With SoxFest in the books, the only third baseman currently on the MLB Trade Rumors free agency list being Donnie Murphy and Jayson Nix, and Gordon Beckham filling out the last bit of the roster in some sort of utility/mascot role, it looks like Conor Gillaspie has survived the offseason after his breakout season without completely losing his job.
Now, that's a thing that can happen if your breakout season is just platoon singles-hitting with bad defense, but it's certainly has to be an odd feeling that right as Gillaspie is fashioning himself as a legitimate presence in the major leagues, the White Sox are doing it even faster and threatening to leave him behind. His reaction has been an 'I'll do anything' public attitude (since 'anything' still gets him closer to arbitration) and the strangest variety of BSOHL story: pounds of added muscle.
Gillaspie's spin that he wore himself down last season and wanted to come back with more mass--losing weight mid-season is drama Beckham went through many times--is well-taken, but intentions to use it as a salve to paltry power numbers last season could be misguided. Often with home run hitters, I have defended against the idea that they need to diversify their profile: take the ball the other way, make contact, shorten-up, etc.
It goes both ways. Gillaspie is a slender man without huge bat speed, but a clean, level swing without much load. He might not ever hit for much power. He might fudge up what he's actually good at by focusing on it. And he's a platoon player. Gillaspie had a .510 OPS vs. lefties in 2014, and amazingly, has a .510 OPS vs. lefties in his career. He's 27. He doesn't need to work at this, and as much as positivity, upward trending and "what I did on my winter vacation" stories, adjusting to what a player is and hoping they can maintain is often more important that hoping for change.
Tasked with one of the easiest jobs in the world--finding some right-handed infielders who can provide scratch hitting against lefties, the Sox now have offered some options.
- Emilio Bonifacio
- .291/.341/.380 career vs. LHP
- .365/.411/.548 in 2014 vs. LHP
- Gordon Beckham
- .244/.314/.373 career vs. LHP
- .293/.349./.431 in 2014 vs. LHP
- Carlos Sanchez
- .364/.382/.485 in MLB vs. LHP
- .250/.297/.369 in 2014 MiLB vs. LHP
- Tyler Saladino
- .330/.396/.543 in 2014 MiLB vs. LHP
- Leury Garcia
We include single-season totals here against lefties because it accounts for not easily having splits for entire MiLB careers, and it allows us to humor the dream world where Gordon Beckham is a useful role player and not a mediocrathon.
The solution here is Bonifacio. It always has been. It's why paying him $4 million to bounce all over but serve a very clear purpose seemed like a cagey move, whereas Beckham's $2 million deal feels like some sort of Not Leury financial penalty. They need someone to slap some singles, not burn a hole in the infield defense and balance out a full contribution of average offense and probably below-average defense. They have that. And now they also have Gordon Beckham too, for what it's worth. $2 million, apparently.