White Sox Trade Deadline Targets

With the White Sox out of contention and the trade deadline rapidly approaching, Rick Hahn (left) and Kenny Williams (right) have a number of big decisions to make.

The White Sox have lost a lot of baseball games this season. They rank in the bottom half of the league in every facet of the game: offense (29th in MLB), defense (22nd), and starting pitching (18th). While this year has been largely unwatchable sans every Chris Sale start, the most exciting part of the season is approaching: the trade deadline.

Recently, the Sox shipped out Matt Thornton to Boston in return for Brandon Jacobs. Thornton, who had been one of the premier set-up men over the past few seasons, has regressed into nothing more than a lefty specialist these days. Jacobs, who is described by many as “toolsy,” has seen his production fall off the past couple seasons in the minors (here is a more in-depth write-up for those interested). Jacobs has potential and is essentially a boom-or-bust type of prospect that the White Sox can afford to take a risk on.

Despite being almost 20 games under .500, the Sox still have numerous pieces that contending teams will be looking to get. New General Manager Rick Hahn recently discussed his satisfaction with the team’s pitching, but noted the team has a lack of run-producers. Years of ignoring the development of a minor league system in hopes of contending has really begun to rear its ugly head. The White Sox are devoid of any top-notch talent to the point that they were one of only two teams to not register a top 50 prospect on Baseball America’s mid-season report.

While Hahn may be hesitant to deal some of the pitching, there’s no glaring reason why he shouldn’t at least listen to trade offers for every player on the team, with the exception of Chris Sale – although an argument can be made for him as well. Contending teams are always searching for pitching, and the Sox should take advantage of their one “strength” by trying to re-tool the farm with higher-end talent.

ESPN’s Buster Olney mentioned that the White Sox have been scouting Arizona Diamondbacks games recently. The Diamondbacks have numerous young pitching prospects such as Randall Delgado, Tyler Skaggs, and Archie Bradley. Skaggs and Bradley are likely off-limits, but if the Sox are able to send Peavy and net Delgado in return, the Sox would get a young pitcher with a lot of potential and someone Don Cooper would love to work with.

Beyond Matt Garza, who appears to be the premier starting pitcher on the market, Jake Peavy is the next best option. The Sox will likely activate Peavy from the DL after the All-Star break, and teams like the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, or the San Francisco Giants, who might end up balking at the steep price of Garza, will probably turn around and place a call to Hahn about Peavy.

The other major trade chip the White Sox have is Alex Rios. Rios is making $12.5 million this season, and will make $12.5 next season, with a club option for $13.5 million the following year that comes with a $1 million buyout option. In return, Olney reports the Sox are looking for “major-league ready or near-ready prospects.”

The Texas Rangers have had internal discussions regarding Rios, and possess one of the deepest minor league systems in the league. A few prospects that make sense in a Rios trade would be third baseman Mike Olt. He is one of the more advanced bats in the minor leagues, but with Adrian Beltre firmly entrenched in Texas, he could be a great solution at a position the Sox have struggled to fill since Joe Crede’s departure. The Rangers also have another third base prospect, Joey Gallo, who has one of the strongest power tools in the minors, grading out as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Beyond these two hitters, the Rangers have numerous other prospects that could intrigue the Sox.

Beyond the Rangers, the Pirates finally look like a team that can sustain their winning ways and will likely go all-in this season to try to contend. Rios would be a perfect fit in left field, as the current platoon of Jose Tabata and Travis Snider has hit a paltry five home runs and holds a combined slash line of .259/.324/.381. If the Sox were to package Rios and Gordon Beckham to upgrade another hole at second base, they could potentially net a top-level prospect like outfielder Gregory Polanco, or two mid-level guys like shortstop Alen Hanson, right-handed pitcher Luis Heredia, or outfielder Josh Bell.

As October nears, a bullpen’s struggles and successes begin to magnify significantly. Contending teams looking for bullpen help will likely target Jesse Crain and, to a lesser extent, Matt Lindstrom. While Crain is currently on the DL, he is having the best year of his career, and was named to his first All-Star team. The Detroit Tigers could desperately use bullpen help, but it’s doubtful that Hahn will trade anyone within the division. The Diamondbacks, mentioned above, have one of the worst bullpens in the league, having blown 19 saves this season, and they will likely be one of the most aggressive teams in the bullpen market. Other teams in search of bullpen help are the Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The White Sox are in a great position to improve their minor league system, to an extent, over the next couple of weeks. With a bevy of motivated trading partners stocked with deep minor league systems, the Sox should jump at this golden opportunity to get both younger and deeper.

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Posted on July 17, 2013, in White Sox and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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