GM Meetings Notes: Sox Extend Renteria's Deal

Meanwhile, the Cubs are on the search for bullpen help.

Bruce Levine
November 06, 2018 - 9:28 pm
White Sox manager Rick Renteria

Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

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CARLSBAD, Calif. (670 The Score) -- The GM Meetings started in earnest Tuesday, with agents meeting with the 30 clubs. 

Later in the day, executives conducted media sessions. As White Sox general manager Rick Hahn held his, he revealed a piece of information regarding manager Rick Renteria's contract that had been previously unknown. Renteria's contract was extended "a while ago," Hahn said without sharing the length of the deal.

The prevailing thought was that 2019 represented the final season of Renteria's deal that he signed before he took over as manager in the 2017 season, but Hahn suggested the general assumption from the start was off base.

"We don't tend to announce these things," Hahn said. "When he was hired, people said it was a three-year deal. We never announced it as a three-year deal. He is extended into the future. The Chicago White Sox never said we signed him to a three-year deal."

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With rumors swirling about the White Sox preparing to seriously pursue Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, Hahn confirmed that his club has plenty of money to spend in free agency.

"We do have a pretty wide array of ways to go about filling our needs right now," Hahn said. "A part of the rebuild was to allow us the economic flexibility to go out and acquire more expensive targets when the time was right. You can't control when certain players become available. We have made no secret about trying to accumulate as much talent that has the ability to win a championship but also be strategically aligned with each other. No one should be surprised to be attached to certain impact names. 2019 might not be the greatest moment for all of these players for us. We may be able to acquire players via trade or free agency that align with what we have accumulated and makes sense for us in the long term."

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The 2017-'18 offseason featured a slow-moving free-agent market, as long-term deals past three years weren't signed until 2018 rolled around. Right-hander Yu Darvish didn't sign with the Cubs until February, while right-hander Jake Arrieta didn't ink his deal with the Phillies until the second week of March.

Neither ended up having a great year, as Darvish logged only eight starts before missing the rest of the season with injury and Arrieta went 10-11 with a 3.96 ERA. 

"We are hearing from a lot of agents much earlier," a general manager said. "We all know the players got a different view of what can happen in a weak free-agent market. Nobody is giving long-term deals without some form of guarantee on the dollars spent. I think you will see the same caution from clubs this offseason."

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The Cubs will certainly be looking for bullpen help and perhaps some more depth in starting pitching. The back end of the bullpen is a particular priority after closer Brandon Morrow missed the second half of the 2018 season with an injury.

General manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged that the organization's inability to develop homegrown pitchers, even in a bullpen role, has been frustrating. 

"The key is not just to have a good bullpen during the year but also have them pitching well down the stretch," Hoyer said. "Part of that is having the depth and not overuse guys. We need to add enough depth to get to that point again."

With Addison Russell's future with the organization uncertain after a suspension under the domestic violence policy and with Ben Zobrist turning 38 in May and in the final season of his contract, the Cubs could target a middle infielder with positional flexibility in free agency, Hoyer confirmed.

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Under the leadership of general manager David Stearns, the Brewers had the best record in the National League and won the division crown over the Cubs with a Game 163 win.

In that victory, Brewers fans flooded Wrigley Field, a sign of how far their rivalry has come. Finally, Chicago fans understood what Milwaukee fans have been feeling for years as Cubs fans routinely flocked to Miller Park for the games.

"These are two really good teams that will continue to be good teams," Stearns said. "We are 90 miles away from each other, and we play each other a whole bunch. That generally feels like a rivalry. You can call it anything you want to. They are fun games to be a part of. I imagine we will continue to have some pretty close series against them."

Of course, the context of the rivalry narrative was that Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels emphatically stated in early September that the Brewers hadn't ascended to rivalry status for the Cubs yet.

"When you have the majority of Cubs fans in the stands, I don't know if that's a rivalry," Hamels said then. "They aren't going to like me for the comment, but look at the ticket sales. When they start to get a little closer and their fans sell out, then I think that's kind of the understanding (of the rivalry)."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.