Spare Parts: Winter meetings begin with Mike Clevinger still unofficial

Ken Rosenthal broke the White Sox’s signing of Mike Clevinger a week ago, but without any further updates, it feels more “pending” than “impending.” Thanksgiving came and went, November turned to December, the winter meetings start today in San Diego, and still … nothing.

Usually, such a delay is tied to a corresponding 40-man roster move, but the White Sox have no such concerns with five open spots. I’d still assume it goes through because the White Sox tend to view injury recoveries more as challenges than red flags — see: Kelly, Joe, and Herrera, Kelvin — but it would’ve been nice to hear the what and why about Clevinger in order to project the next turn.

Alas, you’ll have to settle for Josh doing it on GN Sports Friday night (also, subscribe to our YouTube channel).

Spare Parts

Pedro Grifol didn’t really sell the idea of what Mike Tosar will bring to the freshly minted role of “field coordinator” by emphasizing the bunting game, but James Fegan asks Tosar himself, and the role seems like it’s born to allow Tosar the freedom to think about problems and solutions without getting bogged down in the daily details of a traditional instructor role.

I’d recommend reading the whole thing, because it’s hard to boil down into a sentence. The fact that it’s so open-ended makes me think it could be hard to deduce his impact if the White Sox once again get bogged down by talent or injuries, but the collaborative approach and delegation is going to generate a study in contrast with the previous administration if nothing else.

Bryan Reynolds is trying to force his way out of Pittsburgh, but the Pirates don’t seem to be in any rush to acquiesce. He’s a switch-hitter who can cover center and is under control for 2025, so while the White Sox could use him, so could many, many other teams.

The White Sox would certainly have to part ways with one of their young infielders to make it happen, whether it’s Colson Montgomery or Bryan Ramos, whose profile Justin Jirschele likes at third base.

Whether it’s just because we talk a lot, Josh and I picked a lot of the same destinations for free agents. We’re 2-for-2 with José Abreu going to Houston and Jacob deGrom going to Texas, which Dan Szymborski assesses in the link above. Now I’m getting pumped about the Orioles being in the thick of the Carlos Rodón sweepstakes.

    You can take or leave Anthony Castrovince’s specific predictions about what will happen in San Diego, but his prediction about the catcher market could have reverberations for the White Sox, even if the named player doesn’t land with the named team.

    The catcher trade market will begin to move

    There is no reason a catching free-agent market fronted by Willson Contreras (who might not even be a full-time catcher wherever he winds up) and Christian Vázquez should hold back an interesting trade market in which the A’s (Sean Murphy) and Blue Jays (Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen or Gabriel Moreno) have valuable commodities to offer.

    This is going to get started at the Meetings, with the Guardians completing a deal for Murphy. The two teams got far down the road in discussions last summer, and they ought to be able to finish the job now. Cleveland is reluctant to part with any of its top starting pitching prospects (Daniel Espino, Gavin Williams or Tanner Bibee) but should have enough prospect capital to get a deal done with or without one of those arms.

    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: 3916
    Newest Most Voted
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments

    the White Sox tend to view injury recoveries more as challenges than red flags

    I wonder if last year’s disastrous injury management has at all changed that stance. Speaking of which, Peter Angelos is no longer making the decisions in Baltimore. I doubt he’d ever approve a big contract for Carlos Rodón, but his son may not be as scarred by the Albert Belle contract.


    the Chris Davis contract was an important message that BAL is a potential destination for premium players


    Great job on that GN Sports Friday Night segment, Josh 🙌! You, Jim and everyone else involved with Soxmachine do a fantastic job. I really enjoy your work. Thank you for what you do!!!

    Joliet Orange Sox

    I have youtubetv (which I’m happy with in terms of what I get for the price) so I don’t get WGN and to be honest I never miss it. Is WGN part of most cable/streaming packages? Just curious.


    Hey there, we haven’t had any cable services for some time now. They always jack up the price over the course of the contractual agreement, so we decided the good ‘ol antenna does just fine paired with Netflix and Amazon prime piggybacking off family subs lol! From what I can remember WGN was always included with a higher tier package, which of course they charge more for. I prefer watching free streaming of shitty whitesox play as opposed to paying any amt of monies toward a terrible on field product to consume for…‘entertainment’. 😆

    My praise of Josh on the GN sports segment came from watching the clip included in this article by Jim.


    Damn Josh, Hair cut and suit-n-tie, you even trimmed the beard. You look almost respectable! Its going to take the rest of the winter just to get back into Sox Machine podcast form.

    Last edited 3 months ago by upnorthsox
    Bonus Baby

    And suddenly it’s official:

    Turns out it was the best of the two contract rumors we heard: $8 million this year, and a $4 million buyout w/mutual option for next year.

    Less excuse for not spending more on this year’s payroll.


    A *mutual* option? Does that mean that Clev doesn’t get the $4M if he turns it down on his side, or is it like Pollock’s? Weird structure if the latter, basically just deferring $4M to save $ spent this year


    Yeah. That was my thought, too. It’s effectively 1-year, $12m, but with different accounting. Fine with me, if it opens up even a tiny more on the 2023 payroll.


    Any recent examples of mutual options being picked up? Those are one of the weirdest quirks of MLB contracts vs other sports leagues.


    Not that I know of, but it’s happened before. A wrinkle in this one is the $4m buyout. It makes it slightly more likely to be exercised, I would think. If Clevinger isn’t great (but passable) or deals with injuries, the Sox might think the contract worth picking up instead of paying him $4m for nothing.


    The $4m buyout would be meaningless if Clevinger forfeited it by not exercising his player option. So the deal is $12 million for one year, and, if either side exercises the 2024 option, $20 million for two years. So Clevinger has a $20m floor and a $20m cap on his compensation for the 2023-2024 period.


    I assume Clevinger gets the $4m either way. The floor is less than $20m. If Clevinger is bad and the Sox opt out, Clevinger gets $12m from the Sox and he’s a FA.

    Bonus Baby

    Different versions of the contract terms have been floating around out there. Upon a little further thought, I don’t think the White Sox official announcement helps much:

    The first tweet describes the contract as “one-year, $12-million contract, which includes a mutual option for the 2024 season.” The second tweet (reply) says: “Under terms of the agreement, Clevinger will receive $8 million in 2023, with a mutual $12-million option for 2024 that includes a $4-million buyout.” These two tweets do not mean the same thing at all. The first suggests a contract where Clevinger will get $12 million in year 1, and then includes a mutual option for year 2. The second, which I think represents the real terms of the contract, is that Clevinger gets only $8 million in year 1, and then there is a $4 million buyout that could get triggered.

    Obviously, if the buyout is triggered in year 2, then Clevinger gets $4 million. So it ends up looking very much like a 1 year contract for which he was paid $12 million. Nevertheless it’s possible, depending on more specific contract terms, that the buyout is never triggered.

    Since I could imagine different ways that the “trigger” of the buyout might be described, I searched a little and found this:

    If you’re interested in this kind of thing, I’d say the full article is worth a read. If you’re not, I think there are two main relevant points here:

    1. Even if the buyout is triggered, having the $4 million paid in year 2 should help the Sox right now. More contracts come off the books next year, so for accounting or other payroll purposes it should help to defer payment of $4 million to year 2.

    2. However, there are different kinds of possible buyout triggers attached to mutual options. As the article states, there can be: (a) A buyout regardless of who declines the option, or (b) A buyout only if the club declines the option.

    Apparently (b) is more common, which would be much better for the Sox. With (b), if Clevinger is really good this year, the Sox will of course exercise their half of the option to sign him to a $12 million contract for 2024. Now, if Clevinger wants some other deal, or wants to sign with a different team, he has to decline the option, which means that he doesn’t get the $4 million after all.

    By contrast, in (a) Clevinger can always get the $4 million just by declining his half of the option. And there are essentially no circumstances in which it makes sense for him to decline the option. He could even sign back with the Sox at whatever number they agreed to, but he’d already have $4 million in his pocket no matter who he signs with, or what amount he signs for.

    To know which kind of buyout it is, someone would have to ask the Sox for more clarity, or read the contract itself.

    TL;DR: Today’s announcement of contract terms still doesn’t clear up important questions about likely pay/terms in year 2.

    Last edited 3 months ago by Bonus Baby

    If Clevinger signed a one-sided buyout clause before Dec 1, he should fire his agent.
    Pretty sure he’ll be getting 12 from the Sox.


    I’m curious to see if that deGrom contract changes the landscape or is more of an anomaly. So many of these guys are such a huge gamble. Verlander is old, we know all about Rodon, deGrom himself seemed like a horse early in his career but can’t stay healthy recently. I could see Rodon looking for a high AAV short deal instead of settling for something longer with a lower average value and caveats. But then again, the Mets might just give him whatever he wants after seeing deGrom leave.


    Getting really lucky in the draft lottery might be the best chance of good news for the Sox at the winter meetings. At least there is a non-zero chance.


    The Sox front office is banking on the Central Division being lousy the next few years. In their minds they can remain competitive within the division, maybe even win the division, and then anything can happen once you’re in the playoffs. I would love to see MLB move the White Sox into the AL East and have to compete against real baseball teams that actually try to win championships. Reinsdorf is lucky he’s in a division with so many small market teams.


    There were realignment rumors as part of CBA talks last winter, one had the Jays moving to the AL Central. A shame that didn’t happen, that would force the Sox to actually do something to even pretend to compete. But the Guardians have a pretty good farm system, I saw was rated as high as 3rd last summer in a couple places. They have like 6 guys in the top 100 prospects. I don’t think the Sox can get by with doing little or nothing for very long, even in the Central. The Guardians are certainly going to get more help and improvement from their minor leagues the next couple years than the Sox are.


    Or move the Astros to the ALC and KC out West.

    Reinsdorf can’t even beat the small markets in the division which makes the Sox arguably the worst team in the small market division during his time. Of course, it’s all the fans fault, attendance, stadium deal, yada yada….