The MLB trade deadline is just about a week away and rapidly approaching. The Chicago White Sox have been able to weather the injury storm that has ravaged the South Side, but if the team wants to make a legitimate push to the postseason and beyond, a few things need to be addressed within the next week.
Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez have been cleared and begun rehab assignments, so help is on the way, but that doesn’t solve all the problems…
Someone who won’t be making another rehab assignment this year is Nick Madrigal. Leury Garcia and Danny Mendick have been filling is as well as they can, but they just aren’t every day guys. A replacement for Madrigal is needed. This leads up to the first position that needs to be addressed: 2B.
This is probably the best option. He’s been in the league since 2016, but has really come into his own this year, leading to his first All-Star selection. He’s leading the entire MLB in hits, in a year that the question was brought up about pitchers being too dominant and leading to a rule change, and is batting .326/.390/.454. He’s only got 4 HRs and 31 RBIs, so he isn’t a power hitter by any means. Getting hits and getting on base, sounds exactly like a guy that was playing 2B to start the year…
Another good thing about getting Frazier would be that he has another year of control beyond 2021. He wouldn’t just be a second-half rental. This would mean the cost is likely higher, but justifiably so. Wouldn’t be bad to have some depth next year either after Madrigal comes back.
Another All-Star this year who should look slightly familiar to some Sox fans. He previously played for the Sox and Twins and could find himself back where he started. The second baseman is a completely different hitter than Frazier. He’s batting .251/.302/.494 but does have 22 HRs and 65 RBIs. If he ended up on the South Side, he would be the clubhouse leader with his 22 HRs and only behind Abreu in RBIs though.
The downside of Escobar is that his contract is up at the end of the year. But depending on how you look at it, this may be an upside as the asking price might not be as high. With Madrigal expected to make a full recovery by next season, this might be the better option.
Another All-Star. Seems to be a trend here. Story is more of the perennial All-Star though. He’s having a solid season batting .243/.317/.425 with 11 HRs and 43 RBI’s. Story is an all around good baseball player, but he’s been a SS his entire career. A player of his caliber should be able to transition to 2B, but it would be a change. Chances are he wouldn’t mind coming to a contending team and would do whatever is needed to help win.
Story, like Escobar, would be another second-half rental as he is a free agent after the season. Again, might be a good option given the presumably lower price tag to acquire him.
Second base isn’t the only need for the White Sox at the deadline though. There’s a huge need in the bullpen. This might sound silly given that the Sox have the best closer in baseball in Hendriks and Kopech has been damn near un-hittable. But outside of those two, it’s bad. Heuer is awful. Foster is awful. Marshall is awful. Bummer hasn’t been nearly as good as he has in the past. Ruiz is serviceable. and I really don’t know what to make of Crochet. He seems to be always injured/on a restriction and can’t face more than 2-3 batters lately. Sometimes he’s good, others he’s bad, but he’s still very young.
I’m no pitching guru, but the bottom line is the Sox need bullpen help and there are some intriguing guys available:
A teammate of Frazier’s who should be a very intriguing option. He’s the Pirates’ closer, but that doesn’t mean he needs to be a closer on the South Side. He’s got a 2.65 ERA at the moment over 37.1 IP. He’s also still under control through 2023, so he could be a key part of the bullpen for coming seasons as well.
As great as Shohei Ohtani has been, the Angels haven’t been able to win games. They aren’t completely out of it, but sitting in 4th in their division, with a tough road ahead, and Trout on the IL, it might be selling time. Iglesias has got a 3.40 ERA over 42.1 IP and would be an upgrade for the Sox. He comes with a fairly large salary but would only be a rental for the end of the season and wouldn’t tie up the payroll long term.
The Rangers are in last place and really have no chance at making the playoffs. He’s a great, cheap option who the Rangers can deal and get some assets. He’s got a 2.59 ERA over 31.1 IP and is a free agent after the season. Also, at age 36, he’s not getting any younger. Could be a perfect guy to throw on to a contender for one last hurrah.
Others whose team may not quite be in sell mode but are on the edge:
Kendall Graveman – Mariners
Daniel Hudson – Nationals
Those are a few names to keep an eye on over the next week as the Sox are expected to make a move. The team has been able to tread water with all the injuries and suspect bullpen largely due to the stellar starting pitching, but treading water isn’t going to work for a playoff push. The Sox defintely have some young talent that could land them one of the names above, but they have to be careful about giving up too much for a player they’ll only get ~70 games out of. Rick Hahn has made a lot of good moves over the past couple years, let’s see if he’s got a some more moves in him to improve this team once again.