The White Sox have been playing better baseball in June as the team has won seven of their twelve games played this month. One of the key reasons has been the turn around of the bullpen that has performed extremely well as of late. What was used as the White Sox biggest weakness has now become a strength especially creating trade value going forward.
One member of the bullpen who has experienced a resurgence in June has been closer, Joakim Soria. Soria struggled through late April into mid-May as he blew two save opportunities and had an ERA of 5.65 on May 17th. Since that date, he has lowered his ERA by over two runs and has converted five consecutive save chances in the past week.
Soria’s turn around is beginning to create trade value for the White Sox that they did not have earlier in the season. Starting pitching and relief pitching are the biggest commodities coveted by contending teams towards the trade deadline every year. If Soria is able to consistently save games and pitch like his former self, the team could get a prospect back that may not have been available earlier in the season.
Last season, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn traded four relievers for prospects to bolster the team’s farm system. Of the three trades, the White Sox picked up quality prospects from the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, and Tampa Bay Rays. Hahn’s goal wasn’t to get their best prospects available, but to get the highest return to provide depth rather than talent.
There are other relievers currently in the bullpen that could warrant value on the trade market including Nate Jones, Luis Avilan, and Bruce Rodon. Rodon has been the most consistent of the relievers as he has only allowed three runs in his last 10 appearances. Avilan provides both middle inning relief and can be used as in situational lefty against lefty matchups. Jones has attracted attention because of his potential but has had several shaky outings the last few times out.
If the bullpen continues to perform at a high level into the July, the White Sox will have several tradable assets similar to last year. Players gained in return for relievers last year included Blake Rutherford, Casey Gillaspie, and Ryan Cordell. In a season where the team is unlike to make the playoffs, June and July could be worth watching due to the bullpen’s performance and the trade rumors that could follow.
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