The move just made sense for the long-haired pitcher.
Clevinger officially joined the White Sox on Sunday, finalizing a $12 million, one-year contract that adds the right-hander to the team’s rotation.
“I mean the roster’s, I think, fully set up for doing special things and having a long season,” he said. “But also … that’s one of my favorite mounds in all the big leagues, so I’m excited to get back to it.”
The 31-year-old Clevinger went 7-7 with a 4.33 ERA in 23 games, including 22 starts, for San Diego this year. He missed the 2021 season after he had Tommy John surgery.
Clevinger will make $8 million in 2023, and there is a mutual $12 million option for 2024 that includes a $4 million buyout.
He experienced some right knee soreness last season, but he said he is feeling much better after he got a platelet-rich plasma injection after the Padres were eliminated in the playoffs.
“Getting that PRP shot, giving it a solid three, four weeks off of throwing completely, now I feel like a normal person again,” he said. “It’s been good to get back in the gym doing normal stuff.”
Chicago is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 season, when it went 81-81 and finished 11 games back of surprising AL Central champion Cleveland. Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa stepped down in October and Pedro Grifol was hired on Nov. 1.
The White Sox got a big lift from Johnny Cueto this year, but the 36-year-old right-hander is a free agent after going 8-10 with a 3.35 ERA in 25 appearances. Clevinger slots into a rotation that likely will include Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech.
“These dudes have electric stuff,” Clevinger said.
The move puts the 6-foot-4 Clevinger back in the AL Central after he made his major league debut with Cleveland in 2016. He went 42-22 with a 3.20 ERA in four-plus seasons with Cleveland before he was traded to San Diego in a multiplayer deal in August 2020.
Clevinger is 51-30 with a 3.39 ERA in 128 career big league games. He also has 694 strikeouts in 656 2/3 innings.
The White Sox announced the deal the same day the MLB’s winter meetings began in San Diego. Across the sport, executives and agents anticipate a flurry of action in San Diego, where the meetings conclude on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.