Apparently, according to numerous reports, Rick Hahn hasn’t lost his mind after all. White Sox fans can breathe a little easier.
Last week I was in shock when I read that the White Sox were aggressively pursuing Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. Machado is one year away from making hundreds of millions of dollars in free agency, and shipping any blue chip prospects to Baltimore for Machado seems ludicrous. However, the whispers are that none of the White Sox top prospects were included in their trade proposal to Baltimore.
Is it fair to write off 2018 as another rebuilding year for the White Sox? Probably so, but it may not be overly optimistic to believe that the 2019 season will be the year that the rebuild begins to bear fruit. Just like the north siders peaked a year earlier than most media members and fans expected, so might the Sox hit their stride prior to the 2020 World Championship season on the south side.
This is a prognostication for the 2019 White Sox 25 man roster. I won’t include any player currently outside the organization, but I will designate a spot with Free Agent/Trade Acquisition where I believe a hole might exist. Could this group bring home a winning record in 2019? A wild card spot? More?
The roster will be categorized by starting rotation, bullpen, starting nine, and position players off the bench. In parentheses after each player, I will list where that player finished the 2017 season.
2019 Chicago White Sox
RP Lucas Giolito (White Sox)
RP Michael Kopech (Triple A Charlotte)
RP Carlos Rodon (White Sox, disabled list)
RP Reynaldo Lopez (White Sox)
RP Carson Fulmer (White Sox)
RP Dylan Cease (Single A Kannapolis)
RP Alec Hansen (Double A Birmingham)
RP Zack Burdi (Charlotte, disabled list)
RP Thyago Vieira (Triple A Tacoma in the Mariners’ organization)
LP Aaron Bummer (White Sox)
LP Ian Clarkin (High A Winston-Salem)
Free Agent/Trade Acquisition
C Zack Collins (Birmingham)
1B Jose Abreu (White Sox)
2B Yoan Moncada (White Sox)
SS Tim Anderson (White Sox)
3B Free Agent/Trade Acquisition
LF Avi Garcia (White Sox)
CF Free Agent/Trade Acquisition
RF Eloy Jimenez (Birmingham)
DH Nicky Delmonico (White Sox)
IF Yolmer Sanchez (White Sox)
IF/OF Leury Garcia (White Sox)
OF Adam Engel (White Sox)
C Omar Narvaez (White Sox)
A great deal of guesswork and intuition goes into a list like this, so there is definitely room for argument.
I have Rodon in the three spot of the rotation because he has not maintained consistency (or stayed healthy) throughout his tenure with the White Sox, despite Steve Stone and Hawk Harrelson’s assurances he’ll be a future ace. I have Fulmer in the five spot and Hansen in the bullpen because the Sox have shown they’ll groom future starters in the bullpen to start their careers.
Cease is an aggressive prediction for the 2019 bullpen, but he can throw in the high 90s and the Sox like big arms in the bullpen. Burdi’s roster spot is obviously contingent on his full recovery from Tommy John surgery. Clarkin, a first round pick of the Yankees in 2013, will be 24 years old when the 2019 season starts, and two lefties in the bullpen is comfortable for most big league teams.
Jimenez batted .357 with a .397 on base percentage in 68 Double A at bats in 2017 and destroyed the pitchers in the Dominican Winter League. He’ll be entrenched in the Sox line up by 2019, perhaps moving Avi to left field. If Wellington Castillo gets traded for more prospect depth, Zack Collins will be the big lefty bat in the line up (along with switch hitter Moncada and Delmonico), with a discerning eye (87 walks in High A and Double A) and a good arm (he caught 39% of base stealers in 2017).
Prospects Jake Burger (3B) and Blake Rutherford (OF) had ordinary seasons at Kannapolis, so there is a reluctance to project them aggressively. 26 million dollar mega-prospect Luis Robert hasn’t played an inning of affiliated ball in the United States yet. I don’t have Charlie Tilson (various injuries) or Ryan Cordell (MLB Pipeline calls him “an ideal fourth outfielder”) projected in centerfield because it doesn’t feel like an authentic prediction. To put Tilson or Cordell in that spot would be a lazy guess.
Each bench player has paid his dues and deserves a roster spot to help the White Sox when they contend. I kept Engel on the big league team despite his .166 batting average and 117 strikeouts in 336 plate appearances because if he can hit .220 and cut the strikeouts to 28% of his plate appearances, his outstanding defense can help a contending club.
How does this team look?
Next: Using the Evan Longoria trade to gauge a potential return for Jose Abreu (again).