Chicago White Sox (67-95), 4th in AL Central
Notable free agents: Geovany Soto, Mike Pelfrey
Over the past 12 months, the White Sox have undergone a serious overhaul of major league talent. In trading away studs like Chris Sale and Jose Quintana (only to name a few), Chicago has opened the door to a rejuvenated core of young talent. While 2017 produced yet another losing season, most signs point toward a bright future on the South Side in the near future.
Although James Shields has certianly regressed with age, he'll likely headline a rotation followed by former top prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Carson Fulmer. However, due to starter Carlos Rodon's injury, the White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn will have to find a temporary fifth start until at least June. In house options for the fifth spot include Dylan Covey, who was 0-7 with a 7.71 ERA in his stint in 2017, and prospect Spencer Adams, though scouts doubt wether he's ready to make the big-league leap. Chicago is expected to promote another core piece to the MLB rotation by midseason, as MLB Pipeline's #16 prospect Michael Kopech has glided through minor league bats since the White Sox acquired the fireballer last December.
The White Sox' most intriguing trade chip this offseason is undoubtedly right-fielder Avisail Garcia. Deemed unworthy of a tendered contract by many last offseason, Garcia produced an eye-popping .330/.380/.506 slash line, good enough to earn him his first All-Star game selection. Under team-control through 2019, Garcia could make sense for a contender looking to compete in the short term. However, "Little Miggy" benefitted from an elevated BABIP in 2017 that may be unsustainable going forward, leading many to question wether his season was a fluke. If Garcia's small sample size success does scare away possible suitors, the White Sox should be more than willing to give the Venezuelan time to prove himself.
Coming off another impressive season in Chicago, First baseman Jose Abreu may generate some buzz at the Winter Meetings this December. Abreu put together his fourth-consecutive season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs in 2017, and still has two years of arbitration remaining before free agency. Yet power-hitting first baseman haven't commanded the same value in recent years as they did in the early 2000s, and the White Sox may be better suited to hold on to their Cuban star. Manager Rick Renteria has emphasized the Cuban connection between Abreu and Moncada, and a possible extension for Abreu could be in the works should his performance hold up.
The White Sox are relying on a bounce back season from 2013 first-rounder Tim Anderson, who coupled bad defense with streaky hitting as the everyday shortstop last season. Yet Anderson showed strong flashes of his ceiling over the final two months of the season, hitting .327/.345/.469 in September. Paired up the middle with franchise-face Yoan Moncada, who produced a 102 OPS+ as a rookie with an incredible high walk rate, Chicago's infield appears to be in good hands for a long time.
While the 2018 offseason should be generally quiet for the South Siders, it's the 2019 class where White Sox could make their first big splash in years. As Kopech and outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez begin to establish themselves in the major leagues, the White Sox will be in prime position to begin supplementing the core quite soon. But for the time being, expect Hahn and the White Sox to continue adding experienced veterans on short-term contracts.