Despite playing for the Chicago White Sox for less than a year, Mike Clevinger has become one of the most polarizing players on the team. The White Sox signed the righty to a one-year, $8 million deal in early 2023.
But shortly after the signing, Clevinger was accused of domestic violence and child abuse. Major League Baseball eventually ruled Clevinger was allowed to pitch in 2023 despite the allegations.
Needless to say, some White Sox fans were less than thrilled with the signing. But the team was in deep need of starting pitching and Clevinger offered the club a cheap source of innings with upside potential.
He had shown flashes of brilliance when he played for the division rival in Cleveland from 2016 through 2020.
Mike Clevinger has have a very interesting career up to this point.
In 2018 and 2019, he posted a 3.02 and 2.71 ERA, respectively en route to back-to-back 4+ WAR seasons. Clevinger was then traded to the Padres where injuries would cut his 2022 season to just 114 innings.
After his contract was up with the Padres, the White Sox decided to take a shot on the 32-year-old rightly with the hopes he could fill a back-of-the-rotation spot with upside for more.
He entered the season as the White Sox's fourth starter in a rotation that featured Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, and Michael Kopech.
To many Sox fans' surprise, Clevinger has arguably been the second-best pitcher of the bunch. He got off to a slow start in March and April, posting a mediocre 4.60 ERA over 29 innings.
But in June, July, and August, he's posted an ERA in the low 2s - not bad for a guy they got for $8 million. Thus far, Clevinger has earned his paycheck and more.
But as we all know, past performance is not indicative of future performance. So what are the White Sox going to do with their pending free agent? My guess is they let him walk.
My thesis rests on two key points. The first being that the White Sox placed Clevinger on waivers in late August. Despite the solid season, the White Sox surprisingly tried to cut ties with the pitcher. But he went unclaimed and never officially left the organization.
My second point is that Clevinger will get 12 million dollars from the White Sox in 2024 if the mutual option is picked up. That might be a lot for a guy like that.
I acknowledge that Clevinger has been a decent addition this season but I don't think he's worth bringing back. Advanced statistics such as xERA, FIP, and xFIP indicate some regression incoming in 2024 and that his recent stretch of performance is not sustainable.
It would not surprise me to see Clevinger back in a White Sox uniform in 2024, but if I were to guess, I'd say the White Sox pass on the veteran and look elsewhere. I don't think I'd be the only White Sox fan to welcome this decision either.