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Brad Penny keeps turning up

Brad Penny started on Saturday. Are the White Sox serious about keeping him this season?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike most of the other offseason deals, there probably weren't a lot of dinners with Rick Hahn, Kenny Williams, and Jerry Reinsdorf to talk about whether the White Sox would sign Brad Penny.  He might, though, turn into one of the tougher decisions of spring training.

With the usual disclaimers about spring stats don't count and small sample sizes, there are a few stats that are important for guys wanting to make the team.  Using a guy a lot typically says something in spring training.  Right now, the White Sox leader in innings pitched is Brad Penny.  He's thrown 7⅔ innings so far this spring.  With a second lefty spot in the bullpen available last spring, Eric Surkamp and Charlie Leesman threw fewer innings last spring.  Also, three pitchers threw more innings last spring without making the opening day roster.  Chris Beck and Andre Rienzo both threw eight innings each last spring while Dylan Axelrod threw eleven.  He'll easily pass Beck and Rienzo with his next appearance, and would likely pass Alexrod with a second.

Unlike most of the younger guys on the roster, there is time to make a decision on Brad Penny, but the decisions have more financial impacts.  Like Carlos Rodon, service time is a factor in the decisions.  By five days before opening day, the Sox have to either add Penny to the major league roster, cut him, or give him a $100,000 bonus for staying on the minor league roster.

The question now is whether Penny, who has a career FIP of 4.12 and xFIP- of 100, would do OK in the bullpen and if it's worth losing someone like Javy Guerra to do it.  For me, the chances he stays aren't any worse than a coin flip.