White Sox enter February with little left to do

White Sox enter February with little left to do

The 40-man roster is full and the MLB depth chart is largely set, which is more than the rest of the league can say

It’s Feb. 1. Pitchers and catchers report in but a fortnight.

And yet the White Sox are one of only a handful of teams that can consider themselves ready for the season ahead.

Sure, they have plenty of room for improvement, because they look like a 70-win team. The problem is that two areas where they can improve are ones that should be improved by high-profile prospect promotions, and potentially during the first half. The Sox have lanes available if their farm system delivers.

Rick Hahn and Co. more or less accomplished what they set out to do, which isn’t a lot by default. Nevertheless, they’re in the top half of baseball’s most active teams.

Projected lineup

There’s nothing wrong with at least five of these positions, which represents progress. Welington Castillo is the lone addition from the outside, and the White Sox made him baseball’s first free agent acquisition with a two-year, $15 million deal.

If the White Sox had a lineup worthy of contention, two of Sanchez, Delmonico and Leury Garcia would be above-average bench depth, and Davidson would be on the outside looking in. As it stands, the first three will get a chance to show what their ceilings truly are, and DH is like the pressure valve in case there are somehow too many players deserving of everyday action.

The bench should be a spring-training slugfest. I’d give Omar Narvaez the inside track for backing up Castillo because he’s a lefty, and Tyler Saladino will probably get one more crack at utility infield work despite slugging .229 last year, although the newly acquired Jose Rondon lingers behind him as a true shortstop. Adam Engel‘s future depends on whether the Sox think there’s a possibility he can hit, or if they’ll be content to use his defense and speed off the bench. He could keep the seat warm for Ryan Cordell or Charlie Tilson, both of whom are coming off injuries and might need to use Charlotte as extended spring training.

Starting rotation

The rotation is the single biggest obstacle between the White Sox and the second wild card. You can look at the lineup and see the faintest possibility of bench guys turning into passable starters. It’s hard to look at this lineup and see 200 innings from anybody.

Giolito and Lopez shouldn’t have any restrictions. The former threw 174 innings between Charlotte and Chicago, and the latter threw 168, so they should get enough starts to make a run at 200. The quality may be the problem, especially if the strikeouts are lacking because they still can’t find their big curveballs.

James Shields will be trying to avoid being the least effective pitcher in White Sox history, at least among those who pitched so many innings. He’s logged 231 innings and has a 70 ERA+ to show for it, and that’s the worst of any pitcher with a comparable amount of action. Jaime Navarro used to be the worst in this department with a 76 ERA+. Shields did post a 4.33 ERA over the final two months of the season, which is also the time he started dropping down and throwing three-quarters. The hope is that the novelty hasn’t worn off.

Gonzalez is the most credible pitcher on the staff, but shoulder problems caused him to miss a month last year. That’s the reason he signed for just one year and $4.75 million.

Fulmer might not be guaranteed to open the season in the rotation, but he has the inside track after going 3-for-3 in September starts, posting a 1.64 ERA over 22 innings during the season’s final month. One of these pitchers will be looking over their shoulder for Michael Kopech, with Carlos Rodon hopefully ready to go at some point before the All-Star break.

Bullpen

The three-way trade with the Dodgers and Royals helped the White Sox solidify their bullpen with credible major-league relievers Soria and Avilan. There’s ostensibly only one spot open during spring training, which would be best filled by a second lefty or a multi-inning reliever, although Jones will have to prove he can pitch on a regular basis.

Among prospects, Aaron Bummer outpitched Jace Fry during their first exposures to MLB hitters, but they’re probably on equalish ground overall. Thyago Vieira throws triple-digits from the right side, but ideally he’d get time in Charlotte to work on missing more bats. You can add Tyler Danish, Connor Walsh and Brian Clark as guys who could see some time in Chicago at various points.

The White Sox have also amassed a fair amount of veteran non-roster depth to sift through in Arizona. Jeanmar Gomez is the latest veteran to enter the fray on a minor-league contract, joining Rob Scahill and Gonzalez Germen from the right side, and Xavier Cedeno and T.J. House from the left. Holdovers like Chris Beck and Michael Ynoa also remain.

Unfinished business

On the Patreon Request Line, Daniel asked:

With the lack of signings this offseason and so many free agents remaining with just two weeks to go before P/C, which players should the Sox seriously begin considering? And at what price points? Eventually there have to be 3-4 year deals that make sense and fit with the rebuild timeline.

My feeling here is that the players who work at price points that make sense for the White Sox make more sense in other places. For instance, if they could sign Mike Moustakas to a three-year deal below $50 million (so they don’t give a draft pick to a division rival), I’d guess that other teams would jump on that, and Moustakas would pick a team that isn’t subject to dramatic turnover. The same can be said for somebody like Jarrod Dyson, who would bring some order to the center field depth chart, but could also do the same around the league.

So I’d guess the White Sox are done with the major acquisitions, and the rest of the next two months will be devoted to non-roster contracts, and maybe looking at out-of-options guys from other clubs who could work off the bench.

If that’s the case, then the only thing the White Sox have to do is agree to contracts with Avisail Garcia and Yolmer Sanchez. Both were in good spirits at SoxFest, which I’d take as a positive sign, especially since arb-eligible players used to only be added to the festivities after signing.

Still, arbitration hearings are underway, with Mookie Betts winning a big one, so the White Sox’ own streak of labor peace is in jeopardy.


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66 Comments on "White Sox enter February with little left to do"

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katiesphil
Member

KP’s prediction: 70ish wins or not, this year’s Sox will be more fun to watch than at least three division-winners and all wildcard teams. Thus sprach KP.

asinwreck
Member

“Worse than Jaime Navarro” is a phrase lawyers salivate at when preparing libel suits. Unfortunately, Big Game James lacks the grounds to sue.

Willardmarshall
Member

If Ws are essentially worthless this season (even counterproductive), I’m not seeing much case for spending on the first year of a long term contract. Castillo being a sensible exception….

Reindeer Games
Member

W’s aren’t counterproductive on a roster built like this.  They’re most likely good.  It means that prospects are performing and the rebuild is ahead of schedule.  There aren’t enough middling vets on this team for there to be a bad way to get W’s.  W’s mean the young pitching staff is working and the Tim Andersons and Nicky Ds are coming through.  They have a low enough salary this year that if they’re able to get a bargain on a long-term player it is absolutely worth it.  That one guy wouldn’t impact win totals too much.  It just would have to be a large enough bargain to make sense.

katiesphil
Member

Agreed completely. If these young guys, with the handful of “old” dudes already on board, can win 85 games – great! That means things are working even better than hoped for. I cannot support any program in which the Sox winning games is somehow a bad thing.

sausalito pale hose
Member

Good read:  The floor for the Sox would be 70 wins. The ceiling could be 90 My thought on this is based on the starting pitching.  The big 4 are a year older and have been ascending since AAA.  (Rodon, Fullmer, Gio, Lopez). All have in common; MLP experience; back to AAA to work out mechanics and command; back to MLB.  All finished strong, aside from Rodon’s Brisitis.  Assessment: No real way to know ceiling if three of four of these pitchers continue their ascension. Silver lining:  at any point during the year; a group of pitchers could be ready; Hanson; Kopeck (who maybe a lock to be called up), Dunning, Cease, Gurrero, each with another year of experience with another year, confidence, and maturity.

I can’t predict how many wins; I only know that the Sox may have what it takes already to compete and it depends on the evolution of the young Sox starters. There have many teams over the last sixty years that transformed to playoff teams when two, or three of the starters caught fire and elevated mediocre teams to playoff teams.

Besides, the unknown of this team is what makes it exciting now.  The team chemistry and management has been A+ this past year.

katiesphil
Member

Not to pick on you, but great typo.

Do goyim worry over Brisitis?

asinwreck
Member

Us Jews certainly do!

asinwreck
Member

Ha, rely fial. I have a slow learning curve with this site’s commenting system….

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Another reason that wins are good this year — we want to seem like an attractive destination for free agent players. Regardless of how talented that certain rankings say the organization is, it’s going to be hard to sell a premium free agent on a 68-72 win team. If the team can approach something like 78-80 wins, they might say to themselves, “okay, this team’s going to have a real shot in Year 1 of my deal”.

Regardless of how optimistic fans might be after another rough season on the field an another high draft pick, free agents probably will not share that exuberance. There’s frightening recent examples of teams staying mired in crap for a long time despite being allegedly stocked with young talent.

Reindeer Games
Member

People forget, that players are often shockingly bad at determining the level of play or potential from other players.  They did things there own way, and have relationships with people who did things their own way, so they won’t necessarily be the best evaluating talent.  You can project a team to have a massive turn around, but even if a free-agent believes it, he might still go for a safer option at competing.

Reindeer Games
Member

I suck

****their***

mikeyb
Member

Have any free agents recently passed up a bigger contract to play for a contender? The only one that comes to mind off the top of my head is Alex Gordon, but that was really just a discount to stick with his current team.

If I was a free agent, especially with the way this market has shaken out this winter, I couldn’t care less about a team’s record. All I’d be concerned with is getting paid.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Zobrist

Reindeer Games
Member

It was still a big contract, but didn’t Heyward take less money from the Cubs than the Cards offered as well?  I know he hasn’t panned out, but he’s also been overly criticized.

Josh Nelson
Editor

Xavier Cedeno was awful last year, but if Coop can fix ’em, there might be something there because he was good in 2015 (1.3 bWAR) and 2016 (0.6 bWAR).

35Shields
Member

He threw three innings last year….

katiesphil
Member

COOP

Josh Nelson
Editor

Still found a way to be worth -0.6 bWAR. Appeared in 9 games, faced 21 batters, and didn’t strike out anyone. I’m sure the forearm injury is to be blamed for his poor performance but it wasn’t good despite the small sample size.

35Shields
Member

Not even peripherals are remotely stable at 21 TBF. So why should his performance last year be of any concern (beyond the related concern about injury)?

Eagle Bones
Member

Yeah if he seems to be even close to back to his old form, would prefer to start with him as the second lefty and send fry and bummer back to Charlotte for a bit.  40 man spot is prob the issue there.

35Shields
Member

I didn’t know that they signed Cedeno. He was a part of my offseason plan last year.

Can someone explain how Cedeno being signed to a minor league deal affects his years of control? Before the Rays released him, he was controllable through arb through 2019. Is that still the case if the Sox bring him aboard the 25 man?

Anohito
Member

Wow that rotation. Thank god it doesn’t matter that much. Just hope gio and lopey can continue to develop well up here. But does this mean gio is the ace?

 

Also praying shields isn’t the opening day starter, or home opener starter for that matter. Just count down the days until he’s gone for good.

GrinnellSteve
Member

That’s a division-winning rotation. Shields will be a competent innings eater. Rodon will round into form, and on balance will be good, particularly in the playoffs. Kopech will be a finalist for ROY. Those 2 guys will eventually bump the weakest links, neither of whom will be that weak.

GrinnellSteve
Member

You’ll be cheering as loudly as anyone when he comes back in 2028 for the 10th anniversary of the Sox World Series championship. 2016 will have long since been forgotten.

Gus
Member

pass whatever it is you’re smoking my way.

Rex Fermier
Member

Personally, I’m interested in seeing if Shield’s changes in pitching mechanics (4.33 ERA over the final two months of the season, which is also the time he started dropping down and throwing three-quarters) will return this spring.  I hope he can re-invent himself and stop being a joke.

gibby32
Member

Well, sure.

patrick
Member

Not on topic, but a really interesting piece on BR about Mark Appel:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2757009-why-mark-appel-perhaps-the-biggest-bust-in-mlb-history-is-retiring-at-26

 

Kind of puts Rodon in perspective. The fact that he was/is even a legitimate SP in the bigs is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Also makes me kind of depressed for Mark…

egib52
Member

I read that article.  I am sure the Sox have looked at his film to see if there is anything there, but I am always shocked when guys like that can’t figure it out.

Trooper Galactus
Member

I think a big part of his problem has been health.  From what I’ve read, his arm was falling apart by the time he was drafted after being ridden too hard in college.

milkohol
Member

There really is no such thing as a pitching prospect

yinkadoubledare
Member

Hell, just look at the two guys drafted in front of Rodon in 2014.

(1) Brady Aiken – didn’t sign after elbow issue revealed; eventually had Tommy John; drafted mid-first by Cleveland in 2015; had 101 walks and 89 Ks in 132 innings at low-A last season

(2) Tyler Kolek – blew out his elbow, missed all of 2016 and much of 2017; in 2017 pitched in 5 games at rookie level, 3 2/3 innings, 14 walks and 1 K

 

steely3000
Member

Then again, they were both drafted out of high school. So I assume they need time, just like Giolito (who was drafted 2 years before them, out of HS).

jorgefabregas
Member

I think I’ve seen enough of Matt Davidson. Not sure who might replace him. Probably just a placeholder until Eloy bumps Delmonico to DH (assuming Nicky keeps hitting).

katiesphil
Member

Eh, at this point, and with a number of guys ready to push him aside in a few months, no harm in seeing if he can find a way to lower that terrifying K rate. If he can, he can be useful. If not, well, there are a number of guys ready to push him aside in a few months.

Lurker Laura
Member

Best case scenario for Matt is to improve his strikeout rate just enough to be packaged in a trade deadline deal.

I’ll miss his hair, but that really would be the best thing for the Sox.

mikeyb
Member

Yeah, I’d much prefer to just shuffle the outfielders through the DH spot to see if any of them can hit over the course of a full season.

katiesphil
Member

Meant as a reply to Patrick.
Thanks for posting this. Sorry for his past dreams and such, but “I’m 26, I have a Stanford degree, I have many interests beyond baseball, which I still love, but I have a lot of things I care about.” makes me less sad for him as a person. Best of luck to him, whether he ever tries baseball again or not.

karkovice squad
Member

So you’re saying you wouldn’t offer him a basement cot even if he was a Sox prospect.

katiesphil
Member

Until Cleu gets his Stanford degree, my basement cot is spoken for.

karkovice squad
Member

Bunkcots.

Lurker Laura
Member

Shameless self-promotion: I am curling in an exhibition match at the “Park at Wrigley” at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, 2/13. I am also instructing at a learn-to-curl immediately prior. I will be wearing my White Sox hat the entire time. The learn-to-curl costs money, and I certainly am not recommending that you pay the Ricketts for anything. But the exhibition game is free, so if there are any North Side SoxMachiners who want to come out and watch, wear your White Sox hats, too. I’ll need the back-up!

Lurker Laura
Member

Also, I apologize for being off topic. But did you read the part about me wearing my Sox hat?

Josh Nelson
Editor

I can see it now. Jim Margalus/Lurker Laura representing Team USA in the Mixed Doubles Curling event at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Lurker Laura
Member

You’ve clearly never seen me curl.

asinwreck
Member

It’s not too late to get Peruvian citizenship to represent that nation in 2022.

steely3000
Member

Well to me, the most important thing about 2018 is to see if Tim Anderson can take that next step. He had a wonderful September including 9 for 9 in SB, which is encouraging after his issues early in 2017. But besides putting together a solid offensive year, I hope he can show less flashiness and more solidness in his defense.

sausalito pale hose
Member

Tim is a big question. The talent is there; is the maturity?  Sox think it is.

ParisSox
Member

First half of 2017 is a mulligan for him and should have no bearing on the future, imo.  Besides going through tremendous grief and not sleeping, he didn’t know how to handle the grief until he got counseling.  All that while trying to play at the highest level of arguably the most difficult mental sport.

Not to say that there aren’t holes in his game to be exploited, but the questions now are hopefully pure baseball questions (as opposed to personal questions re: maturity), i.e. can he adjust after the league adjusts to him, etc.

I think we are in for a nice year from Timmy.  Not an awesome peak year as there will be slumps, but at the end hopefully we are saying, that was a nice year and if he builds on that for 2019, watch out.

mikeyb
Member

If we can get a 2016-level season out of Tim over the course of a full season, that would be a hell of a boost heading into 2019. The 2019 team has a ton of potential for huge breakthrough opportunities, even if 2020 is the more likely window. The middle infield is at the top of the list for the place where I see the most potential to grab a surprise wild card birth next year.

PauliePaulie
Member

Bombshell from Heyman-

The Sox aren’t interested in Matt Kemp.

asinwreck
Member

Neither are the Dodgers.

steely3000
Member

Yu Darvish then?

PauliePaulie
Member

Bruce Rondon. I like it.

Eagle Bones
Member

This is fun.  Big time velocity, little risk.  Coop’ll get him to try harder.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Just saw that.  I was hoping the White Sox would be able to get him in a dumpster dive as soon as I heard he’d been released by the Tigers.  If they can get him to translate his innate talent into results like they did with Kahnle and Swarzak, that’s a huge get.

mikeyb
Member

So are there like 9 guys in the system now who can hit 100 mph? That should make for a very fun spring training, even if the pitches are nowhere near the strike zone.

GrinnellSteve
Member

Especially if the pitches are nowhere near the strike zone.