With the MLB hot stove slowly starting to warm, rumors begin to swirl about what teams are looking to make that one big splash. The usual suspects of the Yankees, Cubs, Giants, and Cardinals have already been linked to some of the top available free agents. But one team that is quietly throwing their name into that hat is the Chicago White Sox.
Yes, the same White Sox who have been aggressively tanking for the last half decade.
You see, the White Sox have been perfecting the “Let’s suck like the Astros did and see how it works out” method of running a Major league franchise. And they did it to a T.
They have built up talent in the same way as those early 2010s Astros teams, only to quickly sell them off for more high–level prospects to rejuvenate a weak farm system, and it has worked wonders for them. Trading away guys like Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, and Adam Eaton in order to bring back elite prospects like Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Blake Rutherford, Dane Dunning, and Reynaldo Lopez. With the help of these acquisitions and some very high draft picks, the White Sox have emerged as the number three farm system in all of baseball, having 7 players in the top 100 prospects list, with Eloy Jimenez currently being ranked as the number 3 prospect in the sport right now.
The White Sox have positioned themselves perfectly to make a huge splash this offseason. They have an abundance of young pitching at the major league level, with the likes of Giolito, Carson Fulmer, Carlos Rondon, and Lopez, who are in desperate need of a true veteran number one starter to help nurture these very raw arms. Someone like JA Happ, or Dallas Keuchel to anchor the top of the rotation.
However, those are constellation signings. The big kahuna when it comes to free agent pitchers this year is Patrick Corbin. Corbin is a strikeout machine and is significantly younger, and better, than Keuchel and Happ. The Yankees are the front runner to pick up Corbin, and will likely make an aggressive offer to make sure they get their man, but the White Sox have a buttload of money to play with the offseason, having the second lowest payroll, at the moment, heading into next season. While you’re at it, rebuild the bullpen. Go get guys underappreciated guys like Brad Brach, Shawn Kelley, Bud Norris, and Justin Wilson. Letting all that spending money go to waste does no good for a team that’s on the cusp of being a rising power. You can never get enough pitching.
Next, onto the lineup. The southsiders have done a good job of getting a bunch of their good young hitters to reach the brink of their prime at the right time. With guys like Matt Davidson, Avisail Garcia, Carlos Sanchez, Tim Anderson, and Jose Abreu, in addition to Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada still being super young, it’s a hitting core that is poised to break out.
It’s not quite the same, but look at the Red Sox lineup before and after the JD Martinez signing. The lineup went from being a team that ranked in the bottom 5 in both Home runs and Slugging percentage, to being ranked top 10 in both categories the very next year.
The White Sox need their own JD Martinez, and there are only two choices; Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.
They are both projected to receive contracts that will exceed 10 years and $350 million dollars. Yes, that is a LOT of money to dedicate to one player, but they’re both generational talents. I think if they can get either man, it’s going to be a game changer. Like I said earlier, letting all that money burn a hole in your pockets does nothing to improve your team. Overpay for one of these guys, and if it doesn’t work out, you can get a king’s ransom for either of them by trading them away.
Also, with big names like JT Realmuto and James Paxton reportedly being shopped this offseason, the White Sox could use some of those top prospects to piece together their perfect team.
The White Sox are in an interesting spot, and this offseason could determine their fate for years to come. This is one of the most top-heavy and stacked free agent classes in recent memory, and their likely isn’t going to be as many huge names available for years to come. The White Sox can either be forward thinking, or can bury their heads in the sand for another couple of years. Make things interesting Chicago. Block Corbin and Harper from going to the Bronx. SAVE BASEBALL.
Photo By Carlos Osorio/ AP Photos