Despite Jerry Dipoto’s best efforts, the offseason has been quiet to date. Our staff generally expects the winter to be relatively tame as far as the White Sox are concerned, a symptom of the massive teardown enacted in the past twelve months more than anything else. But that’s just one team. It doesn’t explain why the entire league seems paralyzed into inaction, although Jeff Passan ruminates on some factors which may contributing to the stalemate. Surely there are a number of variables at play, and it is true to say that players like Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton aren’t typically available at all, let alone in the particular manner these two are respectively available, but whatever the explanation, it leads to the baseball equivalent of trying to write about being stuck in traffic.
Rick Hahn & Co. have had to make roster decisions in advance of the Rule V draft, and the impact of the San Diego Padres pulling two players out of Low-A and another out of Rookie Ball last winter seems to have influenced the players added to the 40-man roster and those left off. Typically, the requirement that a Rule V draftee must stay on the 25-man roster the entirety of the following year or be sold back to their former franchise meant that teams would only select players who were close enough to major league ready to pull that off without significantly compromising the team’s ability to compete. Now, organizations are pushing contention cycle concepts further and further to the extreme, and a team like the Padres who frankly did not care if they competed in 2017 instead saw it as a way of adding free talent. If you don’t care about the harm to your major league roster, the question then becomes whether or not the player’s development will be harmed by being buried on the bench, or facing competition far beyond their skills.
So instead of adding arms that are close to the majors like Jordan Guerrero, they protected Eloy Jimenez (I mean, yeah) but also Luis Alexander Basabe–who is raw and struggled mightily in High-A–and Micker Adolfo, among others, by adding them to the 40-man. Even after outrighting Chris Beck and Tyler Danish to Triple-A, the White Sox sit with 39 of their 40 roster spots full, protecting some…marginal talents to say the least in the process, and only leaving one slot for a Rule V pick of their own.
Perhaps the most notable snub for 40-man protection was the omission of Jake Peter, a utility infielder coming off of a good year in Triple-A, who could easily fit as the 25th man on a number of rosters and who actually made an appearance in the “Next Ten” portion of the White Sox’ Top Ten Prospects list. The White Sox certainly have a plethora of utility infield types who are ahead of him on the organizational depth chart, some of whom have reportedly garnered trade interest, but perhaps it is indicative of the new landscape of roster composition that Danny Farquhar and Dylan Covey were kept safe and Peter was exposed. Indeed, perhaps other organizations were similarly terrified of Padres-like aggression and also left major league ready fodder exposed such that Peter is less likely to get popped, but again, that raises the question as to why the White Sox didn’t leave more room to draft players perhaps more intriguing than waiver-wire relievers like Farquhuar or former Rule V draftees like Covey themselves.
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