White Sox Shift Focus To Adding Bullpen Help

The White Sox aren't currently pursuing outfielder Yasiel Puig, sources said.

Bruce Levine
December 27, 2019 - 4:18 pm
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(670 The Score) After doling out around $196 million in new contracts to fortify their starting rotation and strengthen their lineup, the White Sox have shifted their focus to adding bullpen help in free agency.

Contrary to several reports, the White Sox aren't currently in pursuit of outfielder Nick Castellanos or outfielder Yasiel Puig, multiple sources said. They're instead eyeing the relief market, sources said. 

The White Sox had a respectable bullpen in 2019, when their 4.31 ERA was slightly above league average. Closer Alex Colome had a standout season in posting a 2.80 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, while lefty reliever Aaron Bummer had a breakout campaign with a 2.13 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 58 appearances. 

The White Sox will also have righty Kelvin Herrera, righty Evan Marshall and lefty Jace Fry in the mix, but they could use another reliable setup man or two. It's unclear who exactly the White Sox are zeroing in on right now, but a trio of former Cubs remain available in free agency and represent the type of reliever the White Sox are looking to add: Brandon Kintzler, Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop.

All three were vital cogs in the Cubs bullpen over the past two seasons -- and in Strop's case much longer. 

Kintzler, 35, posted a career-best 2.68 ERA in 62 appearances for the Cubs in 2019. His sinker and changeup induces a lot of soft groundballs, and he has displayed quality command in walking just 2.3 batters per nine innings for his career. 

Cishek, 33, is coming off back-to-back strong seasons for the Cubs, posting a 2.18 ERA in 2018 and a 2.95 ERA in 2019. He's as durable as relievers come, making a combined 150 appearances over the past two seasons. He has averaged more than 57 appearances every season in his 10-year career.

Strop, 34, was arguably the most consistent setup man in Cubs history before struggling with a 4.97 ERA in 50 appearances last season. Pitching for the Cubs from 2013 to 2018, he was a model of consistency with an ERA between 2.21 and 2.91 every season. Hamstring injuries have hampered him in recent seasons, so they'll be a concern for any team looking at him in free agency.

Another reliever to keep an eye on is Daniel Hudson, a former White Sox prospect who closed for the World Series-winning Nationals in 2019. 

The market for relievers in their mid-30s has been slow to develop, but it should pick up in the coming weeks. It's also worth noting that MLB is instituting a new rule for relievers in 2019. They must face a minimum of three batters, unless they finish an inning first. That new rule is top of mind for teams, as they'll prioritize relievers who are effective against batters on both sides of the plate and have pause in considering those who have been one-batter specialists in the past. 

Beyond looking for bullpen help, the White Sox want to add another utility infielder who can play up the middle. Such free agents includes Jody Mercer, Brian Dozier, Addison Russell, Brad Miller, Jose Iglesias and Gordon Beckham.

A player who also fits the bill is Yolmer Sanchez, whom the White Sox non-tendered earlier this offseason. Bringing him back at lesser money is considered a long shot for the White Sox at this point. 

The White Sox may a right-handed hitting outfielder at some point, but their hope is that newly acquired Nomar Mazara can ascend into an everyday player for them in 2020.

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