White Sox: Outfield Will Need Veterans for 2019 Season, Beyond
White Sox will have to address immediate needs this offseason and there aren’t many bigger needs than having a veteran outfielder for the next few years.
The Chicago White Sox haven’t been linked to any major free agent signings so far this offseason. While many fans are anticipating the Sox sign a premier free agent, the team will need to make sure they acquire a veteran outfielder.
With the Sox lack of quality outfielders, they should heavily target one of the many veteran outfielders on the market this offseason. This past season, the Sox starting outfield consisted of many players who were still trying to make a positive impact at the major league level. Unfortunately, there weren’t many positive contributions offensively for the Sox outfielders.
Outside of a surprise season from Daniel Palka whose outfield defense remains limited, the Sox didn’t have many good offensive outputs from their outfielders. Avisail Garcia was unable to replicate his 2017 success into 2018, and although Adam Engel improved his offense from a lowly performance in his rookie season, he still didn’t perform well enough to justify starting every day in center field.
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The Sox have a great opportunity to address many of their needs this offseason which includes improving their outfield. Yes, the Sox will add an outfielder next year from their farm system in Eloy Jimenez, but they still need to add another veteran or two to a mostly young outfield. The Sox could use a veteran player that can play center field or is versatile enough to play in left field or right field.
A player the Sox could target signing is A.J. Pollock. Pollock did receive a qualifying offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks but hasn’t accepted or rejected it yet. If he does reject the qualifying offer, he will become a free agent but the Diamondbacks will receive draft pick compensation if he signs with another team.
Pollock has been a good center fielder for Arizona but has had trouble staying on the field. Since his All-Star season in 2015 where he appeared in a career-high 157 games, Pollock hasn’t appeared in more than 113 games in any season since. Pollock hasn’t been the same player he was in 2015 as not only did he appear in the All-Star game that year but also won a Gold Glove Award and got some MVP votes for the National League.
The 30-year-old likely won’t command a hefty salary, but he could be a solid option in center field for the Sox on a two or three-year contract. Pollock has seen his offensive numbers drop since 2015 as he hit .315/.367/.498 that season with 20 home runs, 76 RBIs and 39 stolen bases. This past season, Pollock’s slash line was .257/.316/.484 with 21 home runs, 65 RBIs and just 13 stolen bases in 113 games.
Pollock hasn’t come close to being the same Gold Glove defender in center field that he was in 2015, but his offense would be a major upgrade for the Sox lineup in 2019. Another player that could make sense for the Sox is Michael Brantley. Similar to Pollock, Brantley has also struggled with injuries over the past few years but would be an upgrade offensively for the Sox.
Brantley appeared in 143 games with the Cleveland Indians this past season. A major upgrade over the past two years as he battled injuries. In 2016, Brantley appeared in just 11 games and in 2017 appeared in only 90 games for Cleveland. Brantley was one of the better players for the Indians from 2012-2015 but had trouble getting on the field consistently in 2016 and 2017.
The 31-year-old put together an impressive complete season with the Indians in 2018 but wasn’t given a qualifying offer from Cleveland. After owning a slash line of .309/.364/.468 with a .832 OPS, the Indians are allowing the veteran outfielder to possibly leave via free agency. This would be a great time for the Sox to add not only a solid left-handed bat to their lineup but a quality veteran outfielder as well.
Brantley does run the risk of being injured again, but he also has the ability to give the Sox good offensive production over the next few years. There are other veteran outfielders the Sox could target signing this offseason, but Pollock and Brantley could be the best out of the bunch that doesn’t include Bryce Harper. The Sox would be wise to add a veteran to their outfield and they could very well do so this offseason.