both Martinez and Betts would be acquired with just one guaranteed season of club control, making any deal a risky proposition.

Part of the reason Martinez opted to stick with his current contract is because he can do all this again next offseason, deciding whether he wants to become a free agent or not. So, like 2019 was, maybe 2020 is the final year before he seeks a new multi-year deal. The Red Sox couldn’t get rid of his $23.75 million just by wishing it away, but they might be able to via trade. The White Sox seemed to have a perfect solution to their DH question ready for the inking, but it didn’t happen. Doesn’t mean it still can’t.

Betts, meanwhile, is projected to receive $27.7 million through the arbitration process, perhaps pricing him out of Boston’s already packed payroll. Well, he would look pretty good in right field at The Rate. He’s a year removed from an MVP season, and the White Sox sure could use one of the best hitters in baseball in their lineup. Though he seems to be set on reaching free agency when it rolls around for him next winter.

Neither would be guaranteed to stick around past 2020. So is Hahn ready to ship some of that carefully collected prospect capital away to Boston to make a big splash that might dry up once the 2020 season’s over — with potentially nothing to show for it but a short-term surge in shirsey sales?

It’s all part of the long-term-vs.-short-term game the White Sox have been playing for a while now. Prior to this winter, the answer was always an easy one. But with increased expectations come tougher decisions. The question is do Hahn’s expectations for the 2020 season warrant that big of a gamble?

3. What’s the deal with the starting rotation?

(Note: That is to be read in your best Jerry Seinfeld impression.)

There are a ton of things we could learn this week about the White Sox pursuit of pitching, something Hahn has hinted was coming for some time. While he stocked the farm system with arms that seemed primed to battle each other for spots in the much discussed rotation of the future, things haven’t exactly panned out that way — yet.

Tommy John surgeries for Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert slowed their respective rises. Giolito blossomed into an All Star and an ace, but only after putting up the worst statistics in baseball a year earlier. Dylan Cease’s first taste of the majors didn’t go much better than Giolito’s. Reynaldo Lopez continues to pinball back and forth between top-of-the-rotation promise and a guy Renteria needs to remind that he’s pitching.

All of those pitchers could still reach their high potentials, but the general mystery over what comes next for any of them — not to mention the glaring lack of major league ready starting-pitching depth in 2019 — put starting pitching at the top of Hahn’s offseason to-do list.

But here are some questions:

What kind of starting pitching is Hahn looking for?

There are two huge names at the top of the market, Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, who figure to command contracts that last much of the next decade. They’d be rotation-toppers, and if the White Sox are interested, they could install a bona fide, Hall-of-Fame type ace in the No. 1 spot for the foreseeable future, making for a pretty terrifying 1-2 punch when you add in Giolito. But at least one report has indicated they might be more interested in veteran types like Dallas Keuchel and Cole Hamels. That leaps over the idea of them chasing another veteran in Madison Bumgarner. Or are they searching for younger but less top-of-the-rotation arms like Jake Odorizzi and Zack Wheeler?

How many starting pitchers is Hahn looking for?

He slotted Giolito, Cease and Lopez into 2020 rotation spots back in September, leaving two spots unclaimed. But Kopech will start spring training with no restrictions after his Tommy John recovery and figures to be slotted into one of the vacancies. Will he be on an innings limit of some kind? Dunning, Rodon, Lambert, they’ll be back at some point. How much do the White Sox expect to get from those guys? And how much opportunity will Lopez continue to get if his unpredictability stretches into a season with more meaningful games? All that works into how many starting pitchers the White Sox will target this winter.

How will the White Sox address their depth issues without a repeat of the Ervin Santana experiment?

Santana’s addition during spring training seemed like a fine low-risk move — until there was no reward. He made all of three starts and was crushed in every one of them. That was a valiant attempt at providing another big league arm, but it didn’t work and, along with Rodon’s season-ending injury, opened the floodgates for the parade of ineffective fifth starters that lasted until season’s end. There needs to be more depth and more reliable depth, but that’s easier said than done. The White Sox can’t sign six guys to big league contracts, mash them together with their in-house starting staff and then just put the rest in the bullpen. Quality pitchers aren’t going to sign up for a job they might not have. Now, as Santana’s signing last spring showed, there should be options available who will. But will that create the same problem all over again?

With the starting-pitching market seemingly so rich this offseason, there are a lot of directions in which the White Sox could go. But which one will it be? Maybe we’ll find out this week.

4. Will the White Sox deviate from their stated objectives to make a big splash?

Right field. Designated hitter. Starting pitching. You’re probably getting sick of me talking about those three positions at this point. But, as I recently chronicled in great detail, there are some pretty big names on the free-agent market who don’t fall into those three categories. Will the White Sox close the door on those opportunities from the outset, or will they rearrange their priorities to capitalize on such an opportunity?

Hahn showed just last offseason he’s willing to chase a player who plays a position the team has filled in the name of adding that “finishing piece” to his rebuilding puzzle. The pursuit of Machado irked incumbent shortstop Tim Anderson, and perhaps it’s Yoan Moncada who gets bugged by the White Sox chasing Anthony Rendon or Josh Donaldson, or James McCann getting miffed the South Siders are going after Yasmani Grandal.

Hahn essentially answered this question already, asked in September if position would be a deal-breaker.

“The talent pool is a little different free agent-wise this offseason, but I’m not going to say we won’t be creative in a couple elements, whether it’s via trade or free agency,” Hahn said. “Our roster does have a little bit of flexibility in it, and we hope in the coming years to have more flexibility built in in terms of different positions that guys can go out and play.”

But maybe there’s more to learn. Moncada has supposedly told Renteria he can play the outfield. Does that make a pursuit of a free-agent third baseman more likely? What about at catcher? How do the White Sox view their long-term future there, considering McCann’s All-Star first half yielded to a far less appealing second half and Zack Collins is very much still an unknown after only a couple months of big league action in 2019?

5. What is the latest with Jose Abreu?

Seemingly the most predictable part of the White Sox offseason was the assumed re-signing of Abreu, who spent the entirety of the 2019 campaign giddily describing how badly he wanted to remain on the South Side and join the youngsters in their planned ascent to contender status.

Well, a multi-year deal keeping Abreu in what Jerry Reinsdorf supposedly told the first baseman is the only uniform he’ll ever wear still seems the obvious outcome. But this situation is not without its interesting wrinkles, particularly after the team extended Abreu a qualifying offer last week. It still strikes as the White Sox simply covering their bases and lining themselves up to receive a draft pick in the unlikely event Abreu winds up somewhere else. But now there’s talk of a potentially weak market for Abreu and with it, some incentive to take the one-year contract worth $17.8 million.

It’s extremely rare that a player accepts a qualifying offer, though there’s speculation Abreu might. We’ll find out his decision this week, as his 10-day window to accept or reject started last Monday.

Again, the most likely result remains him inking a new multi-year contract to stay on the South Side. But, as Hahn pointed at as a possibility back in September, Abreu actually made it to free agency and remains not a White Sock at the moment. Will that soon change? Maybe the general manager has some updates.

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Eloy Jimenez Jersey White Sox

Eloy Jimenez will start winter ball in the Dominican Republic this weekend — a surprise development for a player of his pedigree after a relatively successful rookie season with the White Sox.

To Jimenez’s credit, though, he knows he’s far from a polished left fielder. In fact, he wasn’t very good in the field while slugging 31 homers, posting a .267/.315/.513 hitting line and finishing strong for the Sox in September. So he’ll grab his glove and get to work trying to make himself more serviceable.

“I would rather he just have a little break, get himself ready for the next season,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. “But this kid’s not going to stop until he reaches what he wants to be.”

Renteria, who was in town with his wife, Ilene, to serve Thanksgiving dinners at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in the West Loop on Tuesday night, is among those who believe Jimenez can be a capable left fielder.

“This young man is going to be a really, really outstanding major-league baseball player on both sides of the baseball,” Renteria said. “It’s just continuing to stay sharp, get experience and play. You don’t usually have a lot of guys play winter ball. But he’s a guy just loves playing.”

The Sox are entering a season in which they could contend, should they bolster their roster with two or three significant free agents or additions via trade, and they took an important step when they signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a team-record four-year, $73 million deal last week. They likely will have to improve defensively to be the kind of team that plays meaningful games in September. In 2019, they ranked 25th among the 30 teams in defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs. Only four teams committed more errors. What’s more, the Sox’ Gold Glove second baseman, Yolmer Sanchez, was placed on waivers Monday, his expected $6.2 million salary via arbitration deemed too pricey for an infielder who hit two homers in 2019.

“He’s going to help somebody,” Renteria said. “Maybe it’s us still.”

If Sanchez isn’t claimed, it’s possible he comes back on a smaller deal, Renteria suggested. But Sanchez probably wants to be a starter.

“This kid is an outstanding personality and a player who knows how to play the game,” Renteria said. “He can do little things to help you win.”

Renteria, who has managed the Sox through three losing seasons in their rebuild, hopes the front office does bigger things to help them win in addition to nabbing Grandal. Renteria said it’s time to think postseason.

“The organization has pivoted,” he said. “We are at a turning point and a very important phase of who we are as an organization. It’s time. It’s time to start being on the winning end more than the losing.

“Now you’re starting to go out and get some guys who have been around and have talent. I can’t speak for [general manager] Rick [Hahn] and everybody, but they’re working very, very hard to put things together for us. And it’s time. It’s time for us to start showing the promise that we’ve talked about. I think we started seeing little bits and pieces of it last year.”

Adam Engel Jersey White Sox

In a whirlwind of events on Wednesday, the Chicago White Sox lost out on both Zack Wheeler and Cole Hamels. Wheeler signed a five-year, $118 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and Hamels signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.

It burns. It really freaking burns that Wheeler — a no-brainer acquisition — spurned the White Sox to sign with Philly for less money than the White Sox offered him.

The one time the White Sox don’t sign or trade for a major free-agent target’s family member(s), the player actually signed with a team because of the wishes and desires of their family member!

frustrated the shining GIF
Frustration and jokes aside, I’m married, so I get that Wheeler heavily considered his fiancee’s desire to stay on the east coast near her family, but that doesn’t make it hurt less from a roster construction standpoint.

It does, however, tell me that the White Sox were genuinely serious about landing Wheeler and continuing their push to become contenders in the very near future, which gives me hope that they will still make the moves necessary to make that a realization.

Wheeler took $118 million from Philly while the offer from the White Sox was above the $120 million threshold, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports.

Despite those two variables, the Sox still missed their target, so they do not get a reprieve because “they tried.” If the White Sox are ever going to be taken seriously, they cannot continue to get outbid in the open market. That’s just a fact.

Now onto the burning question: where do the White Sox start in their continued search to make the leap to the next level of the rebuild? That question is much more mucky with Wheeler in Philadelphia than it would have been with him heading up a young, promising rotation in Chicago. Nonetheless, let’s dive into a potential path to contention in 2020 and beyond.

Starting Pitching
With Wheeler and Hamels off the board, the attention must immediately turn to the remaining options available on the open market.

According to Andy Martino of SNY, the White Sox and Twins are the suitors “heaviest involved” in the Madison Bumgarner talks as of Wednesday afternoon. Bumgarner, along with Hyun-Jin Ryu, become the two obvious choices for a “front-end” type of free-agent pitching acquisition, so it’s nice to hear that the Sox are back to work and making a push for one of those two guys.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Madison Bumgarner scares the crap out of me as a long-term, big-money signing.

The soon-to-be 31-year old southpaw has logged 1,846 innings in his career to this point, and if he stays healthy, he’ll eclipse the 2,000 inning mark in 2020. According to Spotrac, Bumgarner’s current market value — largely due to the inflation of Wheeler’s market — is in the ballpark of five-years, $105 million (or an AAV of $21.1 million).

This is a lot of money to invest in a high-mileage pitcher.

Add in the fact that since 2016 — Bumgarner’s last full season prior to 2019 — his ERA is up over a full point (3.90 from 2.74), his xFIP is up nearly the same margin (4.31 from 3.54), his fly ball rate is troubling in the park he’d make half his starts in, and his hard-hit rate is up a whopping 12.2 percent (43.8% from 31.6%). Madison Bumgarner, at his current market value, is an absolute disaster waiting to happen.

That’s going to be a hard pass from me, and it should be from the White Sox front office as well.

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s numbers don’t scream regression like Bumgarner’s do, but a four-year, $110 million deal (current market value according to Spotrac) would be an equally giant risk for Chicago. Some have tossed the idea of a shorter deal around, but the current perceived AAV of $27.6 million at five years would certainly rise, and I don’t see any discount deals on the horizon for the Sox from any Boras client, which unfortunately is the case with Ryu.

Dallas Keuchel, who will turn 32 before Spring Training, posted a 2 WAR season (according to Baseball-Reference) for the Braves in 2019 after sitting out the start of the 2019 season due to his reluctance to undervalue himself.

Spotrac has the former Astros’ hurler at $103 million over five years or an AAV of $20.7 million.

No thanks.

The big three left on the starting pitching board are all going to be a “no” for me, which means we’re going to have to get a little more creative than a singular splash this winter.

Alex Wood is 28, and a back injury essentially washed away his 2019 campaign in Cincinnati, but his years in Los Angeles saw him post a 3.40 ERA over the course of 839 innings of work. Over that time, Wood holds an 8.2 K/9 compared to a 2.6 BB/9. He was a Cy Young Award finalist in 2017 when he posted a 2.72 ERA over the course of 27 games to comprise his career-best campaign.

At $77 million over four years, or an AAV of $19.3 million, the left-handed Alex Wood is a much better investment for the White Sox at this point in the game.

With Wood, the White Sox could add another starting pitching piece and have more money to play with around the diamond than they would have if they signed Wheeler or any of the three aforementioned “front-line” guys.

The Sox can also take a look at the likes of Homer Bailey, Tanner Roark, and Gio Gonzalez in the way of 1-2 year deals to provide depth to the back end of the rotation.

Right Field
In the midst of the pitching frenzy that was taking place on Wednesday, Jon Morosi reported that the markets for Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos were heating up. He named the White Sox and Texas Rangers as two teams with interest in the top free-agent outfielders on the market today.

This is a crucial spot that the White Sox need to get right, and unlike the current starting pitching direction, this one is much easier.

I was super hot on Marcell Ozuna at the start of the offseason, and I still love the idea of him landing in Chicago. I also like Castellanos coming to the South Side of town, so either option is viable in my opinion.

Spotrac has the 29-year old Ozuna pegged at five years, $97 million ($19 million AAV), which would become the White Sox’s (new) largest free-agent deal in club history.

Despite having two less than overwhelming years in St. Louis, I believe that Ozuna could still remain a 25 HR/ 85 RBI bat in Chicago, which would make his deal justified and add to what looks to be a potent Sox lineup with the additions of Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert, and continued growth of the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, and Tim Anderson.

Castellanos, 27, could cost the White Sox less than Ozuna — big emphasis on could, as he’s a Boras client — but he’s less of a threat both offensively and defensively than Ozuna in my opinion. Castellanos’ career numbers at Guaranteed Rate Field are surprisingly underwhelming for a guy who has played so many games there, but he would be more than serviceable at the right price.

The third option that would work in right field would be a potential trade for Joc Pederson, a move that we know the White Sox have interest in. Pederson is making $8 million in 2020 and set to become a free agent next winter, so a deal with Los Angeles would need to hinge on a contract extension getting done unless the price was rock-bottom due to the Dodgers looking to simply offload his 2020 salary in the pursuit of a big-ticket item like Anthony Rendon or Gerrit Cole.

Outside of those three options in right field (and lord help us if no player included in that trio pan out), the open market offers a handful of semi-worthy names for consideration:

Yasiel Puig (29)
Kole Calhoun (32)
Corey Dickerson (31)
Kevin Pillar (31)
Beyond that, the Sox might as well pocket or otherwise invest their cash at a later date. It wouldn’t be considered a victory as far as the offseason is concerned, but Adam Engel and Leury Garcia can provide more 2020 bang-for-buck than the other outfielders on the market.

Bullpen
The bullpen is such a volatile area that it’s really hard to predict the market for it. Couple that with the fact that the Sox currently employ Alex Colome, Aaron Bummer, Kelvin Herrera (if he doesn’t end up in jail), and a handful of other could-be bullpen items in the system, and I don’t expect to see many — if any — big-name relievers inking deals with the Sox.

Blake Treinen, who had a tough 2019 in Oakland that led to him being non-tendered by the comparably frugal A’s, would be worth a 1-2 year deal. I wouldn’t count on it though.

Other Depth
I mentioned on Wednesday morning that Travis Shaw would be worth a look at the right price for the White Sox. With Yolmer Sanchez‘s departure, Shaw could provide the Sox with a left-handed power bat that could play second base until Nick Madrigal‘s impending arrival. After that, Shaw could spend time at second, third, first and DH to spell the regulars.

Shaw, 29, and posted excellent 2017 and 2018 campaigns in Milwaukee before struggling in 2019. A 1-2 year deal with an AAV in the $5-8 million range could prove to be a steal for the White Sox if the left-handed slugger can have a bounce-back campaign.

Down, but not out (yet)
Sure, the Zack Wheeler miss was a big blow to the White Sox’s overall plan this winter, but there are enough ways to get creative. Rick Hahn and co. can still pick themselves up off of the mat and continue to build a team that can be competitive in 2020.

No excuses, just get back to work and get it done. You made a promise to the fanbase, and it’s one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Kelvin Herrera Jersey White Sox

While it is not their biggest need or even close to it, the Chicago White Sox need to add a proven reliever or two this offseason.

The White Sox definitely don’t need this to be their biggest focus as they have much more pressing needs such as filling out their rotation and acquiring a right fielder.

That being said, the team definitely can’t ignore adding bullpen help in favor of making bigger moves.

Signing Zack Wheeler or Stephen Strasburg would be great, but if the team’s bullpen can’t protect a one-or-two-run lead, it could all be for nothing.

Now, to be fair, the White Sox bullpen actually was in the middle of the pack in 2019 as they ranked 14th in all of baseball and seventh in the American League with a 4.31 ERA as detailed by ESPN.

If you look at the team’s roster, though, it’s tough to find many options that will stick and be successful in 2020. Alex Colome is an obvious name that should not concern anyone.

Aaron Bummer was very impressive in 2019 with a 2.13 ERA, 3.41 FIP, and 0.990 WHIP with 8.0 K/9 as compared to 3.2 BB/9. But, with a career ERA of 4.36 prior to this past season, it is certainly possible that he regresses.

Evan Marshall could be a good option too as he had a 2.49 ERA in 2019, but with a career 7.89 ERA prior to that, it is far from a given especially considering his FIP this past season was 4.30.

Kelvin Herrera is almost certain to be with the team in 2020, but that’s due to the fact he’s set to make $8.5 million (Spotrac).

His 6.14 ERA certainly is not desirable and while the team could certainly hope he bounces back to his 2018 form in which he had a 2.44 ERA, they can’t bank on it.

On the free agent market, the White Sox should look to sign someone from the Will Harris, Dellin Betances, and Steve Cishek tier and then sign a few relievers to very low salary MLB and minor league deals.

Jace Fry Jersey White Sox

Zack Collins was called up from Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday, becoming the latest top White Sox prospect expected to make his big-league debut this season.

He’ll wear No. 38.

Fellow catcher Seby Zavala got the call in May, now Collins gets his turn, as the Sox also placed veteran backstop Welington Castillo on the 10-day injured list with a strained left oblique.

The team also reinstated left-handed reliever Jace Fry (left shoulder soreness) from the injured list.

The Sox have yet to set their lineup before Tuesday night’s game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, so it’s not a certainty Collins will start.

Collins slashed .250/.374/.482 with nine home runs, 39 RBI and 36 walks (tied for fifth in the International League) in 50 games for the Knights this season.

He made 31 starts at catcher and nine at first base.

James McCann has been a revelation for the Sox, and Collins has a way to go before resembling the team’s catcher of the future. The organization’s No. 12 prospect, a 2016 first-round pick, has as much to prove with his glove as with his bat.

Collins has thrown out 32.4 percent of steal attempts.

He ranks as the No. 9 catching prospect in baseball, and Baseball America grades him as having the best plate discipline in the Sox’s system.

Joe Crede Jersey White Sox

Over the last 20 years, the White Sox employed both a “Melkman” and a “Milkman.” Melky Cabrera received his nickname due to his first name. But then there was the “Milkman” Herbert Perry, who actually ran a dairy farm.

Herbert Edward Perry Jr. was born on September 15, 1969, in Live Oak, Florida. His father, Herbert Sr. (who went by Ed) ran a family dairy farm in Mayo, Florida located up where the panhandle meets the peninsula. You can’t make this up: the town briefly renamed itself Miracle Whip in 2018 as part of a marketing deal with Kraft, in exchange for funds to beautify the town.

In any event, Perry was an excellent athlete; he threw multiple no-hitters in high school and played quarterback for the football team at Lafayette High School, eventually earning a football scholarship at the University of Florida. Perry backed up Gators QB Kerwin Bell, who amazingly was also from Mayo (a town of only about 1,200) and was a teammate of future Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. In addition to backup QB duties, Perry punted the pigskin as well.

But it was on the diamond where Perry was most successful, and he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the second round in 1991.

Herbert worked his way through the minors playing first & third base with some pop and patience at the plate leading to a Major League debut for the Tribe on May 3, 1994, at New Comiskey Park.

Perry entered the game in the bottom of the 8th inning as a defensive replacement for future Hall of Famer Jim Thome at third base and drew a walk in the top of the 9th. He earned his first Major League hit a few weeks later off Al Leiter and after a brief four-game trial was sent back to the Indians Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte, where he hit .327/.397/.505 with 13 home runs in 102 games.

Perry returned to the Indians in mid-June 1995 when Dave Winfield went to the DL and performed well in limited duty, spending most of his time at first base and hitting .315/.376/.463 in 52 games. He even saw some postseason action going 0 for 14 with a walk as the Indians eventually lost the World Series to the Braves.

When Julio Franco won the first base job for 1996 (Jim Thome was entrenched at third), Perry was shuffled back to the minors where he eventually suffered a knee injury which kept him sidelined all the way through the 1997 season. He never played another game for the Indians.

While Perry didn’t play a game in 1997, it was an eventful year. He and his brother Chan (who played 18 games over two MLB seasons with the Indians & Royals) purchased cows of their own to continue the family dairy business. Also in November, Herbert got married and later that month, he was the 34th of 35 picks by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the expansion draft.

Other notables selected by the Rays in that draft: Bobby Abreu (immediately traded to the Phillies), Dmitri Young (immediately traded back to the Reds), Esteban Yan (who allowed Konerko’s inside-the-park home run at Tropicana Field AND a home run to Jon Garland in Cincinnati) & White Sox legend Jose Paniagua.

After a year in the minors where he missed a chunk of time due to a broken hand, Perry got the call back to the Majors in May 1999. After not appearing in a Major League game since June 19, 1996, Perry had a wonderful return by collecting 8 hits and 6 RBI in his first three games back. Perry went on to play 66 games for the Devil Rays in 1999. The retiring Wade Boggs opened up the third base spot for Tampa for 2000 but the Devil (since exorcised) Rays instead acquired Vinny Castilla in a trade from the Rockies. However, Perry DID end up the Rays 2000 opening day starter at third base, but only because Castilla was nursing a rib-cage muscle injury. The Rays won that game 7-0 (Perry went 2-4 with a double), and after 7 games with the Rays he ended up on waivers at the end of April. Then the White Sox came calling.

On April 21, the White Sox skimmed the waiver wire and selected Perry from the Rays. On April 22, the White Sox & Tigers got into an infamous brawl, the aftermath of which left 16 players suspended for a total of 82 games. The following day, McKay Christensen was sent down to Charlotte (which was by now the White Sox triple-A affiliate) to make room for Perry.

At age 30, the ”Milkman” finally played in 100 games in a season (7 for the Rays, 109 for the White Sox). Initially backing up Greg Norton, he played himself into a starting role while with the Southsiders, hitting .308/.356/.483 with 12 home runs & 61 RBI. In his first start with the Sox, third baseman Perry homered in an 11-6 win over the Orioles. His .308 batting average was the best by a White Sox third baseman (minimum 50% of games at third) with at least 400 plate appearances in a season since George Kell hit .312 in 1955. Only Yoán Moncada (.315 in 2019) has done it since. From July 25-27, Perry homered in 3 straight games, which is roughly 2% of a 162-game schedule. The White Sox learned that Milkman does a lineup well.

Perry got a chance to play in the ALDS in 2000, and he milked it for all it was worth with a strong 4-for-9 (with 2 walks) performance against the Mariners even though the White Sox were swept in the series. At the team level, it was a big disappointment; the White Sox led the Majors with 978 runs scored and led the AL with a 95-67 record. For Perry, 2001 was a disappointment. He battled a strained Achilles tendon and struggled to remain on the field.

Rather than crying over spilled milk(man), in November the White Sox dealt Perry to Texas for a player to be named later (pitcher Corey Lee). Besides, Joe Crede was waiting in the wings to take over at third base, which he eventually did for good in 2003.

Perry flourished in the Lone Star State in 2002, as he hit .276/.333/.480 with career highs in games (132), home runs (22 – finishing 3rd on the Rangers behind Alex Rodriguez’s 57 and Rafael Palmeiro’s 43) and RBI (77). Unfortunately, the Milkman was at the wrong place at the wrong time. By 2003, Hank Blalock took over at the hot corner and Perry’s playing time was condensed (partially due to another injury). He saw his last MLB action in 2004.

The family dairy farm was sold shortly after Herbert’s father died in December 2004. Perry moved on to running a company in Mayo where he molds and delivers septic tanks throughout Lafayette County.

Herbert Perry was a solid player who could really hit when he was healthy. It’s a shame we never got a chance to see him deliver for an extended period of time. But we remember the Milkman fondly!

Sources:

Holy Cow: A Season Worth Milking

Written by Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune, October 1, 2000

SABR BioProject: Herbert Perry

Written by Jay Hurd

No Longer The ‘Milkman,’ Perry Tries a Pre-Cast Side to Life

Written by George Castle, chicagobaseballmuseum.org August 29, 2016

Baseball-Reference.com

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Bobby Dalbec Jersey Red Sox

Yordan Alvarez and Pete Alonso took home the AL and NL Rookie of the Year awards for the 2019 season. The Boston Red Sox didn’t have a candidate in the running but that could change next year.

A popular candidate for the league’s top rookie in 2020 will be Red Sox infield prospect Bobby Dalbec. He showed a lot of power in 2019 with a .221 isolated power to go along with a .816 OPS.

Dalbec definitely has the ceiling to be a major-league star, but his game seems to revolve around an all or nothing play-style. A player with a similar mentality and game plan is Michael Chavis, another Red Sox infielder.

Chavis also put his power on display in 2019, going into May he had the 5 longest Red Sox home runs. However, the Ice Horse struggled to produce consistent offense, posting a 96 OPS+ to pair with 127 strikeouts in 95 games.

The key for Dalbec will be if he can cut down his strikeouts (139 in 2019) while increasing his batting average. He has a near-elite walk ratio, nearly 1 every other game. If he can increase his average, with his power, Dalbec has the chance to make his stat line something to remember.

Making consistent contact would allow for the right-hander to better his on-base percentage along with his extra-base hits. Improving all of those stats would allow for an increase in OPS. He will likely be tasked with hitting fifth or sixth, but if he lives up to the hype and proves that he’s a quality major-league bat, then he could be pushed up to the top of the order.

On the defensive side of the ball, Dalbec has primarily been a third baseman. However, with the emergence of Rafael Devers as one of the best players in baseball, he had to prove his defensive versatility and move to first base. Now, Dalbec has a clear path to the majors, no longer blocked by Devers.

Dalbec ended up playing 24 games at first base in 2019 and made 2 errors. If he played 162 games, he’d end up making about 13 errors. There can definitely be improvement and growth from Dalbec, but it is a very encouraging first step for a player that never fielded the position before. As long as he ends up producing at the plate to his full capabilities and plays an average to decent first base, he should be in the race for Rookie of the Year come next November.

Over the past few years the Red Sox have excelled at developing young third baseman into quality everyday players. Devers, Chavis, and now Dalbec are sure to contribute to the 2020 Red Sox. The trend is sure to continue with Triston Casas in the minor-leagues.

J. D. Martinez Jersey Red Sox

J.D. Martinez did not opt out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox.

By remaining with the Red Sox, Martinez can earn $62.5 million over the next three years: $23.75 million for 2020 and $19,375,000 for both 2021 and 2022. He also has the option to opt out after each of the next two seasons, as long as he does not spend a lengthy period on the injured list.

“J.D. has advised me that his decision is about assuring that he plays for a competitive team and wanting to continue to play in a place where he knows that he can be highly productive,” Scott Boras, Martinez’s agent, told The Boston Globe.

Over the past three seasons, Martinez leads the league in home runs with 124 and is second in RBIs at 339, batting average at .313, slugging percentage at .619 and OPS at 1.007 over that span.

The Red Sox, who had the highest payroll in baseball last season ($243 million), are looking to get below the luxury tax threshold ($208M). It remains to be seen how this will affect newly hired chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s ability to also retain Mookie Betts, the 2018 MVP who will become a free agent after next season. Betts made $27.7 million last season and is likely to get more in arbitration this season.

Martinez, 32, led the Red Sox in home runs, RBIs and hits in 2018, on the way to winning his first World Series title. His numbers in 2019 fell off as he battled back spasms, but in his two years in Boston, he hit 79 homers and drove in 235 runs. He has been an All-Star both of his years in Boston.

Though he played 38 games in the outfield this year, Martinez is primarily a designated hitter.

Martinez takes a meticulous approach to hitting, analyzing at-bats and opposing pitchers, and several Red Sox players credited him with helping them improve their approach.

Martinez broke in with the Houston Astros in 2011 and was released by the team in 2014. Martinez decided he had to change his swing, and worked with Robert Van Scoyoc, now the Dodgers hitting coach, and Craig Wallenbrock.

He signed a free-agent deal with the Detroit Tigers in 2014, then was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in July 2017. In 62 games with Arizona, Martinez hit .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBIs. That landed him the deal with the Red Sox.

In other roster moves on Monday, the Red Sox reinstated Dustin Pedroia and Chris Sale from the 60-day injured list. Catcher Juan Centeno, who played in seven games for Boston in 2019, elected to hit free agency and has been outrighted from the roster.

Andrew Benintendi Jersey Red Sox

Andrew Benintendi was projected to have a breakout year for the Boston Red Sox in 2019. Instead, he took a step back.

The 25-year old turned in the worst season of his career, hitting .266/.343/.431 with 13 home runs, 68 RBI, and 10 stolen bases.

Benintendi’s sweet swing produced a .290 average last year and he was a 20/20 duel threat the previous year. He’s shown us flashes of being a five-tool player and this was the year he was supposed to put it all together. The regression from this young outfielder with superstar potential who is viewed as one of the cornerstones of this team’s future was one of the most underrated disappointments of the season.

That notion isn’t lost on Benintendi based what he told MLB.com’s Ian Browne about his frustrating 2019 campaign.

“I feel like there was always something. I’d figure one thing out, and then there would be another [issue]. Not as consistent as I’d like it to be,” explained Benintendi. “Pretty much there was one good stretch, a two-week stretch. Other than that, it was trying to basically just grind and get the job done. Hopefully I can learn from it.”

There’s plenty that we can learn about why Benintendi’s production dropped off by analyzing his numbers.

Let’s start with the batting average, which sticks out like a sore thumb at .266. It wasn’t a matter of bad luck either considering his .333 BABIP was the highest since his abbreviated debut season. The main culprit was a sharp uptick in strikeouts. Benintendi’s strikeout rate hovered in the mid-teens over the previous two seasons before jumping to 22.8% this season, per FanGraphs.

Benintendi swung at a career-high 51.2% of pitches and swung more frequently at pitches outside of the zone with a 33.0 O-Swing%. He made contact on pitches outsize of the zone at a career-low 68.9% rate. Combine that with a steep increase in his swinging strike rate to 11.6% and it’s easy to see why he struck out more. Benny chased too many bad pitches. As frustration built from his mounting struggles at the plate, he may have been pressing more which only made matters worse.

While there’s plenty that went wrong with Benintendi’s season, we can find a few promising signs that point to future success.

Benintendi has struggled against fellow lefties in the past, hitting .247 with a .696 OPS in his career against southpaws. That changed this season when he erased any noticeable platoon splits, hitting slightly better against lefties with a .269 average and .796 OPS.

“I hit lefties better than righties, which is somewhat out of the norm for me,” Benintendi said. “I know I can hit lefties. I think if I hit righties the way I usually do, it’s a completely different year. I still feel like I hit a lot of doubles. There’s a lot that didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but there’s definitely some positives.”

His home run total dropping for a third consecutive season is a slight concern but the Red Sox don’t need Benny to be a homer-happy slugger. Benintendi’s swing is tailor made for knocking opposite field shots off the Green Monster at Fenway so reaching 40 doubles for the second consecutive season has to be viewed as a positive sign.

It’s also encouraging that his .165 ISO is higher than it was in 2017 when he hit his career-high 20 homers, suggesting Benny’s power is on the rise even if balls aren’t leaving the park quite as often.

According to Baseball Savant, Benintendi set career highs with a 37.7 Hard Hit Percentage, 88.6 Exit Velocity, and 8.1 Barrel Percentage. He’s squaring up the baseball and hitting it harder than ever, trends that typically lead to positive results.