The White Sox missed out on free agent Starting Pitcher Zack Wheeler after he signed a five-year, $118 million deal with Philadelphia Phillies on December 4th, 2019. The big question Sox fans have is: what now? Starting pitching is probably the most significant need for the White Sox, with right field being a close second. There are many different routes the Sox can go from here. Let’s look at all the remaining possible options for the White Sox this offseason.
We start back out in the wild world that is free agency. The free-agent market for starting pitching still has some enticing options. First on that list is All-Star Gerrit Cole. Cole is the prized possession that every team wants in their stocking this Christmas. Cole finished the 2019 season with a 20-5 record, an ERA of 2.50, and bWAR of 6.8. Cole is expected to get well over $200 million this winter. Will Reinsdorf and company pay that for a pitcher? Probably not, but all Sox fans can do is hope.
The next best option is World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg this past season had a record of 18-6, an ERA of 3.32, and a bWAR of 6.5. Strasburg is expected to get a contract close to $200 million, if not more, this offseason. That price tag is very fair for him, and he should rightfully get it. Strasburg can easily be an ace on almost every team in the league. The White Sox need a solidified ace like Strasburg for those big games in September. In my opinion, the Sox should go full throttle now for Strasburg and ink him up to a deal. Will it happen? Maybe, if the money is there and the Sox give an excellent pitch.
Next up is Madison Bumgarner. The dominant lefty has been known for his excellent performances in the postseason. Bumgarner had a record of 9-9, an ERA of 3.90 (similar to Wheeler), and a bWAR of 2.8 in 2019. Now here’s the downside of Bumgarner is that he didn’t pitch well outside of San Fransico, and he is going to now want a contract worth at least $100 million. The White Sox should stay away from Bumgarner and push for Strasburg like I mentioned earlier. However, Bumgarner is just another option for the White Sox.
There are still two other names: former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel and the 2019 NL Cy Young Finalist Hyun-Jin Ryu. Both players have a lot of upside and won’t cost as much as the other names out there. Keuchel, after being signed in June by Atlanta, had a record of 8-8, an ERA of 3.75 and a bWAR of 2.0. These stats aren’t horrible for how late he was signed. If the Sox signed Keuchel on a 2-year deal around $30 million, I don’t think any White Sox fans should be mad about that deal. On the other hand, Ryu had a record of 14-5, an ERA of 2.32 and a bWAR of 5.3. Ryu was excellent for the Dodgers this past season and has been pretty consistent throughout his whole career. His drawbacks, however, are his age and injury history. If the White Sox signed him for a similar deal that I said for Keuchel, again, no Sox fans should be upset about that.
Other Possible Free Agent Targets
Possible Trade Candidates
With the starting pitching market being the highlight of free agency this year, teams might not want to wait around for Cole and Strasburg, and instead turn to a guy that could positively impact their rotation via trade. The White Sox will likely be one of these teams.
Let’s get into some of those possible trade candidates for the Sox. The first one is Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies. Gray, in 2019 for the Rockies, had a record of 11-8, an ERA of 3.84, and a bWAR of 4.0. These are all around decent stats as they are better than Bumgarner’s, in my opinion; don’t forget that Gray pitches at Coors Field. The prospects the White Sox would give up wouldn’t be anyone too significant. I think a deal around Konnor Pilkington or Steele Walker gets the trade done.
Next up on the trade target list is Matt Boyd of the Detriot Tigers. Boyd had a dominant first half of the 2019 season but struggled in the second half of the season. His stats aren’t as impressive as the others on the list but could be a solid 3-4 guy in the White Sox rotation. Boyd had a record of 9-12, an ERA of 4.56, and a bWAR of 3.5. On paper, Boyd’s stats don’t look as appealing, but when he’s on, he has had top of the rotation stuff for the Tigers. The original asking price on Boyd likely came down a bit, but the idea of trading to a division rival will likely keep the asking price high. A trade could be revolved around OF Blake Rutherford, as the Tigers could use any prospect depth they can find.
The last trade target on my list is Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Robbie Ray’s name has been in trade rumors for a while now, and I think this is the perfect time to move him. Ray had a record of 12-8, an ERA of 4.34, and a bWAR of 1.0. I know, I know, his stats aren’t the greatest, but back in 2017 Ray was an All-Star, and I feel a change of scenery could quickly bring him back to his All-Star ways. The trade package, I think, won’t be expensive, but Arizona would probably want a decent prospect back in the trade. Look for the White Sox to start with Konnor Pilkington or Laz Rivera and build on the package from there.
The White Sox still have a lot of good choices to go after. Missing out on Wheeler sucks, but it isn’t the end of the world. This White Sox front office has to move on and figure out the next step in being able to contend for that division title in 2020.
Featured Photo: MLB Trade Rumors/Twitter (@mlbtraderumors)