Earlier today, I sleepily opined that the White Sox rebuild could just as well slide through 2014, since the games didn’t have much meaning anyway. And earlier, I wondered why the White Sox seemed so invested in slapping a fix on a third base situation that figured to be not awful in 2014 provided that Jeff Keppinger is not actually dead.
Both notions can be thrown out of the window when analyzing the Sox trading Addison Reed for Matt Davidson in a reliever-for-potential regular swap that’s a net gain at its basic concept. Addison Reed is a closer, but not really separated from other above-average relievers in any regard besides the role. Matt Davidson is a fast-rising third base prospect who could be a regular if his power and patience carry his other unremarkable but playable skills.
Knowing what we do about relievers and comparing the values of an average full-time player with even a good part-time pitcher, this is an easy move to like. With all the context the Sox have to add, it could be possible to love.
1. The White Sox are bad
I don’t mean to spend the whole night ripping apart the idea that closers have value, but there’s a reason they come in during the final inning. They are the last thing to worry about. Let World Series favorites pay top dollar for certainty in the ninth, the White Sox need to worry about making the first eight worth watching. This is not a bad time to cash out.
2. Addison Reed is pretty replaceable
Addison Reed’s career FIP of 3.30 is good, but not near the realm of elite closers. His 3.79 xFIP that suggests he’s been lucky at avoiding the pitfalls of living with so many flyballs is unremarkable. And his 4.17 ERA is downright bad. And faith in him dragging his results in line with the raw materials of his strike0ut/walk numbers means faith in his tumbling velocity and waning effectiveness over the second half just being a thing he’ll work through.
3. The White Sox especially can replace him
Nate Jones, Daniel Webb, maybe even Jake Petricka all represent big, powerful right-handed fastball/slider pitchers waiting in the wings, ready to replace Reed, and the Sox have had a lot of luck developing raw arms of this sort into polished relievers.
4. Matt Davidson will fit well here
Davidson cannot run nor field very well, and is not an ideal man to have around in 1-0, 2-1 games where manufacturing and preventing single runs is the difference between life and death. The White Sox play these games all the time, but their ballpark suggests that they should not, and Davidson should help that. He’ll loft a lot of iffy fly balls into the sky, and more will drop over the fence than he deserves in these new digs.
5. The White Sox need bats they can plug in and forget about
I maintain the Gillaspie/Keppinger platoon would have been fine. But you can’t use two players at every position, especially not to secure league-average production. And between left field and the mockery the Sox have made of the designated hitter position, they’re heading toward their platoon limit already. If Davidson pans out to even be average, he gives the Sox a plug to put in what has been an absolute sinkhole, filled with the skeletons of aging, cruddy, out-of-position infielders for the last half-decade.
Davidson could bust and the Sox could be left wishing they retained Conor Gillaspie to be barely above replacement level (this trade doesn’t bode well for his roster situation), but this is a risk that their organizational strengths and needs suggest they should fall over themselves to make.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan