The Chicago White Sox announced an only somewhat-predictable series of moves on Thursday, which after a thrilling seven-game World Series became the traditional post-World Series announcement of free agents day.
But supplanting the roster trims that signify free agency day were two more, unexpected moves.
First, the White Sox shipped catcher Welington Castillo to the Texas Rangers, along with $250,000 in international bonus pool slot money, for Single-A utilityman Jonah McReynolds.
Then, in an attempt to further trim down the 40-man roster, Josh Osich was designated for assignment to Charlotte. The DFA failed, as the Boston Red Sox claimed Osich on waivers.
Players injured for a long term, necessitating placement on the 60-day injured list (Ryan Burr, Jon Jay, Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodón) were reinstated, restoring their places on the 40-man roster.
And finally, José Abreu, Ross Detwiler, Jay, Iván Nova and Héctor Santiago declared free agency and were removed from the 40-man roster.
Castillo had a pockmarked White Sox career, starting strong in 2018 after signing a two-year, $14.5 million deal two years ago. He was suspended for 80 games that May after testing positive for Erythropoietin (EPO). (EPO increases oxygen flow to muscles, commonly used by long-distance athletes like cyclists. The following spring training Castillo claimed, “I did not know what I was taking, so I just got screwed,” so score one for self-awareness and another for denial.)
The catcher, brought in as the club’s starter in the ill-fated, 100-loss 2018 season, was never the same after his suspension, finishing his White Sox career with a .230/.282/.413 slash and 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 121 games. He eked out a career 0.3 bWAR in Chicago.
Castillo had an $8 million team option for 2020, which surely was to be declined in favor of a $500,000 buyout. But a truly odd twist to the trade is that the White Sox essentially bribed Texas with some international monies in order to pay the $500,000 buyout (which the Rangers did immediately, so the deal was never about Castillo, just the international slot money). While many are getting bunchy underwear over this seeming microscopic level of cheapness, eh, it’s chump change for major league owners. So Texas ended up springing for the extra guacamole on their burrito, bully for ’em.
McReynolds was a 2016 community college draftee by Texas and has had an undistinguished pro career, with little offensive potential to speak of, at 23. He’s most notable for his Swiss army knife work in the field, playing at least 20 career professional games at every position but center field, catcher and pitcher.
Osich, a 31-year-old lefty, was claimed in spring training off of waivers from the Baltimore Orioles after spending the first four seasons of his career with the San Francisco Giants. His 2019 campaign — 4-0, 4.66 ERA, 4.96 FIP, 1.138 WHIP and 15 homers in 67 ⅔ innings — was his best by a wide margin, translating to a 0.5 bWAR.
While the news of Abreu’s free agency may rattle some fans, it was reported this season that owner Jerry Reinsdorf “assured” the first baseman that he will be a lifetime White Sox, so his free agency could be mere dog-and-pony show.
The assortment of moves left Chicago’s 40-man roster at 32.