The White Sox officially declined to tender 2013 contracts to first baseman/designated hitter Dan Johnson and right-handed pitcher Anthony Carter, who most recently pitched for Triple-A Charlotte during the 2012 season. The White Sox 40-man roster now sits at 37.
Humber, who turns 31 on Dec. 21, joined Johnson, second baseman Gordon Beckham and outfielder Alejandro De Aza as the White Sox arbitration-eligible players. The right-handed hurler originally became a non-tender candidate, with the White Sox agreeing to a two-year, $29 million extension with Jake Peavy and picking up a $9.5 million contractual option on Gavin Floyd this offseason to join Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, John Danks and Hector Santiago in a deep starting rotation.
Houston's claiming of Humber came approximately seven months after the affable pitcher threw the 21st perfect game in Major League history. Humber accomplished the rare feat on April 21 at Safeco Field, defeating the Mariners. His perfect game took place in just his 30th career start, marking the third-fewest starts in history before reaching perfection.
His life became a whirlwind after the perfecto, as Humber even made an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman to do the Top 10 list. The third pick overall in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft by the Mets had resurrected his career as a starter during the 2011 season with the White Sox, when he posted a 9-9 record with a 3.75 ERA, and up through the perfect game.
Throwing a perfect game would be the highlight of any pitcher's season, short of winning a World Series. But fortunes went downhill for Humber after the moment of greatness.
In 16 overall appearances as a starter, Humber finished 5-5 with a 6.14 ERA over 102 innings and went winless over his last 15 starts at U.S. Cellular Field, dating back to 2011. He had an 8.36 ERA over 14 innings covering 10 relief appearances. After signing a one-year deal with the Astros, Humber will have a chance to face the White Sox and pitch at U.S. Cellular Field again with Houston moving to the American League West.
Despite the struggles after the perfect game, including 20 earned runs allowed over the next 13 1/3 innings, Humber refused to hide from those mound issues. He went from Sept. 4-16 without getting in a game and did not appear in a game after Sept. 16, but the first-time father never lost his upbeat attitude and never stopped working in trying to improve his mechanics.
"As far as the way things went last year, there were obviously some extreme highs and getting hurt and not pitching the way I was capable of," said Humber on Friday, referring to his disabled-list stint from June 17 to July 17 due to a right elbow flexor strain. "I'm excited about the opportunity to get back out there and prove I'm capable of being a good Major League pitcher."
MLB Trade Rumors projects Humber's arbitration salary at $1.1 million. With $89.95 million already committed to 10 players for 2013 and the White Sox payroll next season is expected to check in somewhere around the $97 million from 2012, Humber's chances for departure increased.
Johnson, 33, hit 28 homers for Charlotte last season and knocked out three homers in the season's final game against Cleveland. He would be a valuable left-handed-hitting piece off the bench, but with White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stating that Johnson won't be in the third-base mix and his projected arbitration salary coming in at $1.2 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors, his addition at that salary would be considered a luxury.
Carter, 26, saw his career change for the better when he went from a starter to the bullpen with Double-A Birmingham in 2010. He posted a 3.92 ERA with 22 saves and was considered at that time a potential late-inning reliever of the future for the White Sox. He never was able to reach that level of success again, posting a 4.60 ERA over 39 appearances for Charlotte in '12.
Friday's actions position the White Sox to make additions at this upcoming week's Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., beginning Monday, without having to take anyone off their 40-man roster.