Erick Fedde’s pitch arsenal got the attention of the Chicago White Sox.
“There’s some real material differences with his stuff,” Sox general manager Chris Getz said Wednesday. “He added the sweeper, he got a better feel for his sinker, he changed his attack plan. And he more or less dominated over in the (Korea Baseball Organization).”
The Sox signed the right-hander to a two-year, $15 million deal on Tuesday. The move is pending a physical.
The right-hander was sensational in 2023, going 20-6 with a 2.00 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 30 starts for the NC Dinos in the KBO. He pitched for the Washington Nationals from 2017-22.
“There’s been (KBO to the majors) success stories here recently, the Merrill Kellys of the world,” Getz said, referring to the Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher. “We talked to hitters over there, we talked to people that are around that league, and we felt he was the most feared pitcher in that league. And the numbers show it.
“We see a difference in his stuff. And for him to come back here, with that level of confidence and the ability, which is a difference from where it was before, we’re willing to take that bet, and we’re looking forward to giving him that runway here with the White Sox.”
As the MLB winter meetings wrap up, here are four takeaways from Tuesday and Wednesday.
1. The Sox liked the upside of Rule 5 pick Shane Drohan.
The Sox went the pitching route in Wednesday’s Rule 5 draft, selecting Shane Drohan.
The left-hander went 10-7 with a 5.06 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 27 appearances (25 starts) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester in the Boston Red Sox farm system in 2023.
“We had some early spring training looks on him this year, and we liked what we saw, and during the season, as well,” Getz said. “In further evaluation analytically, there were some indications of some upside here.”
The 24-year-old is 24-19 with a 4.32 ERA and 372 strikeouts in 77 appearances (73 starts) during three minor-league seasons.
“It’s an opportunity to take a shot on an arm that we feel has the potential to have some survival skills at the major-league level, to begin with, and long term with a little bit of upside that could potentially be a rotation piece or a reliever of some sort,” Getz said.
2. Discussions continue for the best option in right field.
The Sox have 2023 Silver Slugger Award winner Luis Robert Jr. in center field. They have Andrew Benintendi, an All-Star in 2022, in left field.
They are discussing the best option for right field.
“We certainly have internal options,” Getz said on Tuesday. “Just like other areas around the diamond, defense is certainly something that we’re focusing on. And we’re having conversations — whether it be with other clubs or free agents — to find a way to improve, just like other positions as well. Certainly outfield is a priority, too.”
Internal options include Gavin Sheets, who made a team-leading 61 starts in right field in 2023. He’s a natural first baseman. Oscar Colás was next on that list with 59 starts in right field, but he’ll likely begin 2024 where he finished 2023 — in Triple A.
“I think the best thing for (Colás) is to be at Charlotte,” Getz said. “Do I see him being down there the whole season? Hopefully not. We know what he’s capable of doing.
“We’ve had Gavin Sheets out there and he’s shown production offensively. We’ve asked a lot of him to play outfield and he looks to be capable, but it doesn’t mean that we’re not going to go out there and find ways to improve our defense as a whole. We’re fortunate to have Luis Robert. Benintendi is a sound defender, we think he can get even better out there. Just to find a team of outfielders is something we’re set out to do.”
3. The Sox continue to weigh catching options.
Getz noted on Tuesday the Sox have time to sort through their plans at catcher.
“We do have some sound defenders at the catching position,” he said. “In terms of a veteran presence or someone who is a little more seasoned, that’s something we’re looking at.”
Korey Lee did a bulk of the catching down the stretch. He’s shown potential behind the plate, but went 5-for-65 (.077) after joining the major-league team in late August.
Monday, manager Pedro Grifol said the catching situation is “to be determined.”
“There’s a lot of unknowns still in this club,” Grifol said. “There’s a lot of unknowns in the rotation, behind the plate. So that’s something that’s going to take a little bit of time.
“It might take all the way to spring training. Who knows? I’m confident in my conversations with Chris and the front office that we’re going to get this right.”
4. Assistant GM Josh Barfield honors the past and eyes the future.
Josh Barfield is one of the former big-leaguers in line to participate in the Hall of Fame East-West Classic, which will pay tribute to the Negro Leagues in Cooperstown, N.Y., during Memorial Day weekend.
“This is huge and I think it will bring more awareness to the guys who came before us, which is awesome,” Barfield said Tuesday.
Barfield took part in a news conference Tuesday highlighting the event. He has also been busy at the winter meetings in the role of assistant general manager with the Sox.
“We took a lot of time coming into this to prepare and get an idea of what we want our team to look like, not just next year but going forward, and trying to make moves that reflect that,” Barfield said. “We’ve had a lot of interest in a lot of guys, which is encouraging.
“The record might not have reflected that last year, but there is a lot of talent here. I think we’re going to have multiple options, depending on which way we go, to help improve the direction of next year’s team and beyond.”
Barfield joined the Sox in September.
“His evaluation of players is excellent,” Getz said. “When it comes to coaching hires, whether it be on the major-league side, the minor-league side, front office, his input has been very valuable. He’s experienced, both as a player and in the front office. He’s been part of an organization (the Arizona Diamondbacks) that had recent success.
“You talk about an organization that didn’t have many wins, and they climbed fairly quickly and obviously found their way to the World Series. His opinions and his evaluations and his input are very important to us based on what he was just able to do with the Diamondbacks.”