We should’ve known that the Chicago White Sox were going to surprise people this offseason when they signed the top free agent catcher, former Cub Wellington Castillo, to a two-year, $15 million contract.
Armed with a ton of space on the payroll, an aggressive GM in Rick Hahn, and a loaded farm system, the White Sox appear to be willing to swing for the fences on big name talent.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 29, 2017
Machado is set to be a free agent after this season, so the price on him wouldn’t be as steep compared to Yelich, who wouldn’t be a free agent until 2022.
However, Machado plays third base — though he has recently voiced his desire to play shortstop again, the position he played coming out of high school. Third base for the White Sox is a huge question mark, as they don’t currently have a top-tier prospect to fill the void.
Scouts wonder if prospect Jake Burger can stay at third base or will have to eventually move to first or be a DH. Matt Davidson hit .220 with 24 homers and 68 RBI in 443 plate appearances, but defense certainly isn’t his strong suit. Yolmer Sanchez is solid defensively, but his bat isn’t the caliber you want coming from the hot corner and he may best be suited for his original utility role.
Yelich, on the other hand, presents more of a need for the present, but not necessarily the future. While the group of Nicky Delmonico, Avi Garcia, Willy Garcia and Adam Engel (?), isn’t the most tantalizing, the White Sox have plenty of reinforcements down the pipeline.
Eloy Jimenez is undoubtedly a top-five prospect and looks to lock down one of the corner outfield spots in the coming years. We’ll get our first taste of what Luis Robert can do as he will most likely get assigned to Single-A Kannapolis, but he has as high of an upside as any prospect.
The White Sox believe big time in Blake Rutherford, who was the number 18 pick in the 2016 Draft, and despite having a down year, Rutherford is only 20 years old. There’s also Micker Adolfo, Luis Basabe, Ryan Cordell and Tito Polo.
Essentially, so long as Jimenez and Robert pan out to be who they project to be, the White Sox only need one of the aforementioned players to work out — Yelich would give them a player who they know will be good in one of the corner spots, but it’s not as if they need him. The Marlins haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire like the Sox did last year when they held their fire sale, as Miami is more focused on cutting costs than attaining prospects.
If it were to only cost, say, Basabe and a mid-tier pitching prospect such as Spencer Adams or Jordan Stephens, then sure, go for it. But they’d probably want someone of the ilk such as Alec Hansen, whom the Sox are high on.
More than likely, the White Sox were doing their due diligence on two big names on the trading block. Machado should still be a target for them in the offseason, but unless they can work out an extension for him or get a handshake agreement to flip him to the Yankees, it doesn’t make much sense to trade for him. As for Yelich, while he would be a clear upgrade over any of the White Sox current outfielders, his presence would also block the path of the cheaper talent waiting in the minors. It makes total sense to poke around, but the Sox seem to be content on letting their homegrown talent marinate in the minors to shine on the big stage when the time comes.
In other words? Don’t order those custom-made jerseys just yet.