White Sox rumors: Nelson Cruz off the board, but Adam Ottavino persists(Keith Allison / Flickr)

White Sox rumors: Nelson Cruz off the board, but Adam Ottavino persists

One low-flying White Sox rumor was put to rest on Thursday, while another one gained some reinforcements.

The Twins removed Nelson Cruz from everybody’s offseason plans, reportedly signing him for one-year and $14.3 million. The saying is there’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal, and it tends to be more true with a player like Cruz, who just wrapped up a four-year run with Seattle averaging 41 homers and a 148 OPS+.

Cruz could only get one year because he’s entering his age-38 season, he’ll be a DH, and his production tailed off toward average in his final season in Seattle. The drop in BABIP explains some of that, and the fact that his strikeout total actually fell a little suggests he could rebound. But he’ll also turn 39 this season, and that combination was why I wasn’t especially thrilled by early rumors connecting Cruz with the Sox.

(Then again, the Sox went ahead and put Yonder Alonso in the DH spot instead. Cruz strikes me as the better solution.)

The Twins have made the DH/first base rotation just as much a priority, as Cruz follows their signing of C.J. Cron. Rian Watt at FanGraphs shows the favorable projections for Cron/Cruz for a reasonable rate over Joe Mauer and Logan Morrison.

Jayson Stark stated the case more simply:

Twins fan and Baseball Prospectus editor Aaron Gleeman says this investment both improves the team and frees up resources for more additions, namely pitchers.

He also noted the Twins have taken advantage of the limited market for aging DHs before.

Cruz has a chance to transform a lineup, not unlike a 39-year-old Jim Thome did for the Twins in their first year at Target Field in 2010. Thome then, like Cruz now, was a still-great hitter with a limited free agent market because of his age and DH-only status. National League teams are out of the DH market by definition and many American League teams either have the position filled already or avoid committing to one player there. It’s a game of musical chairs.

Cruz chose the Twins over the Rays and the Astros, whereas Thome had an even more limited market in 2010, picking the Twins over the Rangers. Thome signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with Minnesota and then re-signed for $3 million the next season, hitting a combined .266/.387/.562 in a Twins uniform. That’s the type of short-term impact the Twins are banking on with Cruz, in the batter’s box and in the clubhouse.

Not that I’m bitter.

Assuming the Twins aren’t done adding, they should be within striking distance of Cleveland by the end of the winter, which makes the idea of a Bryce Harper/Manny Machado-fueled miracle run for the White Sox a little harder to fathom.

That said, the easiest way to short-circuit projections is by building a highly effective bullpen, which is why the Adam Ottavino rumors make more sense for the Sox than the Cruz ones did.

Morosi added a note saying a source says “multiple other clubs” are also interested, which is the kind of thing an agent source would say.

Ottavino became a FanGraphs fascination for his rapid transformation into a strikeout artist at Coors Field. He created his own throwing facility in Manhattan, focusing on spin rates and high-speed cameras to find a third pitch that better complemented his fastball and breaking ball. The strongest evidence of his offseason work was a new and effective cutter, but it turns out everything improved. As Travis Sawchik put it, “the offseason wasn’t so much about building a better pitch but a better way to practice.”

(Ottavino’s offseason also included a brief stop at Driveline Baseball. Here’s hoping for a similar trajectory for Carson Fulmer.)

He still walks more guys than you’d like, and holding baserunners is an issue should he start allowing more of them, so he might be walking a fine line for sustainable success. But if he can repeat what he did with the Rockies for a year or two, what with the 36 percent strikeout rate over 78 innings, those are only minor quibbles.

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35Shields
Member

I really don’t get the pursuit of a reliever at this point. Based on Steamer, Fangraphs projects the Sox to finish 70-92, even that seems generous as Steamer (which doesn’t include framing) expects Castillo/McCann to combine for 2.7 WAR – optimistic at best.

The Indians are projected to get 93 wins. I’d think for the Sox to be in ‘surprise run’ territory they’d need to be at least within 10 wins and signing Machado/Harper probably wouldn’t get them more than another five wins.

So unless they’re signing two of Harper/Machado/Grandal, very unlikely, why do they need a good reliever in the bullpen. Not to mention that the Sox bullpen has tons of interesting young arms to weed through and giving a bullpen spot to Ottavino makes that harder.

Kvothe
Member

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this, but baseball is a battle of the bullpens, and that movie about Steamer projections didn’t even mention Zito, Mulder and Hudson.

As Cirensica
Member

I agree with you that baseball is evolving and a battle of bullpens is more evident than ever. So much that teams don’t really need a lot of great starting pitchers (See Athletics Oakland and the Brewers) to contend. If you have a shutdown bullpen you have a chance.

However, to have a chance and to be able to “bulpenning games”, you need to score some runs, and with a bunch of Engels, McCanns, Alonsos, Leurys, and Yolmers,….well…that isn’t gonna be possible.

roke1960
Member

You’re right about our offense. It is substandard right now. But adding Machado or Harper, and a bat like Markakis makes us a decent offense. A lineup of Moncada, Markakis, Abreu, Machado, Eloy, Alonso, Castillo, Timmy, Leury/Engel is pretty good.

ParisSox
Member

C’mon people, your offense is only as good as your bullpen, ergo we are adding offense by signing Ottavino.  

And that holding runners issue?  Well McCann, duh. 

35Shields
Member

The starting rotation may matter less, but it still matters and ours sucks. We’d need pretty marked improvement across the board for the Sox starting staff to even match the Brewers/As “adequate starting rotation” label.

Not to mention that even with Ottavino, our bullpen would still need the husk of Nate Jones to stay together for a whole season or a major contributor to step forth from the other non-Jace Fry prospects.

It’s not out of the question, but the number of ifs that you have to pile on to build a scenario where a bullpen arm like Ottavino matters is really really high.

As Cirensica
Member

I wouldn’t be unhappy with the Sox signing Ottavino. I would be unhappy if we don’t sign Machado or Harper.

roke1960
Member

With all those projections that are available now, I think we shouldn’t even have a season. Just give the title to the team that projects to be the best. It would save a lot of heartache, because we know those things are never wrong.

35Shields
Member

Are the clouds shouting back?

yolmers gatorade
Member

I think the final projection is the expected mean of the normal curve. It is probably more intelligent to think of projected records in terms of the standard deviations, i.e. only a 2.5% chance of winning more than X games, at the second standard deviation, ect.

35Shields
Member

Totally agree and, if I recall correctly, the standard error on these projections is ~10 wins. So given their current projection of 70 wins, theres ~2.5% chance of winning 90+ games.

Obviously, getting say Ottavino and Harper would shift this, but it’d be hard to imagine it moving the mean to much more than say 76 wins – which would still give them only ~10% chance of topping 90+ wins.

roke1960
Member

Just curious…What was the A’s projected win total for last year?

roke1960
Member

There always seems to be one team that far exceeds expectations each year. Last year was the A’s, in 2017 the Twins went from 59 to 85 wins. Why can’t it be us next year? Now, of course that means we need to add Machado or Harper, another solid bat, and probably one starter or reliever. Plus adding Eloy, and expected improvement from Moncada and Rodon. It’s not farfetched to think this team could be an 85 win team, if not better. I think adding a player of Machado or Harper’s stature, and then a solid veteran bat will do wonders for the offense, and take the pressure off Moncada, Eloy and Timmy. Then adding a guy like Ottavino makes our pen a plus. It seems every team has one young stud step up in their bullpen. I would expect big things from Hamilton next year. Granted, I tend to be optimistic about the Sox’ chances each year, but I expect big things from them this year if they add Machado or Harper.

yolmers gatorade
Member

Flipping through Fangraphs’ 2019 projections, I’d definitely take the over on the Sox. They have Lopez and Tim Anderson regressing towards their career means. I think they stay the same as their 2018 performance or improve. That is about 2 WAR right there. I would expect improvement from Moncada and Giolito too.

Projections rely heavily on past performance, and the whole idea of progress is that you improve from your past performance. I agree that projections are overrated and not well understood by a lot of people.

35Shields
Member

Any nitpicks about conservative projections for the Sox are basically cancelled out by the 2.7 WAR projection for a catching battery that is absolute horseshit when you count framing.

As Cirensica
Member

I wrote an article at SouthSideSox blog about the margin of error in many of these predictions systems in baseball. That was many years ago, and under another moniker. I can’t find it, but if I remember correctly, the margin of error in average is smaller than 10. It’s about 6, and on the long run, it does not matter which methodology you pick (Even Las Vegas), they will end up with similar standard deviation give or take.

35Shields
Member

This Fangraphs article from last year says standard error is 7 wins.

So a 70-win projection Sox ending up at .500 or above has ~7%, which is rough.

As Cirensica
Member

Thanks

Josh Nelson
Editor

So you’re saying there’s a chance!

GoGoSoxFan
Member

Better odds than calling a yo on the crap table!

karkovice squad
Member

Given that Giolito, Lopez, and Rodon have non-trivial injury histories, it makes some sense to spend some money so that Ricky doesn’t have to extend them when they’re fatigued. Having a reliable bullpen can save some wear and tear on their starters. So their interest is probably as much about long-term benefit for the rotation as it is about winning games in ’19.

In that light, swapping Narvaez for Colome was a 2-fold benefit. The unfortunate thing was following that up by adding McCann.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Yeah, I might be more exuberant about fortifying the bullpen had they not gone and gotten another guy who will artificially extend innings on his own.

As Cirensica
Member

So much for the “weak” Central division which some fans has brought up. I have never liked the idea of contending and roster building by “measuring or comparing” how weak the teams on its own division looks like. That’s a feebly approach. GMs need to build good teams, and not a team that looks like it can be comparable to the strongest team on the division.

The Twins quietly are building a decent team. Got rid off Molitor who was a terrible manager, and brought in a young, but with coaching experience, manager in Baldelli who also embraces modern metrics. The Twins are one pitcher and one bounce back from Sano and Buxton away from becoming very relevant while the White Sox are still dreaming and raving about their farm system.

Eduardo Escobar/ Kapler/ Rosario are all competent players that won’t subtract. Berrios is a star, Odorizzi is decent. Kyle Gibson, quietly is a solid starter. Not long ago all-star Jonathan Schoop could bounce back.

jorgefabregas
Member

Escobar re-signed with the Diamondbacks.

As Cirensica
Member

ooops…forgot that

karkovice squad
Member

It’s still weak. Neither Cleveland nor Minnesota would be favorites in another division. There’s just more competition to be the least mediocre.

knoxfire30
Member

High end relievers are abundant just about every off season and trade deadline, it would make little or no sense for the sox to be in on this, so im sure he signs

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Ottavino’s age is the only thing that gives me pause. Otherwise, I like him.

knoxfire30
Member

why now though, you almost automatically waste one year and likely two

in 2020, 2021, 2022, and so on each off season and trade deadline situation will have high end relievers

The sox have a roster crunch, and a lot of bullpen arms on the way that I would much rather give the innings too

They need to allocate all resources toward high end bats

yolmers gatorade
Member

I rather have a good bullpen and make the prospects earn the time. Colome, Fry, and Octavino are projectably good with Minya probably good and Jones good if healthy. That’s a start of a pretty good pen. The last two or three spots can go to the younger options.

A good bullpen shortens the games for the starters. That is good for Giolito and Lopez. They both got dinged last year because Ricky put them out there an inning too many. A good bullpen prevents that.

knoxfire30
Member

Literally nothing there I agree with at all.

Why have a slightly better pen? Going from 70 to 73…74 wins does nothing

Relievers are highly volatile, why waste resources in a lost season.

The sox probably have 15 guys that are ready or knocking on the door of being ready to fill out an 8 man pen. The time to get them innings is now, the 40 man is already packed and becoming problematic in being able to protect enough players.

I want Lopez and Giolito fighting thru a rocky 5th or 6th inning of work. Ricky should be running those guys out there to learn how to go deep into games and work 200 inning seasons.

yolmers gatorade
Member

Are there really 15 guys knocking down the door? I did not see anyone from the September cups of coffee that really played well enough to have a guaranteed spot (Frare, Hamilton, Burr, Vieira, Ruiz). Octavino seem pretty projectable to me . I am fine with 2 spots open for competition for the guys from last year above after Bummer gets the second lefty spot.

I don’t think many pitchers are going to reach 200 innings any more, and I would rather have someone out of the pen in the 5th, 6th, 7th then overextending a starter.

Josh Nelson
Editor

Was Linebrinkian in the Sox Machine lexicon? If not, I think we should add it.

yolmers gatorade
Member

I think Ottavino would need a 3 year deal, so I guess i is a Linebrinkian commitment.

roke1960
Member

Linebrink got 4 years from the Sox. Unfortunately, the Sox did not get 4 years from Linebrink.

karkovice squad
Member

13 pitchers reached 200 IP last year. 23 topped 190. 32 topped 180.

Your IP metric doesn’t line up with current usage and ignores the injuries already on the rotation’s rap sheet.

But a good bullpen also doesn’t mean yanking them in the 5th or 6th. It does mean not unnecessarily forcing them through the 7th or 8th.

roke1960
Member

It’s a different game now. Only the real workhorses get to 200 innings anymore, as referenced by Karkovice Squad above. Having several quality relievers is the norm for almost all of the contenders. Adding Ottavino or Herrera or maybe even Britton will do wonders for the pen, and allow the starters to work 5-6 innings instead of trying to get them through 7 or 8 innings. That is especially important with a young starting staff like we have.

As Cirensica
Member

Speaking of pitchers, the Bluejays signing Shoemaker for 3.5 M could be huge if Shoemaker figures out how to stay healthy. Tremendous upside in that signing. 3.5M is pocket money for Major League baseball teams.

Soxfan2
Member

Twins could be sneaky this year. The additions of Cruz and Cron add about a 4 win upgrade from the Mauer/Morrison combo last year. I can easily see Berrios taking the next step and solidifying himself as a #1 starter with Gibson and Odorizzi being solid options behind him. If im the Twins I try my hardest to sign Keuchel to really solidfy the rotation and add some solid relievers. 

dongutteridge
Member
dwjm3
Member

Is Dan Clark considered credible? I have no idea who that is 

jose robcada
Member

idk, ive never heard of him and one would think if he was credible there would be like minimum of 10 posts of it on bleacher report by now and theres nothing

Right Size Wrong Shape
Member

He’s often wrong.

Josh Nelson
Editor

…why did MSN run this story?

ImmortalTimeTravelMan
Member

Never heard of this guy before, has he ever broken anything else?

karkovice squad
Member

wetbutt23 and KatyPerrysBootyHole hadn’t broken any news either until they scooped Quintana to the Cubs.

MrTopaz
Member

I’m gonna keep it positive and say this and the “White Sox interested in Encarnacion and Martinez” rumor from tonight constitute dueling rumors. Machado’s camp releases the Yankees rumor to try and drive up the price, the Sox release their own rumor to send a message that they’re willing to walk away.

Or Machado just loves the Yankees that much, and the Sox didn’t offer him the cash to change his mind, but like I said, I’m trying to stay positive.

dwjm3
Member

If Machado’s camp was trying to drive up the price wouldn’t they talk to a baseball writer we have heard of?

Smclean09
Member

They wouldnt post garbage

MrTopaz
Member

Hey, I’m just trying to keep the dream alive.

ParisSox
Member

Nothing on Mlb Trade Rumors so color me doubtful 

lil jimmy
Member

This morning on the SCR, Levine said Yoan Moncada will move to 3rd this spring. Yolmer to 2nd. Madrigal will supplant him by year end or early next year. He did not say it as his opinion, but as the plan.

ndsoxfan
Member

If you sign him and he pitches the way he has been he could bring a haul this year or next at the deadline 

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