MLB: NLDS-Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals

White Sox Season in Review: The Trade Players (and Derek Holland)

Melky Cabrera — In a season where favorite players were traded away left and right, Cabrera may have been the saddest of all the departures. He doesn’t have the same deep emotional attachment that Quintana bore, but he was just a whole lot of fun to watch play baseball. In every move it was apparent that he was having fun out there. While he didn’t quite have the same success in 2017 that he did in 2016 at the plate, he was still a pretty good hitter. He slashed .285/.324/.423 over the course of the season, which helped Chicago market him to a team that was begging for anyone that could play in the corner.

Tyler Clippard — Clippard served as the awkward throw-in of one of the White Sox’ biggest trades this season. He was sent to Chicago along with three prospects, which made him a very certain outlier. At first blush it seemed like he was included to merely cover innings for a team that was trading away two of their best relievers at once. When he was traded to the Astros almost exactly a month later, it was clear his inclusion in the inital trade was merely to balance out salaries. It’s hard to say whether the team planned to flip him all along or his strong performance (10 IP, 2 ER) ignited interest from other teams. Regardless of the why, Clippard was in a White Sox uniform for merely an uninteresting month of the season.

Todd Frazier — Frazier was one of the many White Sox players belonging to the group of last ditch players from the era of the team piecing things together in hopes of finding something that worked. He spent a season and a half with the team, showing power in 2016 and nothing of great significance in 2017. The team was forced to package him with two strong relievers to get a team to bite, and he went on to find a leadership role with a Yankees team that was just one win away from the AL pennant.

Miguel Gonzalez — One of the big stories of the 2015 season was the massive failure of the Jeff Samardzija acquisition. There was absolutely no chemistry between Don Cooper and Samardzija, causing concerns about Cooper to ripple through the White Sox fanbase and baseball world. If it’s even fair to say there was a revival of Cooper’s reputation, it came in 2016 when Gonzalez went from throwaway player on the Orioles to one of the White Sox best pitchers. The 2017 was much rockier for Gonzalez, who battled injuries in the early part of the season. His 4.62 ERA on the season certainly wasn’t great, but he was effective while in Chicago. He weaved his way through hard contact left and right to make himself a trade asset in August, which helped the White Sox gain even more young talent in quantity even if not in quality.

Derek Holland — Holland always seemed like a great fit for the 2017 White Sox. He was a free agent whose price tag was greatly reduced by injury concerns, but if he was healthy he could easily provide a multitude of innings at at least a passable quality. That was a perfect fit for a team in the very early stages of rebuilding, and if the team got lucky he could have been a trade target by July. Instead things went horribly wrong, and Holland was cut from the roster before the season ended. His 6.20 ERA and 4.6 percent strikeout minus walk rate was not a site to behold, and as the summer came to an end his starts seemed to get worse and worse. The pitcher who appeared to be a solid signing with plenty of potential turned out to be a dud.

Dan Jennings — Jennings appeared in 77 games this season, which was good enough to put him tied for third in all of baseball among relievers. Perhaps it was the frequency with which Jennings was used that caused the Rays to show interest at the deadline. At the time they were certainly contenders for at least a Wild Card spot, if not within reach of the division title. With limited resources financially and within their system, they were forced to go bargain shopping. It’s hard to say why or how they landed on Jennings, but the fact remains that he was the guy they wanted. The White Sox were happy to oblige as they handed out bullpen arms like candy on Halloween throughout the months of July and August, and in return got Casey Gillaspie, a prospect who is flawed but interesting enough to more than justify the trade.

Tommy Kahnle — Kahnle and his morbidly huge thighs stepped out of nowhere and into our world in 2017. Before this season he was merely a fireballer who couldn’t find the strike zone, hardly a rare breed in this day and age of baseball. All it took for him to take off, as is the case for so many relievers, was a bit of command. He was able to establish the fastball early in counts and blow hitters away with his devastating changeup. The White Sox could have held out to squeeze more value from what seemed to be a very good reliever, but the general principle of selling high on relievers whenever you can is a good one. Kahnle went on to be a crucial part of the powerful Yankees bullpen, making strong and important appearances in a multitude of postseason games.

David Robertson — Robertson, like Frazier, was part of the team’s last ditch effort at contention over the last couple seasons. With contention out of the picture and Robertson still a valuable bullpen arm with a large salary commitment through 2018, the White Sox decided it was time to part with him. His value was neither at an all-time high nor all-time low, but when he was packaged with Kahnle and Frazier the return was at the very least a couple players of interest.

Anthony Swarzak — During most seasons you would be hard-pressed to find a reliever that came more out of nowhere to find success than Kahnle. However, in 2017 Swarzak did exactly that. The White Sox gave him a minor league deal, converted him to the bullpen and saw immediate success. He started the season on fire and finished with a 2.33 ERA and 30 percent strikeout rate. With Swarzak only signed on for the single season, it was an even easier decision to send him away to a contender. He landed in Milwaukee, where the Brewers were trying to keep themselves in the playoff race.

Jose Quintana — The most inevitable trade of the season was one involving Quintana. It was a shock, however, to see him sent to the other side of town. Despite struggling in the early parts of the season, he rebounded enough to convince teams that confidence in his past performance was enough to warrant sending prospects to the South Side. His departure was the saddest of the season from a rooting standpoint, but it sent the most exciting prospects the other way. Suddenly a White Sox system that still seemed arm-heavy had one of the best hitting prospects in baseball along with another high-ceiling pitcher. Seeing Quintana go after so many years of improbable success was unfortunate, but it was a huge step in the right direction for the White Sox rebuilding efforts.

Lead Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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