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Hot Stove is cold as ice for White Sox, sizzling for others

We wait for scraps as Phillies, Guardians and Cubs feast

Division Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One
Rumors of White Sox interest proved about $10 million too light, as the cocky Cubs inked Cody Bellinger for nearly his estimated arb figure.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The biggest news out of Tuesday’s Winter Meetings was the MLB draft lottery. My fantastic teammate at South Side Sox, Allie Wesel, has the full draft coverage for you.

White Sox non-news

Activity was lacking for the Sox today, but we do have several old friend alerts. First, Vince Velasquez and the Pittsburgh Pirates are reportedly in agreement on a one-year, $3.15 million contract. Therefore it seems that VV will not return (try not to cry) to the South Side in 2023. In 27 appearances this season for the Sox, Velasquez had an era of 4.78 with 79 strikeouts in 75 13 innings pitched.

Additionally, the Baltimore Orioles have signed the original White Sox legend, outfielder Nomar Mazara, to a minor league contract. Most Sox fans will remember Mazara, when he was busy not hitting home runs, for making the last out against the Oakland A’s in Game 3 of the 2020 AL Wild Card; current Sox closer Liam Hendriks struck him out on a called third strike. Mazara, once one of MLB’s top prospects, had been acquired by the Sox in December 2019 via a trade with the Texas Rangers and non-tendered him after the 2020 season.

Finally, right-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle and the New York Yankees are in agreement on a two-year, $11.5 million contract. In 13 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2022 he had a 2.84 ERA and one save in 12 23 innings. Kahnle had Tommy John surgery in 2020, and this year was his first time returning to the mound since. Kahnle was with the Sox for the entire 2016 season, and in July 2017 was part of the trade that also sent Todd Frazier and David Robertson to the New York Yankees for Blake Rutherford, Tyler Clippard, Ian Clarkin, and Tito Polo. As has been the default in the Rick Hahn Era, it is safe to say that the Sox did not win that exchange.

Around the league

The Hot Stove has been blazing during the first few days of the Winter Meetings, and things were quite toasty again today. A lot of movement and a significant amount of money was tossed about.

The reigning AL Central champion Cleveland Guardians got better today by signing first baseman Josh Bell. The deal is worth $33 million for two years and includes an opt-out clause after 2023. Bell was traded along with Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals to the Padres at the 2022 trade deadline. Over 156 games, Bell’s slash line last season was .266/.362/.422 with 17 home runs and 71 RBIs. Here’s hoping the Guardians get the San Diego version of Bell, who performed poorly after being traded, owning a .192 BA with only three home runs.

The Philadelphia Phillies are holding nothing back. One day after landing All-Star Trea Turner, they added depth to their rotation with right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker. Walker inked a four-year, $72 million contract with the Phillies. Pitching 157 innings for the New York Mets last season, Walker was solid, with a 3.49 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.

Outfielder Mitch Haniger and the Giants have reportedly agreed to a three-year, $45.3 million deal. Haniger has been hampered with injuries the last several years and has only been completely healthy for two of his six major league seasons. In 2021, Haniger’s last full season, he slashed .253/.318/.485 with 39 home runs and 100 RBIs.

Our crosstown rivals also made their first big offseason acquisition: Cody Bellinger. The Cubs will reportedly sign him for one year at $17.5 million. As the 2019 NL MVP, Bellinger hit .305/.406/.629 with 47 homers and 115 RBIs. However, he has been downright awful since then. In 2022, he hit .210/.265/.389, and in November the Dodgers non-tendered Bellinger rather than pay him through the arbitration process. The Cubs are banking on a return to glory for the former Rookie and the Year and two-time All-Star; $17.5 million is a steep price to pay if things don’t pan out.

Lastly, and despite the Haniger signing, reports have the Giants in on a big offer to Aaron Judge: $360 million for nine years. So far, Judge has yet to accept, and is not in attendance at the meetings. The superstar is the biggest name in the free-agent pool, with several other top players remaining, including Carlos Rodón, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson.

Looking ahead to Wednesday

Masataka Yoshida, a Japanese professional baseball outfielder, is expected to post on Wednesday morning. The 29-year-old currently plays for the Orix Buffaloes in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league. Yoshida owns a batting line of .335/.447/.561. He should garner plenty of interest from MLB teams, who have until Jan. 20, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET to reach a deal with him. Could the Sox be a landing spot for Yoshida? Probably not; they “do not have any money.” (How could I forget? Rick Hahn tells me that each and every time he speaks.)

The Rule 5 draft takes place on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET, and can be watched live on The draft allows teams to select players that have not been protected on a 40-man roster. It has been five years since the White Sox made a Rule 5 selection in the MLB phase of the draft, grabbing Dylan Covey. A few names to watch this year include LHP Erik Miller (Phillies), 1B/3B Malcom Nunez (Pirates), RHP Luis Devers (Cubs), and RHP Adrián Hernández (Blue Jays).