The Chicago White Sox have traded for reliever Franklin German from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for right-hander Theo Denlinger. German is the former Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year. According to the team, right-hander Jason Bilous was designated for assignment to make room for German on the 40-man roster.
German has only pitched in five games at the MLB level and has an 18.00 ERA during that stretch. The 25-year-old surrendered eight runs over four innings of work—all five of those appearances came last season. The Red Sox designated him for assignment on January 31st, giving them a week to trade him or pass him through waivers.
The White Sox decided to pounce, sending Denlinger, a Bradley University alumni with a career 4.15 ERA in the minor leagues, to Boston. It is a small price to pay for someone with German’s potential. While he got lit up in his limited major-league action, he does have a blazing fastball that averages 98 mph. He also has just a few days of MLB service time, making him affordable to retain for an extended period. This is something that was especially intriguing to the White Sox.
The New York Yankees initially drafted German in the fourth round of the 2018 June Amateur Draft out of the University of North Florida. He began his professional career primarily as a starter.
In his first professional season in Rookie Ball and Low-A, he posted a .208 ERA. He struggled a bit the following season in High-A, tossing a 4.11 ERA in 81 innings. However, those numbers were inflated by a rough stint in Rookie Ball. He had a 3.79 ERA in 76 innings in High-A Tampa, going 4-4 in 16 starts.
The Yankees dealt him to the Red Sox organization in the Adam Ottavino trade in 2021. The Red Sox system quickly converted him into a relief pitcher in 2022, which immediately paid dividends. German produced a 2.72 ERA in 49 2/3 innings in Double-A and Triple-A. He struck out 64 hitters averaging 11.6 per nine innings. There are some concerns about his command. He had a 9.6% walk rate in 2022, but his 32.5% strikeout rate overshadowed it.
The 6’2 righty also has a slider and changeup in his arsenal. His slider comes in at 87 mph with 38.2 inches of drop and 2.8 inches of break. Meanwhile, his changeup sits at 85 mph. It averages 31.7 inches of drop and 6.5 inches of break. Both pitchers have less movement than the MLB average. If he can fine-tune one of his secondary pitches to compliment his fastball, he could be a lethal weapon late in games.
German’s 2.58 ERA and 0.94 WHIP through 38.1 frames in Triple-A helped him earn Red Sox minor league pitcher of the year honors. He figures to start the season in Triple-A, but given Liam Hendriks status, don’t be surprised to see him throwing some innings out of the White Sox bullpen.
It is not an exciting pickup by any means. It is also easy to mock Rick Hahn for talking about how the team would make the majority of their moves via trade early in the offseason, and we are still waiting for something that moves the needle. However, this was a good move. Neither Denlinger nor Bilous project to be productive major leaguers. German has a high ceiling with the tools to be a factor out of the bullpen next season. It was a low-risk move with the potential of a high reward.
Great another pitcher with control issues.