The Chicago White Sox added a potential outfield depth piece to a minor-league deal on Thursday.
The White Sox signed outfielder Wynton Bernard to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Charlotte. The move appears to be an attempt to restock some of the organization’s outfield depth that was lost after the front office cut Tyler Naquin, Trace Thompson, Clint Frazier and Adam Hasley in recent months.
Bernard will likely receive an invite to the White Sox big league camp during Spring Training. The 33-year-old has played just 12 games in the MLB all of which came during the 2022 season with the Colorado Rockies. He hit .286/.286/.310 in 42 plate appearances with 12 hits, nine runs scored, three RBIs, and three stolen bases in four attempts. He was outrighted at the end of the season and hasn’t returned to the big leagues since.
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The Padres drafted Bernard in the 35th round of the 2012 amateur draft out of Niagara University. He has spent 11 seasons in the minor leagues and owns a career slash line of .291/.354/.427 with over a thousand hits (1009), 65 home runs and 379 RBIs. Bernard began the 2023 season in the Blue Jays farm system before getting released in June. He was picked up by the Rockies where he finished the season with an overall slash line of .302/.375/.443.
Bernard is not much of a home run hitter but what he lacks in power he makes up for in plate discipline. In seven seasons in Triple-A Bernard has a walk rate near 10% (9.8%) and a strikeout rate under 20% (18%). During that stretch, he also posted a respectable .781 OPS.
Bernard has also proven to be a threat on the base paths which seems to be what the White Sox are looking for as all signs point to a small-ball mentality given recent comments from newly acquired hitting coach Marcus Thames. Bernard swiped 41 bags in 48 attempts.
On the defensive end, he can play all three outfield positions. Last season he played 84 games in center field, 20 games in right field and 15 games in left. As previously mentioned the White Sox are searching for outfield depth.
Currently, the team’s MLB outfielders consist of Andrew Benintendi and Luis Robert Jr. with Gavin Sheets and Oscar Colas in position to compete for the starting spot in right field unless another addition is made. Getz figures to make another move before the start of the season to address right field but in the meantime, Bernard is a nice on-roster depth piece who could compete for the fourth outfielder job.