White Sox should target two premium free agents this offseason to compliment a young roster as the team continues its rebuilding phase.
Very few teams are able to build a world series entirely from the ground up. As far as free agents go, the White Sox will likely never have a better chance to make a big splash than this winter, with the availability of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
At this point, it seems more likely that the White Sox will make a run at Machado than Harper. After all, they reportedly tried to trade for him last offseason. Harper was an outfielder on a team that already has a lot of outfield prospects in the Washington Nationals. Nevertheless, both Machado and Harper would be good fits.
If Harper is acquired, he would best be put in center field, where he played a lot last year, rather than right field. According to baseball reference, Harper has put up a combined 8.5 WAR compared to Avisail Garcia‘s WAR of 4.9 the past two seasons. That isn’t to say Harper wouldn’t be a significant upgrade over Garcia, rather he would provide the greatest upgrade in center field, a position that the Sox have struggled mightily at since Adam Eaton was traded.
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Spending much of the 2019 season with an outfield of Eloy Jimenez/Harper/Garcia gives the White Sox the best option for a formidable outfield. The White Sox then have the 2019 season to decide the future of Garcia with the team, to see if he can bounce back from his bad 2018 season, and whether or not to keep him around. If the White Sox move on from Garcia, they can move Harper to right field and allow centerfield to be occupied by an outfield prospect, such as Luis Alexander Basabe or Luis Robert.
Some White Sox fans have said they would rather wait a year and go for Nolan Arenado for the team’s future third baseman. That would be great, except there’s no way to guarantee that he or any other player will become a free agent. For stars like Arenado or Mike Trout, the most likely scenario is that their current team will lock them up.
But this is not the case with Machado and Harper, a rare opportunity where two superstar-potential players enter the free agent market and could end up with almost any team that has the money to pay them. The White Sox are that team, who have an extremely low payroll currently, giving them the flexibility to compete with New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies for these players.
If both players were to be signed, the White Sox team of the future could look something like this:
That’s a really good lineup – one that could possibly win multiple pennants.