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Levine: White Sox Hope Mat Latos Can Stabilize Back End Of Rotation

By Bruce Levine--

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The early feedback on the White Sox's signing of right-hander Mat Latos has been positive from talent evaluators around the league.

"The White Sox made a very smart move signing Mat Latos," a veteran American League scout said. "He will get the best advice from their pitching coach, Don Cooper. Cooper has worked wonders with reclamation projects. Latos was very good before injuring his knee (in 2014). This could make the White Sox a contender if he gets back to his old form."

While just how much of contender the White Sox can be remains to be seen, those types of reports have been flowing in since news broke on Latos' new deal, which is for one year and $3 million. Latos will have every chance to win the fourth or fifth rotation spot behind Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon.

John Danks, Erik Johnson and Jacob Turner will also be in the competition with Latos for the final two slots, which were problematic for Chicago in 2015. Before injuring his knee in 2014 while with the Reds, the 28-year-old Latos was a workhorse, averaging just shy of 200 innings per season from 2010-'13. He eventually admitted he came back too soon from the surgery, which led to a variety of other problems. Latos was 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA in 2014, when he made just 16 starts and pitched 102 1/3 innings.

Latos couldn't regain his form in 2015 either, going 4-10 with a 4.95 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in time split between the Marlins and Dodgers.

The White Sox's signing of Latos is a low-risk deal given its one-year length, and they've now added some much-needed depth to their starting pitching trove. Cooper will be the key to a resurrection of this sinkerball pitcher's career.

The White Sox now have the pitching depth to make a trade later, if they prefer. The catch, of course, is that depth is for the present day only, as Danks, Latos and Turner are all set to become free agents after 2016. So the future must be kept in mind as well.

At his best, Latos is a 15-game winner with the ability to throw 200 innings. His has a quality ground ball-fly ball ratio and a 3.04 strikeout-to-walk ration for his career.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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