TCS Morning 5: Is It The Winter Meetings Yet?

1. Adam Engel is the 2015 Arizona Fall League MVP thanks to a ridiculous .403/.523/.642 batting line over 19 AFL games. Engel joins recent past AFL MVPs Greg Bird, Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado, but also Chris McGuiness, Grant Desme and Sam Fuld, the latter of which might be the best comp for him. Hopefully we've all heard the requisite amount of lecturing about how the AFL is a small sample in a crazy offensive environment and lacks top-flight pitching prospects to know how to handle Engel's diverting but fleeting dominance in the only high-level baseball still going on right now.

He entered the AFL as a fringy, fast little outfielder with premium athleticism but whose hit and power shortcomings might keep him from ever having major league impact. Now, he leaves with maybe a bit more hope that he can put the bat on ball enough to be a fun fourth outfielder. If nothing else he can field a position credibly, which is more than many recent White Sox full time players can say. 

2. If the White Sox have to trade out of their starting rotation to add on offense, be it a Jose Quintana blockbuster, or just Erik Johnson, I don't love the market for back-end veteran stopgap starters. Most of them have too much to prove to hand them a spot. Edwin Jackson had some of his best moments with Don Cooper, but it's been a few years since he was even passable. Justin Masterson, Josh Johnson, Brandon Beachy, Chad Billingsley and Doug Fister all need to show they're healthy. J.A. Happ had a great second half in Pittsburgh, but if they traded Johnson and brought him in they would have an all-lefty staff.

We joke about Bartolo, but....Bartolo?

3. Speaking of trades, although there has been lots of idle speculation about Todd Frazier and the White Sox, the less appealing Jay Bruce is also available in trade.  What's more, the White Sox aren't on his limited no trade list.  Bruce isn't exactly cheap and he's been pretty bad these days, although I suppose an optimist could mean that he's a buy low candidate. 

Jay Bruce Positives: 

--Left handed

--Doesn't turn 29 until next April

--As recently as 2013 he was really good!

--Only owed $12.5 million for next year and has a $1 million buy out or $13 million team option for 2017. 

--Track record of being a solid glove in RF. 

Jay Bruce Negatives:

--Horrible AVG and OBP the last two years

--Athleticism waning 

--Seriously since when can the White Sox fix a guy who can't make contact? 

Maybe he winds up being a piece of a huge Frazier & Bruce trade, but I think this would be more plausible if the Adam LaRoche contract hadn't happened. It makes me sad that I'm even assessing this as a possibility, but that's what happens when your owner refuses to spend any money. 

4. Apparently the Astros really, really want a closer. While Dealin' Dave Robertson's name is notably absent from that list, I feel like the White Sox should be more willing to move him than the Yankees would be to move Andrew Miller, but here we are.

The staff here has been unambiguous about what we think the White Sox should do, but obviously it sounds like that may not have anything to do with reality. If Reinsdorf has them locked in at a bottom-third payroll, then they may have to make some moves that hurt a little bit. Trading away a guy like Robertson isn't the type of transaction a playoff-hopeful typically makes, but if you can't/won't sign free agents then dealing relievers makes sense.

5. The White Sox added pitchers Brandon Brennan and J.B. Wendelken to the 40-man roster, which leaves them at 36 out of 40, and protects those two from the Rule V draft. While Brennan may have the higher ceiling, I would be surprised if any team actually tried to keep him on the major league roster for all of 2016, given that he was pretty mediocre as a 23-year old in High A. 

Wendelken, at least, is a reliever who pitched his way to AAA while putting up good numbers in AA for most of 2015. His stuff is rather uninspiring, but an almost-ready-probably-okay reliever is a profile that a team could realistically try to hide on the 25-man roster for 2016. Obviously they had plenty of room to protect the guys they wanted to either way. 

Follow The Catbird Seat on Twitter @TheCatbird_Seat and James @JRFegan.