Jon Morosi, whose work appears on Fox Sports and MLB’s digital properties, is a credible reporter, and one who has been the most active one when it comes to tying the White Sox to players nobody else has yet connected.
As a White Sox blog proprietor slingin’ offseason ‘tent, I’m all for it. Several posts this winter have featured a hot Morosi rumor outside of the Manny Machado/Bryce Harper circles:
But so far, none of these has connected. Ottavino, whom Morosi has thrice tied to the Sox, hasn’t yet signed, but Familia (Mets), Cruz (Twins), Corbin (Nationals) and Happ (Yankees) have all found different homes. Back at the start of the winter, I guessed that the White Sox would be a popular team to float due to their combination of needs and available funds, and this low conversion rate is what I was getting at.
This is good to keep in mind when watching Morosi’s appearance on Hot Stove on Friday:
… because he has the White Sox on two more first base/DH types — Edwin Encaricion and Jose Martinez. The direct quote pertained primarily for Encarnacion …
“The teams that were involved in the Cruz pursuit are now shifting their focus to Encarnacion, specifically, the Rays, the White Sox and the Astros.”
… and Martinez, who was effectively replaced by Paul Goldschmidt, was stapled on as a like player on the market, potentially of interest to those same shoppers.
Morosi’s reputable enough to warrant a post on MLB Trade Rumors about this appearance, but neither Morosi nor MLBTR mention the Yonder Alonso trade. That deal and Jose Abreu’s presence seem to wall off most of the plate appearances at first base and DH. Maybe the White Sox intend to move Abreu, but until that becomes its own story, I’m guessing this is old information incorrectly extrapolated due to an oversight.
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Regarding Cruz, Encarnacion and other power hitters of their ilk, Jonah Keri wrote a post that tries to get to the bottom of their limited appeal. It’s a tough market for the archetypal slugger, even accomplished ones, as teams turn their attention and dollars toward players who can contribute in more ways than one.
Perusing the 2018 leaderboards, we find 27 players who hit 30 or more home runs last season, and also 27 batting title-qualified hitters who fared 30 percent better than league average (or more) by the park-adjusted stat wRC+. Comparing the top 27 of each list, exactly one-third of the players on the wRC+ leaderboard did not appear on the home run leaderboard, meaning they didn’t need massive homer totals to be top-shelf hitters.
That said, the Twins are taking the other road with the start to their offseason, which includes Cruz and C.J. Cron. They have their reasons — they were 23rd in homers last season, and seem to have addressed that issue with reasonable one-year contracts. Homers still have importance, even if teams are afraid to commit to that tool:
In the copycat world that is Major League Baseball, keep an eye on the Twins. If they storm back to the playoffs on a raft of Cruz and Cron walkoffs, maybe all those miserly contracts for sluggers can finally rebound. Maybe power hitters can rise up, and return from the dead.