As much as I’d like to think that my Sunday morning post noting that Mike Clevinger’s pending status reminded the White Sox to make the signing official, it was probably more of a function of the winter meetings.
Clevinger is officially on the books for $12 million guaranteed, taking the form of an $8 million salary for 2023, followed by “a mutual $12 million option for 2024 that includes a $4 million buyout” according to the press release, which means the White Sox will pay $4 million even if they’re the ones declining the option. Mutual options are mostly a way to defer some salary, but Sam Miller wrote a good article back in 2017 explaining some other benefits.
Reading the coverage from Clevinger’s introductory Zoom call brought a few different players to mind. Clevinger praised Roger Bossard’s mound maintenance …
“That was one of my favorite mounds in all the big leagues,” Clevinger said of the Guaranteed Rate Field pitcher’s mound he will pitch on in 2023. “So I’m excited to get back to it.” […]
“I don’t know [what it is about the mound exactly],” Clevinger said. “I can’t wait to talk to the grounds crew over there. It’s just perfect. Whether it’s the height, or the way the slope goes down.”
… which reminded me of Torii Hunter saying “the grass runs true” at then-U.S. Cellular Field during his free agent tour in 2007. The main difference is that Clevinger actually signed with the White Sox.
He also said that his knee was a bigger problem than his elbow in 2022 …
But more specifically that relationship is being entrusted to guide Clevinger back to front-of-the-rotation form after he missed 2021 with Tommy John surgery, and a right knee injury dogged him so badly in 2022 that he had trouble walking after some late-season outings. Clevinger said he did not need surgery, but received a platelet-rich plasma injection to address his medial collateral ligament, and he underwent a biomechanical assessment at a lab in San Diego to give Katz information to look over.
… which could be good news, since Clevinger’s Tommy John surgery was his second, and the success rate is lower for repeat customers. On the other hand, Lance Lynn and Michael Kopech have both struggled with knee injuries over the last couple of seasons, so it’s not clear whether the White Sox have answers for this particular issue.
Any pitcher who signs a one-year deal for $10 million has at least one major question mark, so any candidate the Sox filled out their rotation with would harbor a similar sort of doubt. Carlos Rodón and Johnny Cueto had theirs, and they turned out fine.
Speaking of starting pitchers, Josh and I are 3-for-3 in our mutual free agent predictions. In the wake of José Abreu going to the Astros and Jacob deGrom heading to the other Texas team, Justin Verlander is going to the Mets on a hefty two-year deal, according to Jeff Passan.
Verlander’s $43.333 million AAV matches that of his old/new teammate, as Max Scherzer signed with the Mets last winter for three years and $130 million. Verlander isn’t in the same class as Clevinger, Matthew Boyd, Zach Eflin, etc., but the signing continues a pattern of starting pitching being more expensive than all initial estimates at every level.