The Chicago White Sox have signed Mike Clevinger to a one-year deal worth $12M, setting the rotation on the South side for the upcoming season.
The 32-year-old right-hander is headed back to the American League Central, where he played with the Cleveland Guardians from 2016-2020.
Free-agent right-hander Mike Clevinger in agreement with White Sox, pending physical, source tells @TheAthletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 27, 2022
On November 25, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the White Sox were showing strong interest in the right-hander. Two days later, news broke that the White Sox officially signed Clevinger.
Despite a career-worst season in 2022 with the San Diego Padres, Clevinger gets a raise compared to his last contract of $11.5M over two years. This looks to be a prove-it deal for the right-handed starter who has struggled since undergoing Tommy John Surgery in 2021. However, it will be tough to prove it in Chicago due to their hitter-friendly ballpark and below-average defense.
Chicago White Sox Sign Mike Clevinger
Mike Clevinger with the San Diego Padres
Clevinger missed the entirety of the 2021 season after his surgery. He also missed the first month of the 2022 season with a knee injury. The injury concerns have plummeted Clevinger's Fantasy Baseball value as of recently, but they go back even further. He missed the first three months of the 2019 season with ankle and back injuries.
When Clevinger was healthy, he wasn't great either, making just 26 starts in three years with the team. During this time, he recorded a 9-8 record with a 4.12 ERA across 133.1 innings.
The injuries aren't the only concern for Clevinger. In 2022 his strikeout rate (18.8%) was a career-low, and he allowed a career-high 1.57 home runs per nine innings.
Mike Clevinger's Fantasy Impact with the Chicago White Sox
White Sox potential starting rotation
• Dylan Cease
• Lance Lynn
• Lucas Giolito
• Michael Kopech
• Mike Clevinger
All right-handed pitchers.
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) November 27, 2022
Clevinger projects to be the fourth or fifth starter in the White Sox rotation. This move solidifies the rotation, meaning Johnny Cueto is unlikely to return. The two players this impacts the most are Davis Martin (4.83 ERA across 63.1 IP) and Jonathan Stiever, a top-25 prospect in the White Sox organization.
As for Clevinger, moving to Chicago can be a negative as the White Sox have one of the worst defenses in Baseball. The White Sox finished 2022 with -35 defensive runs saved, the fifth worst in MLB. Losing Jose Abreu will hurt the defense as well.
Another negative for Clevinger is the fact he is moving from a pitcher-friendly ballpark to a hitter-friendly ballpark. He struggled with home runs in 2022 and could struggle again in 2023.
Mike Clevinger's Departure Impact on the San Diego Padres
Losing Clevinger doesn't impact the Padres significantly. Clevinger was likely a fourth or fifth starter in their rotation. However, there will be a competition this spring training between Adrian Morejon and Julio Tehran for the fifth and final spot in the rotation. Neither will be draftable in Fantasy Baseball, but they could be worth a stream here and there.
Adrián Morejón, K'ing the Side with ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/h5aiM2cBOc
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 24, 2022
A couple of prospects to watch are Jay Groome, Reiss Knehr, and Pedro Avila. One of them may break camp with the big-league club in 2023.
Final Thoughts on Mike Clevinger
Clevinger has the potential to return to his pre-Tommy John form, but it's going to be tough in Chicago. The home runs will be his most prominent issue in 2023. Despite the possible downside to Clevinger, he is worth drafting late because his upside is still more significant than his downside.
I drafted Clevinger in a mock draft this past week in the 26th round. I'm happy to get Clevinger at this price because he is essentially free. If he struggles to start 2023, I can drop him and not worry about losing value because I drafted him this late.
Read all the F6P Fantasy Baseball articles this off-season.