With Jeff Samardzija no longer a part of the Chicago White Sox’s plans going forward, the team will have a spot to fill in the rotation. The likely in-house candidate would be Erik Johnson, however after that the team would have to go outside the organization. After Johnson however, it is unknown who would fill his spot in the rotation. Here is a look at the rotation options heading into the winter.
While Johnson is already with the team, he might actually fill another spot assuming the team deals one of its other starters (Jose Quintana or John Danks). Johnson is probably the team’s best pitching prospect that is MLB ready, and could help out at the back-end of the rotation.
Personally, I think Johnson is best suited for a back-end role. Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon could be the team’s top two starters next year, and do a very good job. Quintana could be dealt, and considering the fact that he has a lot of value on the trade market it wouldn’t surprise me if they moved him for a bat.
Frankie Montas is another option, but he needs to be developed more before he is put into an MLB rotation. But overall, Johnson would be a very good option if all else fails.
A buy-low free agent
For example, a free agent that is looking to sign a shorter deal might be an option. While I would be very careful whom I sign just due to the potential of a bust, keep in mind there are always bargains.
Fister is another option, but the fact that he is younger (31) is a difference that could swing the White Sox. Fister knows the Central Division, and could add experience to a young rotation.
Trades are going to be hard due to the fact that any pitcher who is good is going to cost a good amount of personnel (barring a huge contract). However, I think if they are going to acquire a good pitcher, the trade route may be the better option.
Signing free agent pitchers is extremely costly (financially), and you are stuck with that contract for as long as he is on your team (unless a trade occurs). John Danks is one example, which is why trades are a good option because a team can bring in a pitcher for a year or two and not have to wreck their payroll.
While I don’t encourage trading all of your top prospects, keep in mind they are just that, prospects. As long as a team holds on to the great ones, they will be okay.
Overall, it would make sense to somehow bring Johnson into the rotation next year. While I realize he has only been good in limited action twice (September of 2013/2015), keep in mind the one time he broke camp (2014) he struggled mightily.
They will also have to take a chance on a reclamation project (minor league deal), and sign or trade for a pitcher.
I would rather trade for an arm due to the length of deals pitchers get, but that is just my opinion. I think the White Sox need to bring in at least one proven arm for the rotation if they want to get back into contention.
My guess is that they will go outside of the organization for one, and use Johnson to fill a traded spot. I know that is just a prediction, but we will see as the winter unfolds if it comes true.