CHICAGO -- I’ve returned from the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., which means that despite getting lost nine times as I walked through the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center from Sunday through Wednesday, I found my way home.
Here are a few White Sox Winter Meetings morsels to jumpstart your holiday season.
The story of Fedde
From 2017-22, Erick Fedde posted a 5.41 ERA over 102 games -- 88 starts -- for the Nationals. In his most recent big league seasons, '21 and '22, Fedde had a 5.64 ERA in 56 games (54 starts) with 222 strikeouts and 106 walks in 260 1/3 innings.
So, how did the free-agent right-hander end up with the White Sox? His 2023 dominance in the Korea Baseball Organization is a major reason. Fedde posted a 20-6 record with a 2.00 ERA, 209 strikeouts against 35 walks over 180 1/3 innings in the KBO. But the White Sox pursuit of Fedde went beyond the on-field numbers for NC Dinos in Korea.
“There’s some real material differences with his stuff,” White Sox general manager Chris Getz said. “He added the sweeper, he got a better feel for his sinker, he changed his attack plan. And he more or less dominated over in the KBO. We talked to hitters over there, we talked to people that are around that league, and we felt he was the most feared pitcher in that league. And the numbers show it.
“Then to go to a league where it’s a bit of a Major League environment, from a fans and pressure standpoint, and certainly being a foreigner, it’s never easy. For him to come back here, with that level of confidence and the ability, which is a difference from where it was before, we’re willing to take that bet, and we’re looking forward to giving him that runway here with the White Sox.”
It's a multi-year runway for Fedde, who is coming off a career high in innings pitched. The deal is reportedly worth $15 million over two years.
“When you look at a projection system, we’ve got the ability to get a better understanding of, ‘Is it going to translate? Should it translate?’” Getz said. “And there was enough support there that we thought we should go and get Erick Fedde.”
Cease in the know
This is an unofficial assessment, but Dylan Cease’s name seemed to come up the past week with the same basic frequency as Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. So, I asked Getz if Cease, who has two years of control remaining at the top of the White Sox rotation, was being kept in the loop amidst these trade rumors.
Getz has not spoken to Cease, but pitching coach Ethan Katz, senior advisor to pitching Brian Bannister and the strength-and-conditioning staff have been in contact with the right-hander.
“I know he’s been reading his name in there, and that at times can be a little bit [of a] different feeling,” Getz said. “He’s been traded before, but he’s at a different stage in his career.
“Dylan has really grown up, and he knows how I feel about him, he knows how the organization feels about him. He’s one of the stars in our game, and we’ve really enjoyed having him. There’s certainly a chance he’s back with us, and we’d feel pretty good about that, too.”
If Cease eventually is traded, he’ll end up on a contending team.
“He’s in a pretty good headspace, knowing Dylan Cease,” Getz said.
More to come
Well, of course there are more White Sox moves to come as Getz continues reshaping the roster. The GM feels like the club is in a good position to make those moves following the work in Nashville.
“I wouldn’t say that we feel like we’re knocking on the door of something,” Getz said on Wednesday. “But it’s more getting a better idea of where we stand, whether it be acquiring a guy through free agency or trade. We’re very organized. We’ve done a nice job this offseason with setting out a plan and feel really good about where we’re at so far. We want to continue to capture the momentum.”
Which of the following closers was taken by the White Sox in the Rule 5 Draft and then pitched for the team?
A) Jordan Romano
B) David Bednar
C) Josh Hader
D) Jason Grilli
• Martín Maldonado would be a great addition at catcher for the White Sox, especially with his connection to Korey Lee. I would expect the team to diligently push to bring him abord.
• Congratulations to Rich Rice, the vice president of Baseball Communications for the Rangers, who was named the recipient of the 2023 Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence. It was a well-deserved honor.
• Happy Hannukah to everyone who celebrates.
• It was good seeing Jake Peavy at the Winter Meetings. He provides excellent, entertaining analysis for MLB Network, which is no surprise, since he was always an insightful quote as a player. We had a brief Alabama/Michigan CFP conversation, but I expect more to come.
• I’m contractually obligated to mention University of Michigan football so … Look for quarterback J.J. McCarthy to have a big game in the future victory over the Crimson Tide.
• Here's how my Winter Meetings closed on Wednesday afternoon: I had just finished working in my hotel room when I heard loud knocking. I opened the door in time to see water pouring from the ceiling directly across the hall and one room to the right. Luckily, it looked as if everyone was alright, but by the time I quickly packed and splashed through the hallway, the water had come through my room and reached my bed.
“He's doing a really good job. He has assembled a really good staff around him, and there's a lot of communication. There's a plan, and they're executing that plan, which is good.” -- Manager Pedro Grifol on Getz
“We’re in a position of leverage right now, because I don’t think we have to trade Cease. Two years of control, and he’s a really, really good pitcher. He definitely helps us next year. But at the same time, we’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to listen on everything.” -- Assistant general manager Josh Barfield
D) Jason Grilli
The right-hander never pitched in relief, but he made eight starts in 2004 as one of nine hurlers trying to fill the White Sox fifth-starter needs. Grilli was taken from the Marlins in the 2003 Rule 5 and later recorded 79 career saves. Romano, who has 97 saves for the Blue Jays, was taken by the White Sox in the 2018 Rule 5, but he was later traded to the Rangers for cash considerations.
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