The Chicago White Sox have addressed many of their offseason needs already, but they’ve yet to fill a pressing need in the outfield. Although the White Sox were rumored to be a front-runner in signing free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, it appears the White Sox are only interested in signing the All-Star slugger to short-term deal.
The White Sox missed out on signing outfielder Alex Gordon as he returned to play for the Kansas City Royals after signing a four-year $72 million deal. With the White Sox in dire need of more offensive production, the team could very well look to acquire another player via trade. The White Sox have been reported as one of many teams interested in trading for former All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies recently signed free agent outfielder Gerardo Parra to an already crowded outfield in Denver.
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If the White Sox were to attempt a trade for Gonzalez, it could very well help the team accomplish its goal of acquiring a left-handed bat with power and a player that plays a corner outfield position. The White Sox would most likely have to part with one of their pitching prospects in order to acquire Gonzalez, but with $37 million owed over the next two seasons to the 2015 Silver Slugger Award winner, the White Sox wouldn’t have to trade any of their top prospects to the Colorado Rockies.
Gonzalez put together a productive 2015 in which he hit .271 with 40 home runs, 97 RBI and had an OBP of .325 in 153 games played. The 153 games played by Gonzalez were not only the most he’s played in a single season for the Rockies, but they were the most he’s played since 2010 when he appeared in 145 games and finished 3rd in MVP voting for the national league.
The 30-year old outfielder has dealt with injury concerns over the course of his career and other than 2010 and 2015, Gonzalez hasn’t played in more than 140 games. If the White Sox were to acquire Gonzalez and trade Avisail Garcia, they could be left with little depth in the outfield which would hurt the team if Gonzalez were to get injured.
The case for a Gonzalez trade could be made as the White Sox wouldn’t have to give up a draft pick, something they would have to do if they were to sign Justin Upton or Dexter Fowler, and they wouldn’t have to commit to the long-term deal Cespedes will require. However, if Gonzalez is unable to play 150 games or more over the next two seasons, the White Sox would essentially be taking on more dead money by acquiring him.
Gonzalez might not hit 40 home runs in a season again, but his inability to consistently hit left-handed pitching could ultimately lead Gonzalez to become a platoon player. If this is the case, Gonzalez would be a very expensive platoon player, something the White Sox don’t need if they are going to be competitive over the next two seasons.
According to fangraphs.com, Gonzalez has one of the largest platoon splits over the past two seasons in relation to weighted runs created (wRC) against right-handed and left-handed pitchers.
The White Sox not only need a player that can hit for power in a lineup that includes Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier, they will need a player who can get on base as well. Gonzalez’s on-base percentage has declined since his career high of .376 in 2010. Another concerning state for Gonzalez has been his strikeouts per season. In 2015, Gonzalez had 133 strikeouts at the plate.
If the White Sox want to contend in 2016, acquiring Gonzalez might not make them a favorite in the American League Central. However, not acquiring Gonzalez and not signing either Upton, Cespedes or Fowler could have the White Sox starting the 2016 season with the same starting outfield as 2015. Not many White Sox fans want to see a repeat of 2015 anytime soon.