White Sox agree to minor-league deal with Ervin Santana

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Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins delivers a pitch against the White Sox during the first inning of the game on August 29, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On the day when Manny Machado was introduced by the Padres about 10 miles up the road, the White Sox also were making news, agreeing to a minor-league deal with veteran right-hander Ervin Santana.

For audio effect, plug in the sour trombone noise here. This one is as far away from Machado on the big-news spectrum as can be.

There was a time when a Santana signing might have been sweet music to a Sox fan’s ears. The 36-year-old starter signed a four-year, $55 million deal with the Twins five years ago and was an All-Star for the second time in 2017, when he went 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA. But after he missed most of the 2018 season with a finger injury that required surgery, the Twins declined to pick up his $14 million option.

If he makes the team, Santana is expected to cost the Sox about a third of that. He joins the mix of competitors for the fifth starter’s spot behind the top four of Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Ivan Nova and Lucas Giolito. Also vying for a spot in camp are lefty Manny Banuelos and righty Dylan Covey.

In manager Rick Renteria’s view, the more competition the better.

“This year, more than other years, our clubhouse is filled with more competition,” he said. “We’ve added pieces so that right now guys are already pushing guys.’’

If Santana performs and Banuelos shows promise, that could put heat on Giolito (6.13 ERA, 90 walks in 32 starts last season) if he doesn’t step forward in camp.

“Do I like competition? Absolutely,’’ Renteria said. “Does it put a fire under you? Absolutely. It makes you better, always has.

“Competition will always breed better performance.’’

For what it’s worth, Giolito has been throwing well in side sessions and live batting practice.

“He has made some changes with his arm swing a little,’’ Renteria said. “He seems to be commanding the breaking ball a little more; his command is a lot sharper.’’

Santana’s deal was pending a physical. He is expected in camp Saturday.

Machado, meanwhile, who chose the Padres’ guaranteed $300 million offer over the Sox’ guaranteed $250 million, evaded the subject when asked about the Sox.

“Honestly, I’m proud to be a Padre,” he said at his news conference Friday.

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Machado did offer that Sox newcomers Yonder Alonso, his brother-in-law, and Jon Jay, his friend, who were signed in part to help create a comfortable clubhouse in Chicago, spoke highly of San Diego. Both played there.

“At the end of the day, this is where I wanted to be, and I’m very happy to be here,’’ Machado said.

NOTES: The Sox announced 27 pre-arbitration contract signings, including Reynaldo Lopez ($580,000), Yoan Moncada ($575,000) and Lucas Giolito ($573,000) as the highest-paid among the group over the $555,000 major-league minimum. The entire 40-man roster is under contract.

† Manager Rick Renteria on Gold Glove candidate Adam Engel, who batted .235/.279/.336 with six home runs and 16 stolen bases in 143 games last season: “He’s a tremendous center fielder. We’re looking to see if he can use this spring to position himself to continue to be with us in Chicago.’’

† Cactus League play opens with split-squad games Saturday at Camelback Ranch against the Dodgers and in Mesa against the Athletics.

Look for top prospect Eloy Jimenez to start in the outfield against the Dodgers and for Moncada to play third base against the Athletics.

The starting pitchers are righty Donn Roach against the Dodgers and lefty Jordan Guerrero against the Athletics.

† After the worst two weeks of weather (cold, rain) anyone can recall, the forecast is better next week with sunshine and temperatures in the 70s.

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