White Sox bullpen has room for more after Tim Hill signing

New White Sox reliever Tim Hill
(Photo by Reggie Hildred/USA TODAY Sports)

The Tim Hill signing continues a troubling theme for the White Sox this winter, in the sense that Chris Getz has turned over a quarter of the 40-man roster with outside acquisitions, but none of those 10 new players can be considered good.

That’s rather remarkable, but look at the following list and see if you can draw a different conclusion:

The Fedde signing is a cut above the rest for the amount of excitement and intrigue it generates, but if he were a lock for a respectable season, he would’ve commanded more than $15 million for two years on the open market. He’s a good addition, but he needs to prove he’s a good player, because his stateside body of work in Washington came up short.

As for everybody else, they generally do one thing well, and that attribute is, at the very least, largely negated by what they can’t do. They might be playable, passable, serviceable, but “good” remains elusive.

(Soroka is the exception, because he just hasn’t been healthy enough to know if he still has the talent he showed in 2019.)

Yet if there’s one area where I’m fine with a mass of indistinguishable talent, it’s the bullpen. After watching Rick Hahn overinvest by prioritizing relievers in every hot stove/trade deadline season, Getz has a pass to not give relievers a lot of thought or money until 2027 at the earliest.

White Sox bullpen locks

The only question is whether all of these guys will be available on Opening Day. Santos’ season ended early with elbow soreness, while Hill underwent a finger ligament repair, and Crochet was limited to 13 appearances due to a shoulder problem. The White Sox went 1-12 in those appearances, which is probably a winning percentage they never saw for a reliever they envisioned as a high-leverage type.

Should be in the clear

Banks has thrown 114 decent innings of relief over the last two seasons, along with 40 more innings at Charlotte. At times he’s been crowded off the roster, and he will have one more option remaining next year, but given the lack of competition, it seems like he’ll actively have to pitch his way out of Chicago.

Out of options

Lambert has pitched well enough for long enough stretches to merit an Opening Day bullpen spot provided he makes a smooth enough recovery from season-ending ankle surgery. García had moments, but those moments were mostly individual curveballs that he couldn’t repeat, leading to more walks than strikeouts over 15 innings in 2023. The White Sox claimed him off waivers from the Yankees, so I don’t expect them to agonize over a spring training DFA if Cactus League play reveals more of the same. Or maybe he’s the guy who goes when Maldonado joins the roster.

Rule 5 pick

The addition of Hill theoretically reduces Drohan’s chances for survival on the 26-man roster, because between Banks’ long-relief ability and Hill’s lefthandedness, what Drohan offers is already covered by somebody else. However, Drohan’s changeup-heavy arsenal has led to reverse splits throughout his minor-league career, so he might be spiritually right-handed.

Prospects ready for a shot

Leasure shot from Double-A Tulsa to Triple-A Charlotte upon the White Sox trading for him in the Lance Lynn/Joe Kelly deal, and he continued to rack up strikeouts at the higher level, finishing with 23 over 13⅓ innings with the Knights. The 6.08 ERA doesn’t impress on its face, but he mostly front-loaded his worst appearances, and he followed it up with an excellent run in the Arizona Fall League. He’s liking his new curveball as a weapon against left-handed hitters, and that’ll probably determine how fast he gets to high leverage.

Known non-roster invitees

Anderson spent a couple years as a high-strikeout, high-walk guy with the Angels, but he hasn’t surfaced in the majors since the pandemic. Tommy John surgery in July 2020, and he’s missed big chunks of seasons since. Pitch data from his last Triple-A appearances in the Royals organization shows a guy sitting in the mid-90s and throwing his slider two-thirds of the time, so the stuff appears to be back. Whether he can physically hold up is a different matter.

Incumbent relievers with options

The White Sox have already culled this list by outrighting Nick Padilla and Brent Honeywell while removing Edgar Navarro (for Fedde), Luis Patiño (for Josimar Cousin), Yohan Ramírez (for cash considerations) and Declan Cronin (for Tim Hill).

That leaves Ramsey, who started to take on water by allowing runs in five consecutive outings at the end of September, and Peralta, who either gave up zero runs or multiple runs. He’s the fifth lefty mentioned here, and his average fastball was a hair under 90, so Hill’s arrival would seem to block him more than somebody like Drohan.

Speas pitched a few games for the Rangers last year, but his walk rate roughly doubled upon every promotion:

  • AA: 11.3%
  • AAA: 19.2%
  • MLB: 41.7%

The White Sox claimed him in October, but I imagine he’ll still get a World Series ring. He has two options remaining, so there isn’t a reason to pencil him in until he and the White Sox can provide a proof of concept in March.

premature Opening Day bullpen

There are a few unlisted players who could merit bullpen consideration by spring training, whether it’s because they’re eventually bounced from the rotation (Jesse Scholtens, Touki Toussaint), moved to the bullpen with purpose (Michael Kopech), or emerge from the NRI ranks in the spring.

For the time being, there only look like six guys who feel like good bets to be part of the bullpen for the majority of the year:

  1. Gregory Santos
  2. Garrett Crochet
  3. Tim Hill
  4. Tanner Banks
  5. Jimmy Lambert
  6. Jordan Leasure

That leaves room for Drohan to make the initial cut if the Sox see a point in embarking on the regular-season portion of the Rule 5 journey, but it seems like there’s room for at least two more relievers on Hill-like contracts, because they shouldn’t count on all of these guys being healthy and/or effective by the end of March. Throw in one extra starter and one extra flier, and the Sox will have a bullpen that will complement the rest of the roster. That’s not a good thing, but given the offseason to date, maybe it’s not supposed to be.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
22 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
As Cirensica

WTF?

Member

Lazy reporting, zero fact-checking, minimal editing, hmm. Sounds like one of my comments.
Of course, thinned out newsrooms lend themselves to “Woops” like this one.

katiesphil

Woops.

FishSox

It is strange thinking that the biggest off-season moves aren’t signings or trades but DFA’s/Declines.

Last edited 1 month ago by FishSox
StockroomSnail

Rather than stars and bums, I think it’s bums and chum for the white sox this year.

roke1960

Giolito to the Sox!! Well, ok, it’s the Red Sox. 2 years, 38.5M, opt out after the first year. I’m getting more and more convinced that Erick Fedde will be the Sox biggest free agent acquisition this winter.

md03

Hope he can return to form out there and thought there was the tiniest of chances he might be back when they showed him at the blackhawks game, but guess not. We’re putting a lot of stock in Bannister turning our whole pitching around minus Cease this year. Not sure if Fedde is more than a fifth starter at this point but we’ll see.

roke1960

Yeah, I always held out hope they would bring him back. If Cease goes and they don’t add at least 1 mid-tier starter, that rotation could be very, very bad.

JazznFunk

Sox signing lots of pitching depth. But only the depth

ForsterFTOG

Chris Flexen?
More like Getz flexin’

JazznFunk

Someone to share Korea stories with Fedde

GrinnellSteve

You need arms. He has two.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

What’s going on here? He’s only 1 year removed from being decent, rather than 3 or 4.

Add him to the list of Fedde, Touki, Soroka of guys the Sox hope are good enough to trade away for prospects in July. Another meaningless move ahead of a garbage season, but for 2M probably isn’t a bad gamble on a chance to turn into trade bait, honestly.

StockroomSnail

This is one of the longest bum parades in recent memory.

FishSox

…but it’s our perverse bum parade.

knoxfire30

The Getz offseason of acquiring guys who you arent sure if a major league deal continues… just amazing dumpster diving stuff , all the way all the way!

Joliet Orange Sox

I think Flexen is a dumpster dive but one I don’t mind. Flexen is under 30 and was a legit mlb pitcher in 2021 and 2022. At $1.75M guaranteed, seems like flier that’s not crazy at all.

StockroomSnail

I might need to call getz….the raccoon.

jorgefabregas

They seem to be planning to field a team with 26 players on the active roster and 40 on the 40-man. They will have a collection of various starters and backups. No ambition beyond that.

HoytWilhelm

After Cease is traded, it’ll be “Team Wobegon, where one of the players is above average.”

phillyd

Jim, you didn’t have to challenge Tanner Banks to have a bad season.