Saturday, June 15, 2024

White Sox Add Familiar Face And Veteran Reliever To Minor League Deals

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The White Sox have given infielder Danny Mendick and right-hander Jesse Chavez a non-roster invite to big league Spring Training. According to MLB.com’s transaction logs, Mendick signed a minor league deal with the White Sox on February 5th. Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday that Chavez had also inked a minor league deal and was then added to the non-roster invite list.

The 40-year-old Chavez was contemplating retirement this offseason after wrapping up his 16th MLB season. During that stretch, he has played for nine different teams. Chavez owns a career 4.30 ERA and 6.1 WAR in 1070.2 innings of work. 

He is fresh off an effective 2023 campaign that saw him post a 1.56 ERA in 36 appearances (34.2 innings) with the Atlanta Braves. Chavez’s velocity has dropped off in recent years, but he still produced a 27.1% strikeout rate last season, which matched his best mark in the last nine years.

While his numbers looked good on paper there were some warning signs. Opponents hit .273 off of him on balls in play and he ranked in the bottom 11th percentile in fastball velocity. The 16-year veteran did produce a respectable 52.2 ground ball rate, which was slightly above the league average. He also showed good command only walking 8.3% of the batters he faced. 

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Chavez will have an excellent opportunity to crack a spot in a White Sox bullpen that already lost Gregory Santos, Kendall Graveman, Reynaldo Lopez, Aaron Bummer, Keynan Middleton, Joe Kelly, and Liam Hendriks within the last eight months. As things currently stand Tim Hill is in line to be the closer. Adding a veteran like Chavez, would not be the worst idea for a team looking to rebuild its culture. The former 39th-round pick won a World Series ring with the Atlanta Braves in 2021. 

Danny Mendick Returns

Danny Mendick returns to the White Sox organization after a brief one-year stint with the New York Mets. His Mets tenure was a bit of a disaster as he bounced between the MLB and Triple-A. In 65 MLB at-bats last season he produced a -1.1 WAR and hit a paltry .185/.232/.277. However, he faired much better in Triple-A Syracuse, posting a .282/.369/.424 slash line with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs. 

The 30-year-old was drafted by the White Sox and made his MLB debut in 2019. In three years in Chicago, he slashed just .239/.298/.342. The White Sox non-tendered Mendick during the 2022 offseason. Mendick was one of the White Sox’s bright spots in 2022 before a torn ACL cut his season short. He was getting his first taste as an everyday starter before he collided with Adam Haseley down the left-field line on June 22nd. 

Prior to getting injured Mendick served as a Swiss army knife on defense. He saw action at left field, shortstop, second, and third base for Tony La Russa’s squad. When Tim Anderson went down, Mendick filled in admirably at shortstop. He slashed .289/.343/.443 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 106 plate appearances.  

Mendick will have his work cut out for him to earn a roster spot. Currently, Paul DeJong is slated to be the starting shortstop, while Nicky Lopez has the inside track to be the everyday second baseman. Yoan Moncada also has third base locked down meaning Mendick’s best shot to make the team will likely come in the form of a utility role. The White Sox recently DFA’d Romy Gonzalez, who served as the White Sox primary utility man last season before injuring his shoulder.

The White Sox bench depth is thin with Jose Rodriguez, Lenyn Sosa, and Braden Shewmake as the current backup infielders on the 40-man roster. Mendick does still have options remaining as well as three years of service time, which means the White Sox could keep him around in 2025 if he plays well enough.

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