Friday, April 19, 2024

White Sox Discussing Mike Clevinger Reunion

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The White Sox have been “internally discussing” the possibility of bringing back starting pitcher Mike Clevinger, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Given the trade of Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech’s move to the bullpen per Chris Getz, the White Sox could use another veteran starting pitcher to eat innings and protect the younger pitchers on the staff. Michael Lorenzen’s name came up the other day as a possible free agent signing, and now Clevinger’s has as well.

Solid 2023 Season

Clevinger is a familiar face to Sox fans, as he was on the south side last season. The 33-year-old right-hander had a very good season in 2023, pitching to a 3.77 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 4.28 FIP in 131.1 innings over 24 starts. He also compiled 3.3 bWAR and 2.2 fWAR. There is an argument that he was the best starting pitcher on the team last year, as he was better than Dylan Cease in several stat categories. Many White Sox fans were unhappy about Clevinger’s presence on the roster last season, but he performed on the mound. There is no disputing that.

Clevinger’s Baggage

However, the White Sox did not trade Clevinger at the deadline last year when they traded several other players, including starting pitchers Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn. The White Sox later placed him on waivers, but nobody claimed him. The lack of interest in him felt odd given that Clevinger had a good season and contending teams always need more starting pitching. But Clevinger’s situation involves more than just his production on the mound.

The lack of interest in Clevinger at that point was likely due to his contract. He had a $4 million buyout for 2024, and it was clear that no team wanted to take that money on for only a couple of months of his services at the end of the 2023 season. But Clevinger also had some off-the-field baggage that potential suitors knew about. That baggage could explain why he was unclaimed then and remains unsigned now. While there are still some unsigned free agents, most players have found a new home by this point. Clevinger has not, and there might be a reason for that.

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Money To Spend

Earlier this offseason, Clevinger declined his end of a $12 million mutual option for 2024 and became a free agent. He passed up a guaranteed $12 million when he declined his mutual option, so it is fair to assume he is looking for a contract somewhere in that range. He will likely not sign for super cheap because of his productive season last year. The White Sox got Dylan Cease and his $8 million salary off the books following last night’s trade, so they should have enough wiggle room financially to sign another starting pitcher, whether that is Lorenzen, Clevinger, or someone else. 

Final Word

The White Sox starting rotation is full of question marks at the moment. No one currently projected to be in the rotation is even close to a sure thing. Signing Clevinger would help alleviate some of those concerns and bring stability to a rotation in flux.

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