The Chicago White Sox, believing they can make a playoff push in 2020, are willing to pay a huge price for free agent starter Zack Wheeler, and have engaged in preliminary trade talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers for power-hitting outfielder Joc Pederson, according to two people with direct knowledge of the talks.
The persons spoke to USA TODAY Sports on on the condition of anonymity since negotiations are ongoing with Wheeler, and the White Sox and Dodgers are actively involved in trade talks with other teams.
The White Sox have had seven consecutive losing seasons and last reached the playoffs in 2008, winning just one postseason game since their 2005 World Series championship, but are optimistic their window to contend in the AL Central has finally opened.
The White Sox have spent spent a major-league leading $123 million since the season’s conclusion to sign free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal and retain first baseman Jose Abreu, but badly want a veteran starter to anchor the rotation.
Outfielder Eloy Jimenez burst on to the scene as a rookie in 2019 and top prospects Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal are expected to reach the majors in 2020. Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson also enjoyed breakout seasons and are integral to Chicago's long-term plans.
It will likely take at least a five-year contract in excess of $100 million to sign Wheeler, according to two officials with direct knowledge of the talks, but it’s a price the White Sox are willing to meet.
Wheeler had a 3.96 ERA in 31 starts for the Mets in 2019. (Photo: Noah K. Murray, USA TODAY Sports)
Yet, the Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Cincinnati Reds also have expressed interest in Wheeler. He is generally regarded as the third-best starter on the market behind Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, whom each are meeting with the New York Yankees this week.
Even with Jimenez – who hit 31 homers in 122 games – and Robert in the mix, the White Sox are seeking more power. They have inquired about free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, but Pederson would come much cheaper. Pederson, who hit a career-high 36 homers with 74 RBI last season, is projected to receive $8.5 million in his final year of arbitration according to MLB Trade Rumors' estimates.
The White Sox also had trade talks with the Dodgers about Pederson last winter until talks broke off in January.
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