White Sox sign righty Latos to 1-year deal

White Sox sign righty Latos to 1-year deal

CHICAGO -- The White Sox strengthened the back end of their starting rotation by agreeing to a one-year, $3 million deal with right-hander Mat Latos, the club announced on Tuesday.

If the White Sox get the Latos who pitched from 2010-13 with the Padres and Reds, then they might have done more than just strengthen the fourth or fifth starter's spot. Latos posted a 51-35 record with a 3.27 ERA during that four-year-stretch, making at least 31 starts and pitching at least 184 innings in each of those four seasons.

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"Mat adds another quality veteran arm to our rotation and also increases our overall pitching depth, which always is essential to having a successful season," said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. "While we believe in the futures of several of our young starters, the chance to add a pitcher of Mat's caliber was too good of an opportunity for us to pass up. He has proven over his career that when healthy, he takes the baseball and logs quality innings."

Latos has battled through elbow and left knee issues and was limited to 37 starts and 218 2/3 innings over his 2014 and '15 campaigns. Last season, Latos finished with a 4.95 ERA across 24 appearances (21 starts) for the Marlins, Dodgers and Angels. His two games for the Angels stand as his only career American League efforts.

For the years and money committed to Latos, though, he appears to be a low-risk, high-reward sort of choice. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon provide a front three in the rotation that matches up well with most others in baseball. John Danks, in the finale of his five-year, $65 million deal, Erik Johnson and Jacob Turner were in the mix for the final two spots.

Danks and Latos should round out the rotation, while Johnson figures to open the season at Triple-A Charlotte, barring something unforeseen. Turner, who was claimed off waivers from the Cubs, is out of options but could find a home in the bullpen.

Carson Fulmer, who is the team's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline.com behind shortstop Tim Anderson, quickly has become a frontline rotation candidate for the White Sox. But the team doesn't want to rush the eighth overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.

Chris Beck and Scott Carroll were the only other pitchers with Major League starting experience behind the front six, though Beck is working his way back from ulnar nerve transposition, where the nerve is repositioned.

The White Sox continue to look at free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler and shortstop Ian Desmond, who would require Draft pick compensation if signed due to them rejecting the qualifying offers made by their previous teams. The White Sox certainly would not sign both, and if they agreed to terms with one, they would lose the current 28th pick obtained when Jeff Samardzija signed with the Giants. (The White Sox first pick, No. 10, is protected since it is in the top 10).

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With a 3.51 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and an 8.1 K/9 rate during his seven-year big league tenure, Latos has often been a valuable mixed-league contributor. True, the native Virginian is coming off a 4.95 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP in 2015. But because the right-hander did not experience a major decline with his K/BB ratio or his HR/9 rate, he is a reasonable bounce-back candidate in '16. Although the White Sox questionable defense and Latos' lack of experience against deep Junior Circuit lineups are reasons for concern, he deserves to be a late-round pick in deep mixed leagues.

Latos' arrival in the Windy City will likely force either Danks or Johnson out of the rotation. Danks is unlikely to impact AL-only leagues, but Johnson would be worth a late-round selection in deep formats if he were to emerge with a role in Chicago's starting quintet.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.