White Sox Winter Meetings Preview: The Issues of Rebuilding

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Jul 18, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the fifth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Chicago, 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 18, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the fifth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Chicago, 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /
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White Sox could make many trades during upcoming Winter Meetings. Will the team trade its best player and add depth to its farm system?

With MLB’s Winter Meetings starting on Monday, it is time to preview the key issues facing the Chicago White Sox. From who will get traded to potential surprises, let’s take an in-depth look the upcoming week for the South Siders.

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1. Do they deal Chris Sale during the Meetings, or after?

While much of the talk this offseason (and before) has revolved around Sale, the question now becomes when will they deal him? Sale has been the team’s ace going back to 2012, not to mention one of the game’s best pitchers. Will someone pony up and give the Sox what they want?

Assuming that they do, when will it come? For a pitcher that consistently strikes out more than 200 (has for the last four seasons), he is valuable on the trade market. Combine that with his age (28 in March), and an ERA in the threes, it isn’t hard to figure out why an organization wouldn’t want to give up the farm for Sale.

The main reason for giving up a massive amount is the amount of time left on his deal. He has one year remaining on his deal (2017: $12M), plus two club options. Assuming he were to get injured, the deal is even more team friendly. So, it is more a matter of if, not when the Sox will deal Sale?

2. Should any of the starting nine get ready to pack their bags?

The Sox have three extremely attractive pieces to move, that being Jose AbreuAdam Eaton, and  Todd Frazier. With Abreu being a 100-RBI man for the first three seasons of his MLB career, it is quite simple to see why any team would find him attractive. On top of that, he hits for a high average (.299 career hitter) and his low total for home runs is 25.

Eaton performed at an extremely high level in right field last season, as he posted a DWAR of 1.8 and recorded 15 assists. Considering that defense is becoming more and more crucial in baseball, having an elite defender is key for any team to win.

Offensively Eaton was far from insufficient, as he posted a very good all-around year, leading to a 6.2 WAR. Looking at Eaton’s overall stats, he hit .284, with 14 homers and 59 RBI’s. Not only that, he showed excellent speed and gap power, as he stole 14 bags, topping it off with 29 doubles and nine triples.

Finishing up the analysis for this group, Frazier did exactly what a third baseman should do: hit for power. He was among the league leaders in home runs, going deep 40 times. While he does strike out far too often (163 times in 2016), his power surges make him a valuable cog to a winning team at the hot corner.

3. Will the club make any surprise signings?

As I wrote in an earlier article, will the Sox make any moves in order to bring back prospects at the deadline? Given the free agent market it extremely thin, it makes it more difficult to find anyone of value. The team would have to be just as lucky as they would good in some cases, but it would be the route they may end up going.

If they do go in this direction, they will need to sign some high-risk, high-reward players. Those types might bring back something of value, however it is unlikely. It is worth trying, as it could speed up the rebuild somewhat.

Next: Can Carson Fulmer Contribute Next Season?

Conclusion

All in all, there are going to be some trying times at 35th and Shields in the near future. While 2017 may look terrible, this organization needs some star level young players, which they don’t have at the moment. If they can get some of those, they can turn this around. The question is, will they?

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