With the gas tank nearing empty on the 2015 Major League Baseball season it’s time for us, White Sox, fans to start looking at the 2016 season.
We’ll take a look at what roster moves the White Sox will be looking at, team leadership, and what their American League Central counterparts could look at doing.
On paper this roster looks like it could be solid but clearly the results have been less than spectacular so changes will be needed. The outfield will likely remain untouched as Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera are all under contract for 2016. The infield though could lose 75% of guys who saw regular playing time this year.
Alexei Ramirez’s days as a member of the White Sox are dwindling. He is owed $10 million for 2016 but has a $1 million buyout. The White Sox will likely use the buyout and go into the season with top prospect Tim Anderson manning the position. He’s raw and unproven but has tremendous upside along with a cheaper price tag.
Aug 1, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez (10) celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run during the second inning against the New York Yankees at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
At third base the White Sox have given a long look at Tyler Saladino but I’m not sure he’s the guy I’d want going forward. They should look to bring in a veteran however there are not many options out there. So Saladino could get another look or even Matt Davidson could get a shot at the job even though his minor league numbers do not necessarily reflect a promotion being necessary.
Second base has a few more options but again the top ones may be too expensive for the White Sox to pursue. Howie Kendrick and Daniel Murphy could are solid but they could command over $8 million a year and after the lack of success with recent free agent signings the White Sox may pursue internal options such as Micah Johnson again.
May 9, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox second baseman Micah Johnson (7) dives for and misses a single off the bat of Cincinnati Reds catcher Brayan Pena (not pictured) during the sixth inning in game one of a doubleheader at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
First base is locked up with Jose Abreu but I would not be surprised if the team looks to move Adam LaRoche and his one year remaining on his contract. He’s making $13 million next year and if I were the White Sox I’d be very pessimistic against signing Adam’s from the Washington Nationals in the near future. Maybe trade him to a National League team for a mid-level prospect.
The starting pitching staff will likely have a subtraction in Jeff Samardzija but his departure comes a first round pick from whoever signs him. The team will need a right hander to join the rotation then as they’ll have 4 lefties barring a John Danks trade. If I am the White Sox, a run at Johnny Cueto may make sense but I’m not sure they want to get into a bidding war. Therefore I’d look for a cheap right handed alternative with maybe Carson Fulmer, the team’s top pick in 2015 making the roster. If they decide to give him more time then maybe Frankie Montas, Spencer Adams, Tyler Danish or Chris Beck can fill that role.
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The bullpen will have some turnover but with so many pieces under contract or team control this unit should be a position of strength, especially with the return of Nate Jones.
The biggest question that the White Sox will face in the offseason will be whether manager Robin Ventura will be returning. My thoughts are that he’s had plenty of opportunities and while the players deserve their fair share of blame for the struggles, ultimately the responsibility lies with Ventura. His teams have failed to live up to expectations more than they have met them.
Who could the White Sox bring in? My personal preference is Ron Gardenhire. He’s had plenty of experience with managing teams of youth with the Minnesota Twins and would be a calm and stable presence in the clubhouse. Another person of interest could be Bud Black who was let go earlier this year from the San Diego Padres.
The Rest of the AL Central
Cleveland Indians – Another team that has failed to live up to expectations. They’ll be buoyed by a pretty solid pitching staff that is talented but also inconsistent. Offensively they’ll look to improve but like the White Sox, could be relatively young at many positions next year.
Detroit Tigers – I wish I could say I knew what direction this team was headed in. They lack pitching and yes they acquired plenty of it with their trade deadline deals but there’s no guarantee they pan out. They have some bad contracts on their hands which means they’ll have a higher payroll than their divisional counterparts but their owner is driven by the will to win and will spend in order to do so. Expect them to be very active in free agency.
Kansas City Royals – This team is solid. Teams should follow their model of success. They’ll lose Johnny Cueto at the end of the season but they have depth in the farm system and have shown they don’t need one to win. Jordan Zimmerman would be a nice pick up of the top end pitchers but I think they are more likely to end up with a guy like Doug Fister or Brett Anderson.
Jun 8, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Washington Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman (27) delivers a pitch against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Twins – The surprise of the Central division. This team has exceeded all expectation of what many thought could be a 100-loss team. They’ll probably sit tight in the off-season and just wait for their prospects to come up and contribute.
Southside nation what are your thoughts on possible moves for the Sox to get ready in 2016?