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White Sox build bullpen around young arms

Avilan, Minaya among late-inning options for 2018 season
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn mentioned the bullpen on numerous occasions when he was asked about organizational offseason targets for change.

That same bullpen took quite a hit in 2017 as part of the club's rebuild, with trades of David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and Tyler Clippard, and season-ending surgeries for Nate Jones, Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam. Hahn returns a younger core having a chance to pitch in late-inning situations in '18, and he has begun to rebuild the relief crew via a three-team trade bringing Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan to the White Sox.

CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn mentioned the bullpen on numerous occasions when he was asked about organizational offseason targets for change.

That same bullpen took quite a hit in 2017 as part of the club's rebuild, with trades of David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and Tyler Clippard, and season-ending surgeries for Nate Jones, Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam. Hahn returns a younger core having a chance to pitch in late-inning situations in '18, and he has begun to rebuild the relief crew via a three-team trade bringing Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan to the White Sox.

Young arms developing in White Sox rotation

MLB.com is taking a look at the projected bullpen of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the White Sox might stack up:

BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Joakim Soria, Closer, RHP
Nate Jones, RHP
Juan Minaya, RHP
Danny Farquhar, RHP
Luis Avilan, LHP
Gregory Infante, RHP
Aaron Bummer, LHP
Jace Fry, LHP

Video: CWS@CLE: Jones induces double play to get out of jam

STRENGTH
Manager Rick Renteria might not have a clear-cut closer, but Hahn has given him a number of high-leverage, late-inning options in Jones, Soria, Minaya and Infante, as well as Avilan from the left side. The White Sox also acquired hard-throwing Thyago Vieira, who could be a sleeper relief candidate to break camp with the team.

Video: CWS@CLE: Minaya secures White Sox win on ninth save

QUESTION MARK
Jones underwent nerve repositioning surgery on his right elbow in mid-July, and he missed the rest of the 2017 season after making only 11 appearances. Jones has been throwing the ball as part of his rehab and he could ramp things up soon. Jones is fully expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training and the start of the '18 regular season, but the full health of the right-hander with a career 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings becomes an important part of the team's bullpen.

Abreu, Avi anchor White Sox projected lineup

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Non-roster invite Anthony Swarzak probably doesn't leave Arizona with the White Sox in '17 if not for a late Spring Training injury sustained by Minaya, and Swarzak ended up becoming one of the team's most valuable pitchers. Although the non-roster invites for '18 have not yet been announced by the White Sox, they might feature another pitcher of Swarzak's caliber and situation who could make a March difference. The club has three options in terms of left-handed relievers between Avilan, Bummer and Fry, with two figuring to make the team. The bullpen appears to be relatively set at this point, but has a spot or two for potential change.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago White Sox, Danny Farquhar, Nate Jones, Juan Minaya, Joakim Soria