Central Concerns: Drastic changes underway for Cleveland, Twins

Seventy years ago, you could heat a home over the winter using newspaper clippings from trades between the White Sox and Cleveland. But ever since Major League Baseball put the two teams in the same division in 1994, the deals dried up.

In March 1994, the White Sox traded Matt Merullo to Cleveland for Ken Ramos. That prevailed as the most recent swap between the teams until the Sox acquired Yonder Alonso for Alex Call. Cleveland was looking to save money by offloading Alonso’s contract. The White Sox were hoping Alonso’s contract would lower Manny Machado’s demands, so both teams were financially motivated to deal within the division. Once Machado signed with San Diego, the Sox spent the rest of 2019 realizing why they didn’t have much competition for Alonso’s services.

Without such unique motivation on both sides, I wasn’t certain that the White Sox would be able to acquire César Hernández from the team closest to chasing them. Not only did Cleveland accept the White Sox’s offer of Konnor Pilkington, but Hernández will be switching uniforms at a time when he was already planning on traveling to Chicago, as the two teams meet for a three-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field tonight.

It would’ve been a unique time for the White Sox to host the Future Guardians regardless of Hernández’s part in the proceedings. Terry Francona announced on Thursday that he’s stepping away from the helm for a second consecutive season due to an ongoing series of health problems.

Francona’s future in baseball is still undetermined. What he needs to determine now is whether he’ll be healthy enough to even consider coming back to the game in 2022, which he hopes is the case. The 62-year-old underwent nearly a dozen procedures from the end of the ’19 season until the delayed start of the ’20 season for stomach problems. He then found himself in the ICU at the Cleveland Clinic last August due to blood clots. And just as he was getting healthy over the offseason, a staph infection was discovered in his foot and he needed surgery to remove part of the bone in his big toe. […]

Francona will get admitted into the Clinic on Friday to give him three days to get prepped for surgery to have his left hip replaced on Monday. Doctors want to be extremely careful with him after he ran into clotting issues just one year ago. He’ll likely have five or six weeks to recover from that before he will undergo another surgery to have a rod placed in his foot because of the staph infection, which will require 10 weeks of keeping all weight off his leg before he moves into a boot, aided by crutches.

It’s easy to take this combination of trading a productive veteran and the retreat of one of the game’s great managers and see Cleveland packing it in for next year, but the organization is uniquely prepared to test in-house replacements. The coaching staff accumulated experience in carrying on without Francona last year, and the Francisco Lindor and Mike Clevinger trades stocked their middle infield with potential replacements like Andres Gimenez and Gabriel Arias (although top-100 prospect Tyler Freeman was shut down due to labrum concerns).

Cleveland is 8-14 in July, they’re eight games back, they just transferred Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale to the 60-day injured list, and now they just helped bolster the roster of the team they’re chasing. Still, the White Sox aren’t playing well at the moment themselves, so both teams are catching each other at the best possible time. It’s fun to imagine the White Sox opening an 11-game lead in the Central. It’s less so to picture Cleveland narrowing it to five.

And just as I’m wrapping this up, Cleveland just shed another veteran, albeit one who’s currently injured, in what appears to be an accounting measure.

* * * * * * * * *

Cleveland isn’t the only team selling. The Minnesota Twins just unloaded José Berríos to the Toronto Blue Jays, and they received a couple of top-100 prospects in return. They’re getting Austin Martin, the Vanderbilt shortstop picked fifth overall in the 2020 draft, and Simeon Woods Richardson, a 20-year-old righty drafted out of high school by the Mets in the second round of the 2018 draft.

For the White Sox, the trade alleviates a short-term headache of facing Berríos in the division, as he’s 12-4 with a 2.91 ERA against Chicago in 20 career starts. The question is whether Martin becomes a longer-term headache in short order, as he’s hitting .281/.424/.383 in Double-A. He’s a good prospect in his current profile, but there’s a little bit of disagreement over his defensive home (might have to move to second or center field) and power (only two homers in 55 games). Woods Richardson has taken a step back at Double-A, battling some loss in stuff and paying more for shaky control.

It’s a good and potentially scary return, but for the time being, there are reasons why Toronto made those players available. We’ll see whether the Twins bought low on underappreciated players, or paid a fair price for the amount of work remaining.

If Dan Hayes is right, the Twins have several moves left in them.

(Photo by Ian D’Andrea)

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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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dwjm3

Dave Kaplan thinks we are talking to the Cubs about Kimbrel

phillyd

Sources say it is happening.

As Cirensica

Passan just announced it too!

This is HUGE

mikeyb

I desperately want to know what Rick told Jerry to get him to open up the checkbook. What a massive move. I didn’t even think there was a chance this could happen. Hell of a job by this front office.

asinwreck

Kimbrel already confirmed by others, so I assume Nightengale is not giving bad information on the players going to Wrigley.

Last edited 1 year ago by asinwreck
As Cirensica

That’s a huge overpay I think. Is the Cubs eating his salary? Geeez

Un Perro

If this is true than Hahn needs to be fired immediately. That is a ridiculous overpay given that the window is only opening this year. Why weaken the team in the future for that minimal of a short term boost?

dwjm3

Kimbrel is under contract for next year is well. I guess Hahn thinks are window is the next two years….strongest chance at least

Un Perro

Yeah, but Madrigal is back next year, which means you’re at best break even in 2022. Assuming that Madrigal performs at his floor and Heuer is DFAd.

As Cirensica

Cesar Hernandez has an option for next year at a meager 6 million.

dwjm3

Hahn knows Jerry isn’t going to throw around crazy money to create a long window. He is betting on the next two years to win it all I guess.

HallofFrank

I don’t think that’s exactly right. It’s not like the Sox are punting on ’23 and beyond—they’ve got lots of talent locked up for it. Plus, *a lot* of money comes of the payroll in 2-3 years (Abreu, Hendriks, Kimbrel, Keuchel, Grandal, Lynn).

And let’s not forget the Sox just drafted two middle infielders with the top two picks of the draft—and Rodriguez may be the best prospect they have, too.

Un Perro

I know everyone is going to say this is a hot take, but sit down and think about it. Madrigal is a floor league average player who is dirt cheap for five years. Kimbrel is very good, no doubt, and they needed bullpen help, but Madrigal could realistically end up a 4-5 win player. Just ridiculous.

dwjm3

Tough to see how he could be a 5 win player

Given he has no power and isn’t an elite glove.

That said I get why you are concerned about this trade

Un Perro

Madrigal was already on pace to be a 4 win player this season. It isn’t hard to see him bringing the glove up to where it was in the minors or developing a little more power. Really not hard at all to see how he could be a 5 win player. But even if his floor is 3 fWAR, this trade is ridiculous. And Kimbrel could fall off the table again, too.

HallofFrank

Flipside: Madrigal is a floor major league player with a ceiling of an above average-ish player. As Jim pointed out on the podcast, he’s also been injury-prone going back to his days in college. I really, really like Madrigal because I like his style of play, but I think he’s relatively easily replaceable.

The Sox now have the best pitching staff in all of baseball and I’m not sure it’s close. You’ve got to give up something to get something. Let’s win this thing. Twice.

itaita

What the fuck you trading Madrigal for? I hate this trade.

dwjm3

Maybe Hahn doesn’t think he is going to hold up….Serious injuries in both of his first two years with us

PauliePaulie

This makes me sad.

HallofFrank

I’m sad to see Madrigal go, but I like it. Kimbrel and Hendriks is just silly—and both will be around next year, too. Cesar Hernandez can also be retained for ’22. They are going to make two really good runs at the whole thing in ’21 and ’22. Let’s do this.

asinwreck

I’m with Petriello on this one. What I will add is if there is a position on the diamond where serviceable talent will be available, it is second base. (See what the Sox just did yesterday,)

Last edited 1 year ago by asinwreck
HallofFrank

Yeah, I’m a little conflicted. My first reaction was “dumb” but I’m warming to the idea fast. I think I was primed a bit by Jim pointing out Madrigal’s injury history. He was starting to have the feeling of, “I don’t really know what we’ve got here.” And if you can trade that for 2 postseasons of an elite reliever, let’s do it and win the thing.

Foulkelore

Wow, I’m surprised they traded Madrigal. I believe they have a team option on Hernandez that they will certainly be picking up now, so they have next year covered ok, at least.

dwjm3

Madrigal and Heuer to the cubs

Steven

I will most definitely take a year, 2 months and playoffs of 2021 Kimbrel for the high floor, but questionable ceiling of Madrigal. Heuer? Who knows? Not so great this year. He may or may not be fixable…this is a very good trade, imo.

dongutteridge

Love Madrigal but this trade takes the Sox to the World Series. If there’s any position that is not that hard to fill it’s getting a solid second baseman. He’s not a superstar even though I’m a big fan.

Thank you, Rick Hahn!

asinwreck

Confirmed by the team.

Joliet Orange Sox

Javier Báez to Mets.

jose robcada

i absolutely love this move. this bullpen is rediculous now and with the uncertainty of the cba i understand putting the chips. It really hurts to lose madrigal as i was a huge fan of his skill set. but we do have option on hernandez and white sox seemed to really be interested in story, i wonder if they plan to go for him in offseason or one of the other names, seems like jerry may be more willing to open up the pocket book after seeing him take on 2 top paid closers at once

Right Size Wrong Shape

So can we all agree that Madrigal kinda sucks now?

I’ll take the opposite view: Madigal does not suck.

He brought back 1.5 years of a top closer.

Root Cause

BIG Nick fan but…..we have another top closer and 2nd baseman who hits home runs.

Is it possible that Jerry is doing this more for TLR than,himself, for Hahn or the fans. I would think that TLR would have asked about “what happens if I get them close to the playoffs” by August.