As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Chicago White Sox: 28-51, 4th in the AL Central
The White Sox are still in the midst of their rebuilding process, but they are in a different place than they were a year ago.
After making nine big trades for prospects since December 2016, the South Siders have the majority of their big talent acquisitions at the major-league level and are looking to develop them into a group that will keep the organization in contention for the next decade. But, the process is not totally done.
In fact, Chicago general manager Rick Hahn told Scot Gregor of the Northwest Herald that the organization is “still very much on the lookout for opportunities to add to that group.”
While this may seem like they are buyers, the White Sox may buy at the expense of selling some veteran players at the same time.
What moves have they made so far?
The White Sox have made no moves this season that have made a big impact to their organization.
Hahn and company have been patient throughout the rebuilding process, and it has been paying off. This season, 18 of their prospects have been selected to all-star games in the minors and some of them are now in Triple-A, including Eloy Jimenez — the organization’s top prospect and No. 3 overall in MLBPipeline.com’s Top 100.
This development has given the White Sox high hopes that they can contend starting next season, which may be why Hahn and other decision-makers in the organization want to explore the trade market now so they can add another value piece or two to this impressive group.
Who could they acquire (and sell)?
If they want to acquire the most talent they can, the White Sox should trade Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia and James Shields.
Abreu is the biggest chip they have, as the 31-year-old first baseman is on pace for his fifth straight season with 25 or more home runs and 100 or more RBI. Not only that, but he is also under contract through 2019, so a contending team could use his bat for a year and a half before he hits free agency. However, if they decide to move him, Hahn and the White Sox would want return that is equal, if not better, than what they got for Jose Quintana (Jimenez and Dylan Cease) or even Chris Sale (Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech) because they love Abreu for what he has done on and off the field for the organization. If they don’t get that return, the Sox may try to work out a contract extension with Abreu to keep him in Chicago and lead the young club.
Garcia is also a quality player also under control through 2019. In 2017, the 27-year-old right fielder was an All-Star and finished second in the American League with a .330 batting average. A veteran of seven seasons, Garcia has unfortunately missed almost two months this year with a hamstring injury. Garcia is now back with the Sox and a nice showcase over the next month could possibly give them a reason to sell why he is at peak value.
Shields has put himself into the conversation of being a player the White Sox could get some value in return for his services. The 36-year-old Shields is still is a workhorse, and he’s thrown at least six innings in 11 of his last 12 starts. He leads the staff in innings pitched (100) and WHIP (1.27) despite having a 2-9 record and a 4.59 ERA.
What is also good news for a prospective team is that the Sox are currently paying $10 million of Shields’ $21 million salary this season, with the free-agent-to-be’s former team – the San Diego Padres – paying the other $11 million.
The White Sox also have veteran relievers Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan and Xavier Cedeno as possible guys they can trade. Soria is the most well-known name, as the 34-year-old closer has 11 saves this year and 215 for his 11-year career. Soria, who helped the Royals get to the World Series in 2014, is in the final year of his three-year, $25 million deal, but has a $10 million team option for 2019 ($1 million buyout), which teams have to consider if they try to acquire him. Avilan also has postseason experience (2013 with Braves and 2015-16 with Dodgers) and is under control through 2019. Though Cedeno has no postseason experience, he has been lights out for Chicago this year (no runs in 10 appearances) and is under control through 2019 as well.
The White Sox will make a couple of moves, as they will deal Garcia, Shields and Soria.
Garcia drew interest from the Giants and Athletics last winter, but the White Sox want to find a contender that will give them the best return possible for his services. As for Shields, he will head to a National League team. In a story on Shields, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score interviewed a National League scout and the scout raved about Shields to the point that he said his club could use a frontline starter like him. In regards to Soria, he will be moved to a contender because relievers are always in demand this time of year.
These three deals will give the White Sox the complementary pieces they need for their rebuild.