Fire bring Segares back

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Fire bring Segares back

Gonzalo Segares stay on the Fires recently-departed list didnt last long. The veteran defender signed a multi-year contract with the club on Thursday.

Segares, who completed his eighth season with the Fire in 2012, was entering the option year of his previous contract. The club declined to pick up the option this week, making Segares available in the re-entry draft, the first phase of which is Friday. His signing resulted in him being removed from the draft-eligible list, so only reserve goalkeeper Jay Nolly and reserve midfielder Corben Bone will be re-entry candidates when Major League Soccers 19 clubs make their choices.

Fridays first phase of the draft, conducted via teleconference, traditionally doesnt last long. A club must pay a selected player his current salary. That wont be the case in the second phase on Dec. 14. Two years ago the Fire acquired veteran defender Cory Gibbs through that procedure.

While no other terms of his contract were announced, Segares is assured of staying with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2005. With the exception of a brief stint in Cyprus in 2010 Segares has remained with the Fire ever since and become a mainstay at left back.

With 178 MLS regular season matches and 207 competitive appearances across all competitions under his belt, Segares became the seventh player in franchise history to pass the 200 mark in games-played this season. He also has 19 caps for Costa Ricas national team.

In statements released by the team, president of soccer operations Javier Leon said he was "pleased that Gonzalo will remain a member of the clubHe has been a tremendous asset to the Fire back line for nearly a decade and has been key to our defensive stability.

Segares said he is "very happy to continue as a Fire playerChicago is my second home and the Fire have been a big part of my life for a long time. I look forward to more success with the club in the future.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Sean Johnson became the third Fire player to join an overseas club for training purposes this week. He returned to England and began workouts with Stoke on Wednesday. Hell be with that team through Sunday, then work with Everton from Monday through Dec. 23. Johnson also trained with Everton in the Fires last offseason.

Defenders Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry finish their training periods with Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

The Fire has yet to make a trade since the 2012 season ended, but one of its Eastern Conference rivals did. Sporting Kansas City acquired veteran defender-midfielder Josh Gardner from Montreal for a second-round draft choice. Gardner had stints with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Columbus Crew before joining the expansion Impact last season.

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Royals think White Sox have done 'phenomenal job' acquiring young talent

Royals think White Sox have done 'phenomenal job' acquiring young talent

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Only six years after they had the “best farm system of all time,” the Kansas City Royals see a bright future ahead for the upstart White Sox.

Several current Kansas City players who graduated from that farm system and led the Royals to a 2015 World Series title and manager Ned Yost all said they’re intrigued by how quickly the White Sox have built up their minor league talent.

Through four major trades and the signing of international free agent Luis Robert, the White Sox boast a system that features 10 top-10 prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com. Baseball America ranks eight White Sox prospects in their top 100. While the system isn’t yet ready to compete with the 2011 Royals for the unofficial title of best ever, it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.

“Have you seen what they’ve gotten back from tearing it down?” Yost said. “MLB ranks the top 100 prospects. Most teams have one or two. I don’t think we have any. They have 10. They’ve done a phenomenal job of restocking their system with incredibly talented young players.”

Not everything is identical between how these organizations built their farms.

The Royals headed into 2011 with nine top-100 prospects and five in the top 20 alone (Eric Hosmer 8, Mike Moustakas 9, Wil Myers 10, John Lamb 18, Mike Montgomery 19). The Kansas City Star in 2016 reviewed the best-ranked systems of all-time and determined by a point value system (100 points for the No. 1 prospect and one point for the No. 100 prospect) that the 2011 club was better than all others with 574 points.

But that group was the byproduct of a painstaking stretch in which the Royals averaged 96 losses from 2004-12. The slower path taken by Kansas City allowed its young core to develop and learn how to play together in the minors. As pitcher Danny Duffy noted, “we went to the playoffs every year.”

They won at Rookie-Burlington, Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha took home three titles. Working together was a big key to the team’s success at the major league level, said catcher Salvador Perez.

“We didn’t come from different teams,” Perez said. “We all came from here. We had a young team together. We learned how to win and win in the big leagues.

“We learned how to win together, play together and play for the team. It was really important.”

The only time the Royals didn’t win was at Advance-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, Duffy said.

“You learn how success feels and how some failure feels,” Duff said. “We lost in Wilmington and you would have thought the world was coming to an end.”

According to the Star, the Royals haven’t had much recent competition for the best system. Until now.

The 2006 Diamondbacks accrued 541 points and the 2000 Florida Marlins had 472. The 2015 Cubs scored 450 points.

After the addition of Blake Rutherford on Tuesday (the No. 36 prospect on BA’s current top 100 list), the White Sox have 483 points. But the 2017 Atlanta Braves are even better with 532 points, the third-highest total of all-time.

The White Sox farm system has created excitement among the fan base that had wavered in recent years. Not everyone is on board, but the majority seems to be and that can create hysteria.

“We had people at the games who were super excited about the wave of prospects,” Duffy said. “Obviously they have a stacked system over there, very similar to what we had coming up. There was a lot of excitement. It was crazy.”

But excitement didn’t immediately translate into victories. Though a fair amount of the 2011 class graduated to the majors by later that season, the Royals didn’t get on track in the big leagues for a few years.

It wasn’t until the second half of 2013 that the Royals got going. The 2014 club ended a 29-year playoff drought with a wild-card berth that led to an American League pennant. They followed that up with a World Series title in 2015. Had it not been for a Herculean effort by Madison Bumgarner, Kansas City might have had consecutive titles.

Still, getting there takes time.

“The first thing you had to do was get them here,” Yost said. “Experience has taught me that it’s generally 2 1/2 years before they can get to a point where they can compete. They just have to gain that experience at the major league level because it’s definitely a much more difficult style of play up here. The talent is just so incredibly good that it takes a while for talent or players to adjust to where they’re productive. It just takes time then being able to go out and play every single day.”

Even though that means the White Sox will experience difficult times the next few years, Duffy and Co. think it’s worth the wait. While Duffy imagines losing Jose Quintana and David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle and Todd Frazier isn’t fun, he has a good sense what is headed this direction.

“Losing Quintana stings, but they got a king’s ransom back,” Duffy said. “It’s the way of the game. But they’re going to have a really good time in the next few years.”