Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Alexei Ramirez has earned some attention as a possible AL-MVP candidate. He has been second-best shortstop in the Majors as measured by Wins Above Replacement. Ramirez has batted 329/.361/.479, with a wRC+ of 131, and he has already surpassed his 2013 home run total.
Gordon Beckham’s 2014 season numbers are not as impressive as Ramirez’s, but he has been showing increased confidence at the plate and has heated up over the past three weeks, hitting .330 over the past 23 games. For the season, Beckham is slashing .279/.319/.419, but over the past 30 days he has been hitting an impressive .306/.342/.468, producing a wRC+ of 124.
Like Beckham, third baseman Conor Gillaspie is also riding a wave of confidence and has started 2014 well. Gillaspie ‘s line is .351/.400/.462 so far, with a wRC+ of 138.
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With good things such as these occurring around an infield that should improve with Monday’s return of Jose Abreu from the disabled list, it may be surprising to find trade rumors starting to form around the non-Abreu members of that infield.
Ken Rosenthal, however, speculated–at about the 1:10 mark of the video–that middle infielders Beckham and Ramiez may become trade chips for the White Sox, with both the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants interested in their services. Rosenthal says that the key question is the self-perception of the White Sox, for if they feel they cannot contend in 2014, their middle infield depth may lead them to move Ramirez and Beckham at the deadline.
While no specific trade rumors surround Conor Gillaspie, Scott Lindholm of Beyond the Box Score wonders what his role for the White Sox will end up being. Is he the long-term solution at third? Is he a place-holder for a future third base solution? Is he a part of a deal that will bring the Sox some desperately-needed pitching?
Lindholm points out that while Gillaspie has had a very good start to 2014, his batted ball numbers point to a coming regression, as both his BABIP (.407) and line drive rate (32.7%) are well into the “unsustainable” range. So, though he will hit some home runs in the future, his batting average and on-base percentage will decline.
After dispensing with several trade scenarios, Lindholm identifies “placeholder” ast he most likely and least damaging role Gillaspie can play for the Sox. The basis of his conclusion appears sound:
"My advice to Rick Hahn is simple — if he can get anything he perceives as value for Gillaspie, take it, particularly if it’s pitching. This is highly unlikely, since everyone is holding on to their talented pitching, and as such, I’d just take Gillaspie and accept what he’ll be, possibly a slightly-above average third baseman who can be a placeholder until Matt Davidson is ready."
Expect more speculation of this sort between now and July 31st if the White Sox fail to contend for a playoff spot.