The White Sox are doing everything they can to entice free agent Manny Machado.
Three weeks after trading for Machado’s brother-in-law, the Sox reached a one-year, $4 million agreement with former Cubs outfielder Jon Jay on Monday night, a source confirmed. Jay and Machado are good friends who work out together in Miami. First baseman Yonder Alonso, whose sister is Machado’s wife, is also part of the tight circle.
In the end, dollars, years and other factors will be the most important things that determine where Machado signs a long-term deal, but the Sox are leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit. While Machado has expressed a preference for the Yankees, and the Phillies are another known suitor, the rebuilding Sox are staying in the hunt and have made the only known offer, believed to be in the $200 million range.
Jay, 33, is a good clubhouse guy and a .285/.352/.378 career hitter. He has a good glove and can cover center field. Whether he starts or is used as a fourth outfielder is to be determined.
Earlier Monday, in another move demonstrating a desire to turn a corner in the third year of their rebuild — are you paying attention, Manny? — the Sox agreed to terms with right-handed reliever Kelvin Herrera on a two-year, $18 million deal. The contract, which also hasn’t been announced, includes a vesting option for a third season, a source confirmed.
A two-time All-Star, Herrera posted a 2.44 ERA in 44 games between the Royals and Nationals last season. He closed for the Royals, was traded in June and was used mostly as a setup man for the Nats before his season was halted by a Lisfranc ligament tear in his left foot Aug. 26. He also dealt with a rotator cuff impingement last season and forearm issues in 2017.
Herrera, who turned 29 on Dec. 31, saw his velocity, strikeout and ground-ball rates drop last season while recording 17 saves, but the Sox are confident he will be healthy. Herrera owns a 2.82 ERA with 60 saves in eight seasons.
The Sox’ bullpen is shaping up. They traded for right-hander Alex Colome, a 2016 All-Star who notched 47 saves in 2017 with the Rays, and picked up Nate Jones’ $4.65 million option for 2019.
Other bullpen possibilities among the Sox’ young contingent of arms include lefties Jace Fry, Aaron Bummer and Caleb Frare and righties Ian Hamilton, Ryan Burr, Juan Minaya and Zack Burdi, a 2016 first-round pick ready to return from Tommy John surgery.
An improved bullpen should help the Sox avoid another 100-loss season, especially in the American League Central, which looks like one of the weaker divisions in baseball.
While still focusing on a long-term plan, the Sox expect to improve with top prospect Eloy Jimenez on the roster, as well as recent acquisitions Herrera, Colome, right-handed starter Ivan Nova, Alonso, Jay and second catcher James McCann.