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Ruthless efficiency: White Sox non-tender Engel, Mendick, Payton

If only this meant the replacements would be better

Seattle Mariners v Chicago White Sox
Adam Engel: “The White Sox have no outfielders and they cut us loose. Danny Mendick: Who’s gonna want us?” Engel: “Don’t worry, kid, anywhere is better.”
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

In lieu of a full-on, immediate feature outlining the non-tender of Adam Engel, Danny Mendick and Mark Payton on Friday night, here’s a glimpse at our staff discussion of the decision:

No one took Brett up on that non-tender story, so here I am, reminding you that it comes as little surprise that any of these players are cut out of the arbitration process.

Particularly Mendick, who is rehabbing a torn ACL suffered last summer, as he was truly contributing to a foundering ball club struggling to push past .500. His OPS stood at .786 with multi-position flexibility when he crashed into Adam Haseley (who, ahem, remains in the org) chasing a pop-up last June 22.

Engel simply cannot stay healthy or contribute consistently in his money areas (speed and defense). This past summer was a very disappointing one, to a .579 OPS.

Payton is a career minor-leaguer who lit up Charlotte in 2022, finishing high on many Knights all-time lists, including a finish among their Top 10 ever in single-season RBIs.

Here are the details the White Sox released at the time contract tenders were due on Friday (6 p.m. CT):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, November 18, 2022


CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox have declined to tender 2023 contracts to outfielders Adam Engel and Mark Payton and infielder Danny Mendick.

“We appreciate all that Adam and Danny did for our organization in 2022 and during prior seasons. As we have said at other times, a lot of consideration and analysis goes into the club deciding to forego the arbitration process and instead engage with players and their representatives as free agents,” said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. “Our plan is to stay in contact with all three players and evaluate their ongoing fit with our club as we move forward through this offseason.”

Engel, 30, batted .224/.269/.310 with two home runs, 17 RBIs, 32 runs and 12 stolen bases last season, his sixth with the White Sox.

Mendick, 29, hit .289/.343/.443 with three homers, 15 RBIs and 22 runs over 31 games in 2022 before suffering a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee on June 22 vs. Toronto.

Payton, 30, went 3-for-21 (.143) with one RBI in eight games over two stints with the Sox last September.

All remaining unsigned players on the White Sox 40-man roster have been tendered contracts for the 2023 season.

Following the moves, the White Sox 40-man roster decreases to 35.

Hahn knows all three players pretty well, particularly Engel and Mendick, so naturally he will be looking to bring them back on minor league deals, dodging the arbitration process and keeping spots on the 40-man roster flexible. With his IF-OF dimensions, expect the White Sox to prioritize bringing back Mendick, assuming the offseason plays to form (missing on key bats, adding three or four bullpen arms, inking a junk-arm starter).

Payton was said to have re-signed with the White Sox right after the end of the 2022 season, which would indicate the White Sox value him as a depth piece and that Payton likes the fit in Charlotte/Chicago. However, given his numbers last year, Payton scoring a spring training invite somewhere is not out of the question.

Given Engel’s misfortunes, the only way he’ll be back with the White Sox is as Charlotte’s starting center fielder in 2023 — and it’s hard to imagine he’ll be flooded with better offers than that.