Following last week’s trade that sent minor league utility infielder Jake Peter to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for veteran relievers Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan, we’re inching closer to seeing what will likely be the team the White Sox bring to Glendale, Ariz., in a little more than a month.
If we were at the “season preview” part of the offseason, the little blurb on the White Sox would read something like this:
Who’s in: C Welington Castillo, RP Joakim Soria, RP Luis Avilan, RP Thyago Viera, RP Jose Ruiz, OF Daniel Palka
Who’s out: RP Jake Petricka, RP Zach Putnam, IF/OF Alen Hanson, RP Al Alburquerque, SP Mike Pelfrey, C Geovany Soto
Nary an impact name on either side of the board. (I’ll never forget you, Big Pelf Dawg).
It’s not a surprise that the White Sox haven’t made any moves more noteworthy than those listed above, and it’s entirely likely the 40-man roster that exists today is, more or less, unchanged entering spring training. That said, the fact that the free agent market continues to drag on leaves open the possibility that the White Sox could make further additions in the next month. So where could they target?
As things currently stand, the White Sox Opening Day positional starters would likely look something like this:
C – Welington Castillo
1B – Jose Abreu
2B – Yoan Moncada
3B – Yolmer Sanchez
SS – Tim Anderson
LF – Nicky Delmonico
CF – Adam Engel
RF – Avisail Garcia
DH – Matt Davidson
Again, it’s possible those are the White Sox starters come March 29, but even if the front office is keen on letting the likes of Sanchez, Delmonico, Engel (and/or Leury Garcia, and/or Charlie Tilson), and Davidson continue to get the bulk of the reps to evaluate their long-term potential, there’s still a few interesting options sitting on the free agent market.
Setting aside all the top free agents who remain unsigned (11 of the top 15 free agents entering the offseason remain unsigned), the name I keep coming back to is Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies right fielder who was often linked to the White Sox in past trade rumors. Gonzalez is 32 years old and his 2017 numbers aren’t pretty overall, but after a terrible first half in which he was among the worst regulars in the league, he rebounded to the tune of .314/.390/.531 from the All-Star break through the end of the season. It’s possible that bounce-back, along with Gonzalez’s long term track record, prices him out of the “veteran the White Sox can sign to a reasonable deal and then hope to flip in four months” mold the team likely seeks, but as the glut of top free agents remains stagnant, he’d be a reasonable addition as someone who can likely play left field (although he hasn’t played there since 2014), right field, and designated hitter.
There are other options that fall into a similar category (Jayson Werth, Jose Bautista, maybe Colby Rasmus), but it’s hard to predict if any would fit into the White Sox plans from both a financial and playing time perspective.
Starting pitching depth could still be addressed, too. It’s entirely likely the White Sox enter 2018 with a starting rotation of Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, James Shields, and Carson Fulmer, but with Rodon’s health a question, the uncertainty of the young trio, and Shields being, well, James Shields, the White Sox could add another veteran or two. While the depth is most likely to come in the form of a veteran they can easily have on stand-by in Triple-A (like Pelfrey a year ago), names like Jeremy Hellickson and Ricky Nolasco are names that stand out a bit, but both are likely looking for a more secure role than what Pelfrey provided a year ago.
It’s entirely possible the White Sox do nothing, or make moves a grade lower than the speculation I listed above. Last year’s late-winter or early-spring additions included the likes of Pelfrey and Anthony Swarzak on minor league deals, and it’s possible that’ll be the brunt of what we see between now and Opening Day. But there’s still a lot of chips left to fall, and it will be interesting to see where the White Sox find themselves after the major action across the league finally starts to settle.
Lead Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports