White Sox will have to sign solid free agents in order to have chance at contending next season. The team wouldn’t necessarily have to sign players with qualifying offers in order to be contenders.
The Chicago White Sox will need to make solid free agent acquisitions this offseason if they hope to contend next season. With the Sox holding the 12th pick in next year’s draft, the team will most likely have to steer away from signing free agents with qualifying offers.
This means the Sox could potentially pass on free agents such as Dexter Fowler, Edwin Encarnacion, and maybe Yoenis Cespedes. With the Sox being mired in mediocrity, they need to reignite a frustrated fanbase. It doesn’t help when the crosstown rival just won its first World Series in 108 years either.
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If the Sox choose to give contention one more shot, they can still make this a possibility without sacrificing a top draft pick. The Sox don’t have to mortgage its future for potential success in 2017. Although it would be nice for the team to sign Cespedes or even Encarnacion, it might be more important for this team to continue stockpiling talent in its farm system.
The Sox could target players that fit its needs this offseason, and they wouldn’t have to forfeit any draft picks. This could actually work to the benefit of frugal Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. The Sox have never signed a single player to a contract more than $68 million. Most of free agents without qualifying offers aren’t expected to receive any contracts more than $60 million.
With the Sox needing more outfield depth, they could explore signing Josh Reddick. Reddick is coming off a successful 2016 with both the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers. The 29-year old outfielder owned a .281/.345/.405 slash line in 115 games this past season. The Sox certainly need a player with a high on-base percentage in its lineup. If the Sox could add Reddick in the offseason, he would fit one of the teams needs in the outfield.
Another player the Sox could possibly target is Jason Castro. The catcher hit .210 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs. Castro didn’t have a particularly strong season at the plate in 2016 with the Houston Astros, but he provides the most value as a pitch framer. According to StatCorner, Castro’s oSTR (Percentage of pitches outside of strike zone called a strike) was 8.3. This was good for fifth in MLB and was ironically behind former Sox catcher Tyler Flowers. The Sox missed Flower’s pitch framing this past season, and they would be wise to sign Castro quickly this offseason.
The Sox could also target Michael Saunders to fill its void at designated hitter and needing a left-handed power bat. However, Saunders only hit more than 20 home runs once and that was this past season. Saunders isn’t expected to have a qualifying offer from the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Sox could sign the 29-year old native Canadian. Saunders hit .253 with 24 home runs and 57 RBIs for the Blue Jays in 2016.
Although Saunders reached the All-Star game for the first time in his career, his production tailed off at the end of the season for Toronto. In the first half of this past season, he hit .298 with 16 home runs and 42 RBIs. In the second half however, Saunders hit .178 with just 8 home runs and 15 RBIs. Despite this, Saunders finished the season with a .338 OBP. Saunders has a .308 career OBP.
The Sox will have to pick a direction very soon this offseason, and they don’t have to start rebuilding its roster just yet. There are some solid options on the free agent market the Sox could explore without sacrificing the future. Sox fans deserve to see this team contend with its current core intact, and the front office to be very aggressive in pursuing players that fit its needs. If the Sox can’t sign any of the aforementioned players, they will most likely have a tough time contending next season.