The White Sox reached an agreement with veteran shortstop Paul DeJong on Tuesday night, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
The club has not confirmed the deal, and it is awaiting the result of the physical examination.
Since taking over, general manager Chris Getz has expressed that improving Chicago’s defense across the diamond — but especially up the middle — was one of his main goals. The White Sox currently have All-Star Luis Robert Jr. in center field. Corey Lee behind the plate. and DeJong and Nicky Lopez at shortstop and second, respectively.
“Well, you know it’s piece by piece, it really is,” Getz said at general managers’ meetings in early November. “In starting to improve our defensive play, it will allow our pitchers to attack the zone and be more efficient. We need to become more athletic, and that speaks to the improved defense that we’re hoping for — obviously running the bases, taking extra bases, things like that.”
“We’re looking for players who understand what it takes to be on a winning ballclub. That starts with their approach on a day-to-day basis, being in the right place at the right time on the field, and more or less being the baseball players that go out there and work together and compete.
DeJong, 30, spent time with three teams last season. He started the year with the Cardinals – the only team he has played for since his debut in 2017 – before being traded to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline. Toronto released DeJong three weeks later, and while he signed with the Giants on August 23, he was released less than a month later.
An All-Star for the Cardinals in 2019, DeJong slashed just .207/.258/.355 (.612 OPS) last season. Over the past three seasons, he has a .192/.265/.353 line (.618 OPS) in 302 games.
DeJong, who is from Antioch, Ill., and played at Illinois State University, has played almost exclusively in the major leagues, especially recently. The only other defensive position DeJong has appeared at is second base, but 20 of his 22 starts at second came in his rookie season in 2017.
Lopez, who was acquired as part of a five-hitter return for Aaron Bummer in the White Sox’ trade with the Braves on Nov. 17, has the ability to play shortstop and third base as well.
“The one thing I hang my hat on is being versatile and playing Gold Glove-caliber defense, whether it’s at shortstop, second or third,” Lopez said during a Zoom call on Tuesday. “I played a little bit in the outfield as well. Being able to know that I can go fill a spot wherever they need me is something I’m very proud of.”
“I think being able to go from shortstop and jump to second and go to third is very valuable to a team, especially a winning team. So, let’s see where it goes but I’m very excited.”
Of course, the final answer to the short numbers is Colson Montgomery, the No. 1 prospect in Chicago and the No. 17 overall prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. Although he’s just 21 years old — he’ll be 22 by Opening Day — the 6-foot-3-inch left-handed hitter’s goal is to break camp with the team.
Getz doesn’t want to put any arbitrary limits on the development of Montgomery, who made a strong impression by playing for Glendale during the 2023 Arizona Fall League. Even if he doesn’t leave spring training with the White Sox, Montgomery’s jump from Triple-A Charlotte to the White Sox could arrive Early in 24.
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