After the departure of 2019 Gold Glove winner Yolmer Sanchez, the White Sox second base position is up for grabs. Up to this point the Sox have not added any big-name second baseman, outside of a few minor league/non-roster invitee deals. The pale hose are left with 3 internal options, utility-man Leury Garcia, corner infielder Danny Mendick and 2018 4th overall pick Nick Madrigal. This is just one of many decisions that GM Rick Hahn and manager Ricky Renteria will have to make before March 26th.
In 2019, Leury Garcia was mainly an outfielder for the White Sox and only played two games at 2B. He has played 49 career games at 2B with five errors, -1.1 UZR and 3 DRS in that span. Outside of the smaller body of work at second, Garcia had an average year offensively in 2019. He was worth 1.6 bWAR and slashed .279/.310/.378 with a .688 OPS, 8 home runs and 40 RBIs over 140 games. Given the lack of 2B experience it may not be the ideal decision for Leury Garcia to be the opening day second baseman but he is capable of holding down the fort if given the opportunity.
Danny Mendick played the majority of the 2019 season with AAA Charlotte, where he had a breakout season that led to a September call-up to the majors. The Boston native slashed .279/.368/.444 with a .812 OPS, 17 homers and 64 RBIs over 133 games before his big league call up which equated to a line of .308/.325/.462 with a .787 OPS and 2 homers in 16 games. He mainly played a combination of 2B/3B/SS and a small sample of LF in Charlotte and played corner utility as well with the White Sox. Mendick managed to make only four errors as a corner infielder at Charlotte and none in his short big league stint. Due to the more recent experience at the corner infield positions Mendick is a better fit at 2B than Garcia who would project better backing up the OF in 2020.
Nick Madrigal tore up the minors in 2019, starting in A+ Winston Salem and ending up in AAA Charlotte. Madrigal slashed minor league hurlers to the tune of .311/.377/.414 with a .792 OPS, 35 stolen bases and a mind-blowing 3% K-Rate for only 16 strikeouts in 532 plate appearances. In addition to his stellar season, the “Magic Man” took home some hardware, by winning a minor league gold glove at second. It also seems like he took the off-season seriously as he reportedly added some size to his frame.
There is a legitimate case for Madrigal to make the opening day roster, but since he’s only played 25 games of AAA and with service time concerns, he will likely end up in Charlotte to start the season. The White Sox haven’t ruled out the chance of him making the team per the below excerpt from the team’s Athletic beat writer, James Fegan’s, article on the matter.
Now you might be wondering, what’s my take on who should be the White Sox opening day second baseman? In a year where the 2020 White Sox look to contend, there are no games to waste, and I’d have Nick Madrigal as my 2B at 35th and Shields on opening day. Having the best 26 men on the roster should be the goal on opening day, and given the fast track Madrigal was on in 2019 with his elite contact tool, he should make the team. Now, if the front office decides to hold him down to start the season I’d then have Danny Mendick as the 2B to start the season. Mendick had a small sample size in September, and should play as much as possible before Madrigal gets the call so he can continue to get experience in the majors. It will truly be an interesting story line to follow to see who is given the second base nod to start the season.
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