General manager Chris Getz noticed a hesitancy from potential free-agent pitchers or their agents to come to the Chicago White Sox when he began conversations with them at the start of the offseason. It was because of the team’s defense.
“So that led me to really be proactive in improving that,” Getz said during a video conference Monday of the Sox defense, which was tied for 11th in the American League with a .983 fielding percentage in 2023.
The Sox have two new catchers, Martín Maldonado and Max Stassi. And in the middle infield, the team traded for Nicky Lopez and Braden Shewmake in the six-player deal that sent reliever Aaron Bummer to the Atlanta Braves. The Sox also signed veteran shortstop Paul DeJong. Dominic Fletcher and Zach DeLoach, both acquired via trades, are among the possible fits in right field.
“I wanted to be an attractive place for pitchers to want to pitch here,” Getz said.
From the infield to the outfield and on the mound, here is a look at four intriguing additions as pitchers and catchers report for spring training Wednesday in Arizona.
The right-handed pitcher had an outstanding 2023 in the Korea Baseball Organization. Will that success transfer back to the big leagues?
The Sox signed Fedde to a two-year, $15 million deal in early December after he earned Most Valuable Player honors in 2023 while pitching for the NC Dinos in the KBO. He also won the Choi Dong-won Award (best pitcher), going 20-6 with a 2.00 ERA, 209 strikeouts, 35 walks and a 0.95 WHIP. He led the KBO in wins, ERA and strikeouts to become the first foreign-born pitcher to win the pitching Triple Crown.
“It was nice to have that confidence again of somebody handing you the baseball and expecting six, seven innings and 100 pitches, and that fed into my confidence and led to a revitalizing of remembering who I was,” Fedde said during a Dec. 14 video conference.
Fedde, 30, spent six seasons with the Washington Nationals (2017-22), going 21-33 with a 5.41 ERA and 352 strikeouts in 102 games (88 starts) before his year in the KBO.
“It’s a place I felt I could get into the rotation and help the squad be better and be part of the rebuilding of that rotation,” Fedde said.
The right-hander showed his durability in 2022 with the San Francisco Giants, leading the National League with 76 appearances.
The Sox signed Brebbia, 33, in January to a one-year, $5.5 million deal, which includes a mutual option for 2025. He has a career 3.42 ERA, 47 holds and 321 strikeouts in 295 games (21 starts) during six major-league seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (2017-19) and Giants (2021-23).
“Brebbia has closed out games, he’s been in middle relief, he’s been an opener before,” Getz said Monday. “He had a lat injury last year that we believe is behind him, so to be able to get, we hope, a full season of production from him is exciting.”
“We’ve got a lot of quality arms beyond those two,” Getz said, “and whether it be our starters or our bullpen, time will tell on what roles, but there’s some versatility and potential within the group.”
DeJong and Lopez are stable defensive players with ties to the area. DeJong graduated from Antioch High School and Lopez is from Naperville.
The connection played a role in DeJong signing a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Sox in November.
“What attracted me to the White Sox was just being from the Chicago area, growing up in Antioch,” DeJong said during a Nov. 29 video conference. “I had a great opportunity to play in the major leagues with the White Sox. Having that major-league deal really helped me decide to come here. And just having family connections to the city — my great-grandparents grew up in Chicago on the South Side.
“So there were a lot of great reasons for me to join the White Sox, and I’m very thankful for this opportunity.”
DeJong, 30, has a career .229/.299/.417 slash line with 116 home runs and 344 RBIs in 729 games during seven major-league seasons with the Cardinals (2017-23), Toronto Blue Jays (2023) and Giants (2023). He was traded to the Blue Jays on Aug. 1, released on Aug. 21, signed by the Giants on Aug. 23 and released on Sept. 21. He’s aiming for the consistency he had in St. Louis.
“To leave St. Louis, a team I spent all my 20s with, was something that was part of my journey, and I learned a lot about myself once I left St. Louis,” DeJong said. “Baseball is baseball. I’m just excited to be a part of an organization, to start from the beginning with the Chicago White Sox and start my season, as opposed to jumping in the middle, which was a little difficult for me last year when I went to Toronto and San Francisco.
“Just to be able to start from the beginning with a team is going to be great for me.”
The Sox had a busy day of dealing on Feb. 3, sending reliever Gregory Santos to the Seattle Mariners for reliever Prelander Berroa, outfielder Zach DeLoach and a competitive balance B selection (No. 69) in the 2024 draft. They also acquired Fletcher in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor-league pitcher Cristian Mena.
The 26-year-old Fletcher slashed .301/.350/.441 with five doubles, one triple, two home runs and 14 RBIs in 28 games during two stints with the Diamondbacks in 2023.
“I was fortunate enough to get up there last year on a really good team,” Fletcher said Friday during a video conference. “I got to be around a lot of really good players and learn from the guys around me. But most of all, just seeing that it’s the same game and knowing I have the ability to go play and play well in the big leagues was really good for me.”
Fletcher pointed to his defense as a strong suit. He will have the opportunity to put it all on display this spring.
“I went from pretty much trying to earn a spot on the team as possibly a fourth or fifth outfielder (with Arizona) to having a chance to compete for a spot,” Fletcher said. “I’m going to show up this spring training and compete, do whatever I can to try to help this team win.”