Adrian Nieto's agent says the White Sox are going to try to keep his client in the fold the hard way.
OK, well, technically any attempt to keep Adrian Nieto is going to be difficult. But this is the one that's going to play out in public.
Nieto's representative, Joshua Kusnick, broke the news with a couple of tweets:
Adrian nieto has made the opening day roster.— Joshua Kusnick (@JoshuaKusnick) March 24, 2014
It stands to reason that the agent would know at about this time, considering the Sox would have to put Nieto through waivers, and then offer him back to the Washington Nationals, if they planned otherwise. And that Twitter account appears to be the real deal, since it's tied to Kusnick's articles about agent life at Baseball Prospectus, so it's a story no matter what happens at this point.
Talking about the possibilities with Nieto over the weekend, Rick Hahn said that the jump from the Carolina League to the big leagues is a steep one, but it may be one the White Sox have to take:
"We judge them based upon what they show us with our own eyes and their performance and skills in Chicago or Spring Training," Hahn said. "To take a kid out of the Carolina League and put him in the big leagues as a backup catcher hasn't happened a lot. I think the last one was Jesus Flores, I believe, coming out of A ball. But that doesn't mean that he can't do it." [...]
"I would suspect [the Nationals] would likely be interested in taking him back so we haven't quite gotten to that point yet," Hahn said. "If we do, perhaps we can try to work something out with them. My guess is it won't be the easiest trade we ever made."
Given Hahn's read of Washington's potential asking price, there's probably no harm in giving Nieto a shot. He's treading water at the plate (.250/.318/.350) while garnering encouraging reviews from the White Sox players and staff who have worked with him, and that's about all that can be expected of him at this time. It also doesn't hurt that Nieto forged a fast friendship with fellow Cuban Jose Abreu. So there are some reasons to be optimistic despite the daunting odds, and if it fails to pan out, well, Hector Gimenez and Josh Phegley aren't going anywhere.