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Yermin Mercedes Jersey White Sox

Very few people have used the free agent market to their advantage as well as Yasmani Grandal. After reaching free agency for the first time last offseason, Grandal was shackled by a qualifying offer. Despite declining a four-year, $60 million offer from the New York Mets, he decided to bet on himself and sign a one-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers worth $16 million that also featured a mutual option worth $16 million with a $2.25 million buyout, bringing his total guarantee to $18.85 million. This figure beat the $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers that he declined but was nowhere near the guarantee that the Mets were allegedly willing to pay.

Grandal went on to have an excellent season in Milwaukee, slashing .246/.380/.468 with 109 walks to just 136 strikeouts, 28 home runs, and a well above-average 9.94 RF/9 behind the plate; he re-entered the market with no qualifying offer attached to his services. This time around, it didn’t take very long for Grandal to receive an offer to his liking, as he agreed to a four-year, $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. He will make $18.25 million every year, receive full no-trade protection for 2020, and have partial coverage for each of the remaining three seasons. To make room on the 40-man roster, the White Sox designated outfielder Daniel Palka for assignment.

Grandal is a monster addition to this organization. He figures to slot in the middle of the order, adding even more power to a lineup that already includes Jose Abreu. The White Sox are just about ready to compete in 2020 with budding stars Yoan Moncada (4.6 bWAR), Tim Anderson (4.0 bWAR), and Lucas Giolito (5.6 bWAR) establishing themselves, while other young players such as Michael Kopech, Luis Robert, and Zack Collins are beginning to reach the majors. Grandal will almost certainly take over as the primary receiver for the White Sox, moving top prospect Zack Collins to the role of designated hitter and 2019 catcher James McCann, barring a trade, to a backup role.

While McCann was an All-Star in 2019, his .273/.328/.460 batting line was fueled by a .359 BABIP, and he posted an OPS+ of 57 the season prior (.220/.267/.314, .581 OPS). It makes sense for the White Sox to upgrade to a player who brings much more certainty based on a very strong track record in Grandal. I don’t, however, believe that the White Sox are planning to keep McCann as a backup. As it currently stands, their 40-man roster includes five players who can suit up behind the plate: Yasmani Grandal, James McCann, Zack Collins, Seby Zavala, and Yermin Mercedes.

After sinking $73 million into Grandal, they may not want to give McCann a raise through arbitration, which could amount to as much as $5 million. That’s quite expensive for a backup catcher, especially when you have two additional catchers on the 40-man roster in Triple A. But for a starter who is coming off a season like McCann is, it’s a palatable figure. The White Sox could figure to cash in on McCann’s All-Star season via trade or, while unlikely, could even opt to non-tender him on December 2. This is a subplot that could be worth keeping an eye on.

Daniel Palka heads to DFA limbo after spending the vast majority of the 2019 season in Triple A, where he posted a batting line of .263/.374/.527 with 27 home runs over 471 plate appearances. He appeared in 30 games for the White Sox in 2019 as well but struggled mightily, slashing .107/.194/.179 (.372). He posted slightly better numbers over 449 plate appearances for the White Sox in 2018, slashing .240/.294/.484 with 27 home runs.

Palka will be out of minor-league options in the 2020 season and is exceptionally limited defensively, making it difficult to hide him on a major-league roster. He could draw a claim and move around a bit throughout the offseason based on his 27 major-league home runs in 2018, but Palka faces an uphill battle to make it back to the majors for 2020 Opening Day.

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.

Alex Colome Jersey White Sox

The Seattle Mariners made a splash on Thursday, December 5 by sending catcher Omar Narvaez to the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league pitching prospect Adam Hill and a competitive balance pick for 2020.
Last year, the Mariners acquired Omar Narvaez from the Chicago White Sox for reliever Alex Colome. It sounded like a good deal to me at the time; however, trading Narvaez to the Milwaukee Brewers for a #24 top prospect and a competitive balance pick doesn’t seem enough to me. I was hoping to see a big splash instead of just a splash.

I know there are those who will or have said it is a good deal for the Mariners because Narvaez isn’t a good defensive catcher, which is true indeed; however, the Mariners haven’t had an offensive catcher in some time. I understand Tom Murphy had a good year offensively plus a better defensive catcher as well. It is true but he hasn’t proven to be a starting catcher in the major leagues yet. So why not trade Murphy to the Brewers instead for the same deal?

I know in a trade you have to look at the plus and minuses but I think the Mariners lose more than they gain unless prospect Cal Raleigh turns out to be as good offensively as Narvaez and a better defensive catcher. At this point, Raleigh has shortcomings defensively as well, though he is working at improving his skills.

There must be something about Narvaez besides his lack of defensive skills that allowed Dipoto to trade him to the Brewers. At least the Mariners won’t have to face him often unless they make the World Series or the Brewers trade him eventually to another American League team.

Keeping Narvaez, the Mariners could have had a good hitting catcher who could be a backup at the position along with playing on occasion at first base and be the regular DH when he isn’t in the field. I am sure Dipoto got what he could for Narvaez, but does that mean you have to trade him, especially right now?

This means the Mariners will depend on Daniel Vogelbach as the designated hitter against righties while Murphy and Nola could share DH against lefties. Murphy could be the starting catcher against righties than get a day off letting Nola catcher against lefties. I wonder though if Vogelbach is a one year wonder while Narvaez has shown his value hitting already. Another area of value though is in the clubhouse; Vogelbach has shown good value there while Narvaez might not be. The measure of this trade we will see by 2021 or later.

Michael Jordan Jersey White Sox

If you could have a beer with any former or current member of each Chicago sports team, who would you choose? This question has been burning in my mind for a while now, so I figured it was time to present my top candidates and the reasoning behind each in article form. Without further ado, here goes.

First of all, I need to give an honorable mention to Chicago legends Frank Thomas and Walter Payton. However, I could never pass on an opportunity to have a drink with Michael Jordan. Could you imagine talking with the GOAT about anything you want? I would bring up the three-peats, how he overcame those aliens in Space Jam, and if he was tested for PEDs after drinking Michael’s secret stuff, because we all know it wasn’t water. In all seriousness, to be able to talk to a guy who is a popular favorite for being the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball, how did he overcome the denial from being cut from his high school basketball team? Why North Carolina over Duke? Why did he leave for baseball? Sure, you can find all of these answers online, but nothing would beat hearing the emotion in his voice while we’re smoking cigars and polishing our Concord elevens. It would be an absolute treat and a truly unforgettable experience.

Photo: Andrew Bernstein/Getty Images
I have spent a lot of time dwelling over this next one as both a fan and partier, and I couldn’t think of a better candidate to drink with than Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. Kaner is an animal. The guy loves to party, have fun, and Crack Um. Aside from being a mainstay in an extremely successful dynasty, a multi-trophy winner, and scoring the series-winner in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, he has a wild story. He was born and raised in America, which is awesome, but that already makes for a weird start to the whole being a phenomenal hockey player thing. He has had legality issues on more than one level. The drunken conversations that would happen could absolutely not be scripted. Going shot for shot with Kaner and downing some beers would make for a great time while day drinking.

Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
As far as the Chicago White Sox go, I would have a great time cracking open a cold one with Eloy Jimenez. Eloy just seems like such a cool, down-to-earth, good-hearted kind of guy, as exemplified by his goofy antics in the dugout and saying hello to his lovely mother every chance he gets while on television. Chuck Garfien would have to be an obvious plus-one. I’d love to discuss any and all of the prospect awards he has earned and why we are the same age and yet he’s so much richer and more successful than I am.

As a fair-weather NFL fan, it was not the easiest choice picking a Chicago Bears player. But as an avid Sunday Funday participant, I was able to catch almost every Bears game. One name I never failed to hear was Khalil Mack. Yes, I knew of him prior to this, I was not born under a rock. Mack is a freak of nature, no doubt about it. I feel like there’s never too much drama surrounding the guy, which is always a good sign (at least for him). However, I’m in it to talk about the crazy and the fun, not necessarily the workout programs and what kind of protein he uses. I’m here for hearing why he didn’t want to give out Halloween candy to the punks of Chicago. Okay, okay, I’m being sarcastic. In all honesty, learning more about Mack would be incredible. Going from a lesser-known player at the University of Buffalo of all places to one of the most elite NFL players in recent memory has to have a damn good story behind it. The guy is a beast. You want to know what it takes to be great? Talk to Khalil Mack.

chicago bears football GIF by NFL
Max Strus is easily the go-to member of the Chicago Bulls for me. How could I not pick him? He’s a hometown kid. Growing up in the Chicagoland area and attending Stagg High School, I could’ve walked or driven past him a thousand times before. Now that he’s made it to the big boy league after killing it at DePaul, that won’t be too likely anymore. It would be incredible just to be able to talk to him about the process, the hometown friends after fame, and if he’s going to donate an entire gym to Stagg (shoutout Dwayne Wade). To have a beer with him and reminisce about walking around the Chicago Ridge mall or whatever it is would be truly awesome.

Photo: Alexa Sandler/The DePaulia
There are so many Chicago athletes I would love to just have a conversation with, let alone have a drink with, but narrowing it down to one legend and one from each of the four major sports was much more difficult than I had originally thought. Who would be your famous Chicago sports drinking buddy? Let us know in the comment section or on Twitter.

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!


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, August 29, 2016

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Ron Santo Jersey White Sox

CHICAGO — Ron Santo is remembered as a Hall of Fame third baseman who played for 14 years with nine All-Star selections and 337 home runs on the North Side of Chicago with the Cubs.

But the last year of Santo’s career, coming in 1974, saw Santo move across town to the White Sox in a trade that sent Steve Stone and Steve Swisher to the Cubs. Santo went deep for the White Sox five times in a short tenure, and he actually played 11 more games in ’74 at second base than at third, where he played 2,130 of his career 2,201 games.

Here’s a look at 10 more players who produced amazing accomplishments during baseball careers that included brief tenures with the White Sox. Maybe fans remember them — how can a playoff team featuring Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Thome in the same lineup be forgotten? Some stints are not as memorable.

Steve Carlton, 1986
After being signed as a free agent on Aug. 12 following his release by the Giants, the Hall of Famer made 10 starts for the White Sox and produced a 4-3 record with a 3.69 ERA. The southpaw pitched for the Indians and Twins over the next two seasons before retiring.

Tom Seaver, 1984-86
The right-hander chose to pitch for the White Sox over retiring, according to reports, after they surprisingly claimed the then 39-year-old in January 1984 from the Mets. The Hall of Famer had pitched for the Mets in his first 11 seasons and returned in ’83 after pitching six seasons for the Reds. In ’84, Seaver was added to a White Sox team that won 99 games and the American League West title in ’83 but finished 74-88 the next season. He picked up 33 victories in parts of three White Sox seasons, including his 300th career victory at Yankee Stadium via a complete-game effort on Aug. 4, 1985. The White Sox traded Seaver to Boston for Steve Lyons in ’86, and Seaver finished his career there at age 41.

George Foster, 1986
It’s easy to get overlooked as part of the historic Big Red Machine when iconic players such as Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Dave Concepcion and Ken Griffey Sr. are your Cincinnati teammates. But Foster was a force, hitting 121 homers with 390 RBIs and a .939 OPS from 1976-78. His numbers with the White Sox didn’t come close to that after they signed him as a free agent on Aug 15, 1986. Foster hit .216 with one homer and four RBIs over 15 games in his last of 18 Major League seasons.

Jose Canseco, 2001
Although he didn’t start the 2001 season with any affiliated team, the mercurial slugger was added by the White Sox from Newark in the independent Atlantic League on June 21. Canseco, who finished his career with 462 homers and 200 stolen bases, made an instant impact with 16 homers and 49 RBIs in 76 games as primarily the designated hitter, but the White Sox finished at 83-79 in the 36-year-old Canseco’s last big league hurrah.

Ken Griffey Jr., 2008
The Hall of Famer had one of the franchise’s most memorable defensive plays in quite possibly the most exciting game in White Sox history. Griffey’s throw to A.J. Pierzynski nailed Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer at the plate to end a scoreless fifth inning on Sept. 30, helping the White Sox earn the AL Central title with a 1-0 victory over the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. It is known as the Blackout Game in White Sox lore. Griffey had 150 plate appearances and three home runs after being acquired from the Reds for Nick Masset and Danny Richar at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Griffey retired two years later as part of the Mariners.

Griffey’s 609th homer
Aug 21st, 2008 · 0:34
Griffey’s 609th homer
Manny Ramirez, 2010
Ramirez’s second-to-last hit came with the White Sox before one of the game’s great offensive forces completed his career in 2011 with a 1-for-17 showing as part of the Rays. The White Sox tried to trade for Ramirez in July ’10 but instead ended up claiming him on waivers from the Dodgers on Aug. 30. He wasn’t completely healthy during his time in Chicago and hit .261 with one home run and two RBIs in 24 games.

Andruw Jones, 2010
From 1998-2007, Jones was one of the best — if not the best — center fielder in baseball. His 10 Gold Glove Awards, five All-Star appearances and 434 career home runs would support that hypothesis. Jones arrived in Chicago near the end of his career as a free agent, and promptly hit nine home runs during his first 22 game in ’10. His production tailed off, finishing with 19 homers overall, although Jones connected for his 400th career homer at home against the Royals on July 11. He played two more seasons with the Yankees before retiring.

Jones’ grand slam
Sep 13rd, 2010 · 1:01
Jones’ grand slam
Kevin Youkilis, 2012Brent Morel didn’t get the job done at third base for the 2012 White Sox. Orlando Hudson was brought on, but the veteran didn’t provide any sort of boost offensively. So, the White Sox turned to Boston in acquiring Youkilis in exchange for utility player Brent Lillibridge and righty Zach Stewart on June 24, 2012. Youkilis quickly fit into the lineup for a White Sox squad sitting atop the AL Central for much of the summer in Robin Ventura’s first year as manager. Ultimately, the White Sox fell short, Youkilis and his 15 home runs hit free agency and he joined the Yankees.

Youkilis’ solo homer
Sep 15th, 2012 · 0:49
Youkilis’ solo homer
Jimmy Rollins, 2016Tim Anderson, the current White Sox shortstop, moved fast through the organization but he wasn’t big league ready at the outset of 2016. That’s when the White Sox turned to Rollins as their starter for his 17th season in the Majors. Rollins had a few big moments, including a game-winning home run on April 5 near his hometown in Oakland, but the switch-hitter and former National League MVP Award winner lasted a mere 41 games before Anderson arrived. Rollins’ time with the White Sox marked his last season in the Majors.

Rollins hits go-ahead home run
Apr 6th, 2016 · 0:46
Rollins hits go-ahead home run
Justin Morneau, 2016
The left-handed-hitting first baseman seemingly made a living with the Twins by pummeling the White Sox, hitting 25 home runs and driving in 109 runs in his career against the South Siders, so it was a strange switch to see Morneau move within the AL Central. Morneau won the batting title with the Rockies in 2014 but was coming off surgery to repair ligament damage in his left elbow before joining the White Sox. He played 58 games and hit six home runs in his final season.

Morneau’s two-run homer
Sep 27th, 2016 · 0:30
Morneau’s two-run homer
Special mention: Lee Elia, 1966
The well-respected coach might be best remembered in Chicago for a historic 1983 postgame rant while managing the Cubs. But he also played very briefly for the White Sox, hitting all three of his career homers in ’66.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Marcus Wilson Jersey Red Sox

The Red Sox swung a trade Friday night, sending catcher Blake Swihart (and international signing money) to the Diamondbacks for outfielder Marcus Wilson. Swihart will be reunited with former Red Sox employees Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo in Arizona.

Wilson, 22, was Arizona’s second-round pick (69th overall) out of Junipero Serra High School in California in 2014. He began the year at Double-A, hitting .235/.350/.529 with three steals and two homers. ranked Wilson as the 20th-best prospect in Arizona’s system entering the season after he hit .235/.309/.369 with 10 homers and 16 steals at High-A. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound righty has been brought along slowly, spending three seasons playing at rookie levels after entering pro ball.

Wilson is a toolsy player who has gotten on base throughout his minor-league career and could project as a center-fielder in the big leagues as a strong defender and excellent speed. He has never had much power (though he did hit 10 homers in 2017) but has shown the ability to put the ball in play throughout his career.

Wilson will head to Portland and is likely to spend the rest of the year there. It’s likely he’ll be ranked somewhere between the 10th and 20th-best prospect in the Sox organization, joining fellow outfielders Jarren Duran, Nick Decker and Gilberto Jimenez in a system that is largely devoid of promising young outfield options.

Designating Swihart for assignment stripped the Red Sox of all their leverage in Swihart talks, so Boston needed to include international bonus pool space to increase the return.

Chris Sale Jersey Red Sox

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — We finally have an explanation for why Chris Sale has missed his six-week checkup with Dr. James Andrews by six weeks and counting — the Red Sox were hoping he’d be available for the playoffs.

Sale visited the famed orthopedist in August after being placed on the injured list with elbow inflammation. Andrews treated Sale with a plasma-rich platelet injection and shut him down, scheduling a followup that would’ve coincided with the end of the regular season.

There’s a reason for that. The Red Sox were holding out hope that Sale could pitch in October, should Boston reach the playoffs. Once the Red Sox fell hopelessly out of contention — which was pretty much immediately — they slowed Sale’s timetable.

They now sound cautiously optimistic that the ace left-hander is progressing normally as he rehabs at the team’s spring training facilities in Fort Myers, where he also makes his offseason home. There’s finally an explanation for why a six-week checkup still hasn’t happened 12 weeks later.

Latest Mookie Betts report heightens trade speculation

“What changed is we fell out of the playoff race,” said GM Brian O’Halloran. “We decided to slow it down. It was our decision, it was nothing to do with how things were going. The rehab has gone very well and Chris is right where we want him to be, pending that appointment with Dr. Andrews. When we gave a six-week range, that sort of lined up with the end of the season, and we were holding out hope at that point that we still had a chance to be a postseason team. Very quickly after that, that changed, that didn’t happen.

“The six weeks was kind of the early range that we were given by our medical department on what was appropriate on a return to play. Once the postseason was no longer a factor, we decided to take the outer end of the range just because it made the most sense to slow it down and give the most time possible to heal and go from there.”

So how is Sale doing? While he’s still not throwing — that won’t begin until Andrews re-examines him, O’Halloran said, a visit that hasn’t been scheduled yet — he’s progressing.

Sale’s agent, B.B. Abbott, told the Boston Globe that Sale has seen multiple doctors this fall, and while they’re encouraged by his progress, they still don’t know what caused the elbow to flare up. It could’ve been the shoulder injury that slowed him in 2018, the aftereffects of pitching into late October, or something else entirely.

“I think that certainly some of the lingering stuff from the year before, what he went through, the length of the season, the shoulder, things of that nature might have changed something in him mechanically,” Abbott told the Globe. “I don’t think they’ve put their finger on anything specifically, but I do think this full rest, this full time to let the PRP do what it did, and the orthopedic surgeons we spoke to and that the team spoke to, seeing the images, I think was very, very promising.”

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’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.