We’re just a few days away from the non-waiver trade deadline, and the White Sox have yet to make any significant moves (unless you count Conor, sorry James), nor have they tipped their hand on whether they will be sellers or not. Yesterday’s report that they would wait until after the current series against the Red Sox to determine their trade deadline fate has us all anxiously waiting to see if something, anything, is done between now and Friday.
So, what do we know?
Collin: The more I think about it the more I’m convinced that IF the White Sox decide to trade anyone, Jeff Samardzija will be the only one to go. Rick Hahn & Co. spent a lot of time putting a plan for contention in place last winter, and while the results have been pretty abysmal to date, I don’t think Hahn is the type to make any rash decisions after three terrible months -- whether that’s right or not.
There’s no ‘quick fix’ solution to this offense, but a complete teardown after three bad months isn’t likely in the cards. I’d be willing to bet that, aside from a potential Samardzija deal, Hahn waits until the offseason to try to reshape some of the black hole positions and also holds out hope that he’ll get better/more consistent production from some of the guys who probably weren’t going anywhere to begin with (Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia).
I think Nick is right that Alexei is the best bet to be the starting shortstop in 2016. I also think they’re going to use the rest of this season to assess whether or not Tyler Saladino is a viable option at third base, and they’ll hopefully move on from Tyler Flowers and see what they can do with catcher and second base in the offseason. But from a position player standpoint, I think this roster won’t have much turnover in 2016.
Matt: I think the non-Samardzija possibilities for trade were always long shots to some extent, just based on demand. They don’t have much to offer that they’d both be willing to part with and that anybody else wants. The recent surge and sudden ability to string a few wins together creates another layer of hesitance to move Samardzija, along with the presumed compensation pick they’ll get after he turns down a qualifying offer for 2016.
My biggest concern would be that the surge causes them to make an immediate move to improve the club’s 2015 offense and chase down a wild card spot while the league is in disarray.
Collin: I think the only acquisition they could make to actually improve the 2015 offense would be 2008 Manny Ramirez.
And that’s true, Matt. They don’t really have any attractive chips to deal other than Samardzija. People have floated around dealing Jose Quintana to help improve the offense (Matt Spiegel’s proposal of Quintana and Garcia for Yasiel Puig is fun, albeit maybe unrealistic), but, like I said, I just don’t see them doing something drastic just because the first three months of 2015 were so abysmal.
Matt: “Fixing” the offense would be incredibly difficult, sure. But it’s within the realm of possibility that we walk into August with the White Sox within 3 games of a playoff spot. Which is both something that I would have argued, and did argue, is ridiculously unlikely, and also suggests that they could get by with a tweak or two and falling short of “fixing”.
Collin: I think it’s been pretty obvious for some time that the only thing that could “fix” this offense would be for their major league hitters to start performing like major league hitters. And they have! While there are still plenty of glaring holes to go around, we knew going into 2015 that catcher, third base, second base and right field were going to be huge question marks. And guess what? They’ve all been filled with guys who, for the better part of the season, have been mediocre or worse.
But what was supposed to keep this team afloat, at least within arms reach of a playoff spot, was the fact that Melky Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez, Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu would hit as expected (I’m omitting Adam LaRoche from this as he’s a conversation for another time). As those guys have started hitting, the White Sox have started winning.
It’s insane to me after the first three months of the season that it’s the end of July and we’re discussing the playoffs as a possibility at all. But here we are. And with the pitching doing what it’s doing and some of these guys hitting like they were supposed to, anything is possible. Likely? Probably not. But they’ve at least given us a reason to watch for a little while longer.
Nick: I’m wondering what the market is for Samardzija at this point. The Blue Jays went and upgraded at...shortstop…?
If Price, Hamels, Leake, and the Padres Crew are all available, the White Sox can’t really negotiate hard, because there are so many options for buyers. Hard to see there being a clear offer that is better than what the White Sox could get for the comp pick PLUS the chance of making the playoffs this year (whatever non-zero percentage that may be). Because that’s the math you’re doing.
James: With Montas, Nate Jones, on the mend, they should be able to throw in a Putnam or Petricka type into a package to bolster their appeal. Or pick up another toolsy, fringy mess to burn ABs with in a corner outfield slot.
I don’t know if we can assume Price is moving anymore than we can assume Shark is moving. Anyone who thinks Mike Leake is comparable should probably be victimized in some other way.
Matt: Samardzija and Alexei for Tulo. You’re welcome.
Nick: Ethan just pointed out that if the White Sox are trying to compete they can’t really justify still playing Avisail Garcia. Similarly, if Avisail Garcia could be thrown in as a supporting piece...
James: As far as hitting reclamation projects to unload, he’s not a particularly costly one, more just saddled with the baggage of organizational commitment. Presumably if they’re trading him, they’ve already made the important decision of giving up on him.
The Sox aren’t offering the only bottle of water in the desert, but there’s at least six teams that should seriously be in the market for a starter rental (Yankees, Jays, Orioles, Twins if they’re being realistic, Pirates, Cubs just for giggles, Giants). Maybe they can’t do crazy stuff like get four players back, but there should be a superior value to a Comp pick in that crowd.
Samardzija is a true sell move, though. Unless they’re doing the seemingly dreaded swap for bat help, they need to probably be the best pitching team in baseball going forward to have a prayer. Erik Johnson COULD be useful--we don’t know because they keep giving starts to Danks in the meantime--but he can’t keep up the pace they’re on.
Nick: Does parting with Avisail become easier with the success of Montas? In other words, “But Avisail was the crown jewel of the Peavy trade!” and then you go, “Lol no Montas was”
Collin: I agree that Samardzija is a true sell move -- for 2015. But some people are suggesting a complete teardown and that just doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards. As much as we might like for them to move on from Avisail, this team gave 1,800 plate appearances to Dayan Viciedo before finally giving up, AND of course he just turned 24. I’d be shocked if he’s not the starting right fielder in 2016.
I suppose Petricka and Putnam would be decent trade chips, but I also don’t see them tearing apart this bullpen after what they went through in 2014. I really think that after Samardzija the next most realistic player to get traded would be Geovany Soto. They’re only going to deal guys if they don’t see them being part of the club in 2016 and beyond.
James: [Puts on bejewled troll hat] I would say Dayan Viciedo was more productive at this point in his career than Avisail
Collin: Can you put emojis in Google docs?
James: Montas is fun, but I SEE YOU ALL SLEEPING ON J.B. WENDELKEN AND I WILL REMEMBER.
I think moving Robertson would be gutting the bullpen. I think moving Putnam and Petricka and just saying “relievers are replaceable” would be gutting it. But I have replacements in mind.
Nick: If the winning streak happens a week or two later, then they may just flip Samardzija out of desperation, but their odds have gone from “0.5%” to like “3%” so
Collin: Can we talk about what the Royals are doing now? Good for them for going for it while their window is open but damn if I don’t want to see them fall on their faces in October.
James: What? Now you’re on the spite the Royals train?!
Collin: I have NO idea what you’re talking about, James.
James: If they’re .500 on July 31--entirely possible because the Red Sox look like boiled trash--are you mad they’re not selling?
Also, Melky for Trout, who says no? I say Trout, who is heartbroken he can’t play with MLB’s greatest player.
I wish the Tigers were actually selling because Cespedes as a low-cost rental bat would be very nice...if you’re into that whole going for it thing.
Nick: The nice thing about the White Sox’ situation is they can count on their own players bouncing back being as big as any add. We’re seeing what the offense looks like with Melky, Eaton, and Alexei bouncing back.
They can stay put, see what kind of push the roster has in it, and not really be that much worse off for next year if they don’t make the playoffs - or still try to sell at August 31st if something goes horribly wrong in August.
Matt: Yeah standing pat is as good as a buy for all those reasons. And most of the pieces the Sox could move would likely clear waivers and be moveable at the Aug 31 deadline anyway I would think.
Unless Puig. Samardzija and Garcia for Puig. Thank you and you’re welcome.
James: Your biggest value add is flipping Quintana anyway, and that’s still there in August. I think you probably max out Samardzija trading him this week, but the draft pick is a fine consolation.
It’s funny to realize that the Sox are functionally chasing the Twins, who I neither fear nor respect. Chasing the playoffs is probably a bad and fruitless idea, but it’s not as destructive as it’s been in other years, at least.
Collin: I’m feeling optimistic and I hate it. It makes me uncomfortable. I think we’re due for another dose of reality before long.
Matt: The White Sox have done a terrible thing in making us care whether they win or lose.
Collin: Yeah, what a bunch of jerks.
James: Well now that we’ve come all the way around on the other side, how do we make this team better? I don’t think you can swap Samardzija or Quintana without worsening the pitching as much as you improve the offense--short-term at least. Rodon’s growth, Erik Johnson maturing, Carson Fulmer, all that makes trading Shark or Q a good idea for 2016 and 2017, but I’m more curious in EJ than at all confident that he can step in and thrive.
Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton seem like your big, but potentially cheap, rental bats. But chatting with Ethan, he’s curious how far you could get offering to eat CarGo’s full contract in exchange for Tim Anderson, Montas, relievers, farm help such as Danish, etc.
Collin: I’m a big CarGo fan. I don’t know if he’d actually cost both Anderson and Montas, but if he can be had I’d definitely do that deal. The contract isn’t absurd and it only runs through 2017 if he can’t stay healthy (which is a legit concern).
It would be funny as hell if the White Sox were able to acquire Cespedes without giving up a ton and become buyers while the Tigers are sellers. Why’s Ethan got time to chat on Twitter but not post on here? Too good for TCS now?
Outside of some crazy, out-of-nowhere blockbuster, I don’t see a lot of options for THIS season. The White Sox knew going in that they’d be trying to compete with question marks at those four “black hole” positions. I just don’t see them selling the farm to acquire a big bat at this point (although I think it’d be pretty cool if they did).
James: So what I’m taking away from this is...Upton?
Collin: Upton is the most appealing of the three OF you mentioned. I’d happily part with Tim Anderson and Frankie Montas for him.
James: Whoa, whoa, I’m not putting that up for two months of JUP..JuP? JUP!? I thought this man had a one-syllable identifier but I can't place it. 'Make J-Up yours' would be a good, unprintable headline.
Collin: Oh, shit, forgot he was a rental. Was thinking he was under control like CarGo is.
James: His brother kinda is...but uh, yeah. I appreciate Bossman Jr.’s complete collapse and its role in making the 2008 playoffs even more painful.
Matt: Does acquiring Justin Upton require the team to opt out of giving Garcia ABs? Please see earlier Viciedo comments if so.
James: It technically would, but you could pick and choose who to abandon between Garcia and LaRoche. Say Bonifacio is on the DL for the next couple weeks; you can just carry Upton with Gordon--apparently still on the team--as the only backup infielder.