Winter meetings: White Sox are serious about Bryce Harper

Plus: Joe Kelly emerges as a relief target, according to Boston report

A change in venue didn’t change the status of the White Sox’ winter. They are still very much intent on landing Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, so much so that “Manny Machado AND Bryce Harper” hasn’t officially been ruled out. Both are content to approach the courtship process methodically, and Machado may take the longer road:

The stars get to dictate the timing, and the White Sox will go along for the ride until it’s over. Ken Rosenthal has constructed the most thorough and sourced argument for Jerry Reinsdorf’s desire to make a splash, and Harper appears to get the top spot:

Harper appears to be their preference – both general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice-president Ken Williams are said to be intrigued by the possibility of signing him. The particulars of the TV deal are not known, but it’s expected one will be in place for the White Sox after the 2019 season with Reinsdorf’s other team, the NBA Bulls, and their United Center partner, the NHL Blackhawks. […]

Reinsdorf privately has expressed doubt his team will actually win the bidding for Harper or Machado, according to a source with knowledge of his thinking. But even with the White Sox at least a year away from contention, he is not stopping his front office from engaging in the pursuit of the two stars, and the possibility of a marriage with Harper seemingly is growing more realistic.

Part of the Harper focus may be the competition. Brian Cashman has said the Yankees have no room for Harper in their outfield, while Machado fills an immediate need (shortstop). The Dodgers are also overstuffed with outfielders, although Bob Nightengale says they’d like to loosen the logjam to open possibilities. The Phillies are one of the only other teams supposedly in on both stars, but they also prefer Machado

Assuming all these things are true — and it’s hard to place that much faith there — that makes the White Sox the front-runners for Harper in terms of the things they can control. Fit, enthusiasm and available money are on their side. If he shapes a deal to accommodate a team with greater cachet and a better shot at contending, the Sox’ hands are tied.

But until the White Sox are eliminated, they continue to break new ground in rhetoric, which is a start. Harper’s deal is going to take them well beyond money they’ve ever spent, and the Sox are not qualifying their interest or suggesting any kind of cap to their pursuits, whether in their own words or through their favorite reporters. 

And it’s not like Machado can be ruled out, either.

* * * * * * * * *

Among more modest targets, Boston reporter Rob Bradford says the White Sox are among the teams “becoming the most aggressive when it comes to pursuing the services” of reliever Joe Kelly. 

Kelly’s numbers haven’t quite matched the level of his stuff over his career — he’s sat at 98-99 over the last two years in the Red Sox bullpen, yet somehow hasn’t averaged even a strikeout an inning.

His World Series performance turned heads, however. Kelly appeared in all five games and struck out 10 batters without a walk over six scoreless innings. 

Kelly is not shy about capitalizing on the marketing opportunity his October affords. 

“I’m one of those guys, and I proved it in the World Series, I pitched in different innings every single game and had the same success. I’m not saying other guys can’t do it. But I don’t need that dedicated routine where I have to stretch in the sixth, drink my coffee in the seventh and mentally prepare. It’s one of those things where they can say, ‘Hey, Joe you’re in the next batter.’ And I can go in and dominate because mentally I don’t need the same routine. Honestly, the less time the better for me. That’s what I realized as a starter because I had so much time. Doing scouting reports. Having anxiety leading up. Looking at the lineup. It’s one of those things where I think it fits best and it showed throughout the World Series. Any given role, when I’m right, challenging hitters, I don’t need to a routine. I’m not one of those guys who can’t have change to be successful. Just give me the ball when the big outs are needed. Once they call my name I’ll get checked in rather than going through a whole process. That’s never been my MO and I realized that as I became an older player in the league. The less thinking the better. I told them I just want the big outs.”

* * * * * * * * *

More news:

*Omar Vizquel is moving up to Birmingham after making quite an impression in his managerial debut at Winston-Salem in 2018. 

*Billy Hamilton finalized a one-year, $5.25 million deal with the Kansas City Royals. Royals Review says Hamilton doesn’t fit on the current team, but it’s easy to imagine him tormenting the Sox.

*Ryan Goins has reserved his spot on the “Who’s Who Among 2019 White Sox spring training non-roster invitees” post.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3914
24 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
lil jimmy

I don’t think the 300 million offer from the Nationals is confirmed. Boras likes to drum up competition, but seems to be having limited success. On top of that, Machado appears to be taking his time, and building interest.
The winds seems to be blowing our way to sign Harper. I am encouraged.

NateDPT12

The Indians are retooling, the Twins are in limbo, and the Tigers and Royals rebuilding. If the Sox are able to covert on this and actually start spending like a major market team. Which they seemingly can with the new TV deal, the marketing value of a superstar like Harper (and Machado), and the prospect depth they have.  They could set themselves up for a 90’s Indians level of domination of the division for the better part of a decade. 

Based on Rick’s comments to mlb network yesterday and KW’s comments to WGN, I think they realize that too.  It’s always seemed they were going to target this off-season to add to the team when they started the rebuild and nothing that’s happened so far has changed that perception. It feels a little like the Luis Robert signing where everything is lining up perfectly for them. 

As Cirensica

I think that only by signing Harper AND Machado, the White Sox could contend in 2019. If we sign only one of them, we won’t contend unless many things break our way.

NateDPT12

Yep, I’m thinking more starting in 2020 as the prospects come in and you have another group of FA to patch holes.  I’d be all in favor of signing both Machado and Harper though.

GreatjonHumber

Even with them both, we’d still have black holes in CF, C, and DH, with only league average options at 2B, SS, and 1B, as well as maybe the worst starting pitching in baseball. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you don’t win 62 games by accident.

Yolmer's gatorade

I’d be a little more optimistic than that. Abreu, Moncada, and Timmy will probably all be above average next year if not stars. Plus, they’d sign more players if they got Harper.

GreatjonHumber

Your lips to God’s ear but the projections have them adding up to 6 wins. Here’s to hoping.

Yolmer's gatorade

For Moncada at least, there is not enough evidence to do a real projection. Any projection is going to weigh his first year stats heavily. It’s really a futile exercise. Timmy has a couple years, but the same thing kind of applies to him.

NateDPT12

I wouldn’t say C is a black hole either. We may not like Castillo but he compares favorably, at least offensively, to other catchers in baseball.  

What Abreu has left is a question, as is how Eloy will do and what young players can take a step forward. That’ll go a long way to how good they are. They farm depth and financial flexibility is there to set themselves up really well.

GreatjonHumber

There is plenty of data, it just doesn’t produce a result that we like. He will have to make difficult, significant improvements to either his bat to ball skills or defense to be an All-Star level player. That can and has happened at the MLB level, but I suspect the list of failures is a lot longer than the list of successes.

As Cirensica

Ryan Goins is pretty good glove to have….can’t hit though.

lil jimmy

Goins is ticketed for AAA

NorthSideSouthSider

Works for me. A very similar to the strategy of acquiring Gray or Teheran. Still have room for one of those other 2, if they can be had for cheap.

GrinnellSteve

My first reaction was, “Oh boy. Now I’m excited.” But he’s a 1-year player who will occupy Kopech’s spot. He throws strikes. He makes his starts. I’d like to see them sign a good pitcher, but Nova has his uses.

NateDPT12

Nice Hamlet reference Jim. ?

Yolmer's gatorade

LAIM to the max, but fine for the 4th starter spot for now. I can’t imagine he costs much from the prospect depth.

asinwreck

Curious to see what one year of Ivan Nova is worth.

zerobs

“A young pitcher” and international bonus money. My guess is a not top-25 prospect

karkovice squad

Eh. Someone has to throw the ball.

Sox reportedly sending a young pitcher. Does Fulmer still qualify as a pitcher?

As Cirensica

Did he ever?

TheBigHrabosky

Hey-oooo!

zerobs

Shields’ replacement has arrived in the form of Ivan Nova.