Last Year, the Chicago White Sox and General Manager Rick Hahn were ready to place a quarter billion dollars into the hands of Manny Machado. He is viewed as a transformational talent and eventually signed for a higher offer with the San Diego Padres.
Over the years, unlike other teams, the Chicago White Sox have not handed out contracts that seem way out of proportion to players like Manny Machado. They have acutely considered that one player makes up only 4 percent of a 25-man roster.
Unless we are talking about a big market team like the New York Yankees, the timing of such a move can propel a franchise forward or set them back a few years. During every rebuild, the hope is that such a move is simply the missing piece and not just an unrealistic expectation that one player will save the franchise.
Let’s examine what we know about the White Sox, what we know that we don’t know, and what areas will require Rick Hahn to get out of his comfort zone and make a transformative move.
What we know:
- The White Sox have 3 highly touted starting pitching prospects that have gone through serious surgery. They are Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning and Carlos Rodon.
- Lucas Giolito appears to be a solid piece of the starting rotation.
- Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease are looking like they can become two high level starting pitchers and are worth investing more time in.
- Aaron Bummer has been a pleasant surprise in the bullpen as has Evan Marshall.
- We know there are 4 hot prospects who appear certain to fill the following positions: 2B – Nick Madrigal 3B – Yoan Moncada LF – Eloy Jimenez, and CF – Luis Robert.
- SS – Tim Anderson is under team control until 2024. He hits for a high percentage and has been clutch. However he still leads the league in errors, even with having been out of the lineup since his July 25th ankle injury.
- A decision must be made on 3 veterans at the following positions: 1B – Jose Abreu who is going into free agency, C- James McCann – who is going into arbitration, and Closer – Alex Colome who is also going into arbitration.
- In addition, they must make a decision on 2 versatile and dependable veteran utility players, in Yolmer Sanchez and Leury Garcia. Both will be going into arbitration.
What we know we don’t know:
- Will Kopech, Dunning and Rodon will ever be the same? In Rodon’s case, White Sox patience may be wearing short after another disappointing setback. In Kopech’s case, it would be a big disappointment if he doesn’t return to full strength.
- Is Tim Anderson capable of limiting his errors?
- If Eloy Jimenez continues to struggle in LF, would he be better utilized as a DH?
- Will Lopez and Cease develop in the same fashion as Giolito?
- Who will fortify the middle relief?
We can now break it down further. Assuming the White Sox bring back the 5 veterans mentioned above, the following list accurately describes who is slated at each position as the rebuild progresses into relevancy:
C- James McCann, who may not come back. In that case, Zack Collins would be inserted
1B – Jose Abreu. Should be resigned, but with an open mind to move him if the deal fills glaring holes. Remember that the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 Draft was Andrew Vaughn. He may move through the minors as fast as Madrigal and Robert have. Abreu still has excellent trade value.
2B – Nick Madrigal
3B – Yoan Moncada
SS – Tim Anderson
LF – Eloy Jimenez
CF – Luis Robert
3 Starting Pichters – Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Dylan Cease
2 Starting Pitchers – Wide Open
Closer – Alex Colome, who may not come back
Lefty Setup Reliever – Aaron Bummer
Righty Set Up Reliever – Evan Marshall
Lefty Middle Reliever – Wide Open
Righty Middle Relief – Wide Open
Long Relief – Wide Open
Utility Imfielder – Yolmar Sanchez
Utility Infield / Outfielder – Leury Garcia
Utility Infielder – Wide Open
2 Reserve Outfielders – Wide Open
To sum it up, last year the Chicago White Sox were willing to get uncomfortable and pay for a transformational player. This year, with the current pieces having one more year of development under their belts, Rick Hahn may expand his comfort zone. Looking at the list above, the glaring missing pieces appear to be a starting pitcher and a right fielder.
While the bullpen also needs repair, a starting pitcher as well as a starting position player have the greatest potential to take this team to the next level. Those two players can arrive through the farm system, through trade or through free agency. One thing is certain. If this season is the “end of the rebuild”, and the White Sox want to contend for the division title next year, it is time for Rick Hahn to once again get uncomfortable and take risks.
In the windy city, you don’t want to miss an opportunity for change.