We need assets

I have read and heard about the supposed depth in the Chicago White Sox minor league system.  I have also read and heard that the Sox can’t get rid of Jose Abreu because of his leadership qualities, which apparently amount to those of George S. Patton, Che Guevara, and Cesar Chavez combined. Trading Avi Garcia, who seems to be pulverizing every other pitch he sees recently, might be difficult since he missed two plus months of baseball due to a hamstring injury. 

However, efforts to move both these players should be fervent.  Why?  Consider this.  Ready? #1 ranked prospect OF Eloy Jimenez is currently injured.  #3 ranked prospect OF Luis Robert is currently injured.  #5 ranked prospect P Alec Hansen just returned from an injury. #6 ranked prospect P Dane Dunning is currently injured.  #9 ranked prospect 3B Jake Burger is out for the year with an injury.  #10 ranked prospect OF Micker Adolfo is currently playing through an injury that will most likely be addressed with surgery once the season ends.  #12 ranked prospect P Zack Burdi has not pitched at all this season due to injury. #16 ranked prospect P Ian Clarkin recently returned from an injury.  Finally, #17 ranked prospect OF Ryan Cordell has been out since mid April with an injury.

The Sox need minor league depth.  They need it!  Yet, they won’t move Abreu, and they probably won’t move Garcia either. 

So that leaves the relievers, and we have some precedent.  I just don’t know if the haul the Sox might get in return is anything to be excited about.

First, let’s lay out the four relievers that the Sox moved in 2017 and what they received in return.

Dan Jennings:  Jennings was 3-1 with a 3.45 earned run average when he was moved to the Rays last season for their #10 ranked prospect, first baseman Casey Gillaspie.  Gillaspie is hitting .218/.288/.316 with 3 home runs and 18 runs batted in in 250 plate appearances.

Anthony Swarzak:  Swarzak pitched exceptionally well for the Sox before being moved to the Brewers last July, with a 2.23 earned run average and a 52 to 13 strikeout to walk ratio in 48.1 innings pitched.  The return was Milwaukee’s #17 ranked prospect, outfielder Ryan Cordell. Cordell, who is currently on the disabled list due to a broken clavicle, was hitting .132/.150/.184 with no home runs and 3 runs batted in in 41 plate appearances prior to the injury.

David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle:

Now, it can’t be determined exactly how much value each reliever carried in this transaction because third baseman Todd Frazier went with them to the Yankees.  Robertson had a 2.70 earned run average and a 47 to 11 strikeout to walk ratio in 33.1 innings pitched at the time of the move. Kahnle’s numbers were even more impressive-a 2.50 earned run average with a 60 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio in 36.1 innings pitched.  The return for the trio was outfielder Blake Rutherford, the Yankees’ #3 ranked prospect and the 30thranked prospect in all of Major League Baseball at the time, their #18 ranked prospect, pitcher Ian Clarkin, an unranked prospect, outfielder Tito Polo, and a salary dump major league pitcher, Tyler Clippard. 

Rutherford is having a nice year at High A Winston-Salem:  .291/.329/.452 with 6 home runs and 55 runs batted in. Clarkin, between Double A Birmingham and a rehab assignment in rookie ball, has a 3-5 record with a 6.57 earned run average, a 23 to 25 strikeout to walk ratio, and 60 hits allowed in 50.2 innings pitched. Polo’s stat line is .245/.313/.337 with 1 home run and 8 runs batted in in 181 plate appearances.

Rutherford notwithstanding, you see why there is not much to celebrate here.  You are probably also getting a clearer picture of why it is absolutely necessary for the Sox to move their biggest trade piece, Abreu.  It’s become tiresome to hear how he is a mentor to Yoan Moncada.  Moncada is 23 years old, and he can be comforted 31.5 million times over, a figurative hug for each dollar he received in a signing bonus from the Red Sox when he was 19 years old. 

With Abreu and Garcia staying put, here is a list of five Sox relievers that might entice contending MLB teams.

Joakim Soria:  0-2, 2.48 earned run average, 32.2 innings pitched, 38 to 6 strikeout to walk ratio.

If he continues to pitch like these numbers indicate, a contender might be willing to move a top ten prospect for him.

Jace Fry:  0-1, 2.63 earned run average, 27.1 innings pitched, 14 hits allowed, 33 to 11 strikeout to walk ratio.

Fry is five days shy of his 25th birthday, won’t be a free agent until 2024, and makes the minimum MLB salary.  He isn’t going anywhere.

Xavier Cedeno:  0-0, 0.84 earned run average, 10.2 innings pitched, 15 to 6 strikeout to walk ratio.

In a very limited sample size, statistically speaking, Cedeno is pitching the best baseball of his major league career at 31 years old.  If the lefty can continue this pace or something resembling it for the next three weeks, a contending team will offer a top thirty prospect for him. 

Hector Santiago:  3-3, 4.52 earned run average, 63.2 innings pitched, 55 to 39 strikeout to walk ratio.

Santiago struck out the side in both innings he pitched last night in an extra inning win over the Reds. He’s a lefty, he can spot start, he can pitch multiple innings in relief, and he’s had success doing both. Another couple of outings like last night and he’ll require a top thirty prospect in return. 

Luis Avilan:  2-0, 4.38 earned run average, 24.2 innings pitched, 27 to 10 strikeout to walk ratio.

Lefties are batting .213 against Avilan.  The Sox might be able to get a project prospect in return for his services. 

Prospect rankings courtesy of MLB Pipeline

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