The White Sox traded outfielder Alejandro De Aza to the Baltimore Orioles Saturday evening in a deal that netted Chicago two right-handed pitching prospects, Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas. De Aza had been rumored as a potential trade piece to be moved before the non-waiver trade deadline, along with fellow outfielder Dayan Viciedo. However, it has been only after the deadline that the White Sox have become active in the trade market, moving Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham in the last nine days.
In return for De Aza, the White Sox received two respectable pitching prospects. RHP Mark Blackmar has pitched for the Frederick Keys in the Advanced-A Carolina League, posting a 10-1 record with a 3.18 ERA and 83 strikeouts, according to MiLB.com. More impressively, in his last 10 starts Blackmar owns a 6-0 record with a 2.09 ERA. Ryan Sullivan at Orioles Uncensored described his two-seam fastball as being major-league ready, predicting that, “If he can develop one or both of his off-speed offerings, he could develop into a major league deliver.” He may or may not end up as an ace in the ‘pen, but he seems to be good for a web gem every now and again.
Miguel Chalas made the jump from Advanced-A Frederick to Triple-A Norfolk late this month. While he posted an unimpressive 4.80 ERA with the Frederick Keys for most of the 2014 season, he owns a 1.29 ERA in seven innings pitched with the Norfolk Tides in two appearances since his promotion. He has struck out 54 batters in 76.1 innings this season according, according to MiLB.com. Orioles Nation notes that his, “Small frame has forced a move to the bullpen, but fastball/slurve combo will play well out of bullpen.” Chalas’ fastball reaches into the mid-90s, but he incorporates an off speed breaking pitch that dips into the high 70s according to the same report.
This deal was better than could have been expected for the White Sox. They received two warm bodies that could develop into bullpen contributors within the next few years. They also shed Alejandro De Aza’s arbitration-eligible salary for 2015, which would have likely cost the team $5-6 million. Coupled with the Gordon Beckham deal, the organization has saved approximately $10-12 million for the 2015 season in the last week and a half.
Given the bullpen’s 2014 performance, it should come as no surprise that White Sox general manager, Rick Hahn, has sought to fortify the organization with as many young arms as possible. The team’s bullpen has been atrocious when it’s mattered most, ranking 4th in the majors with 19 blown saves and 28th in save percentage, according to ESPN.com. Much of that can be attributed to young pitchers pitching out of their comfort zone. At the same time, veterans that were expected to be stabilizing forces in the bullpen have floundered and proven to be the biggest liabilities.
With the return of Avisail Garcia to the everyday lineup and recent performance of Jordan Danks, the White Sox are aware of where their most pressing holes are that need to be filled. The free agent market has not been kind to the White Sox bullpen and the organization has plenty of outfielders capable of producing to the extent that De Aza has performed this season. This trade was an excellent example of organization recognizing and reacting to those realities.