In the middle of the Winter Meetings this past week, Ken Rosenthal let this little curiosity slip out:
“…As of mid-afternoon on Wednesday the team had traded only closer Sergio Santos in what many in the industry perceive to be a curious move. And, surprisingly, the White Sox player drawing the most interest was utility man Brent Lillibridge, according to major-league sources.”
Where to start? Kenny Williams was holding a sales extravaganza of all his best used-vehicles, and wound up fielding inquiries on the donuts in the employee break-room.
The instincual response would be “Someone wants to trade value for a utility player? Off the strength of a out-of-nowhere season where he had a .247 ISO, after hitting all of 41 HR in 2260 minor league plate appearances?? MAKE THE DEAL!!!”
Follow-up concerns would center around wondering what kind of value another GM could condone offering up for The Bridge. Sure, he was once a stud prospect, but that was when people were under the notion that he was high-OBP shortstop, not an endearingly goofy all-or-nothing outfielder. Surely not an actual prospect, or someone a sure bet to contribute more than Lillibridge.
The White Sox have a general directive to get younger somehow, and to stop spending money, stop spending money, oh God how did we ever spend all this money?
Since Lillibridge is still another year from even entering arbitration, there’d really need to be a delirious GM on the other line for a trade of Lillibridge to have much purpose other than to further irritate a fan base that’s probably getting sick of this trend of productive players getting shipped off due to prior front-office gaffes.
Of course, more notable than any actual Lillibridge trade and all its relative insignificance, is the implied non-interest in all the people the White Sox actually want to trade.
Thankfully, there have been some reports emerging since about negotiations with the Blue Jays (which mentioned Gordon Beckham as on the table), along with previous discussions with the Orioles and Red Sox, that tear down the idea that no one is interested. It’s also good to see Kenny negotiating with someone other than Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos. AA’s reputation of brilliance is probably overblown, but whenever Williams is dealing with him, I can’t help but feel like the wife of prizefighter who just got a bout with the World Champion…and had to jump up two weight classes. Of course I believe you can win, and would never want to make you fe—OH GOD, GET YOUR HANDS UP, YOU’RE GONNA GET YOURSELF KILLED!
Still, one can’t help and watch the much more heated trade market for Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, or even just the Sergio Santos trade, and wonder whether the White Sox simply have to continue to wait until their crop of pricey veteran rentals become more attractive, or are seeing a product of market evolution where GMs don’t see an exciting year with John Danks as worth parting with a top-5 prospect in their organization for, opting instead to hunt for options with multiple years of cost control.
For now, it’s safe enough to assume it’s more of a case of the former, and this off-season has to remain slow and laborious lest the Sox incinerate every bit of leverage they could have.
In the mean time, it’s another checkpoint in the tremendous transformation of Brent Lillibridge’s existence. When the Sox retained him on the 25-man roster for 2011 alongside their heartthrob-of-the-moment Lastings Milledge, it seemed to be way more of a product of hesitance to pull the trigger and just waive the guy already, than an actual burning desire to have him around.
As it turned out, Milledge didn’t look particularly capable of even playing left field, so it was best to have Lillibridge around, but that didn’t exactly make his presence in Major League Baseball by the end of 2011 a great bet.
Now, he’s wanted, by multiple teams, possibly even coveted. His services are in demand. He could have enough juice in his bat to make it to arbitration, or even somehow, free agency. The words “multiple teams in on Brent Lillibridge” could be published on a reputable news site.
Brent Lillibridge is coveted for his power-slugging, and Gordon Beckham is a no-hit, plus-glove guy. No wonder Kenny Williams is just sitting back, trying to figure things out.