Aug 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals right fielder Nori Aoki (23) drives in two runs with a triple against the Oakland Athletics during the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
The White Sox chose to tender arbitration-eligible Dayan Viciedo last Tuesday, however, nobody is buying that he’ll be the starting left-fielder come opening day. The Sox sorely need both a defensive and offensive upgrade at the position. While Viciedo has legitimate power, his on base ability leaves much to be desired. The prize of the remaining free agent market is no doubt Melky Cabrera, but there may be too many suitors for the White Sox to land his services at a reasonable cost. Alternate free agent options might include Nori Aoki and Colby Rasmus.
Rasmus has not lived up to his potential offensively, but he would provide an immediate upgrade in the field for the Sox. Whereas Viciedo was below-average defensively, sabermetrics credit Rasmus as being about average. Rasmus owns a -0.3 career UZR/150 (Ultimate zone rating runs above average per 150 defensive games played) compared to Viciedo’s -7.9. Here’s an example of his outfield prowess below.
Colby enjoyed a solid 2013, batting .276 with an .840 OPS, and might be a bargain if he has a bounce back season. Granted, he would have to be willing to make the move to left-field full-time, but I don’t think that would be a concern.
Nori Aoki, who turns 33 this January, had a productive 2014 with the American League Champion Kansas City Royals. He reached base often, posting a .349 OBP, hit 22 doubles, and stole 17 bases. He would be a solid number two in the lineup in front of Abreu and LaRoche. He’s above average defensively, posting a career 3.6 UZR/150, per fangraphs.com, and rarely strikes out. There will be competition for Nori, but if the White Sox can add him, they would have a very formidable lineup in place.
San Diego will welcome the baseball world’s decision makers Sunday. Deals will be made and players will be signed. There will be some winners and some losers. The White Sox have done an admirable job putting themselves in a position financially to complement their core talent with the right pieces to complete the puzzle. After the winter meetings end on Thursday, Sox fans might know a lot more about who those pieces of the puzzle are.
* All advanced stats, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of baseball-reference.com