White Sox reach deal with veteran shortstop Paul DeJong Tuesday night, a source told Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.
The club has not confirmed the deal, which is awaiting the outcome of the medical.
Since taking over, general manager Chris Getz has said that improving Chicago’s defense across the diamond — but especially up the middle — has been one of his main goals. The White Sox currently have All-Star Luis Robert Jr. in center field; Korey Lee behind home plate; and DeJong and Nicky Lopez at shortstop and second, respectively.
“Well, you know, it’s piece by piece, it really is,” Getz said during general managers’ meetings in early November. “By aiming to really improve our defensive game, it will allow our pitchers to attack the zone and be more effective. We’ve got to get more athletic, and that’s a testament to the improvement in defense that we’re hoping for – and obviously in base running, taking extra bases, that sort of thing.
“We are looking for players who understand what it takes to be part of a winning club. It starts with their daily approach, being in the right place at the right time on the field and being more or less baseball players who go out there and work together, competing.
DeJong, 30, spent time with three teams last season. He started the year with the Cardinals – the only team he had played for since his debut in 2017 – before being traded to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline. Toronto released DeJong three weeks later, and although he signed with the Giants on August 23, he was released less than a month later.
An All-Star for the Cardinals in 2019, DeJong slashed just .207/.258/.355 (.612 OPS) last season. Over the past three seasons, he has a .192/.265/.353 (.618 OPS) line in 302 games.
DeJong, a native of Antioch, Ill., who played at Illinois State University, has played shortstop almost exclusively in the big leagues, especially of late. The only other defensive position where DeJong has made an appearance is second base, but 20 of his 22 appearances at second base came during his rookie season in 2017.
Lopez, acquired as part of the return to five players for Aaron Bummer in the White Sox’s trade with the Braves on November 17, also has the ability to play shortstop and third base.
“One thing I’m holding on to is being versatile and playing Gold Glove-caliber defense, whether it’s short, second or third,” Lopez said on a Zoom call Tuesday. “I also played a little bit of the outfield. Being able to know that I can go and fill a spot where they need me is something that I’m very proud of.
“I think being able to move from the court and rebound to second and third is very valuable for the team, especially for a winning team. So let’s see where it goes, but I’m very excited.
Of course, the eventual answer at shortstop will be Colson Montgomery, Chicago’s No. 1 prospect and the Global Perspective #17 in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. Although he’s only 21 years old – he’ll be 22 by Opening Day – the 6-foot-3 left-handed hitter’s goal is to break camp with the team.
Getz doesn’t want to place any arbitrary restrictions on the development of Montgomery, who made a strong impression with his play for Glendale in the 2023 Arizona Fall League. Even if he doesn’t leave spring training with the White Sox, the jump of Montgomery from Triple-A Charlotte to the White Sox could very well arrive in early 24.