All offseason it seemed unlikely that the re-tooling White Sox, looking to trade everything that isn’t tied down or cannot help them, would convert two middle-of-the-road outfield starters (Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza, that is) into an outfield platoon. Sure enough, rumors about a split-up are emerging again.
This is a bit of a polarizing question, because for some the answer can be as simple as “Viciedo is terrible, De Aza isn’t, trade Viciedo if possible.” For this camp, the only head-scratching component is who would offer a warm body back for Dayan’s current profile of barely average offense and unplayable defense.
But as we ran into while trying to peg down a fictional trade with the Rays, De Aza’s appeal resides in a need for a non-terrible outfielder, which is not universal, especially at the start of the season. The Tigers just lost Andy Dirks for nearly half the season (and that’s trusting a smooth return from back surgery), but were likely more willing to trade within the divsion when they were on the doorstep of World Series contention while the White Sox were clearly careening into hell, than hand them an asset now at the start of a new year.
Viciedo’s possible access to a higher ceiling under a new hitting coach is not only more in line with the White Sox goals for the year, but gives him the bigger offensive tool (power) to offer for the stand-alone bench role both players are likely suited for. A team that needs an offensive injection of any sort would more likely to roll the dice on Viciedo.
In this world of capped draft and international spending, the White Sox’ success is rooted in their ability to take advantage of their unique and natural advantages. That’s Don Cooper, that’s Herm Schneider, and however wholly unappealing and awful as it sounds, one of those natural advantages right now is being in a position to waste an entire season building up the value of Dayan Viciedo, when a team like Detroit or even the Indians would be more hesitant to run the risk of Viciedo falling on his face (figuratively, since in the field is a separate matter).
De Aza’s value is likely to remain relatively static between now and July, so he should be the player the Sox are more willing to move in the here and now. But since Rick Hahn has already shown a willingness to wait out his colleagues until the sun burns out, solace for now has to be found in the idea that this seemingly overloaded platoon will bring out the best, or simply hide the worst of both. Forever.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan