White Sox rumors involve starting pitching, but bullpen could also use a boost

It’s easy to think the White Sox can play deep into October when Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel start, but it’s also easy to chalk them up as a pandemic-born fluke when anybody else takes the mound, especially during turns where Dylan Cease can’t get through five.

The White Sox have fared well enough with this arrangement — 20-13 is nothing to sneeze at — but it’s showing some signs of strain this weekend. There’s nothing wrong with this Reynaldo López pitch to Whit Merrifield on Friday were it 96 mph like the old days, but when it’s 93 …

… that can happen. Cease is battling his 2019 self, struggling to locate anything armside. Dane Dunning is starting today, with Gio González available for backup.

I like González as a tandem guy for López or Dunning, given that neither is a great bet to go five in his current condition. Carlos Rodón could also theoretically return, but I put him in the same basket as López. No matter how you arrange it, two days are kind of a toss-up, especially if Rick Renteria continues to reject any kind of alternate starter arrangement.

(UPDATE: The White Sox made room for Dunning by placing González on the 10-day injured list with a groin strain, so the tandem pairing is temporarily sidelined.)

So it’s not a surprise that with the trade deadline looming Monday, the White Sox are tied to pitchers. Jon Morosi has the White Sox hovering around Dylan Bundy and Lance Lynn

… while Jon Heyman seconds the Lynn interest and includes Robbie Ray.

What’s unusual about this deadline is that both Lynn and Bundy started on Saturday. That reduces their utility to their new team, should they find one, by a bigger share of the remaining season than usual. Lynn dropped his first decision of the year in a 6-3 loss to the Dodgers. He’s still in position for Cy Young votes, as his ERA remains below 2.00 (1.91), and he’ll wrap up the final year of his deal in 2021 on an $8 million salary.

Bundy is the one non-Trout thing that’s gone right for the Los Angeles Angels this year. He made his seventh start on Saturday, lowering his ERA to 2.47 over 43⅔ innings, with peripherals to match (47 strikeouts, 11 walks). He’s succeeding with an entirely new profile, which allows him to get away from a fastball that doesn’t quite average 91. He’s on a one-year, $5 million deal, with a year of arbitration afterward.

Little has gone right for Ray, which means he should command the lowest price. He’s 1-4 with a 7.84 ERA, leading the league in earned runs and walks (31 in 31 innings), which isn’t what he hoped for when he tried to follow in Lucas Giolito’s footsteps by shortening his armswing. If Ray’s right, he can strike out 200 batters a season even without the greatest in-season durability, but he looks like a project at the moment. How many inefficient left-handed starters can one roster hold?

Lynn and Bundy are the upgrades here, but the White Sox’s top-heavy farm system means they’re a little underequipped to win a bidding war for a win-now acquisition in a responsible way. Nick Madrigal’s about the only guy who offers a reliable shot at major-league production for another team while not costing the Sox something they sorely need. Even then, Madrigal’s a lot to give up in a season where pitchers seem even less structurally sound than usual. A true rental like Kevin Gausman or Mike Minor probably falls more in line with what the Sox have on hand, for better or for worse.

(Here’s where the James Shields trade looms a little too large for me to feel comfortable about anything, although at least Keuchel provides evidence of a veteran pitcher exceeding expectations.)

* * * * * * * * *

The White Sox could also use bullpen help, if only because the weekend series also shows the issues with the current makeup of the relief corps. For one, Jace Fry is the only left-handed reliever in whom Renteria possesses even nominal trust. The other is that the Sox are a little short on swing-and-miss arms. Zack Burdi is the only White Sox reliever who ranks in the top 50 for swinging strike rate, and that number is going to drop a little after his disastrous outing on Saturday.

Burdi’s slider can be a devastating pitch to both the hitter and pitcher. When it’s got that sharp, late bite, it’s a weapon. When it rolls, it can end up 10 rows deep. He’s now up to four homers in seven games, so mid-leverage may even be aspirational right now.

Of course, the White Sox could address both of the above issues by getting Aaron Bummer back, but is that going to happen? Renteria said Bummer is playing catch in Schaumburg as he tries to return from left biceps soreness, which he experienced in a game against Cleveland three weeks ago.

It’s hard to tell how good that news is. Certainly it’s better than him not throwing, but with biceps injuries often related to shoulder issues, I’ve been conservative on estimating anything Bummer can offer the rest of the season.

How the White Sox handle themselves with regards to the deadline might shed some insight on Bummer, even if indirectly. Acquiring a starter might be the best way to avoid paying twice for bullpen help, because Rodón could theoretically be a candidate for effective lefty-oriented relief work if his body allows. There are a lot of questions in circulation, but they’ll be answered one way or another by 3 p.m. on Monday, or maybe a half an hour after.

(Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire)

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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.

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Wish Cease’s performance were as steadily improving as his ERA….

Brett R. Bobysud

The one redeeming quality that Cease has had as a starter this season is his ability to consistently get into the 6th inning.

When he doesn’t do that, like yesterday, his value as a starter is significantly reduced.


Of the choices offered, Dylan Bundy seems the best choice. Still under contract for next year, 27 years old, decent stats and probably coming in cheaper than a Cy Young Candidate like Lynn.


Go for Lynn. He’s been a model of consistency and was almost a 7 fWAR player last year. I’m not sure what one year and one month of Lynn would cost, but I’d give up Madrigal to get him.

Lynn and Joely Rodríguez (lefty RP whose been good this year) for Madrigal, Luis Gonzalez, Pilkington — or for Dunning, Stiever, and Thompson.

Brett R. Bobysud

I get the sense that if they Sox make a move either today or tomorrow it’ll be for a lesser starter on a short-term contract like Brett Anderson from the Brewers.

I’d be willing to consider using Madrigal as the centerpiece for a deal for either Lynn or Bundy, but I’m not sure the team would be willing to do that at this point.


No way the Sox give up Madrigal for Bundy. Bundy is by far the least interesting of the two and he’s only a one month rental.


Bundy is arbitration eligible for 2021.


Ah, right. I still don’t think they are in the same class. Lynn has been so much better and far more consistent.


I’ve been skeptical about Madrigal’s MLB profile for years, and even I wouldn’t trade him for 35 starts from Lynn or Bundy. Yes, it would be fun to see the Sox say “we’re going for it.” But I would rather just see Renteria say “in this shortened, weird season, I’m going to try some non-traditional things with my pitching staff.”

Stack Dunning and Gio or Detwiler. Use Lopez or Rodón as/with a pure opener. Try to find a way to win on matchups more aggressively. In a weird season like this one, I just don’t feel good about trading a guy that the White Sox have been seemingly in love with for several years for essentially 1.25 seasons of control of a pitcher.


I agree, especially in a season when there’s a non-zero chance of no World Series.

Related, today’s A’s game has been postponed.

A’s statement on positive COVID test for a member of the organization. Today’s game is postponed: pic.twitter.com/Pc99VIzZbg

— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) August 30, 2020

Brett R. Bobysud

Lynn is under contract for 2 more years.


Lynn is a free agent after 2021.

Brett R. Bobysud

My mistake, I misread fangraphs.

lil jimmy

I see that picture of Lynn and I think, This is the guy that’s going to save us?


If we’re buying pitching by the pound he looks like the guy we want..


I’d give up Madrigal for Lynn for sure. Yes, it’s only a month — but you don’t trade for a guy at the deadline for the season anyway. It’s gearing up for the playoff run. The Sox should be in the postseason either way.

If you don’t get Lynn now, the Sox will likely need to sign a SP — and he’s going to cost more than Lynn and probably won’t be as good.

As Cirensica

All this! ^^^^


Giolito, Lynn, Keuchel, Kopech, Cease is quite a rotation for 2021 — and that would be a nasty big three for this postseason, too.

Lynn is also nice because he keeps payroll flexibility for the Sox to be aggressive in the RF market.

Brett R. Bobysud

Is it possible that they’re waiting to see how Dunning does this afternoon before ultimately making a decision on which trade targets they want to go all in for?

As Cirensica

I might be in the minority here, but I do think the White Sox shouldn’t make any big trades. The season is almost over. Any pitcher we get will pitch in 5 games. The White Sox will make the play off with the current team, so there is not urgency to miss the playoff bus. If Hahn can get a Mike Minor for cheap, let’s say a non top 10 prospect, then I will go for it. Other than that, I will just ride it with this team, and see how the play offs shape up. In 2014, the Giants won the World Series, and they pretty much had only one reliable pitcher: Mad Bum. The other starters were Peavy, Tim Hudson, and a collection of arms that were not good. Even Ryan Vogelsong started a game in that World Series.


For me, a championship this season just doesn’t wouldn’t mean as much. No parades, no celebrations, probably no home games, people told not to have big gatherings. It is fine if it happens. It will be nice to watch more baseball and it goes in the record books. But I wouldn’t want to sacrifice the future for it. That’s just me.

As Cirensica

Exactly. I wouldn’t trade a top 10 prospect for a rental with less than 30 games left in a season we will make the playoff, and not to mention there are still unrest on the streets and some degree of uncertainty with the pandemic still far from being under control. The risk/rewards is just not worthwhile. If we can get Minor for Sheets/Rutherford…sure. Go for it, but I wouldn’t even trade Stiever for a short term rental.

Also, not to sound alarmist, but this year’s election are poised to be a bit unusual. The future in the USA looks a bit shakey to predict in my opinion.


I agree with your stance on this. Giving away a top prospect or key future piece would be stupid. Barring a major collapse, we will be in the expanded playoffs. We also don’t even know for sure if the postseason will take place. The last thing we need right now is another Shields-type trade.

I would add that after three seasons of tanking, we have more than enough pieces, as is, to make the playoffs this year. If we don’t, Renteria, Cooper, Williams and Hahn should be replaced. Why? If we can’t make the playoffs when all we have to be is the eighth-best team in the AL, when will we make them?

Yolmer's gatorade

I am also good with rental players or even trying to get a few weeks of good production out of AAAA pitchers. The problem with the top heavy prospect list is that I have penciled them in over the next few years, and I think the Sox probably have too. They will have to give up one or two of the top heavy players to get anything more than a rental or AAAA player. I much rather keep Kopech, Vaughn, Crochet, ect. and have them supplement the core than pick up Lynn for one year really or anyone else. The Sox probably have a few money bullets to spend in free agency in the next two years as well. Better to keep the prospects and add through free agency than mortgage the future on anyone now.


I’d be happy to acquire Lynn and could live with a Bundy acquisition if the centerpiece is Zach Collins, but the Rangers or Angels would have to believe he’s a catcher (which I doubt). I’d also be fine selling high on Stiever. If we need to throw in a Gavin Sheets or a Blake Rutherford, so be it.

Any of our top prospects should still be untouchable. We aren’t that desperate for arms and neither Lynn nor Bundy qualify as a star in his prime.


Gio Gonzalez to the IL


That answers my question, which was why isn’t Gio starting when he has clearly pitched better than Lopez. Gio hurt again, that sucks. I have to believe anybody would be better than Lopez against the Twins, Detwiler or somebody. I had read that Rodon was expected to be back by the end of August. I wish him well but it seems like Lopez vs the Twins is a recipe for further loss of his confidence, as I can’t see him giving up less than like 7 runs if they left him in for even 3 or 4 innings.


ESPN has a great feature on the life and accomplishments of Nancy Faust on its website. Many great stories, and I can’t resist quoting this one:

ANY STORY ABOUT Nancy wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the day she came to work to play the organ like every other day before, but on this day she left with a new pet. See, the door prize that night was an advanced-age swaybacked donkey that went unclaimed. In the winner’s defense, the options for where one could feasibly keep a pet donkey in the Chicago metro area are presumably limited. Nancy didn’t want to see her shipped back to the amusement park, so she took her in, named her Rosita and gave her a loving home for the remainder of her years.

After 41 seasons, 2010 was Nancy’s last behind the keyboard. Her final sign-off? Madonna’s “This Used to Be My Playground.”

Now 73, she still plays for special occasions here and there and makes an appearance or two at spring training, as she lives part time in Arizona. Prior to this season, her arrangement of the national anthem was still played at stadiums around the country. Although Rosita died, Nancy has two other pet donkeys, Mandy and Gigi.

lil jimmy

Something not said of Nancy. I’ve also met her husband a few times, who’s a very nice guy, and they seem to be crazy about each other.


I think a big name like Lynn is exceptionally unlikely. I don’t see the Sox willing to part with Vaughn, Madrigal, Kopech, or even Dunning. Certainly Collins or Mercedes would be available, to go along with Gavin Sheets and maybe even one of their mid range prospects like Stevier, if they got somebody very solid in return. Lynn and Bundy would at least be with them through 2021 so they would not be a pure rental. But a trade of significance not likely when they should be able to sign a very competent starter like Quintana for a reasonable price tag this offseason without giving up anybody.

I just don’t see this year as worth being excited and aggressive about. Even if they were to win the WS, there would be no fans in stands, no parade, etc. And their record against teams outside of KC, Detroit, and Pittsburgh is 8-11. They are an exciting young team but I don’t think people should believe in too much hype about how great this team is just because they have beaten the crap out of those 3 teams. Their starting pitching beyond Giolito and Keuchel is shaky at best, and their bullpen the same. If they keep rolling through the Twins, Indians, etc to finish the season, that would convince me a lot more that they are closer to an elite team. The Cubs are the only team with an above .500 record that they have won a series against.

As Cirensica

Lynn and Bundy would at least be with them through 2021 so they would not be a pure rental.

Can you solidly predict how 2021 is gonna be? I can’t. Is baseball gonna be normal? I can’t be sure. I wouldn’t trade Stiever just yet. I would trade Sheet or Collins or Rutherford, but wouldn’t go beyond that.


I hear you, although I hope we’re done with all this hiding in the basement from COVID by next spring, and hope we’ll see fans in stands next year. I’d deal Stevier for Lynn probably, can’t get a pitcher like that without giving up something of value.


I’m with the “pump the brakes” crowd. Cease and Madrigal shouldn’t go for a year-and-change guy, and I’d have heartburn about Dunning. Agree it’s no given there’s even a championship awarded this year once flu season starts and with all the other variables.

I suspect that unless a team with a deep system steps up, the price will be lower than people are assuming or that these guys won’t move. You’d think buyers would insist on sort of pricing in all the uncertainty (unless again they’re deep enough it’s not very painful for them).


Maybe PTBNL Kelly…

Right Size Wrong Shape

Yes, please.


I feel like they would want a bat in return as it might help Cleveland keep their window open.


no. i don’t care how good he is. i don’t want an idiot like him on the team i root for.

Right Size Wrong Shape

There are probably already idiots on the team you root for. There are idiots on every team. Get over it.


i know all too well how many idiots there are. how about don’t tell me what to do.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Clean your room and get a haircut while you’re at it.


And I don’t want Vaughn to be their new Thome.


Totally depends on what they would have to give up. Vaughn alone should be close to enough. Would be a terrible idea if it were Vaughn and Kopech as some suggest. Kopech might be just as good as Clevinger in a year or two. I can’t see the Indians not wanting Vaughn, it’s just a question of what else they would want. I would not include any pitchers out of Kopech, Cease, Dunning. How about Vaughn, Collins, Sheets, Lopez? Cleveland is so good with pitchers maybe they could fix Lopez and make him good again. I’d swap Stevier with Lopez in that deal but would not offer more than that.


Maybe just keep Dunning.


Some of the best trades are the ones you don’t make, as they say. Dunning looking great so far today, I think patience might pay off as opposed to looking at 2020 as their peak opportunity. I would be much more inclined to do nothing, or trade very little for a completely mediocre pitcher, than to pay up for someone that might look like it puts them in a position to go deep in the playoffs. Just not worth trading anybody out of Cease, Madrigal, Vaughn, Kopech, Dunning, and certainly none of their position players (unless a team has a thing for Mazara).

They should be able to get a decent starter like Quintana in the offseason without breaking the bank, and without giving anything up at all. I think that’s their best route, unless they get a very cheap deal from somebody.