Sox Non-Tender Carroll, Snodgress - What it Means

Today is the deadline for decisions on whether or not to tender contracts to pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible MLB players. The White Sox appear set to give contracts to five – Tyler Flowers, Hector Noesi, Javy Guerra, Nate Jones, and Dayan Viciedo. Four of those are no-brainers, and the fifth is seen as highly likely as well. Nothing exciting to report there.

More interesting are the cases of two players who were not tendered a 2015 contract: pitchers Scott Carroll and Scott Snodgress. The moves opened up a spot on the 40-man roster, which was full and now stands at 39.

Scott Carroll had already been designated for assignment – by non-tendering him, this simply means they didn’t need to find a 40-man roster spot for him. Carroll came into this year a 29-year old minor league journeyman, signed to serve as emergency pitching depth in Charlotte. He leaves it with one of the best feel-good stories on the team. After toiling for seven years in the minors and recovering from Tommy John surgery, Carroll made a very solid major league debut in late April in front of elated family and friends, and managed to hold down the fifth slot in the South Side rotation as well as most pitchers in that role. He also became a quick fan favorite, and turned a quirky tongue-in-cheek YouTube video into a legitimate side business along the way.

But baseball is business, Carroll looks like the 6th or 7th starter for 2015, and the Sox have telegraphed their intention to add more pieces that would need roster slots. That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily gone – it’s possible, even likely, the White Sox will try to sign the now-free agent to a minor league deal. His stats in the bigs this year weren’t spectacular, but there were plenty of 5th starters in baseball this year who did worse.

The real head-scratcher of the day, though, was non-tendering lefty Scott Snodgress. Drafted just three years ago in the 5th round, Snodgress still had three minor league options remaining. The team could have elected to option him off, and/or put him through the waiver wire to see if he’d be claimed. Instead, he was essentially released and is now a free agent. The question is, why go that route?

This 6’6″ Stanford product breezed through both levels of A-ball in his first full season of pro ball, showing a low 90’s fastball with fringe command but a curve and change that both looked solid. His 2013 was another story as his strikeout rate dropped by a third, he was getting hit a lot harder, and command issues dogged him. 2014 started no better, though he did show some improvement when he was moved to a relief role late in the season and he even made a brief (and ugly) appearance in Chicago in the mold of a lefty specialist. He also went to the Arizona Fall League, where he struggled mightily.

Disappointing to be sure, but why give up that early and completely on a tall lefty who has at times shown flashes of playable pitching talent? If they desperately needed the roster room, why not send Andy Wilkins off, since there is little chance he’d be claimed and he’s now behind Adam LaRoche? Let’s look at some potential reasons:

  • It’s possible the White Sox simply didn’t feel he had enough value to keep. While that may not seem logical on the surface, there may be things we don’t know that the team does. It is possible they think they have (or will have) numerous better options both short and long term, even in the minors.
  • Another theory, posited here by Larry from South Side Sox, is that this was a clever method to clear the spot without using the waiver wire at all. Perhaps there was a verbal agreement to immediately re-sign Snodgress to a minor league deal. This runs the risk of him leaving, but if both sides wanted to stay together anyway, this certainly would be one way to do it and still open up a roster slot.
  • A third scenario is, there may be non-baseball or character/make-up issues at play. I want to stress that we have no such information in our possession, so this is not a hint or feed. It is simply to point out that every year, there are times when a player is let go seemingly inexplicably, and we find out later there was some amorphous “other” reason. We hope that isn’t the case here.
  • Finally, and perhaps in combination with one of the above, the White Sox may think the risk of anyone else signing Snodgress is extremely low. So why wait for waivers at all?

Of course what underpins all the above scenarios is the fact that they want the roster spot open. That’s a pretty strong indication that a trade or signing is likely coming soon. Meanwhile, Carroll and Snodgress are both candidates for minor league deals, and they are both probably worth keeping in the system. Stay tuned.

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