The title of this article is in reference to the MLB hot stove as a whole, not necessarily the White Sox. The last week has seen a flurry of debate surrounding various quotes from the organization. Twitter and our staff have been speculating wildly about what the White Sox will or won't do. It is unclear what will happen, although I have my suspicions. However, there have been some small moves that may give us a clue as to what sort of marketplace Rick Hahn will be navigating this winter.
1. The Red Sox have traded a fairly significant package of prospects out to San Diego in exchange for Craig Kimbrel. This has to be pretty traumatic for a fan base so accustomed to the Red Sox hyping and hugging their prospects. It is also somewhat satisfying in the sense that this has been Dave Dombrowski's MO for a long time and it is comforting to see that he has not changed his stripes.
For the White Sox, there has been a lot of conversation around whether or not they actually have "surplus arms" to deal - or whether there even is such a thing. Without chiming in too hard on either side of that argument, I will say that if there is an area of surplus talent in the White Sox organization it is in the form of relief arms. This is true at the major league level as well as the fact that while "Montas - STARTER?!" is still very much up in the air, I don't think there's much argument that he could start blowing people away out of the bullpen next spring.
2. In that same vein, the Phillies also traded for Jeremy Hellickson over the weekend. Jeremy Hellickson is another guy who has reassured me that the world is orderly and makes sense sometimes, because he always seemed terrible but was outpitching his peripherals for a long time. Now his run prevention statistics are as terrible as his stuff and his peripherals and all is as it should be.
Sure, the return is pretty light as you might expect. Sam McWilliams - other than sounding like a really unconvincing fake name you give to someone while trying to lie about something - only provides value in the sense that he is 6'8'', throws hard, and is young.* However, when I saw that Arizona got ANYTHING in return for one not-cheap year of Jeremy Hellickson, it made me think - "Hey! Someone might give up something not-terrible for Erik Johnson if needed!"
*Matt Winkelman is a great follow on Twitter and a great read for general baseball stuff and particularly for the Phillies' minor leagues.
Whether the White Sox should trade Johnson or not isn't really the point. Rather, it's a reminder that some teams are absolutely desperate for innings. Johnson is still really cheap, has a lot of years of control, and if nothing else looks like he could eat a lot of innings with acceptable quality. That may also be the reason the White Sox should keep him.
3. After the Pirates cashed in big on MLB's fear of position players from Korea and landed themselves a really good infield bat in Jung Ho Kang last year, there is a little more heat around a few Korean bats on the market this offseason. Again, I'm not sure whether the White Sox should avail themselves of this market - just because Kang was a success doesn't mean these guys will be, nor does it mean that the price will be commensurate with their production.
Instead, it is yet another area where - if the White Sox are feeling...thrifty - they could roll the dice on adding bats at a lower cost than the Jason Heywards of the world. To that end, I don't think it's a coincidence that the teams competing for these guys are the Twins and Orioles of the world rather than the Yankees and Dodgers.
4. Old friend Mark Buehrle is apparently going to either retire or pitch for the Cardinals. This isn't a surprise. In fact, he has been saying that these were his choices for years now, although it used to be that the list was "White Sox, Cardinals, or retire." It is strange to me that the White Sox clung to Konerko as hard as they did while unceremoniously dumping Buehrle at the same time, but here we are. For all that this organization is often loyal to a fault, sadly, that loyalty did not extend to Buehrle. Turns out they would have been better off keeping him instead of extending Danks anyway.
5. The Colorado Rockies of all people are talking about dealing from their farm to add pitching help at the major league level. If the White Sox aren't going to invest in supplementing this current core - which remains to be seen, although that is my fear - then dealing with the Rockies may be a good idea. As time goes on, it seems as though the weaker front offices are getting weeded out and beefed up - I'll miss you, Jack Z, Bill Bavasi, and Crazy Phase Two Kevin Towers - but the Rockies may be one of the last remaining weak links. Wouldn't hurt to try to exploit that.
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