Chicago White Sox add another infielder with local ties, signing Paul DeJong after last week’s trade for Nicky Lopez

The Chicago White Sox continued their work to fill infield holes Tuesday by signing veteran Paul DeJong to a one-year deal, a source confirmed to the Tribune. The move is pending a physical.

DeJong, who went to Antioch High School and Illinois State, has a .229/.299/.417 career slash line with 116 home runs and 344 RBIs in 729 career games over seven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (2017-23), Toronto Blue Jays (’23) and San Francisco Giants (’23).

He finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 after slashing .285/.325/.532 with 25 home runs and 65 RBIs in 108 games. And he earned an All-Star selection in 2019, when he had career highs in home runs (30) and RBIs (78) in 159 games.

The 30-year-old DeJong had a combined .207/.258/.355 slash line last season with 14 home runs and 38 RBIs in 112 games with the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Giants. He has 656 career starts at shortstop and 20 at second base.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post and MLB Network first reported the deal was nearing.

The Sox have worked quickly to find infield depth, beginning with last week’s six-player trade with the Atlanta Braves that included Nicky Lopez and Braden Shewmake.

Lopez, like DeJong, has ties to the area.

Speaking with reporters on a video conference call hours before the DeJong deal, Lopez recalled stepping into the batter’s box during his first trip to Guaranteed Rate Field as a major-leaguer with the Kansas City Royals on May 27, 2019.

“I don’t get many nerves, but I remember it was almost like my debut again and stepping in the box to what sounded like a standing ovation,” Lopez said.

The Naperville Central graduate estimated 500 supporters were in attendance.

“Thank God I didn’t have to buy tickets for all of them,” he said. “But I had quite a few people there and I got like a loud standing ovation when I got into the box and it was a dream come true.

“I always dreamed of playing in Chicago, always dreamed of coming home and playing in front of my friends and family, and I will never forget that day. It was pretty special.”

Lopez is excited that his next visit to Guaranteed Rate Field will be as a member of the Sox. He was traded — along with Shewmake, right-handed pitcher Michael Soroka, left-hander Jared Shuster and minor-league right-hander Riley Gowens — for reliever Aaron Bummer.

The trade occurred on the eve of Lopez’s wedding in California.

“I got the call that I was getting traded (Thursday) while we were at our rehearsal dinner, and then Friday I got married,” Lopez said. “I wasn’t sure at first where, and then (Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos) said the Chicago White Sox and I was just like, if I was to go somewhere, why not go home. This has been a whirlwind but it’s been unbelievable.”

Lopez said he grew up watching the Sox and attended Game 2 of the 2005 World Series.

“I remember all of it and it’s kind of full circle,” he said, “which is really cool.”

Lopez, 29, has a .249/.312/.319 career slash line with 71 doubles, six home runs, 131 RBIs, 220 runs and 42 stolen bases in 546 games during five seasons with the Royals (2019-23) and Braves (2023).

He had a combined .231/.326/.307 slash line last season with eight doubles, three triples, one homer, 25 RBIs, 26 walks and 32 runs in 94 games for the Royals and Braves while committing just two errors in 277 chances.

Sox general manager Chris Getz noted Lopez’s versatility and praised his defense.

“You look at his defensive ratings or any sort of evaluation, it’s strong,” Getz said Friday during a video conference call.

Lopez has 225 career starts at shortstop, 220 at second and 44 at third. He also has started in left field twice and at first base once.

“One thing I do hang my hat on is being versatile and playing Gold Glove-caliber defense, whether it’s at short, second or third,” Lopez said. “Played a little of the outfield as well. To be able to hang my hat on that and know I can go fill a spot wherever they need me is something I take a lot of pride in.”

The Royals originally selected Lopez in the fifth round of the 2016 draft out of Creighton. They traded him to the Braves on July 30, and he participated in the playoffs for the first time in his career.

He joins the Sox having taken a lot away from his short time in Atlanta.

“Even though I was there for a half year, it was a huge learning experience for me,” Lopez said. “The thing about the Atlanta Braves is they play the same lineup every single day. I was fortunate enough to get some playing time when Ozzie Albies went down (with a strained left hamstring in August), but I learned so much from that staff, from those players and about what winning baseball is like.

“And being able to experience my first playoffs was something special. Once you kind of get a taste of playoff baseball, you don’t want to experience anything else. And so that’s why coming here, whether it’s a cultural change, whether it’s something in the clubhouse that we can change, I’m looking forward to trying to help that both in the clubhouse and on the field.”

Lopez embraces leadership responsibilities.

“I’ve always been thrown into a leadership role,” he said. “I’ve always been a leader, ever since high school, when I was at Naperville Central, at Creighton and then kind of going through the ranks in the Royals organization. So I’m excited to come over here and help any way I can.”

Hours later, more help arrived with DeJong.


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