The White Sox added Eloy Jimenez, Casey Gillaspie, Micker Adolfo, Luis Basabe, and Ian Clarkin to the 40-man roster yesterday while assigning Chris Beck and Tyler Danish to Triple-A Charlotte to free up space. The roster currently stands at 39, leaving one spot open.
Rule 5 Draft
The catalyst for these changes is the upcoming Rule 5 draft to be held on December 14th. Clubs with open space on the 40-man roster are eligible to select Rule 5-eligible players out of other organizations. Rule 5 eligibility is dependent on the age at which a player signed and the time elapsed since that signing. Here is a quick breakdown of the rules regarding that draft.
A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $100,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man active roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was selected for $50,000. If his original team declines, the new team may keep or waive said player.
Since players are required to remain on the MLB roster for an entire season, it's atypical to protect younger players at lower minor league levels, but that trend has been shifting in recent years as rebuilding clubs roll the dice to stock up on talent.
As the number one prospect in the organization and number 4 in all of baseball, this move surprises no one. Jimenez is projected to start the year in Double-A, but many experts are speculating that he could join the MLB roster by mid-summer. Given what he's done thus far in his career, he could easily be stashed and possibly even contribute to another team in 2018; not protecting him would have left some front office vacancies on the South Side.
The brother of former White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in July. He struggled mightily at the Triple-A level in 2017 posting an aggregate slash line of .223/.297/.373 in 458 at-bats. Still, his 15 home runs and 2016 performane - 34 doubles and 18 home runs - lead some to believe the first baseman could be launching balls into the seats at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2018. Given that the White Sox parted with a valuable relief pitching asset to get him, they don't want to give someone else the chance to tap into his long ball potential.
The 21-year-old Dominican played at Low A Kannapolis in 2017 with a slash line of .264/.305/.399 in 2017, marking a breakout showing. Given his youth and level of play, some are questioning why the White Sox choose to protect him. But in a recent podcast, White Sox Instructor Aaron Rowand praised him comparing his throwing arm to that of Vlad Guerrero and former Toronto Blue Jay Jessie Barfield. It seems the organization likes his ceiling and felt it was worth investing a roster spot in him over more MLB ready players.
Luis Alexander Basabe
The 21-year-old out of Venezuela came over in the Chris Sale trade and also posted some shaky numbers in 2017. Playing at High A Winston-Salem he slashed at .221/.320/.320 with 5 home runs in 375 at-bats. Again youth and performance make protecting him a bit of a head-scratcher, but similar to Adolfo his high ceiling earns him the nod. He has plus speed to go with raw power, both attributes highly-coveted by major league teams.
The left-hander acquired in the big trade with the New York Yankees just before the deadline last year features a mid-level fastball, a solid curve and change-up. His projection as a back end starter or middle reliever again have folks wondering if a more MLB-ready asset could have been protected. But with an aggregate ERA of 2.60 in High-A and the premium placed on left-handed pitching make the 22-year-old former number 1 draft pick out of San Diego a player worthy of protection.
Twisting in the Wind
This leaves the future with the White Sox of a number of players in varying degrees of doubt. These include utility man Jake Peter, whom GM Rick Hahn recently named as a prospect likely to play on the South Side in 2018. There's also left-handed pitchers, Jordan Guerrero and Brian Clark, along with outfielder Tito Polo. All three have some risk of being taken by another club next month, with Guerrero's flight risk likely the highest. The decision to leave Guerrero off, and in some cases those others, has left some fans scratching their heads.
With a spot open on their own 40-man roster it's expected that the White Sox are considering adding a prospect from another organization in mid-December, especially picking fourth in the winter draft. There'll be plenty of speculation as to the identity of that individual in the coming weeks. Look for more content here on that topic, prior to the 14th.
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