With all the talk of the White Sox being “in” on the top two superstar free agents this offseason, will it be a failure if they don’t secure one of them?
The answer to this question is opinion based, obviously. But let’s stop and take a closer look at what the White Sox have already done so far. They have stabilized the back end of the bullpen with the additions of Alex Colome and Kelvin Herrera.
So, in that specific area, it’s been a complete success. The bullpen was possibly the weakest area of the team after all of the turnover the last two years. Now, it appears to be a strength, especially if Nate Jones is healthy and reverts to his 2016 form.
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The White Sox added a left-handed bat that can also play first base to give Abreu a day off every so often. Now, this wasn’t necessarily a major area of concern going into this offseason. In the most basic terms, they simply replaced Matt Davidson with Yonder Alonso. Is this a major improvement?
Numbers-wise, it’s a minor improvement. Davidson was a 1.2 WAR player with a .228 batting average, 20 home runs and 62 RBI in 2018. Alonso had a 1.6 WAR with a .250 average, 23 home runs and 83 RBIs. Not tremendous but slightly better numbers. Plus he does add a left-handed bat to a previously right-handed dominated line up.
Just a few days ago the Sox added outfielder Jon Jay to the fold. This, again in basic terms, is similar to a trade of Avisail Garcia for Jay, as he’ll take his spot in the lineup. How does this stack up numbers wise? Here are Garcia’s 2018 numbers:
0.3 WAR. .236 avg. .281 OBP. 19 HR’s 46 RBI
Compared to Jay’s numbers last year:
0.6 WAR .268 avg .330 OBP 3 HR 40 RBI
The biggest improvement is the Sox are getting a better OBP guy wi a less power. Jay also adds another left-handed bat to the lineup. So, the Sox are getting slightly better numbers while adding more diversity to the lineup. Overall, with these last two moves, it’s an improvement. Maybe not a significant improvement, but still an improvement.
That does not include the intangibles both Alonso and Jay provide. Obviously, as has been reported to death, both have significant ties to Manny Machado. Alonso being his brother in law and Jay being a best friend and work out buddy from Miami. If those connections do persuade Machado to sign with the Sox, then obviously they’re worth it. If not, the Sox have still added excellent clubhouse guys who can help mentor the younger guys as they come up and in spring training.
So, if nothing else happens this offseason, has Rick Hahn had a successful winter? In adding to the team to make it better in 2019 compared to 2018, then the answer is yes. The bullpen is a major improvement and is lined up nicely to be a strength not only in 2019 but for years to come as the younger pieces start to make their way up.
As far as excitement and anticipation that Sox fans have had since hearing that the Sox were “serious” suitors for both Bryce Harper and Machado, then not signing either one would be a disappointment. Would it be a failure though?
No, it would not be a failure. There are only two of the most attractive free agents in modern history and only two destinations. The fact that the White Sox seem to be one of now only two teams that will get Machado, let’s look at it as a successful offseason.
Should the Sox lose out on Harper or Machado, then other moves will be made. There are still outfielders like A.J. Pollock and Marwin Gonzalez out there as well as pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez that could be potential White Sox targets. Let’s let the rest of the free agent period play out, even if the Sox don’t get one of the big fish.
Don’t put the entire offseason on the acquisition of one player, even though it’s a franchise altering one. Keep hoping for Machado and/or Harper, but let’s look at the other improvements made to the team as well.