As the Chicago White Sox finish up their series against the Cleveland Guardians to reach .500 for what has felt like the 100th time, the White Sox will turn their heads to the Trade Deadline. Now, it’s time to be blunt. The White Sox had some pretty glaring holes to fill during the offseason but, as most expected, failed. As we all know, Jerry Reinsdorf isn’t the type to give out King Size candy bars on Halloween, so forget about a large contract to help his team compete. In fact, the White Sox are 1 of 4 teams to have never signed/extended a player to over a 100 Million dollar contract. Hopefully, that changes soon. As the deadline of August 2nd approaches, the White Sox have some work to do. After last year’s deadline, included sending Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer in exchange for Craig Kimbrel. I can see why the White Sox are hesitant to give up young assets for immediate help again.
But, the White Sox still have some work to be done if they plan to continue this current contention window. There are four key positions that will help the White Sox this season. A left-handed bat (preferably an outfielder), an upgrade at 2nd Base, a Starting Pitcher to round the rotation out, and a lefty reliever. Here’s what I think the White Sox should do to acquire these positions:
The outfield has been a mess for the Chicago White Sox this Season. Eloy Jimenez, who only played in 22 games this season so far, has recently started to heat up at the plate. Luis Robert has battled minor injuries throughout the year but started to find a rhythm at the plate before being placed on the IL. Within the next two weeks, he should return to a lineup in need of power and an outfield in need of defense. AJ Pollock, acquired in exchange for Craig Kimbrel during Spring Training, has shown flashes this season but ultimately has been a letdown. After coming off back-to-back seasons posting above a 130 wRC+, he holds a 75 wRC+ this season. For a player known for his hitting, a change of scenery could be what is needed.
A similar situation is occurring with New York Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo. After posting a 123 wRC+ with Texas and New York last season, Gallo has struggled this season, striking out 100 times in 225 ABs. Some have said that Gallo can’t handle the pressure that New York brings. While this may be true, I don’t like to think much about these theories, but I believe a change of scenery is a need for Gallo. I think the White Sox should swap AJ Pollock for Joey Gallo in a trade where both teams get a player with fresh starts. Sort of like the Zack Collins and Reese McGuire trade.
Another player I like if the White Sox cannot land Joey Gallo is Reds outfielder Tyler Naquin. A 101 wRC+ hitter with better defensive talent than Eloy Jimenez, AJ Pollock, and Andrew Vaughn would be an upgrade for the White Sox. Naquin’s cost shouldn’t be too much of a reach for Chicago. A prospect like Yolbert Sanchez or Luis Mieses and another minor prospect could do the deal.
Along with an upgrade in Right Field, 2nd Base was also a position in need. Accordingly, the White Sox signed Josh Harrison to a two-year contract with a club option in the latter year. While Harrison has been a delight to watch defensively this year, one struggles to watch him at the plate. A 93 wRC+ and a .312 On-Base Percentage from Harrison is not enough for the White Sox to receive from the 2B position offensively. While I am not saying to DFA Harrison, I don’t think he should be starting in this lineup. However, he can provide value on the bench as a late-inning defensive substitute.
I believe Reds Infielder Brandon Drury would provide an offensive spark to this lineup. A 130 wRC+ season with 18 Home Runs (that would make him #1 in Home Runs on this team) is what the White Sox exactly need. His cost would also be relatively low as his contract ends after this season. For the White Sox, a package of Luis Curbelo, Harvin Mendoza, and another low-level prospect could land Drury.
Starting pitching was the highlight of the 2021 Chicago White Sox and might as well be the make or break of the White Sox’s chances to compete in 2022. With the numerous injuries at times to the starting rotation. The addition of Johnny Cueto has worked out well for Chicago this season. But, if Chicago plans to compete this season, they’ll need some Major League depth to provide relief to some of the rotation arms. With Lance Lynn regressing, Lucas Giolito set to hit Free Agency after next season, and no pitching talent close to taking a spot in the rotation. The White Sox should target some of the younger names on the market to acquire younger, controllable pitching to extend the current contention window.ket to acquire younger, controllable pitching to extend the current contention window.
Tyler Mahle is in the same position as Lucas Giolito entering Free Agency after next year. Unlike others available, like Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas, Mahle would cost less. While Mahle is having what some may call a rough season with a 4.48 ERA, his advanced metrics say otherwise. A 3.25 xERA and 3.55 FIP show that Mahle has been much better than the ERA says. Since the Major League pitching development has been a positive for the White Sox this season, Mahle working with pitching coach Ethan Katz could provide a solid return. While there’s no known asking price, the White Sox could send a prospect like Wilber Sanchez, who is further out from reaching the majors, along with a lottery ticket prospect.
If the White Sox decide to go a more affordable route, a reunion with a familiar name could be a good fit for the White Sox- Jose Quintana. He currently holds a 3.70 ERA and 3.27 FIP with Pittsburgh this season and would also cost less than others. A prospect like Wilfred Veras could get it done.
The Chicago White Sox Bullpen has completely fallen apart this season. After committing roughly $41,000,000 to the bullpen prior to 2022, the only bright spot has been Reynaldo Lopez‘s emergence as a borderline elite reliever this season. The offseason acquisition of Joe Kelly has been a complete swing and a miss. Considering they lost Garrett Crochet to Tommy John in Spring Training and won’t have Aaron Bummer until late September, the team is desperate for a left-handed reliever.
A name I like for the White Sox isn’t too far from Chicago. Left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin on the Detroit Tigers would provide immediate help. Currently, with a 2.73 ERA and 2.32 FIP, Chafin would deliver some relief to Reynaldo Lopez and Kendall Graveman in the late innings. However, he may not be a realistic option for Chicago since Detroit would be trading him in-division and has a player option next year. Realistically, the White Sox could try to give up Jake Burger or Gavin Sheets if Detroit had an interest in either and a low-level prospect like Adam Hackenburg.
Keeping this in mind, another option I like is a lefty on the Texas Rangers. Matt Moore currently holds a 1.61 ERA and 2.67 FIP this season and is on a one-year, two-and-a-half-million-dollar contract. Even though Moore will be a free agent after this season, his chances on the White Sox seem slim. If Texas decides to sell Moore at the deadline, I believe teams will enter a bidding war, and Chicago will not be able to pay the price for him. An offer Chicago could put forward is a solid pitching prospect like Andrew Dalquist or Matthew Thompson and a lottery-type prospect.
There are multiple ways that the White Sox can approach this deadline. Realistically, I see this deadline as a quiet one. Minor moves like older veterans sent out for younger, controllable players who need development time could be possible. I could also see Johnny Cueto or Jose Abreu sent out to a team in chances of contention for a younger, controllable player in return. Realistically, the only way I see Jose Abreu sent out is if he asks for a trade, but I don’t believe that will happen.
My prediction: the White Sox acquire Jose Quintana and an outfielder like Joey Gallo or Tyler Naquin. Only fulfilling 2/4 needs and then re-evaluating in the offseason. As much as everyone wanted the White Sox to compete this year, extending the contention window longer is what is better for the team in the long run.
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