Healthy Morel could be White Sox solution at third

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Healthy Morel could be White Sox solution at third

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Several thresholds must be crossed but Brent Morel appears to have another chance with the White Sox in his future -- if hes healthy.

Morel was limited to 76 games last season --- 35 in the majors --- because of a troublesome back. His injury not only limited Morels appearances but also wiped out what the White Sox hoped would be a breakout season for the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo product.

After a September 2011 surge, Morel was limited to a .177.225.195 slash line and no home runs in 113 at-bats last season. But Morel is on the mend and the White Sox consider him among their best internal options at the hot corner next season should they not sign a free agent or acquire a replacement for Kevin Youkilis.

Thats the No. 1 thing for us, to get him in there and see him again, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. Hes not out of the equation for me at all. Him being healthy and getting back in, hes a good third baseman when hes healthy.

The White Sox believed they had a star in the making in Morel. Not only did he post a .224.340.553 slash line with eight homers and 19 RBIs in 103 appearances in the final month of the 2011 regular season, but he also is considered a solid defender.

We thought he was an everyday guy, general manager Rick Hahn said.

He might once again be, but only if he gets his back on track, Hahn said.

Thus far, reports on Morels health have been good, though Hahn knows how tricky the situation can be. Last season, Morel thought he made progress in rehabbing the injury over summer only to have a setback.

They feel with his diligence on the program that this thing is hopefully behind him, Hahn said. Its tough with backs. Its tricky. Well have to see through his ramping up, training regimen, baseball activity and spring training games and regular season games and react accordingly to how he feels.

With few viable internal options -- the White Sox prefer to keep Gordon Beckham at second base, Dayan Viciedo in left field and Carlos Sanchez at Triple-A -- Morel could be the answer should the White Sox not sign Youkilis or another free agent or make a deal.

But Hahn wants proof of health before he makes a commitment.

Its conceivable, but with Brent, lets see him healthy, Hahn said. Lets get him 100 percent. He feels good now, lets have him go through the offseason do the work to prepare, then get to Glendale and get through spring healthy. Then well set our expectations for him going forward.

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

Crain's Chicago Business released its latest 40 under 40 project and White Sox announcer Jason Benetti made this year's list.

The 33-year-old just finished his first season with the White Sox as play-by-play announcer, working the home games at U.S. Cellular Field (before it was renamed Guaranteed Rate Field last month) alongside Steve Stone as longtime broadcaster Hawk Harrelson saw his workload reduced to mostly road games.

Benetti quickly became a fan favorite among Chicagoans on CSN and other networks in 2016 and his cerebral palsy became more of a backstory, with his work alongside Stone and his affable sense of humor taking center stage instead.

Among other topics, Benetti discussed how he approaches his job of broadcasting for the team he grew up rooting for:

Law school taught me that there are always two sides of the argument. I see it from the Sox prism, but I can’t believe in my heart of hearts that, if the Sox lose, the world’s over anymore. That first game, I was like, “All right, it’s just a game.” And then Avi Garcia hits a homer late in the game against the Indians and I call it like I would call it with a little more. And as the ball cleared the fence, when it was rolling around, I got a slight tear in my eye. And I was like, “What’s that?”

Check out the entire interview with Benetti and the full list at ChicagoBusiness.com.