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Chicago Notes: White Sox, Cubs, McCarthy, Junis

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The White Sox acquired outfielder Dominic Fletcher in a trade with the Diamondbacks last week, though the deal may have been something of an either-or proposition.  According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Sox had the option of picking either Fletcher or Jake McCarthy in the deal, with pitching prospect Cristian Mena still headed back to the D’Backs as the return piece in the one-for-one trade.

Fletcher and McCarthy share a similar profile as 26-year-old, left-handed hitting outfielders who can play any of the three positions on the grass.  McCarthy was the 39th overall pick of the 2018 draft and has more Major League experience, with a .261/.331/.380 slash line over 736 plate appearances in the Show.  A fourth-place finish in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2022 seemed to hint at McCarthy’s potential as a building block for the Snakes, yet a tough 2023 season saw him relegated to the minors and then to the Diamondbacks’ bench as the year developed.  Arizona’s willingness to move on from either player and the Southsiders’ decision to take Fletcher provides some interesting wrinkles to this trade, and it might be interesting to revisit this deal in a few years’ time once we see how the careers of Fletcher, McCarthy, and Mena have developed.

Here’s more from the Windy City’s two teams…

  • Though the top four in the Cubs rotation seems set and several candidates are vying for the fifth starter’s job, Jakob Junis “recently” drew some interest from Wrigleyville, as per The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma.  The depth of the interest isn’t known, though it might’ve been something of a due diligence move by the Cubs since no formal offer was made.  Junis’ experience as a swingman means that he wouldn’t have necessarily even been in the rotation, so the Cubs could’ve been looking at Junis to bolster the bullpen and also add even more depth to the starting mix.  In any case, Junis is no longer an option, as the right-hander signed a one-year, $7MM contract with the Brewers last week.
  • In another piece from Mooney and Sharma, they look at the Cubs’ unsettled third base situation.  Patrick Wisdom and Nick Madrigal seem poised to get the bulk of playing time, with Christopher Morel getting the occasional start at the hot corner, and Miles Mastrobuoni or rookie Luis Vazquez providing further depth.  There’s enough uncertainty here that Mooney/Sharma feel the Cubs might again make a trade deadline move at the position, akin to their deal for Jeimer Candelario this past summer.  Of course, the Cubs have also been linked to Matt Chapman this winter if the team still had a bigger-ticket free agent upgrade in mind, though a longer-term answer might block top prospect Matt Shaw, who has been working out as a third baseman this offseason.
  • Reports surfaced last month that the White Sox were speaking with development company Related Midwest about the potential of building a new ballpark on a portion of land in Chicago’s South Loop area.  Related Midwest recently released a series of artist renderings to media (including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin) about what this new stadium and the associated “ballpark village” area might look like alongside the Chicago River, as well as some proposed renderings of how the area around Guaranteed Rate Field could be developed if the Sox moved to a new site.  Obviously a lot of hurdles still have to be crossed with the White Sox, developers, civic and state officials, and many other parties before this proposed ballpark could become a reality, and the earliest possible opening date would seem to be 2030, since the team’s lease at Guaranteed Rate Field runs through the 2029 season.



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