The Chicago White Sox are in a race for dead last in the AL and as such, should undoubtedly be sellers before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. While Rick Hahn has repeatedly said that he and the organization believes in this team, sadly, their play on the field dictates moves should be made very soon.
While the Sox do not have as many valuable assets as some may think, there is room for some wheeling and dealing, something Hahn has certainly seen over the years behind Executive Vice President Ken Williams. As such, there are five players the Sox can and should strongly consider moving before July 31.
There’s no doubt that Jeff Samardzija will and should be the first person to leave the White Sox this summer. On top of the $9.8 million the Sox are paying him, Samardzija is your classic rental player. He will most likely pursue free agency, so any team that grabs him will have to make their case for 2016 and beyond.
Working against Hahn is Samardzija’s 2015 performance. He has not lived up to expectations and entered Wednesday with a 5-4 record and a 4.53 ERA, much higher than his 3.94 career ERA. Keep in mind, he is pitching behind a horrid offense that ranks in the bottom three among all 30 teams in hits, batting average, doubles, home runs, runs, RBI and slugging percentage.
Nevertheless, teams making a playoff push will want a strong, veteran arm that has been there before. They should be able to get one or two valuable prospects.
Another big splash this offseason was the signing of first basement/designated hitter Adam LaRoche. Aimed at filling the void left by the retirement of Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, LaRoche has not stepped up. His overall slash line is down when compared to his career (as is every Sox player this year):
Luckily, LaRoche is signed through 2016 and most teams value a left-handed hitter that can fill a role in the middle of any lineup,
Much like Samardzija, Ramirez has certainly hurt his stock, perhaps more than anyone on this team. While he has never been the strongest hitter (a career .274 batting average) he has always been reliable at short. After an All-Star season in 2014 and second among AL shortstops in fielding percentage, he has dropped to fifth this season and already has eight errors.
However, as has been the case for years, shortstop is one of the most difficult positions to fill in all of sport and Ramirez could easily become a Gordon Beckham-type rental player that can play short or second.
My final two options may come as a surprise, but when you are in last place, everyone is available, and I mean everyone. Jose Quintana has been everything the Sox could have hoped for and more. Sad thing is that while his career 3.56 ERA is terrific by any standard, he simply has not gotten the help a pitcher needs. This year, he is averaging 2.21 runs of support for each start, which ranks 53rd and dead last among AL pitchers. Let that soak in for a minute. Last year, it was 3.91 (30th in AL) and 3.76 in 2013 (31st). Needless to say, he doesn’t get much help.
Even more attractive than a great lefty with a nasty changeup is a lefty with a team-friendly contract. Quintana is signed through the 2018 season with two team options through 2020. If all follows through, he will make $48.5 MM over those seven seasons, a steal compared to other contracts out there.
Every team in the MLB could use a middle or top of the rotation left-handed pitcher and Quintana certainly fits that mold.
Finally, we get to the star of them all. Yes, I understand that Chris Sale is one of the best pitchers in the league and will likely be a Cy Young candidate this season. And Yes, I know he just reached double digit strikeouts for the seventh straight game, the longest stretch since Randy Johnson in 2001. Nonetheless, this team is not winning now nor will they next season and as such, everyone is available.
In fact, listening to the Waddle and Silvy show on ESPN Radio 1000, hosts are already listing what deals with Sox and Cubs could work out with Chris Sale. Either way, for Rick Hahn to even consider talking Sale, teams will have to bring out the big guns, including at least three top prospects who are believed to have long futures in the MLB.
As a true Sox fan, it would be very difficult to see Sale go, but times are bad on the South Side and tough decisions must be made. If that means giving away one of the league’s best to ensure a better future, so be it.