1. Rare is it that two teams engineer a trade with one another that seems to prepare both for the coming war, but it helps that the Astros are gunning to make Sports Illustrated’s prediction look prescient and the Yankees are building a prospect army. The Astros continued a buy-in for 2017 by trading for Brian McCann and signing Josh Reddick, and while the Yankees can no longer spare who the White Sox once viewed as a potential centerpiece in a Chris Sale deal (Gary Sanchez), they have amassed a simply staggering volume of prospects with which to flood any major deal, as do the Astros.
This adds to a world where the Braves–who probably have no realistic path to building a contender in 2017–are themselves rumored to be pushing for Sale out of some misplaced notion of putting a competitive team in their fancy new ballpark, along with the expected inquiries from the super rich Dodgers, Red Sox and Rangers.
The more bidders, obviously, the better for the White Sox, who are hopefully holding out for an overpay to kickstart a rebuild, rather than an overpay to kickstart a piecemeal overhaul while simultaneously staying in the 80-win zone.
2. Sale and Adam Eaton both grabbed single down-ballot MVP votes in the AL MVP race Thursday night, to match with Jose Quintana grabbing a single fifth-place vote in the AL Cy Young race on Wednesday despite handily outperforming sixth-place finisher J.A. Happ during the season. Sale’s fifth-straight season finishing in the top six for the award seems like the notable accomplishment of the Sox postseason, since it required him to get a vote from more than just one single writer to accomplish it. Even Tim Anderson got two third-place votes for the AL Rookie of the Year.
2013 represented the only season in the ‘Sale as a starter’ era where a Sox position player did not collect some down-ballot MVP votes (Apparently Jose Abreu finished 21st last season, after finishing fourth in 2014), and Alex Rios’ bizarre ride to finishing 15th in 2012. All three players were acquired through bizarre or seemingly unrepeatable means (Expensive waiver claim, pre-Cuba boom international signing, Arizona’s personal enmity for Eaton). Actually, the last one–talented guys with troubled clubhouse relationships–might be a good avenue for talent worth revisiting.
3. Thursday was not a good PR day for Korn Ferry, a search firm MLB just fired for its utter failure to improve diversity in executive hiring, and largely cited for just spreading former Cleveland executives and Mark Shapiro acolytes throughout the league. Now all the league sees the world in DiamondView.
Rick Renteria–new White Sox manager, in case you forgot–is mentioned in Bob Nightengale’s column as the sole notable Latino hire in the league over the past year. However, Renteria is not seen as a big source for encouragement, since he was internally promoted, and does not represent a team looking outside their walls for minority candidates. And really, if we think of the Sox traditional mode of hiring, which leans heavily on trusting their people, that seems like it will continue to be a hard tendency to change leaguewide without serious systemic changes. Bringing Renteria into the fold was nice move in and of itself, but it also profited a little bit from the Cubs putting him on the national radar. Once a single minority candidate emerges, we tend to see them bounce around as the token interview for a lot of teams.
Something like hiring Willie Harris to manage at High-A Winston-Salem, which the Sox also announced this week, is more encouraging, because it indicates that their own typically insular process can still find diversity.
4. Extremely Large Baseball Playing Adult Zack Collins kept hitting (and walking and whiffing) in the Arizona Fall League to the tune of a ridiculous .227/.393/.500 line in just 10 games. 2080 Baseball’s Alec Dopp was not as kind as Baseball America’s Hudson Belinksy was earlier this month, but confidence in his enormous power and plate approach is universal.
20 years from now when Collins is being inducted into the Hall of Fame, I will still be troubled by the hitch in his swing load.
5. The White Sox have only two spots left on the 40-man roster at the moment and need to probably protect Adam Engel before the deadline for the Rule 5 draft. Scott Merkin mentions Charlotte Knights relief warrior Brad Goldberg as a possibility for the other spot, with Jacob May on the outside looking in, and Courtney Hawkins on the way outside looking in.
There’s also, of course, no shortage at all of guys who could be purged from the 40-man with no real consequences no regrets, so perhaps this is all a false choice, ginned up to be more pressure-packed than it really is for the sake of filling out a fifth point for an article.
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