White Sox announce Mike Clevinger signing

Clevinger will earn $8 million in 2023, with a $12 million mutual option for 2024 that has a $4 million buyout.

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The White Sox have officially signed pitcher Mike Clevinger.

The White Sox have officially signed pitcher Mike Clevinger.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

SAN DIEGO — Chalk one up to Roger Bossard, who it turns out played a role in the White Sox signing free-agent right-hander Mike Clevinger.

“That was one of my favorite mounds in all the big leagues,” Clevinger said of the Guaranteed Rate Field pitcher’s mound he will pitch on in 2023. “So I’m excited to get back to it.”

Bossard, aka “The Sodfather,” who might get a statue at the ballpark when his storied career as Sox groundskeeper is over, can expect a conversation with Clevinger before too long.

“I don’t know [what it is about the mound exactly],” Clevinger said. “I can’t wait to talk to the grounds crew over there. It’s just perfect. Whether it’s the height, or the way the slope goes down.”

Clevinger, 31, also recalls a moment “when it all came to fruition right then and there” on that mound while pitching for Cleveland in 2016-19 when he rose to prominence as one of baseball’s top pitchers.

“It clicked on that mound,” Clevinger said. “It was something that stuck with me, that, on that mound, what was going on, what we were working on.”

The Sox announced Clevinger’s signing, first reported last Monday, on the first day of the winter meetings. They signed him to a deal that pays $8 million in 2023 and has a $12 million mutual option for 2024 and a $4 million buyout. They did so for more substantial reasons than the pitcher’s love affair with Bossard’s hill. They needed a starter to fill the void in their rotation left by free agent Johnny Cueto.

And they are banking on Clevinger returning to better health and closer to the form he showed in Cleveland a full season removed from Tommy John surgery. They also expect him to be over an MCL sprain in his right (drive) knee that plagued him for much of 2022.

With the Padres in 2022, Clevinger went 7-7 with a 4.33 ERA over 114„ innings in 22 starts and one relief appearance. From May 17 to Aug. 1, he had a 2.81 ERA in 10 games (nine starts).

Clevinger beat the Sox in his final regular-season start, pitching six innings of one-run ball Oct. 1 in San Diego. But he lasted less than three innings total over two playoff starts, allowing seven earned runs.

“It’s no secret to anybody, I think I kind of hurt my stock last year,” Clevinger said. “I kind of left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth with those playoff appearances. But I don’t think everyone is seeing what’s going on behind closed doors. I’m not here to have a pity party, but that’s OK. I didn’t want to wait. I wasn’t going to wait. The Chicago White Sox came and they were very interested.”

Clevinger said he received a PLP shot in the knee and feels confident he’ll return to full strength in 2023. He likes the Sox roster and the personalities on it “that I feel like mold with mine.”

“I just knew this would be a good symbiotic relationship,” he said.

Clevinger joins an all-right-handed starting unit that also includes Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito.

“These dudes have electric stuff,” Clevinger said. “It all starts with Lynn. He’s been there, done that and I’ve heard nothing but great things all the way down to Kopech. Watching Cease [in the American League Central], his stuff was so elite. I want to pick his brain about his slider, I’m just excited to join this group of talented dudes and big personalities.”

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