As expected, the Chicago White Sox made a series of moves to prepare their 40-man roster before the 7pm Rule 5 protection deadline. But which moves were made, were not quite all the expected ones.
Word leaked out early on some (we tweeted out Zavala and heard about Stephens early as well), but the team made the main wave official around 2pm. The following four minor leaguers were added to the roster:
Cease was seen as a 100% lock. Zavala and Medeiros were 99%'ers. There was zero chance the Sox would leave one of the best pitching prospects in the game exposed. Zavala will go into the spring as the team's 3rd catcher or possibly more, is likely to see the majors in 2019, and is the highest-ranked backstop prospect in the system who is likely to stick at the position. Medeiros was just acquired in the Soria trade in July and is the 22nd ranked prospect in the system.
Jordan Stephens was in the next tier of players - the tough decisions to make. Along with Spencer Adams, Zach Thompson and Danny Mendick, Stephens was part of a foursome that was destined to be broken up. The right-hander's readiness for the majors - which also increased his likelihood of being taken in the Rule 5 Draft - put him at the top of the heap. Like the others added, Stephens has a high probability of seeing the majors next season.
The team also made one more roster-altering move, or perhaps more accurately a move was thrust upon them. Shortly after the other announcements, Mark Gonzales of the Tribune tweeted that the cross-town rival Cubs had picked up LHP Ian Clarkin off waivers. Clarkin was picked up in the Tommy Kahnle trade during the 2017 season. Since then (much like before then) his pro career has been riddled with injuries, and more recently a move to the bullpen that may or may not be permanent. The team placing him on waivers, as well as the apparent inability to get something back in trade, are not huge surprises.
So who does that leave exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in early December? Here's a quick look at the top risks for selection, broken into two groups:
- RHP Spencer Adams
- RHP Zach Thompson
- INF Danny Mendick
These are the three names who would attract the most attention from other clubs. Adams was probably the toughest decision for the Sox. The 2nd rounder has had his ups and downs in the system, but a right-hander with just 15 AAA games and a 4.2 K/9 rate at that level probably was seen as lower risk of being claimed, especially given his limited ceiling. Thompson had a much more successful 2018 and as a reliever would be easier to stash, but he's also got just 40 innings at AA. Mendick carries some intrigue as a utility future and had an often-underappreciated campaign this year, but he hasn't been above AA either.
- RHP Danny Dopico
- INF Amado Nunez
- LHP Jordan Guerrero
- SS Yeyson Yrizarri
- 3B Ti'Quan Forbes
- RHP Luis Martinez
- SS/2B Eddy Alvarez
There's an off chance a team could see an opportunity for a player like Guerrero or Alvarez, who are near MLB-ready and might fit a need, but neither have the kind of ceiling that will attract talent-hoarding clubs. The other players are of the raw variety, none seeing action above A-ball (in Nunez' case not even above rookie leagues) but all with some tantalizing ceiling room. It just seems highly unlikely a team would risk bumping them all the way to the majors and holding them there all year for that possible return.
NOTE: There is a slim chance the team could add one more player or make another move before the 7pm deadline today. If that happens, we will update this article. As of this writing, the roster stands at 38.
We will have a much deeper preview of the Rule 5 as we go into December (the draft is on the 13th), looking at who the South Siders could pick up and/or lose in the draft.
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