I wrote in regards to the calamitous White Sox start on Friday, and over the weekend the group went 1-2, snapping a nine-game dropping streak with a shocking seven-run backside half of the ninth inning, strolling off the Rays within the course of. Even when that win sparks some momentum for a listless South Aspect membership, the Sox are already 9 again within the AL Central. They’d have to play at an 82-51 tempo (.617) to get to 90 wins. It’s not even clear that’d be sufficient for a division win, with the Twins taking part in at a 95-win tempo.
Early Might is fairly early to be doing any forward-looking breakdown of what a group might need to supply at this yr’s commerce deadline, however the present state of the White Sox is a little more dire than ordinary. Their playoff odds at FanGraphs have plummeted from 30.5% previous to the season to simply 4.2% now. PECOTA has their playoff odds at simply 3.2%. They’ve MLB’s second-worst run differential (-65) and are already battling myriad accidents with some obvious depth points.
One of the vital regularly requested questions over the previous week within the chats we host at MLBTR has been considered one of who may very well be accessible if the Sox promote this summer season. With that in thoughts and with an compulsory “it’s nonetheless solely Might 1” caveat, right here’s a fast rundown of the probabilities and the way they’ve begun the season.
The obvious candidates to vary palms if the Sox do certainly find yourself promoting, all of those gamers are set to be free brokers at season’s finish anyhow. There are a few qualifying supply candidates throughout the group, so the Sox would want to really feel they’re getting greater than the worth of a compensatory draft decide again in these situations.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, 28, $10.4MM wage
Giolito gained’t flip 29 till mid-July and stands as one of many potential high arms on subsequent offseason’s free-agent market … if he can spherical again into type this season and put an unsightly 2022 marketing campaign behind him. From 2019-21, the previous first-round decide was one of many American League’s high arms, making the All-Star group in ’19 and securing Cy Younger votes in all three of these seasons — together with sixth- and seventh-place finishes in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Throughout that stretch, Giolito logged a collective 3.47 ERA with an enormous 30.7% strikeout price and strong 8% stroll price.
The 2022 season was one other story. Giolito’s fastball dropped from the 94.2 mph it averaged throughout that three-year peak right down to 92.7 mph. His strikeout price fell to an above-average however still-diminished 25.4%. His stroll price crept up a bit, to eight.7%. His opponents’ common exit velocity jumped from 87.8 mph to 88.8 mph, and his hard-hit price rose from 34.5% to 39%. None of these are terrible numbers, however all the pieces went the improper course for Giolito in ’22. An enormous .340 BABIP certainly contributed to a few of his struggles — being a fly-ball pitcher with the worst outfield protection in baseball isn’t enjoyable — however it wasn’t an awesome season regardless.
Giolito’s picked some velocity again up early this season. His 23.1% strikeout price isn’t close to its peak, however his 4.1% stroll price is way and away a career-best mark. If the White Sox promote, Giolito will probably be probably the greatest and most in-demand starters available on the market. He’s out to an honest begin, and along with his observe report, age and upside, a qualifying supply appears probably, barring a disastrous collapse. The Sox would want to really feel they bought extra worth than they’d web within the type of a compensatory draft decide.
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, 29, $3.625MM
Lopez has had a horrible begin to the season, with an 8.76 ERA and 5 residence runs allowed in simply 12 1/3 innings (3.65 HR/9). He was superb within the ’pen in 2021-22, nonetheless, notching a 3.07 ERA with an above-average 24.8% strikeout price and a 5.3% stroll price. In 2023, Lopez is sporting a career-best 33.3% strikeout price, and he’s averaging a career-high 99.2 mph on his heater. His 14.6% swinging-strike price is superb. If Lopez who allowed only one residence run in 55 2/3 innings final yr, can get previous this weird residence run spike, he nonetheless has apparent late-inning potential and is the kind of reasonably priced energy arm who’d enchantment to different golf equipment.
Mike Clevinger, RHP, 32, $12MM
Clevinger technically has a 2024 possibility on his contract, however mutual choices are virtually completely accounting measures and are exercised by each events with solely the utmost rarity. He’s nonetheless simply 32 years previous, by Clevinger’s halcyon days really feel like they have been rather a lot longer in the past than 2017-20. He missed the 2021 season following Tommy John surgical procedure, got here again with a diminished fastball and middling peripherals in ’22, and hasn’t appeared significantly better in 2023, with a 4.60 ERA, below-average 19.3% strikeout price and ugly 11.1% stroll price in 29 1/3 innings. Clevinger has gained some however not the entire life on his heater again, and his present 8.1% swinging-strike price is each nicely beneath the league common (11.1%) and simply the bottom mark of his profession. He’s pitching like a fifth starter proper now, and never a very low cost one.
Elvis Andrus, 2B/SS, 35, $3MM
Andrus was nice with the White Sox instead of an injured Tim Anderson down the stretch in 2022 (.271/.309/.464, 9 homers, 11 steals) and has been the other to date in 2023, hitting .206/.274/.245 in 113 plate appearances with nicely below-average high quality of contact, per Statcast. He can nonetheless play protection and has now proven a willingness to log a while at second base, so one other membership might take a look at him as a slick-fielding utility possibility. He’ll have to hit greater than he has within the season’s first month, although.
Hanser Alberto, INF, 30, $2.3MM
Alberto has sometimes been a strong defender at three infield spots with good bat-to-ball expertise, a bottom-of-the-barrel stroll price and minimal energy. This season, nonetheless, he’s made some obvious misplays at third base and batted simply .211/.211/.368 in 19 plate appearances earlier than hitting the IL with a quad pressure. It’s a tiny pattern, however he must get wholesome and play higher to even make it to the commerce deadline on the large league roster.
Yasmani Grandal, C, 34, $18.25MM
The switch-hitting Grandal has bounced again on the plate with a .241/.323/.446 batting line (114 wRC+) and three homers in 93 plate appearances. His 8.6% stroll price is nicely down from its profession 14.5% degree, and his once-vaunted defensive rankings have fallen beneath common at 34. Given his appreciable wage, Grandal is just altering palms if the ChiSox eat portion of the invoice.
Signed/Managed for One Additional 12 months
Shifting anybody from this group would sign a extra aggressive vendor’s standpoint from the entrance workplace, however the Sox would typically be capable to retain their core gamers whereas additionally unlocking bigger returns than they’d be land for his or her typically modest assortment of leases.
Tim Anderson, SS, 30 | $12.5MM in 2023, $14MM membership possibility for 2024
Anderson batted above .300 in 4 straight seasons from 2019-22, delivering an general .318/.347/.473 slash that was 23% higher than league common, by measure of wRC+. The 2-time All-Star is an everyday risk for 15 to twenty residence runs and 15 to 25 steals. Defensive metrics are combined on his work at shortstop, however his solely across-the-board beneath common season per DRS, UZR and OAA got here in 2022, when he was hobbled by a groin pressure. Anderson is a nicely above-average common with All-Star potential and a extremely reasonably priced wage via the 2024 season.
The White Sox’ high prospect is 2021 first-rounder Colson Montgomery, who has turn into one of many sport’s top-ranked shortstop prospects. He opened the season on the shelf with an indirect pressure however may very well be prepared for an enormous league look in 2024 after reaching Double-A as a 20-year-old in 2022.
Lance Lynn, RHP, 36 | $18.5MM in 2023, $18MM membership possibility for 2024
Lynn, 36 subsequent week, hasn’t been himself to date in 2023. His 10.1% stroll price is his highest since 2018 by a large margin, and he’s allowed a jarring 2.20 homers per 9 frames. The 94.4 mph he averaged on his heater in 2019-21 is right down to 92.6 mph in 2023, and whereas he’s nonetheless lacking bats within the zone and off the plate, Lynn has allowed an excessive amount of onerous contact when opponents do join. Hitters posted only a .192/.238/.335 slash towards Lynn’s four-seamer as lately as 2022, however they’re hitting .283/.365/.587 when placing the pitch in play this yr. The 2019-22 model of Lynn is nicely price that 2024 possibility worth, however he wants to unravel his residence run woes.
Liam Hendriks, RHP, 34 | $14MM in 2023, $15MM membership possibility for 2024
Hendriks hasn’t pitched this season however lately introduced that he’s cancer-free after battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma for the previous a number of months. Hendriks is among the sport’s greatest relievers, and the precedence is solely getting again on the sector. If he seems like himself, he’d garner curiosity.
Joe Kelly, RHP, 35 | $9MM in 2023, $9.5MM membership possibility for 2024
Kelly has been on the IL 3 times since signing a two-year, $17MM take care of the White Sox previous to the 2022 season. He additionally has a 6.26 ERA and a 12.6% stroll price with the South Siders. He’s nonetheless lacking bats, racking up grounders and has had improved command in his tiny 4 2/3 inning pattern this season. The Sox might need to eat some cash to maneuver him even when he’s pitching decently.
Kendall Graveman, RHP, 32 | $8MM in 2023, $8MM in 2024
Graveman continues to be throwing onerous and lacking bats at a strong clip, however his sinker isn’t getting grounders anyplace close to its prior ranges. He’s sitting on a 38.7% ground-ball price in ’23 after dwelling at 54% in 2021-22 and 52.1% in his profession previous to the present season. On a certainly associated observe, he’s giving up homers at a career-worst price (2.38 HR/9). Graveman’s first season in Chicago was strong, however he’s prone to turning into one other high-priced bullpen misstep.
Jake Diekman, LHP, 36 | $3.5MM in 2023, $4MM membership possibility for 2024
The White Sox acquired Diekman from the Pink Sox finally yr’s commerce deadline despite the fact that he’d walked 17.5% of his opponents in Boston, and the command has solely gotten worse. Diekman has walked a whopping 13 of his 58 opponents (22.4%) in 2023 whereas posting a 7.94 ERA. Command has at all times been a weak level, however this present price simply isn’t tenable. If he can’t proper the ship, it’s onerous to think about him lasting on the roster till the commerce deadline.
Longer Time period Gamers
Shifting anybody from this bunch is harder to check, as it could successfully sign a larger-scale rebuilding effort. Whereas the Sox might nonetheless transfer one and even a number of gamers from this group with out essentially embarking on a full-scale rebuild, these strikes would signify a transparent step again from contending not solely in 2023 however probably in 2024 on the very least — fairly probably longer.
Dylan Cease, RHP, 27 | $5.3MM in 2023, arb-eligible in 2024-25
Buying and selling Stop would quantity to waving a white flag not solely on this season however on the whole rebuild that the Sox went via from 2016-20. Stop completed runner-up to Justin Verlander in American League Cy Younger voting final yr and was so dominant — 2.20 ERA, 30.4% strikeout price, 6.4 bWAR in 184 innings — that he may’ve gained in one other yr the place he wasn’t chasing a historic comeback effort from a future Corridor of Famer.
Stop’s velocity, strikeout price and swinging-strike price are all down a bit this season, however not in obvious, regarding style. He’s sporting a 4.15 ERA, although virtually all of the injury towards him got here by the hands of the Rays final week when the most popular group in baseball tagged him for seven runs. Stop gained’t flip 28 till December. He’s a power-armed, bat-missing monster with two years of arbitration remaining after the present season. Pitchers like this virtually by no means get traded, and it’s extra-tough to see the White Sox biting the bullet and making a transfer, since doing so simply seems like a large concession. In the event that they do attain that time, Stop might generate one of many largest hauls in latest commerce deadline reminiscence.
Michael Kopech, RHP, 27 | $2.05MM in 2023, arb-eligible in 2024-25
It’s been a poor begin for Kopech (7.01 ERA in 25 2/3 innings) due to wobbly command that has manifested in a career-high 11.1% stroll price and, extra problematically, a career-worst 2.81 HR/9 mark. Nonetheless, he’s a 27-year-old who as soon as ranked as the game’s high pitching prospect and as lately as 2021-22 logged a mixed 3.53 ERA, 26.7% strikeout price and 10.4% stroll price in 188 2/3 innings.
Kopech spent almost the entire 2021 season within the bullpen as he labored again from Tommy John surgical procedure and fanned a gaudy 36.1% of his opponents in that position. He’s a high-upside arm and has already seen his common fastball creep up from 95.1 mph in 2022 to 96.2 mph in 2023. Groups would like to get their palms on Kopech proper now, and if he can in the reduction of on the walks and homers, his worth will solely improve. This commerce wouldn’t essentially be the white flag that the Stop commerce could be, however it’s onerous to see Kopech going except the Sox are pessimistic about their probabilities within the subsequent couple of seasons as nicely.
There are different names to contemplate, although every comes with loads of purple flags. Yoan Moncada is signed via 2024 and controllable via a 2025 membership possibility, however he’s been neither wholesome sufficient nor persistently productive sufficient to make the remaining $43.1MM in ensures on his deal really feel palatable for a commerce associate. Luis Robert Jr., Eloy Jimenez, Andrew Vaughn and Aaron Bummer are all signed or managed via no less than 2026 (2027 in Robert’s case), which lessens any urgency to maneuver these gamers. Because it stands, the Sox could be promoting low on anybody from that group of gifted gamers. Nobody from that group feels prone to be a critical commerce candidate this summer season.
Of the three buckets listed above — “rental,” “one further yr” and “longer-term” — the rental items are the likeliest to go. Promoting something past that time, notably a face of the franchise like Anderson or a controllable Cy Younger-caliber expertise like Stop, would probably sign a step again and longer-term rebuilding effort simply two years after the Sox sought to emerge from their prior rebuild. Proprietor Jerry Reinsdorf is as loyal as they arrive, however one can think about that the present meltdown might take a look at even his endurance; GM Rick Hahn candidly acknowledged final week in public feedback that his job is probably going on the road.
The White Sox nonetheless have a pair months to attempt to flip issues round, but when issues don’t enhance in a rush, then lots of the names listed above will probably the most regularly mentioned gamers on the 2023 summer season rumor mill as contending groups look to beef up their rosters upfront of a postseason push.