The expression “cut your losses” dates back nearly two hundred years, and it has always meant one thing: No matter how much you invested in something, there comes a time when moving on is the best option.
The White Sox are at that point.
They signed starting pitcher Mike Clevinger to a one-year, $8 million contract in early December, but revelations about his behavior off the field have made it time for the White Sox to cut their losses.
As reported in The Athletic on Tuesday, the league is investigating the domestic violence allegations against Clevinger. Her girlfriend posted a lengthy description of the things she said he had done to her, along with photos of the bruises she says he inflicted on her, on her Instagram. Clevinger, responding through his attorney, denied the claims Tuesday night.
The league has not issued any penalties at this time, and depending on how long an investigation of these claims takes, it could be some time before they do.
Trevor Bauer, a former teammate of Clevinger’s in Cleveland, was suspended by Major League Baseball for 194 games (down from 324 after appeal) due to sexual assault allegations. The Dodgers released him on January 12 after he finished his suspension. The White Sox should do the same with Clevinger. But they should do it now, instead of waiting to see what the league decides on punishment.
However, at this point, it doesn’t seem like they do.
This wait-and-see approach is bad. Trevor Bauer was eventually cleared of the legal charges, but he still served a lengthy suspension, and despite being available as a free agent for nearly two weeks, Bauer hasn’t drawn interest from major league teams.
There is a scenario where the league doesn’t find enough evidence against Clevinger to warrant a suspension, but given the photographic evidence already shared, it’s very remote. The most likely scenario here is that Clevinger will be suspended, and probably for a long time. More importantly, releasing Clevinger would be a statement of value. This isn’t about positive public relations or maintaining a good appearance, but about demonstrably demonstrating that actions like Clevinger’s are not welcome, no matter how well he performs on the field.
Make no mistake, Clevinger would have been an important piece for the White Sox in 2023. They’ll be on a mission to prove that the 81-81 flop in 2022 was a true fluke, and that they’re not just a good team. on paper, but not fulfilled in reality. Clevinger probably would have helped them do that. Returning from Tommy John surgery last year, he posted a 7-7 record with a 4.33 ERA, but before that, he had a 3.00 career ERA and averaged more than one strikeout per inning.
At one year and $8 million, the 32-year-old Clevinger would have been a low-risk, high-reward option for the White Sox. They set a $12 million vested option for 2024 with a $4 million buyout, so releasing him now won’t cost the White Sox much money in the grand scheme of things. The most significant cost will be what he offers on the field.
But then again, that’s not what matters here. Winning is important. Success in baseball is important. The White Sox are about to see their rebuild that began in 2017 adding two winless playoff appearances in 2020 and 2021. They badly need this year’s team to do well. But the big picture also matters. It matters who you do that winning thing with, and Mike Clevinger shouldn’t be in that group.