The Chicago White Sox are one of the most interesting clubs this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 78-4 finish, which featured a 17-8 start in April, the White Sox are a club at a crossroads. The club added new Manager Rick Renteria to replace Robin Ventura. The club could try to piece to their core of veterans to contend for 2017. The better option in my opinion is to blow up this whole roster and acquire as many assets as possible. Starting Pitcher Chris Sale has been linked to the Nationals, Astros, and Braves. A perennial Cy Young candidate should be able to bring in major league ready players in return. It takes two to tango however, as we shall see if clubs are willing to give up their top prospects. Whether the Sox could get Trea Turner, Lucas Giolito, Alex Bregman, or Dansby Swanson remains to be seen. GM Rick Hahn should be holding out for a franchise building block in return in any package. The time may come later this winter where lower level prospects with upside may be the route the acquiring clubs would be willing to go.
The White Sox are a viable option because they have assets to move as this is weak free agent class in 2017. Take into account some of the contracts already signed this winter and compare those to players available in a trade. Rich Hill signed a 3-year-deal worth $48 million dollars. The soon to be 37-year-old southpaw has 610.1 career innings and is getting paid for finding the fountain of youth. While Sale is soon to be 28 and has 3-years of team control at $38 million dollars. Sale has also finished in the Top 6 in AL Cy Young voting each season since 2012. Which player is the better value?
Other players in Chicago could fetch solid returns in trade due to age and team control. None of these players are in the twilight of their careers. Closer David Robertson has 2 years and 25 million dollars left on his deal. Clubs that don’t want to spend on Chapman, Jansen, and Melancon could pursue Robertson, who turns 32 next season. Melancon signed a 4-years $62 million dollar deal with the Giants. Roberston is nearly the same age as Melancon on a shorter deal. SP Jose Quintana has 4-years and $37.85 million dollars remaining on his deal. Quintana is a soon to be 28-year-old middle of rotation arm with a career ERA of 3.41 and 1.242 WHIP. 3B Todd Frazier has 2 years of arbitration eligibility left and is coming off a year with a career high in HR (40) and RBI (98). Frazier will turn 31 this offseason. Right Fielder Adam Eaton has back to back seasons of a plus .280 avg and .360 OBP. A 28-year-old leadoff hitter under team control of 5-years for $38.4 million dollars could be attractive to clubs. Eaton is a terrific defensive right fielder, not so much in center field. At $15 million on the last year of his deal, Melky Cabrera should still retain value at his age 32 campaign. Cabrera may be an add on in one of the blockbuster deals. An outfielder with a career .286 avg and .337 OBP should retain value.
Rebuilding and contending at the same time is tough to do in sports. The White Sox farm system may have some talent that helps down the road in RHP Carson Fulmer, RHP Spencer Adams, C Zach Collins, RHP Zack Burdi, 3B Trey Michalczewski, and RHP Alec Hanson. GM Rick Hahn has to opportunity to acquire assets to help the White Sox get younger and possibly better. I believe if the White Sox don’t take advantage of this weak free agent class and selloff, it will set the club back longer. After years of trying to contend and failing, its time for the White Sox to go in another direction.
The Washington Nationals are off to a hot start with a 9-3 record. While the Nationals top prospect Shortstop Trea Turner is tearing up Triple-A .368/.467/.526. It’s not all roses as there’s a glaring hole at Shortstop. Danny Espinosa has a slash rate of .176/.31/.206 so far this season. In his 7th season Espinosa owns a career .229 batting average and is a stop-gap option until Turner is ready. Stephen Drew has been more productive .273/.333/.545 in a third as many plate appearances as Espinosa. The problem is Drew has lost a lot of range defensively and isn’t physically capable of playing everyday at this stage of his career. The fact of the matter is production at the major league level closer to below replacement level player than the club should want.
Turner in a 44-game late season audition and spring training showed that plate discipline was a major problem. Spring Training saw Turner slash .244/.327/.390 which in my opinion justifies getting sent down to Triple-A to start this season. GM Mike Rizzo and company want to make sure Turner’s development isn’t stunted by bringing him up too early. The Nationals are correct in giving Turner more time to work on his swing. Turner’s ability to reach his potential could get stunted by returning to the majors too soon.
Platooning Turner in the majors would be a waste of time in my opinion. When Turner is eventually called up it should be as the starting shortstop. Batting 8th in front of the pitcher also should be avoided by Manager Dusty Baker. Turner should bat with protection in the lineup so he can see better pitches. I’ve always despised batting young players in front of the pitcher.
Fantasy owners looking to add Turner should receive help in runs, batting average, and steals. Your league size and construction dictates if Turner should be already owned. I own Turner already in dynasty keeper league dumping Ian Desmond in the process. In a daily categories league another owner picked up Turner. Owners where Turner is available should track the situation and be ready to make the move before Turner arrives in DC.