3:35 p.m.: MLB Network Jon Morosi (Twitter links) reports that Clevinger has signed a one-year deal worth more than $8 million in guaranteed money.
2:50 p.m.: free agent starter mike clevinger agrees to join the White Sox pending a physical, according to Ken Rosenthal of the athletic.
Clevinger, who underwent Tommy John surgery in November 2020, returned in May after missing the entirety of the 2021 season. He experienced a noticeable drop in velocity, with his fastball averaging 93.5 MPH compared to 95 MPH during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, which likely contributed to a decreased strikeout rate (18.8% in 2022 compared to 27.5% in 2020 and 22.6% in 2019). However, he was able to pitch 114 1/3 regular season innings with a 4.33 ERA, a 7.2% walk rate and a 35.2% ground ball rate. He also started a pair of playoff games, giving up seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.
The White Sox now have a projected staff of dylan cease, lance lynn, Lucas GiolitoY michael kopechAlthough Kopech is recovering from a left knee strain and right shoulder inflammation. Clevinger’s addition probably closes the book on a potential johnny cueto return. Cueto proved invaluable after signing a minor league contract with the Sox, posting a 3.35 ERA in 158 1/3 frames.
Although Clevinger’s post-Tommy John work was uninspiring, some teams may hope that further distance from surgery and/or tweaks to his repertoire could help him rediscover his 2017-2019 form, where the right-hander pitched 447 2/3 innings. with a 2.96 ERA. , 28.3% strikeout rate, 9.1% walk rate, and 40.2% ground ball rate.
The Padres acquired Clevinger from the Indians in a nine-man trade at the 2020 trade deadline. It’s worth noting that the White Sox were also in the mix for the pitcher they knew so well from the League Central. American, though Rosenthal heard from a team official that he felt they were being used as a “stalking horse.” Clevinger made four starts after the deal, but was later ruled out with what was called a biceps strain at the time and later revised to a sprained elbow. The Padres brought him back for Game 1 of the NLDS that year, but he was thrown out early on and he was on the operating table the following month.
At the time of the surgery announcement, the Padres also bought Clevinger’s final two years of arbitration for a total of $11.5MM, effectively paying him that amount for what he could contribute in ’22. Although Clevinger commented in March, “I feel healthier than I’ve ever been in my entire career,” sprained his knee soon after, leading to his season debut on May 4. He returned to the disabled list after three starts with a strained triceps.
Through his first ten games, Clevinger was able to miss bats at an above-average rate of 24.7%. Yet in his last 11 starts, Clevinger has hit just 13.5% of opposing hitters. Clevinger’s fastball had a steep decline as the season progressed, occasionally working over 95 MPH in some of his earlier starts compared to a few games under 93 MPH on the dog days of the summer. Although this was the first time he had thrown 42+ innings in a season since 2019 and some fatigue was to be expected.
With a cast of untested pitchers vying for the fifth starting job and Kopech recovering from knee surgery, White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz recently commented, “Obviously we need another starter,” as reported by James Fegan of The Athletic. But as Fegan noted at GM meetings earlier this month, “if there’s one thing the White Sox aren’t touting about themselves this offseason, it’s payroll flexibility.” For an overview of the challenges facing general manager Rick Hahn, check out MLBTR owner Tim Dierkes’ Offseason Perspective here.