The Chicago White Sox added four players to their 40-man roster on Tuesday, upping their total to 38 players protected in advance of next month’s Rule 5 draft.
Chicago also attempted to designate lefthander Ian Clarkin off of the 40-man roster, but lost him as the crosstown Cubs.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE: Tuesday, November 20, 2018
WHITE SOX ANNOUNCE FOUR ROSTER MOVES
CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox have purchased the contracts of right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease and left-hander Kodi Medeiros from Class AA Birmingham and right-hander Jordan Stephens and catcher Seby Zavala from Class AAA Charlotte.
Cease, 22, was named MLB Pipeline’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018 after going 12-2 with a 2.40 ERA (33 ER/124.0 IP) and 160 strikeouts over 23 combined starts between Class A Winston-Salem and Birmingham. He went 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA (5 ER/47.2 IP) and 71 strikeouts over his final nine starts of the season with the Barons.
Cease, the No. 25 Prospect in baseball and No. 3 in the White Sox organization per MLB Pipeline, was named to the Carolina League All-Star Team with Winston-Salem and to the All-Star Futures Game with Birmingham. He was acquired by the Sox from the Cubs with infielder Bryant Flete, outfielder Eloy Jiménez and first baseman Matt Rose on July 13, 2017 in exchange for left-hander José Quintana.
Medeiros, 22, went 7-7 with a 3.60 ERA (55 ER/137.2 IP) and 141 strikeouts over 27 games (22 starts) in 2018 between Class AA Biloxi in the Milwaukee organization and Birmingham. He was acquired from the Brewers with right-hander Wilber Pérez on July 26 in exchange for right-hander Joakim Soria. Medeiros is rated by MLB Pipeline as the No. 19 Prospect in the Sox organization.
Stephens, 26, combined to go 8-10 with a 4.23 ERA (69 ER/146.2 IP) and 139 strikeouts over 28 combined starts between Birmingham and Charlotte last season. He originally was selected by the White Sox in the 15th round of the 2015 First-Year Player draft out of Rice University.
Zavala, 25, batted .258 (98-380) with 22 doubles, 13 home runs, 51 RBI and 50 runs scored over 104 games between Birmingham and Charlotte in 2018. He combined to throw out 32.7 percent (18-55) of attempted baserunners and was named to the Southern League midseason All-Star Team with the Barons. Zavala was selected by the Sox in the 12th round of the 2015 draft out of San Diego State.
Following the moves, the White Sox 40-man roster increases to 38.
With many moves still to be made this offseason, it’s a bit of fools’ gold to read too deeply into these four moves. But hey, it’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, let’s play!
Zavala is an easy call. While the White Sox have two catchers currently rostered at the major league level in Welington Castillo and Omar Narváez, without any backup plan as yet, Zavala is a crucial piece to hold onto. Whether it’s injury, another Welly whoopsie with the supplements, or a trade, Chicago is wafer-thin behind the plate.
After Dustin Garneau was snapped up by the Angels in an apparent plot by Anaheim to acquire every White Sox catcher available, the need for some form of veteran receiver (as a Garneauian AAAA-guy who can shuttle to the majors in an emergency, or someone who can push Castillo/Narváez off of the big-league roster) is still very apparent.
Cease was another no-brainer. He’s on the fast track to the majors, due for a shot at the rotation no later than 2020, and perhaps as early as after 2019’s All-Star break, about the time Michael Kopech was promoted.
Medeiros and Stephens are more intriguing cases.
Stephens getting the call to the 40-man would indicate that, barring any significant trade or signing for the rotation this offseason, he is the front-runner for the No. 5 slot. Competition there at the moment consists of Manny Bañuelos (with a great chance to break camp with Chicago, but perhaps seen as more desirable out of the pen), Dylan Covey (bandied about as a White Sox “opener” and perhaps better suited out of the pen, as well) and Spencer Adams.
Stephens getting the nod over Adams for the 40-man would indicate that the front office sees Stephens as a the better bet for a significant role on the 2019 White Sox than the likes of Adams or Jordan Guerrero.
Medeiros is an even curiouser move, but indicates that the southpaw is highly coveted around the league. His numbers haven’t yet shown 40-man worthiness, with a wild streak and an unknown future in terms of a starting vs. relieving role, but the White Sox have to protect their assets. It’s nonetheless interesting that, for purposes of today’s 40-man moves, Medeiros has been fast-tracked to a Cease level of importance to the team.
Clarkin came over to the White Sox from the New York Yankees, as part of the trade that brought Blake Rutherford to Chicago and sent Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson eastward. He had a strong 11 innings in Winston-Salem after the deal in 2017, but struggled to a 4.98 ERA in 10 starts (18 games) in Birmingham in 2018 before injuries claimed the rest of his summer.
Clarkin was added to the White Sox’s 40-man roster after the 2017 season. He was voted Chicago’s 14th-best prospect and the 18th Most Essential White Sox player by SSS this spring.
There is still room for two more players to be added to the 40-man tonight, so perhaps the delay in filling final spots is tied into a pending trade or signing. Of course, as our own wsm# pointed out just two days ago, leaving the 40-man short of 40 builds in better flexibility for the club this offseason.
And, by the way, the four added today were wsm#’s top four predictions, so, respect due. If the White Sox do end up adding Adams and Zach Thompson to the 40-man tonight, he’ll have run the table. Well done!
And, in a minor move that doesn’t really fit anywhere else, the Atlanta Braves signed surprisingly productive outfielder Ryan LaMarre to a minor-league deal on Tuesday, depleting Chicago’s potential upper-level depth that much more.