Friday, April 19, 2024

White Sox Sign Pair Of Veteran Relievers

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Chris Getz continues to add pitching depth to his ballclub. Per the White Sox official account, the team has signed veteran right-handed relievers Corey Knebel and Dominic Leone to minor league deals, and both will report to spring training as non-roster invitees.

Dominic Leone

A veteran of ten major league seasons, Leone has suited up for eight teams and played for three teams alone in 2023. He has never stuck in one place for too long, but the 32-year-old has carved out a solid career. Relying primarily on a four-seam fastball, cutter, and slider trio, Leone has a 3.82 career ERA in 404 MLB appearances and has struck out over a batter an inning over his career. He wasn’t great in 2023, putting up a 4.67 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP in 51 appearances with the Mets, Angels, and Mariners. However, Leone was still in the 94th percentile in whiff percentage and the 85th percentile chase percentage this past season, so he can still consistently generate whiffs and miss bats. Leone has also made at least 51 appearances in each of the last three seasons, so he is a durable pitcher who takes the ball when called upon. His durability could be necessary for a White Sox bullpen that will likely be young and inexperienced.

Corey Knebel

The more notable of the two signings, Corey Knebel made his MLB debut in 2014 and was an All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017. Over 312 MLB appearances, Knebel has a 3.26 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, and an elite 11.9 K/9. The 32-year-old right-hander has always produced elite strikeout and whiff rates when healthy with his four-seam fastball and knuckle curve combination. He also has closer experience, tallying 72 MLB saves throughout his career. Unfortunately for him, he has dealt with the injury bug a lot in recent seasons. He had Tommy John surgery in 2019 and also missed a good chunk of the 2021 season because of a right lat strain. He then dealt with a torn shoulder capsule towards the end of the 2022 season and did not pitch in the majors in 2023. However, he produced a 3.07 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 9.1 K/9 with the Dodgers and Phillies over the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Despite his injury issues, he still has a relatively recent track record of being an effective reliever.

The Battle Begins

Leone and Knebel are not guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster because of their non-roster invitee status. However, considering the state of the White Sox bullpen, both should have a chance to make the team assuming they stay healthy and pitch well in the spring. Leone and Knebel will compete for a bullpen spot alongside fellow non-roster invite Jesse Chavez and minor league signings Joe Barlow, Jake Cousins, and Justin Anderson. Chris Getz has made low-risk pitching depth signings a point of emphasis this offseason, and the battles for bullpen spots this spring should be fierce. Whoever pitches the best in spring training will likely earn a place in the bullpen on the Opening Day roster.

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