Podcast: Hello, Mike Clevinger

Record Date: 11/27/2022


  • Chicago White Sox are signing RHP Mike Clevinger.
  • Why are the White Sox targeting Clevinger?
  • The pros and cons of adding Clevinger to the roster?
  • The risks of White Sox adding Clevinger with the current pitching depth
  • Debating a trade idea involving Liam Hendriks to the New York Yankees
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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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I don’t understand the “they jumped the market” criticism in this case. It makes sense for the Graveman signing, because you’re signing a luxury when it’s not clear you’ve adequately filled positions of need (and then they didn’t).

But they simply *needed* a starting pitcher. Of course, we all wish they would have signed Rodon or Verlander or whoever. But they weren’t going to do that and they simply had to address SP at some point. Who cares if it’s now or January?

I suppose it could be a problem if they only have $8m to spend and they can’t address OF via trade? Then, I guess the criticism would stick because they’d be better off splitting the money to address those positions. But outside of that (hopefully not real) scenario, I can’t see why it matters that they sign Clevinger now instead of January.

In fact, there are real baseball reasons to prefer now over January. Now, Clevinger gets a full offseason with Katz and co—and he’s someone that could use it.

Of course, there’s always the chance the Sox could have got a better deal later. But that’s always just a risk you take. There’s a market risk in waiting, too. In this case, it’s entirely reasonable to sign a position of *need* this early.


This is true. But I really do think SP is the best spot to get a guy early, to give full offseason to work with team staff. As long as Clevinger is the guy they identified and wanted, than I am glad to do it now. If he was the one willing to sign now, and not the first choice (see Joc and Eaton comparison), then I am more concerned.
I hope they also bring in another SP, at least a guy on a NRI to work with Katz. That is likely to happen later than sooner. We need an OF to address this team. I hope they have FA budget for it. (Or little trade capital).


If you don’t like the pitcher then it doesn’t matter when they sign him.

Do I have questions/concerns over Clevinger? Hell yea, but that’s typical of 5th SP on a cheap team. I also have major concerns with handing the RF spot to a guy who wasn’t even in organized ball in 2021 and as of now has no plan B if he fails but we seem to be heading there too with most accepting of it or actively promoting it.

Looking back at 2021 I don’t see any notable deals for SPs that came later, certainly none that were better than the early signing of Robbie Ray.

Frankly, if the debate is over how $8 mil is being allocated over 5 vacant roster spots this coming season is already a dumpster fire raging.


Fair enough. In that case, there’d still be an argument, I think, that spending all $8m on one player is a better route than splitting it into two $4m players. But, I guess that’s still a concern worth raising.

You might be right about Clevinger, but that’s a different criticism. If the Sox like Clevinger best, then go for it. Don’t wait around until January.


Yeah, that’s fair. I’m not saying Clevinger is the right guy, necessarily. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the Sox went in a direction I wouldn’t have gone.

My only point was that the timing of the signing doesn’t bother me. It’s not like Graveman (and even more so Kelly), who was only worth signing if money was leftover. The problem is they continue to swim in the kiddie pool for FA signings or sign the wrong kind of player (e.g., high-risk pitcher instead of innings-eater).


That answer is of course the Reinsdorf business model: winning on our terms.

Yeah – I think this is a really important point. The Sox will not make long term commitments. So their market is guys willing to take a short term deal which generally means problematic players (coming of poor performance or injury). But since this is only market the Sox allow themselves to play in, they overpay because for them there is no alternative. They felt they needed to grab Clevinger before someone else does. He was probably top of the Sox FA board.


I don’t have an issue per se with a Kolten Wong trade but no way in hell would I give up Hendricks for him. Wong is Milwaukee’s Craig Kimbrel, they can suffer like we did thinking they can get something for a pick-n-flip of his option. I’ll give them Leury and a fodder arm. Enjoy.

I do like the NYY trade proposal and several others proposed in the OPPs.

Jim Margalus

Have you seen Hendriks for Wong anywhere? I mentioned Lambert as the guy who is the closest to Janson Junk in value for a market-rate, expiring contract.


Sorry, yeah I think I may be mixing someone’s post with your segment. I would be ok with Lambert but would like to see them get burned like us and would find inner peace not having to read all the Leury kerfuffle. How about Wong and Ethan Small for Lambert and Garcia.


I think it’s possible to already say the Clevinger signing is pretty terrible, because we have all seen this movie before. This looks exactly like the Eaton signing. Both guys looked cooked at the time of signing, but the Sox see that as an opportunity to buy-low on a bounceback player. Rick bizarrely wants to cross this off the to-do list now even though equivalent talent will be available in February at a cheaper price. So he he pays a premium to lock in sub-replacement talent early and allocates 80% of the offseason acquisition budget to someone they’ll likely be releasing in June.

On the plus side it does mean canceling SoxFest was a good call. Signing Clevinger as your big FA acquisition communicates to the fans all they need to know about the ambitions of the franchise and saves people from having to pay for parking in Chicago just to hear that news.


We also saw it before with Rodon and Cueto.


Respectfully, I think those cases are different. Cueto was signed in April on a $4M minor league deal and Rodon a $3M deal at the end of January.

The Sox waited and invested significantly less, especially compared to the amount of money in their budget.

Also, in both cases the market basically decided the White Sox target pitcher (ie whomever was left) and not the Sox pro scouting department.


Sure, instead it’s like Adam Eaton who played a different position in a different year (and a vastly different market) after the Sox were spurned by their top target.

Last edited 3 months ago by BenwithVen

It’s the same in that they overpaid ($12M apparently) to lock down a player early who looked like they might be done last season. It’s the same bizarre resource allocation strategy.

Last edited 3 months ago by hitlesswonder

So if Hahn is going to do this whole Ghosts of Players Past thing, who are the candidates for our open spots? I guess Madrigal could be one. What OFs has he pursued and failed to land?

Last edited 3 months ago by upnorthsox
Right Size Wrong Shape

Joc Pederson a couple of times.


Good one and had he not taken the QO he would’ve been a good guess. Of course they could still trade for him……


I think there only is a list of OFs that he failed to pursue.

To Err is Herrmann

To protect myself emotionally from disappointment, I have lowered my expectations for the 2023 White Sox. “Hello, Mike Clevinger” fits in with those lowered expectations. The stats Josh states on MC’s OPS by pitch count are concerning. But let’s see what other lowered expectation moves the Hahnster comes up with.


Bowden tweeting its 1 year 12 mil…


Ok, looks like an overpay.


seems very steep for a guy who has thrown half a season worth of innings last 3 years and got absolutely shelled in the post season


Good thing we won’t go to the postseason then 😉


“The money will be misspent.”




Yep, just saw that. I didn’t mind 1 year at $8 mil but $12 million? Not sure about that but all we can do is hope at this point.
I’m waiting to see who signs Cueto and for how long and how much.


And just read that Abreu is very close to signing with the Houston Cheaters. I mean Asstros.


Don’t know if I read it somewhere or if I’m making stuff up. But I think we can make him a qualifying offer. Far from a given he earns one and even farther from given we extend one, but it could be an added benefit if he performs really well.


It looks like Jose Abreu will be in uniform for the Sox opener, an Astros uniform…

I was hoping he would go to a team I didn’t hate. Oh well.


Abreu to the Astros


Happy for Jose.
Deserves a shot at a WS, and the ‘Stros are as safe a bet as anyone to get him one.

Bonus Baby

$12 million seems like an overpay, but I’m kind of optimistic anyway. I still see rumors of the White Sox potentially getting Max Kepler and/or Kolten Wong. I’ve seen the rumor about Giolito for Kepler, which would be close to a wash in salaries, but then they’d be picking up an additional $10 million in payroll for Wong (if they also traded for him). If both those trades are genuinely being considered, then the Sox seem to have a bit more financial flexibility than they may have been suggesting through the rumor mill. Maybe they’ll actually match last year’s payroll, and have been setting themselves a low-expectations bar they can easily clear, so fans will be happier with keeping the same payroll rather than raising it.

If they trade Giolito for Kepler, I honestly find it hard to believe that they would want to stop there–effectively restructuring the pitching staff by replacing Giolito with Clevinger, and paying more salary for it. As you note, Clevinger is not yet the kind of pitcher you can bank on for heaving innings–Giolito would be much better for that.

And then I keep returning to Hendriks as a salary dump with cash back from the team he’s traded to. If that’s the direction they go, and they actually match last year’s payroll (or close to it), they should have enough for a bigger SP FA–like Chris Bassitt for $51-60 million over 3 years. Not sure if they like Bassitt that much, but they’d end up with a rotation upgrade (Bassitt and Clevinger for Giolito), plus a couple more years of team control over Bassitt than they’d have over Giolito.

They might also accomplish the same result (rotation upgrade) via some direct trade of Hendriks for a SP, of course.

Or they could do something like the above and go for Cavan Biggio or Tony Kemp (instead of Wong) as left-handed second basemen to pair with right-handed Sosa. That would save them around $6-7 million off the above.

TL;DR The Clevinger signing actually makes me think they’re not done with major moves this offseason.