The White Sox on Monday exercised their $4.65 million option for 2019 on reliever Nate Jones but declined their $16 million option on right-hander James Shields, opting instead to pay him a $2 million buyout.
The Sox hold options for 2020 ($5.15 million) and 2021 ($6 million) on Jones, who was 2-2 with five saves and a 3.00 ERA in 30 innings in 2018, a season shortened by a strained pronator muscle in his right arm.
“If I’m coming back to the team, that would be awesome because the White Sox have been so good to me,” Jones told the Sun-Times in September. “They’re the team that drafted me [in the fifth round in 2007]. They’re more like a family now. If not, those things happen, too.’’
Drafted in the fifth round by the Sox in 2007, Jones surpassed 70 innings in 2012, 2013 and 2016. Jones had Tommy John Surgery as well as minor back surgery (microdisectomy) in 2014 after appearing in two games that season. Jones logged only 19 innings in 2015 and 11 2/3 in 2017.
“I’m going to educate myself in the offseason and do what I can with exercises and therapy for my elbow to make sure that doesn’t happen again,’’ he said of his latest injury.
Shields went 7-16 with a 4.53 ERA while finishing tied for third in the American League with 204 2/3 innings pitched. It’s possible he could work out a cheaper one-year deal with the Sox as a free agent.
The Sox also reinstated right-hander Michael Kopech, who will miss the 2019 season after having Tommy John surgery, to their 40-man roster. Players such as Kopech who go on the 60-day DL are temporarily removed from a team’s 40-man roster but are returned after the season.