Posted on July 21, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Chicago White Sox have to be one of the most disappointing teams in baseball this season. After a hot start in April, the White Sox looked like contenders in the AL Central, so much so that the team made a trade to acquire James Shields in early June, hoping he could help bolster their starting rotation and help them remain atop the division. However, the White Sox have fallen hard and fast over the past couple of months, and now there are indications that Chicago will be sellers at the trade deadline and willing to listen to offers for almost any player on its roster.
One player who won’t be traded is starting pitcher Chris Sale. Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday afternoon that the White Sox had received a “king’s ransom” offer for Sale sometime within the past two days but that Chicago steadfastly declined the proposal. A separate report Thursday from Bob Nightengale states that the team wants to keep its starting rotation together, which would include Sale, Carlos Rodon, Jose Quintana, and possibly Shields as well. Other than its starters, as well as rookies Carson Fulmer and Tim Anderson, the White Sox are apparently willing to part with any one on their roster if the price is right.
The White Sox enter Thursday’s series opener with the Detroit Tigers two games under .500 and trailing the first place Cleveland Indians by 10 games. Chicago is also seven games out of the second wild card spot and would have to leapfrog six other teams to find its way into position for the second wild card slot. Clearly, the team’s outlook for the rest of 2016 is bleak, but with Sale and Quintana leading the way, the team has hope to put together the kind of rotation in 2017 that could allow them to compete.
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This puts the White Sox in prime position to sell off some free agents to be. Catchers Dioner Navarro, Alex Avila, and first baseman Justin Morneau all have expiring contracts, although they may not be all that appealing to contending teams. Morneau could be the lone exception if he’s able to prove over the next 10 days that he can still produce at the big league level, as he has just 13 at bats since returning to the majors.
Most of Chicago’s most intriguing trade chips are under contract through at least the 2017 season, which could make the White Sox hesitant to part with them, but it could also mean a higher asking price for teams with serious interest in acquiring those players. The list includes first baseman Jose Abreu, third baseman Todd Frazier, center fielder Adam Eaton, and closer David Robertson, among a few others who may be appealing to contenders. Reports indicate the White Sox have fielded calls for both Eaton and Robertson, although the price for each, particularly Eaton, would likely be substantial.
Even if the White Sox are under no pressure to trade any of their assets, GM Rick Hahn said Thursday he is “open-minded” to any trade ideas. Chicago could easily stand pat at the deadline and hope for better results next season. But creating some roster turnover in some areas other than the front of the rotation is a path worth considering after the team has underperformed for much of 2016. The White Sox definitely have some players under team control beyond 2016 that could make for interesting trade chips, making Chicago a team to watch as the trade deadline approaches.