White Sox add veteran relievers to bullpen for 2018 season. How much value does each pitcher provide a rebuilding team this year?
Considering the Chicago White Sox bullpen had few veterans, it made sense for the front office to bring in some arms to supplement such an inexperienced group. On Jan. 4, Rick Hahn did just that, when he acquired both Luis Avilan and Joakim Soria in a three-team trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals. How will those two fit in? Let’s take a statistical look at them and find out!
First, Avilan brings the Sox elite ability when it comes to retiring left-handed batters (he is left-handed himself). Last year, Avilan allowed 16 hits in 82 official at-bats versus lefties, which equates to a .195 average. While righties drove in fewer runs against him (five to nine), anyone who hit from the left-handed batter’s box reached base at a meager .290 clip.
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On the other hand, righties appeared to have a decent amount of success against Avilan in 2017. Not only did they nearly hit for a .300 average (.292 to be exact), righties got on base at a .376 rate. Past years may tell a different story than 2017. He seems to keep the ball in the park against lefties well regardless of which year you search.
Moving to Soria, it is likely he will be used in the closer role at some point in 2018. Although he has only accumulated two saves over the past two seasons, Soria closed out 202 games between 2007-’15. Speaking of the prior two campaigns, while he didn’t save many games, Soria did perform well in the later innings. Just by looking at the hold category, you can see he recorded 21 and 20 in ’16 and ’17 respectively.
Even though Soria’s ERA may have hovered around four the previous two seasons, his WHIP was average at worst. In 2016, he posted a 1.46 in the aforementioned category, and this past season Soria tallied a 1.23 WHIP. He has also been durable, as Soria averaged 64.5 appearances in ’16 and ’17.
Before we wrap up, it makes sense to discuss how the Sox will use these two assets this season. Since they are still rebuilding, it is highly likely they could deal one or both this summer. Relief pitching is typically a hot commodity at the trade deadline. Avilan has a team friendly contract to boot, due to the fact he is under control until 2020.
All in all, there is no doubt in my mind this deal was made with the mindset of trading away both for younger assets. As previously mentioned, left-handers and closers are in high demand in July. With Avilan’s contract, it could turn out worthwhile this trade was made. If Soria performs up to his reputation (given he will turn 34 in May), very good prospects could be coming to the Sox in the coming months. Or at least we hope, Sox fans.