White Sox make deal with Clevinger official

December 5th, 2022

CHICAGO -- The White Sox needed a fifth starter to complete an already solid starting rotation, and in adding right-hander , they brought in a talent with a chance to make this front five elite.

Clevinger and the White Sox agreed to a one-year deal for $8 million, plus a $12 million mutual option for the 2024 season. The option has a $4 million buyout.

Clevinger joins , , and , with Clevinger taking the rotation spot of , who became a free agent after showing himself as one of the American League’s most consistent starters in ’22.

After missing 2021 while recovering from Tommy John surgery (the second of his career), Clevinger returned to the mound for the Padres in 2022 and threw 114 1/3 innings over 23 appearances (22 starts). Pitching with reduced velocity compared to his pre-injury level, the righty posted career worsts in K/9 (7.2) and HR/9 (1.6) en route to a 4.33 ERA and 4.97 FIP.

San Diego acquired Clevinger, aka “Sunshine,” from Cleveland in a nine-player blockbuster at the 2020 Trade Deadline, but he suffered an elbow impingement late in the season and was forced to leave his lone postseason start that year after one inning when his injury flared up. He underwent Tommy John surgery the following month.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn went strong after Clevinger at that same 2020 Deadline, with a reported trade offer involving second baseman Nick Madrigal and right-handed hurler Dane Dunning.

"They had always been kind of a fan of mine," said Clevinger of the White Sox. "They’d seen me over the years pitch against them. They expressed interest in what they saw in me, and it wasn’t so much [about] the monetary aspect as much as the place I wanted to be, the roster I wanted to set myself up with, picking my destination versus waiting until it got down to the end and seeing if these other teams had me in their pecking order."

Ultimately, Cleveland decided not to trade Clevinger within the AL Central during that pandemic-shortened season. Madrigal was traded to the Cubs in ’21 as part of the deal to acquire reliever Craig Kimbrel, while Dunning was traded to the Rangers before the ’21 season in exchange for Lynn.

Clevinger’s return was delayed when he went on the IL prior to Opening Day with a right knee sprain, and he made another trip to the injured list with a right triceps strain in May. The righty has reached the 30-start plateau just once in his career, making 32 starts and tossing 200 innings with a 3.02 ERA and 207 strikeouts in 2018.

Cease figures to be the White Sox Opening Day starter after finishing second in the 2022 BBWAA’s AL Cy Young Award voting. Lynn had a 7.50 ERA on July 16 after working his way back from preseason knee surgery but finished with a 2.52 ERA and 89 strikeouts over his final 85 2/3 innings.

Giolito, who enters his final year of arbitration eligibility with the White Sox, struggled mightily with a 4.90 ERA in ’22. But he had a 3.47 ERA and 3.54 FIP over his three previous seasons combined. Kopech is rehabbing in Texas following right knee surgery and a strong first year as a full-time starter.

The team also has as a starting option, with the 25-year-old producing a 3.65 ERA over his first 61 2/3 innings last season. Martin allowed nine runs over 1 2/3 innings during the final game of the regular season against the Twins.

For his part, Clevinger is looking forward to being part of the group.

“These dudes have electric stuff," he said. "So I’m excited to get in the mix ... I’m just excited to join this group of talented dudes and big personalities."