What does Mike Clevinger bring to the White Sox?


The White Sox made their first major move of the offseason yesterday, signing Mike Clevinger to what is reportedly just a one-year deal. With this move, the White Sox have likely completed their starting rotation for 2023 - Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, and Clevinger.

Just a few years ago, signing Clevinger would have likely been a universally celebrated signing for the White Sox. But, between a second career Tommy John surgery, questionable decision-making that taught us more about his clubhouse presence, and a pretty subpar 2022 season, Clevinger has lost a lot of the luster he had back when the White Sox targeted him before he was traded to San Diego.

To his credit, it appears Clevinger was well-liked in San Diego and learned from his ways in Cleveland. Still, while the character clause may be less of a concern now, what about the person on the mound?

Let's break down this deal, what there is to like, and what the risks may be - as well as how Clevinger might be able to get back to his previous form.

The Contract

After much speculation, we know now that Clevinger's deal is likely one year for $12M.

 Clevinger signed a two-year, $11.5M deal to buy him out of his arbitration years while undergoing Tommy John surgery, and given general market trends, it feels as though a one-year, $10M deal with a second-year option or $2M buyout makes the most sense for a deal like this. So, one year and $12M guaranteed, with the potential for more. However, it could just be as simple as a one-year, $12M deal.

To break that down a bit further for those who feel that is a steep price to pay: here is where a potential Clevinger contract stacks up against free-agent deals prior to the 2022 season, along with their previous season ERA+ and total IP. Note that Clevinger posted an 86 ERA+ in 114.1 innings in 2022.

Given what we know, it makes sense that Clevinger would fall within this general $8M-$14M range. This information, combined with Clevinger's history that is better than anyone's on this list outside of Greinke's, likely was the reason Clevinger will get $12M in guaranteed money from this deal. Short-term AAVs are usually going to be higher than long-term AAVs.

This is, by all accounts, a market-standard contract for someone that is going to be a mid-to-back end of the rotation piece.

Read more about the pros and cons of signing Clevinger - including why his fastball may be the key to his resurgence - by finishing this article at soxon35th.com.

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