And Ken Rosenthal says the White Sox will be in on Manny Machado
Adam Engel was the White Sox’ best shot at bringing home some hardware, but the Gold Glove is one thing he couldn’t run down.
Instead, the award for center field was handed to Jackie Bradley Jr., a deserving first-time winner in his own right. Engel had an uphill climb against both Bradley and Mike Trout, starting with name recognition and past achievements. But it’s also fair to say that that the Gold Glove-caliber version of Engel didn’t show up until a couple months into the season, so he could’ve done more to help his cause.
Had Engel played a strong six months of defense, there would be more grounds for objection. As it stands, being named a finalist while posting a .614 OPS over 463 plate appearances — both career highs — was already a significant achievement.
With the awards announced, the Society for American Baseball Research posted the final numbers for the SABR Defensive Index, the metric that accounts for 25 percent of the voting. Engel got a nod, of course, and the left side of the infield fared well enough, but the other qualifiers left a lot to be desired.
The numbers (with AL rank):
- P: James Shields and Reynaldo Lopez, 0.4 (t-17th out of 31)
- P: Lucas Giolito, -0.9 (30th out of 31)
- C: Omar Narvaez, -8.4 (14th out of 15)
- 1B: Jose Abreu, -3.3 (ninth out of 10)
- 2B: Yoan Moncada, -10.6 (last out of 15)
- 3B: Yolmer Sanchez, 4.4 (third out of 13)
- SS: Tim Anderson, 2.4 (eighth out of 15)
- CF: Adam Engel, 2.9 (fourth of of 11)
The numbers at second base could be one reason why Rick Hahn is open to the idea of a position switch for Moncada:
Hahn said Yoan Moncada is open to a position change "but we're going to wait to see how this offseason plays out before we fully commit to any reconfiguring of the infield. It's a possibility and if it were to happen we'd likely firm that up before we head to spring training."
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) November 3, 2018
In looking up this tweet, I found another one from Daryl Van Schouwen in September where Hahn offered his season-ending summary of Moncada’s defense:
Hahn on Moncada: "He has made a great deal of progress at second base. I also think he has the athleticism to be an above-average defender at other positions. It's a subject for further conversation but as he sits here today, I am pleased with the progress … at second base."
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) September 26, 2018
Hahn also used “pleased” to describe his response to Zack Burdi’s rehab progress, so he might use lean on that word the way the doctor on Seinfeld used “breathtaking.”
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Ken Rosenthal is here to get your hopes up:
Rebuilding teams such as the Reds and White Sox, finally tired of losing 95-plus games, are likely to spend and maybe even spend big. One rival executive views the White Sox as a sleeper for Machado, whom they pursued heavily in a trade last offseason.
While a megacontract has not been part of the White Sox playbook, Hahn seems intent on avoiding the same mistakes he made in the rebuild. The chief error: scattering a large amount of money on players more likely to be average than great, and one of them was Adam LaRoche.
The problem, as we discussed in the comments a couple of days ago, is that the White Sox are too far away from contending to have a chance at coming away unscathed from an early opt-out. Considering he’s just 26 years old, he may want another bite at the apple two years from now, so the White Sox would have to come up with a contract he would never think of leaving.
I suppose Jason Heyward exists as a cautionary tale for Machado. Heyward reportedly took less guaranteed money to sign with the Cubs because they were willing to include a pair of opt-outs after the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He didn’t use the first one, and considering he’s been average at best over his three years on the North Side, he won’t do better than the four years and $86 million left on the deal after the second chance to escape.
(Heyward might also be a warning against any kind of free agent expenditure, but Machado has four consecutive 30-homer seasons to buoy his value, whereas Heyward’s standout WAR totals relied heavily on corner outfield defense.)
The obstacles are significant, but given Machado’s age and his easy fit on both the depth chart and payroll, it makes sense for the White Sox to give it their all…
… as long as they acknowledge and prepare for the other flaw in the first rebuild, which was an unwillingness to invest a second round. After the 2015 White Sox came up short of .500, the Sox were largely inactive the following offseason, all the way down to retaining a lame-duck Robin Ventura. Machado isn’t going to get the White Sox to a wild card by himself, so spending out of rebuild will require maybe two kinds of commitments they haven’t been able to stomach.