By Bruce Levine–
(670 The Score) — Looking to add bullpen help in the coming weeks as the free-agent market moves slowly, the White Sox took another route Thursday evening. They made a trade.
After depleting their bullpen with in-season trades in 2017, the White Sox made a stealth move in acquiring righty reliever Joakim Soria and lefty reliever Luis Avilan in a three-team deal with the Royals and Dodgers. In exchange, Chicago traded minor league infielder Jake Peter to Los Angeles.
With payroll commitments fewer than $65 million, the White Sox could easily absorb Soria’s $9 million salary and Avilan’s salary that figures to be around $3 million. The White Sox also received $3 million in cash considerations as part of the trade.
“We feel we have added some veteran options to the back end of the bullpen,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Both have experience pitching later in games. This gives (manager Rick Renteria) and the coaches some versatility in how they employ the bullpen. This allows us to protect and pace the development of some of our young players. This also supplies us with some flexibility options over the course of the summer as things unfold.”
By flexibility reference was to Soria and Avilan being possible trade chips later in the season as the White Sox continue their rebuild.
Soria, 33, has a wealth of setup and closing experience in his career. He had a 3.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 64 strikeouts in 56 innings across 59 appearances for the Royals in 2017. An All-Star in 2008 and 2010, Soria has a 2.86 career ERA in the big leagues. He has a $10-million team option or a $1-million buyout for 2019.
Avilan, 28, had a 2.93 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 46 innings across 61 appearances for the Dodgers in 2017. He was originally acquired by Los Angeles in an eight-player deal with Atlanta in late July 2015. The Braves signed him as an international free agent back in 2005, and he has a career 2.97 ERA in the big leagues. He’s under team control through the 2019 season.
Soria and Avilan will help provide depth to a bullpen after the White Sox traded five relievers in 2017. They’ll join an inexperienced group that includes Gregory Infante, Juan Minaya, Jose Ruiz, Thyago Vieira, Aaron Bummer and Danny Farquhar. Hahn hopes Soria and Avilan can serve as leaders in the clubhouse.
“From a makeup standpoint, both Luis and Soria are very strong in that regard,” Hahn said. “That is true of their work ethic and presence in the clubhouse. That continues a trend we have tried to put in place during the last two years. We want to bring guys who set a good example for these younger players.”
The cost of losing Peter, 24, was minimal because the White Sox have a future star in second baseman Yoan Moncada and also YOlmer Sanchez providing infield depth. Peter hit .279 with 13 homers, 49 RBIs and 63 runs in 120 games split between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte last season. Chicago selected him in the seventh round of the 2014 amateur draft.
This won’t be the final addition to the White Sox’s pitching stable. Hahn and the front office are still looking to sign veterans on short-term contracts who could be easy to flip at the trade deadline.
“I would say our main focus is on the 2018 club,” Hahn said. “We will continue to look at things that put us in a stronger position for the long term as well. We are going to continue to search for viable depth throughout the organization. Having guys who match up nicely and complement each other is of interest to us. So are guys who can go multiple innings. Those people can potentially lighten the load on other players.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.