Odds are, this $3 million won’t pay off like Carlos Rodón did.
But hey, we’ve reached the Dollar General phase of free agent adds for the White Sox, as Chicago dropped erstwhile starter Vince Velasquez into their basket for the 2022 season.
Like Rodón, 2021’s presumed but not assured fifth starter, Velasquez is coming off of a very poor season. He made 21 starts with Philadelphia and San Diego, turning in a 6.30 ERA/5.88 FIP that were by some measure the worst figures of his career. With the Phillies, he was merely a replacement player (0.0 WAR on the dot), but with the Padres in a very shallow cup of coffee he recorded a subterranean -0.5 WAR.
Also like Rodón, Velasquez has high-pick pedigree, although the newly-acquired righthander was a mere second-rounder in 2010, rather than a No. 3 overall pick. But there is little cause for believing that Velasquez is a suitable reclamation project to be instantly injected into a (likely) six-man rotation to begin 2022. He’s been bad (4.95 ERA/4.56 FIP) his entire career, mostly starting. This is an Ervin Santana signing.
No, worse, because Santana was signed on a minor league deal, and Velasquez is taking up spot No. 39 on the 40-man roster. As much as you might think, hey, it’s just a $3 million deal, easy to cut if things don’t work out (see, Santana, Ervin), well, that’s just not how the White Sox operate. And if not Velasquez, who? Reynaldo López is literally on his last legs with the franchise, out of options. Jimmy Lambert? A rushed Jonathan Stiever? An untried Kade McClure? Where have you gone, Konnor Pilkington?
The White Sox have now spent, excepting Kendall Graveman signed B.L. (Before Lockout), some $17 million for three players (Joe Kelly, Josh Harrison, Velasquez) who are spare parts at best in any championship run. That $17 million would have looked good in right field, or at second base, or in the rotation (cough cough cough cough cough Carlos), yeah?
Instead, we will be fed more “seat at the table” leftovers, citing this shuffling-papers and clearing-throat “busyness” as placation for a fanbase that sees a contention window not getting any wider.
There are still up to 200 innings to be doled out this season to starters not named Dylan, Lucas, Michael, Lance or Dallas. Right now, Velasquez, López, Lambert, Garrett Crochet, Stiever and whoever else is on the sales racks outside of Dollar General will be taking those innings. World Series lock, this rotation is not.
Typically, I’d add the White Sox release to this story, but pfft, not in the mood to be party to the club stringing fans along like this.
Prove me dour, White Sox.