With the White Sox all over the national news heading into hot stove season, I looked into the value the best White Sox assets that could possibly be traded this offseason. If the White Sox were to make good on the rumors and rebuild this offseason, they have around a dozen player that could be of use to other contenders. Depending on how aggressive they want to be, the offseason "rebuild" could unfold in a number of different ways. Regardless, they will be doing their due diligence and undoubtedly will be one of the busiest teams in the early winter.
As for the exercise, it goes without saying that there are varying degrees of likelihood for trades on player-by-player basis and the players with control don't need to be traded. Given their youth and inexperience, I left out Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon, along with other young assets, as they're unlikely to be moved in a rebuilding scenario.
We'll start the exercise with the man who's recently found himself in the news...
Honorable Mention: Brett Lawrie
While White Sox Dave of Barstool Sports reported Lawrie is likely done with the White Sox, it won’t be official until December 2nd when teams have to make their final decisions on non-tender candidates. Lawrie could bring a return of a mid-level starting pitcher who can’t strike anyone out or a reliever who throws hard but otherwise walks everybody. Plagued by injuries and rumored attitude concerns everywhere he goes Lawrie’s value is at an all-time low. Despite that, the former top prospect has some redeeming attributes in his game and it’s very possible a team trades a lottery ticket to ensure they get the still only 26-year-old before he hits the free market. Regardless of trade or non-tender, it seems Lawrie’s time is done on the South Side.
10.) Miguel Gonzalez
Much like Dan Jennings, Gonzalez is a nice, back-end of the roster pitcher who can be relied on in a supplementary role. While the White Sox essentially got him for free just prior to last season, it should be noted that the Orioles, Gonzalez former home, are perhaps the worst evaluators of pitching in baseball. Amazingly enough, Gonzalez posted a sub 4 ERA and amassed 2.7 WAR in just 23 starts. Some regression is to be expected given his unsustainable homer prevention but you can do much worse in your fifth rotation slot and the free agent market offers very little in terms of starters. The White Sox put his name out there last July and reportedly had some feelers like including the Miami Marlins. Gonzalez could bring in a B level prospect in a pitching starved market and open a rotation spot for an arm that could be a long-term piece.
9.) Melky Cabrera
Despite posting a batting average just under .300 and an OPS of exactly .800, Cabrera doesn’t figure to have much value in terms of return. He’s owed 15 million in the one year remaining on his contract. While he racks up plenty of assists in left field, the defensive metrics imply that Cabrera leaves more to be desired defensively and he’s likely limited to left field. As a switch hitter with a track record of being an average to plus hitter, a contender could welcome the qualified placeholder and enjoy the flexibility he brings to a lineup. If the White Sox are not going to compete, it would be easy to rationalize the highest past player on the team. Cabrera is beloved in the clubhouse and a veteran with playoff experience so I may be underestimating his value, but I’d expect to be unenthused by the return in a Melky Cabrera trade. A likely return probably isn’t as good as a top 100 prospect, but perhaps a prospect of note with a clear flaw or a recent turn of hard times.
8.) Dan Jennings
Jennings doesn’t amaze anyone when he hits the mound, but he’s been reliable throughout his career in Miami and Chicago. He’s not a left-handed specialist nor is he a guy you want to have pitching the 8th or 9th inning regularly, but he’s a very effective second left-hander out of the pen. While he’s not going to bring you back a prospect that is notable to most, it’s possible there’s a return decent enough to warrant moving the 29-year-old who is just now entering his first year of arbitration.
7.) David Robertson
Plagued by an ugly 2016, Robertson’s value is at an all time low. While he was the mark of consistency prior to last year, Robertson struggled with both command and control but still, it didn’t seem that he’s lost any of his stuff that made him one of the best relievers in the American League. Owed a prohibitive 25 million over the next two years, Robertson’s value is probably just barely positive. It would seem to be prudent that the White Sox hold onto the 31-year-old to allow him to rebuild his value and put him on the market this summer when teams have more certainty about playoff chances and accelerated need due to injury.
6.) Todd Frazier
With only a year under contract, Frazier seems to be a stretch to end 2017 with the White Sox if they scale back. Frazier, who’s a reliable defender at third, posted a career low batting average but also a career high in homers with 40 round trippers.
The White Sox have had plenty of dialogue on Frazier in July and recently. He figures to be highly sought before and after the top free agent options (and really only viable options at third) Justin Turner and Luis Valbuena find homes. The White Sox traded Frankie Montas, Trayce Thompson and Micah Johnson for Frazier last offseason and it’s fair to think his value is likely to take a bit of hit from a control and performance standpoint. Still, the White Sox could likely get a top 100 prospect and a supplementary piece or two of note for the right-handed slugger.
5.) Nate Jones
Jones was sneakily signed to a long-term contract after missing most of 2015 after a couple injuries with one resulting in a Tommy John Surgery. General Manager Rick Hahn signed the flamethrower to an incredible contract that gives the White Sox ownership Jones’ services over the next five years for just under 22 million. Past the minuscule AAV for a late-inning reliever in a market that’s exploding, the White Sox have the option to buy out any of the last three years of Jones’ contract if he were to need to elbow surgery. While Jones may not be the best asset on the team, his contract is a work of art and puts him in the top asset tier of all relievers.
The Ken Giles trade to Houston that netted Philadelphia three notable pitching prospects in Mark Appel, Vince Velasquez and Brett Oberholtzer is likely the framework the White Sox would model a deal off of. However, they could rationalize a return that is less than that and still come home very happy. If they’re not going to contend, relievers are superfluous and the White Sox should try to sell high on this quietly prized asset. The flame-throwing weak contact machine is a dark horse to help invigorate a farm system that should have plenty of new additions otherwise.
4.) Jose Abreu
Assessing the value of Abreu is a difficult task. After bursting on the major league scene in 2014 and posting the second best wRC+ in the American League, Abreu has leveled off a bit. In 2016, Abreu started very slow but played catch up in the second half when he showed he’s still the a top middle-of-the-order bat in the American League. With the range of someone with their feet tied together, Abreu is a below average defender and would likely be more enticing to teams in the American League that could use him at DH if need be.
Abreu’s contract situation is unprecedented and him and his management will have to decide whether they want to opt for arbitration or not. Otherwise, he’s slated for 39 million over the next three years. Abreu would surely net at least a few great prospects as the cheaper alternative to Edwin Encarnacion and more reliable option to the fluky Mark Trumbo and older Jose Bautista.
3.) Jose Quintana
Quintana, who’s value was never underestimated by White Sox fans, finally got his due this year after his fifth straight season of nearly elite pitching. After an outstanding first half, Quintana was an AL All Star. The league is far more aware of this quiet lefty’s outstanding run prevention but it’s still difficult to see a team ponying up for the ultra cheap left-hander. As a pitcher who relies on pitchability, the use of angles and the changing of eye levels more than video game stuff, it’s conceivable the market is comparatively bearish relative to the value his numbers would indicate he’s worth. He’s owed 38.5 million over four years and is of the most valuable assets in baseball. Like Eaton, the White Sox would likely command three or four pre-arbitration assets of value.
2.) Adam Eaton
I give Eaton the slight nod over Quintana here because of the fact that the White Sox control him until 2021 once they accept his options. Eaton, who’s going into his age 28 season, is controlled for the next five years at an AAV just north of 7.6 million. While Eaton struggled with lingering injury issues in his first two seasons with the White Sox, primarily due to his all out style of play, the Miami University product played in 157 games last year with great success. The elite table setter and defender brings pop from a scant package and really has no singular weakness in his game. While it would be shocking to see him go, a team may be able to lure the White Sox into diving into their rebuild by offering three or four of their absolute best prospects. It is entirely fair to think that Eaton’s value will never be higher.
1.) Chris Sale
The Christmas turkey and likely the talk of December’s Winter Meetings, this left-handed ace has been the most consistent pitcher in the American League since he’s entered it. He's a truly elite player with a decent chance to be moved. Signed to a relative pittance, Sale will make 38 million over the next three years once his slam-dunk options are extended. The White Sox supposed asking price is said to be five players including prospects and major league assets. This move would require a boatload from any team in need of an ace as I outlined here. If the White Sox were pushed to move their ace, it would be a deal that sets precedent for future blockbusters for years to come.
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