We’re a little more than a month away from the non-waiver trade deadline, and while the White Sox are unlikely to be as active in the trade market as they were a year ago, there are likely a few deals to be made. While the teardown that took place over the last year and a half has the White Sox in a position where their roster is made up almost entirely of young building blocks or borderline major leaguers fighting to prove they belong, there’s still a few players on the roster for whom one would expect Rick Hahn will field offers.
Trade them if you can
Joakim Soria has been more or less exactly the pitcher he’s been throughout his career, which is to say he’s been very good. The 34-year-old’s strikeout rate is identical to what it was a year ago, and actually walking his fewest batters per nine since 2014. He’s also allowed just two home runs in his 28 innings of work. Soria has a $10 million team option for next season or a $1 million buyout, and given the seemingly never-ending bullpen help needed by contenders, one would expect the White Sox to fetch something for Soria’s services. Off the top of my head, you could see the Indians, Cubs, Angels, Phillies, Braves, and Cardinals among the teams that could use Soria. Given the fact that a better and younger reliever — Kelvin Herrera — fetched a trio of mid-level prospects, you’d have to imagine the White Sox would get something less than that in return. Still, Soria’s future is not in Chicago, so the best offer Hahn gets between now and July 31 should be fine.
Similarly to Soria, Luis Avilan is a veteran reliever who could add necessary bullpen depth to a contender down the stretch. Of course, Avilan is significantly less valuable given the fact that he’s .. well, not as good of a pitcher. As I mentioned, teams always seem to need bullpen help and they particularly always seem to be in the market for left-handed bullpen help. The White Sox got Casey Gillaspie for Dan Jennings a year ago. That’s nothing special, but if the White Sox get something similar in return for Avilan it wouldn’t be shocking.
Hector Santiago and Xavier Cedeno are two other veterans in the bullpen. I don’t know if we’re going to have another “Every Arm Must Go” bullpen sale again this year, but if there’s a deal to be had for either, I’d expect Hahn to take it. Nate Jones remains a viable option, too, but would need to prove he’s healthy within the next month before that can happen.
Maybe … probably … yes, do it
James Shields hasn’t been the outright albatross this year that he was the last two seasons, but he’s still a below-average starting pitcher, with peripherals that match up fairly well with his 4.59 ERA. Still, the fact that there’s any semblance of a market for the White Sox to trade him is something that would’ve been unheard of at the start of the season. But should they? Yes … probably. Re-litigating the White Sox disastrous acquisition of Shields is neither here nor there, but at this point there’s something to be said for what he’s provided the White Sox both in terms of his un-quantifiable veteran presence and his simple ability to eat innings. Yes, the White Sox have a lot of young pitchers both at the major league level or who will be here fairly soon, but even if you envision a second half rotation that includes Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech, and Dylan Covey (yes, really), and even if all of them are performing well, depth is still necessary. Even if it’s just a matter of limiting some of their innings down the stretch, Shields provides value.
All that said, you still trade him. Even if all of that is true, any kind of value you can extract out of Shields in terms of a lottery ticket prospect or something of that sort is probably worth cashing in on over 2-2 1/2 months of his veteran leadership and inning eating. Besides, as far as the latter is concerned you also have Santiago and Chris Volstad around.
YOU WILL PRY HIM FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS
The most obvious asset I’ve yet to mention, of course, is Jose Abreu, who despite a recent slump is still putting together his fifth consecutive stellar season and will undoubtedly be the only White Sox representative at the All-Star Game.
We’ve discussed both the quantifiable and un-quantifiable of Abreu’s presence on the White Sox. From his middle-of-the-order production to his mentorship to some of the young White Sox hitters, Abreu has meant and continues to mean a lot to the team. Yes, he’s 31 and unlikely to remain productive for too much longer, but whose to say he can’t for another 3-4 years? IF (it’s a big if) the White Sox window for contention truly begins opening in 2019, the odds of Abreu still being one of the premiere first basemen in the game remains strong. Ditto 2020. You can project all you want what the White Sox lineup is going to look like once their plethora of prospects start graduating, but there’s no reason Abreu can’t be part of it throughout whatever growing pains those players go through.
Sure, if Hahn were blown away by some impossible to refuse offer from, say, the Colorado Rockies, I would understand his inability to say no. But I think his value both to the present and future of the White Sox is high enough that unless something like that happens, it’s not something they should pursue.
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