LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The White Sox have potentially found balance for their starting rotation as they signed pitcher Felipe Paulino to a one-year deal Monday.
The right-hander, who had ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery after a strong start with the Kansas City Royals in 2012, signed a one-year deal with the White Sox worth $1.75 million. Paulino’s deal also includes a $4 million club option for 2015 with a $250,000 buyout.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder went 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in seven starts before his 2012 season was cut short by injury. He struck out 39 batters in 37 2/3 and walked only 15. But the White Sox feel confident Paulino should be healthy even after he had a setback in his rehab last season.
“When he’s right and healthy, we see him as a power arm with four pitches and a guy who can be a quality starter in a big league rotation,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “Based on our medical reports and based on where he has progressed to, we have every reason to believe he’ll be able to help us come opening day.”
Paulino rehabbed and then returned to the mound last June 11 and made seven rehab starts for Kansas City’s farm system. He threw five shutout innings in his debut but wouldn’t return to the mound until Aug. 3 because of the setback. Paulino made six straight starts to finish the season with a 6.51 ERA.
Though they’re confident he’ll be healthy, Hahn said the 2015 option was important insurance for the White Sox.
“There’s no need to rush him,” Hahn said. “There are certain guys, pitchers in particular, who have had health issues before, mechanical issues before, that we feel pretty confident we can help get back on track. We won’t have 100 percent success rate. Sometimes it doesn’t work. But a guy like Paulino, given his upside, is exactly the type of guy that we are in a nice position to take a chance on thanks to our training staff and our doctors and our coaching staff.”
Prior to the move the White Sox appeared set to roll out a rotation with four left-handers and only one righty. General manager Rick Hahn has said all along he hoped to add a right-hander to balance out the mix. The team could still run with a rotation that features Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, John Danks and Hector Santiago but now he has options. Paulino’s addition also means Hahn doesn’t have to rely on Erik Johnson or Andre Rienzo being rushed if they aren’t ready to start 2014 in the big leagues.
Much of the speculation surrounding the White Sox has surrounded whether or not they’d trade one of their lefties. Santiago and Quintana are the logical options as both are affordable and under team control for at least four seasons.
One report Monday said the White Sox have begun to shop both.
“(Paulino) has played a variety of roles so conceivably he could end up in the bullpen, but right now we’re viewing him as an option for our rotation,” Hahn said. “That’s going to allow us to potentially not rush one of our younger guys if they’re not ready or if we decide we don’t want to go with a four lefty rotation we have an option for doing something else other than that as well.”