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White Sox sign Felipe Paulino to one-year, $1.75 million deal

Former Royals starter missed all of 2013 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and a shoulder procedure

Jamie Squire

While speculation ran wild about Rick Hahn's willingness to think about considering the possibility of maybe trading Chris Sale on the first day of the winter meetings, the White Sox made a small move to shore up their starting pitching depth, signing Felipe Paulino to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

Paulino most recently pitched for Kansas City, where the 6-foot-3-inch, 270-pound righty harnessed a (95-mph) fastball-slider approach into a workable starting pitcher repertoire. His peripherally promising 2011 hinted at a 2012 breakout that almost happened.

2011 4 6 4.11 21 20 124.2 123 62 57 10 48 119 8 1.372
2012 3 1 1.67 7 7 37.2 31 8 7 3 15 39 0 1.221
KCR (2 yrs) 7 7 3.55 28 27 162.1 154 70 64 13 63 158 8 1.337

He suffered an elbow strain in spring training and started the year on the DL. When he came back in May, he was the Royals' best pitcher ... for seven whole starts. Then the elbow pain returned, and it was discovered that he tore his UCL. He underwent Tommy John surgery on July 3.

Paulino was the second Royals starter to fall victim to the procedure in 2012. Danny Duffy preceded him, and if their rehabs went as scheduled, Dayton Moore could have had a couple of aces up his sleeve after the trade deadline. Duffy returned for five starts in August and September, but Paulino didn't throw a big-league pitch in 2013. It wasn't because of elbow complications, but because he had shoulder and back problems while rehabbing, and then the shoulder required surgery.

The good(ish) news? When they operated on his shoulder, it wasn't a typical issue:

"They first tried to decompress the nerve, and when they went inside, they found a big cyst in the back of my shoulder that was pinching my nerve. That's what was causing my weakness and soreness in my shoulder," Paulino said.

"He removed that and everything was good. I'm good right now, because he also cleaned out my rotator cuff, my labrum and everything around it. I expect to be back and playing catch again in two weeks."

Of course, it's dicey anytime they touch the rotator cuff and labrum, so there's a possibility that Paulino is underestimating the effect of the procedure. But for a $1.5 million salary in 2014 and a reasonable $4 million option for 2015 ($250,000 buyout), those peripherals he posted in Kansas City make him worth a shot. He's an upgrade over the non-tendered Dylan Axelrod in the sixth-starter spot, and if he's healthy, he makes parting with the other starting depth easier to take.

The addition of Paulino bumps the 40-man roster up to 38, although Ronald Belisario is not yet official.