White Sox reportedly keeping in touch with free agent veteran third baseman and have veteran outfielder also on their radar.
The Chicago White Sox aren’t expected to contend this upcoming season. This has been stated countless times over the past few months from Southside Showdown. However, a slow-moving free agent market could help the team land one or two left-handed hitters for 2018.
Carlos Gonzalez and Mike Moustakas both remained unsigned as spring training is over a week old at this point. Both players are represented by agent Scott Boras, and according to reports, the White Sox have spoken with Boras about each player. Jon Moresi of MLB.com wrote the White Sox are more likely to sign a position player than a pitcher.
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According to Bob Nightengale, the Sox are staying in touch with Moustakas. This is interesting because the team could use a starting third baseman not only for this season but the next few years as well. However, signing Moustakas to a potential long-term contract now would ruin the Sox chances at acquiring Manny Machado next offseason.
Another risk with signing Moustakas is his age. Moustakas at 29, would be entering a possible decline phase of his career before his contract expires if the Sox sign him for more than a year. He is coming off an All-Star season with the Kansas City Royals and broke the team’s single-season home run record with 38 home runs.
Moustakas would be a slight upgrade at third base for the Sox, but Yolmer Sanchez had a higher WAR than him in 2017 at 3.5. The 2017 All-Star’s WAR was just 1.8. If the Sox signed Moustakas, it would move Sanchez to a utility infielder role for the team. This would be unfortunate for Sanchez as he had his best year in the majors last season. Sanchez hit a career-high .267/.319/.413 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs. The 25-year-old appeared in 141 games with 45 starts at third base.
The Sox could use another power left-handed bat in Moustakas which would give him an advantage over Sanchez. Along with his 38 home runs from 2017, Moustakas hit .272/.312/.521 with 85 RBIs. The 2015 World Series champion hit 24 doubles last season, while Sanchez had 19. It will be interesting to see how the Sox can find playing time for Sanchez if they add Moustakas however.
Gonzalez, who could also be signed by the Sox is coming off a season in which he struggled for the most part. In 2017, Gonzalez had his worst season in a Colorado Rockies uniform. The 32-year-old hit .262 with 14 home runs and 57 RBIs. He did, however, post a strong final month of the season in 2017 with six home runs. Gonzalez would add another power left-handed bat to the Sox, but he would have to play a different position.
With Avisail Garcia firmly planted in right field, Gonzalez would likely have to start a majority of games in 2018 in left field. Gonzalez has started 419 career games in left field, with 506 starts in right field. However, Gonzalez last started a game in left field in 2014. That season he started 48 games in left field.
The Sox don’t need to add either Moustakas or Gonzalez, but adding one or both players would significantly improve the team for 2018. Moustakas could be less inclined to sign a one-year contract, but Gonzalez could sign a short-term deal to get into camp. Expect the Sox not to rush into signing any of these players, but if they do sign one or both, their lineup will have more balance with another left-handed hitter or two.