White Sox should take a gamble and sign one of the many veteran free agent outfielders remaining before the start of this upcoming season.
It doesn’t appear that many White Sox fans will get over the front office not being able to sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper anytime soon. While the anger of some fans is understandable, there’s still a baseball season left to be played that will start soon.
Although the White Sox missed out on signing a superstar free agent this past offseason, the front office shouldn’t miss out on adding a veteran outfielder for 2019. With Eloy Jimenez likely occupying left field whenever he’s promoted and a possible platoon of Jon Jay and Adam Engel in center field, the Sox don’t have many strong options for right field entering this season.
Carlos Gonzalez and Adam Jones both remain unsigned and could be valuable players for the Sox if signed. The Sox do have Leury Garcia and Daniel Palka that could open the season as possible starters in right field. However, Palka is likely better served as a pinch-hitter or designated hitter at this point in his career. While Garcia isn’t the most graceful of outfielders as routine plays can sometimes become an adventure for him.
While Gonzalez or Jones won’t be candidates to win a Gold Glove Award in right field, they could be an upgrade offensively over Garcia and Palka. Garcia only appeared in 82 games last season for the Sox and has never appeared in 100 or more games in any of his six seasons in the Majors. Through 82 games, Garcia owned a .271/.303/.376 slash line with four home runs and 32 RBIs.
Palka, on the other hand, while becoming a Sox fan favorite last season, hit 27 home runs to go along with 67 RBIs but his slash line sat at .240/.294/.484. Palka would be effective as a pinch hitter for the Sox, but shouldn’t be relied upon to play right field every day. Somewhat similar to Palka, Garcia would also be a better option to come off the bench or possibly be a utility role player.
Last season, Jones wasn’t great defensively in right field but his offensive numbers were decent with the Baltimore Orioles. Through 145 games in 2018, Jones hit .281 with 15 home runs and 63 RBIs. At 33, many teams might not think Jones is valuable enough to be productive as a starting outfielder. However, Jones has proved to be durable as he has appeared in more than 135 games in every season since 2010.
For Gonzalez, he was also solid offensively last season but his splits show that his offense could have been aided by his home ballpark. Gonzalez had a .276/.329/.467 slash line with the Colorado Rockies in 2018. But his home/away splits show that he wasn’t that effective on the road as he hit just .241 away from Coors Field last season.
The Sox could be a better team in 2019 with either Jones or Gonzalez in right field. They wouldn’t be blocking any prospects and would likely work on a one-year deal. It’s unfortunate that neither player has been signed yet but it appears baseball is moving more towards heavily developing younger players while veterans are stuck struggling to find jobs.
If the Sox pass on signing either player, it won’t be the end of the world. But it could signal that the front office believes it can do without another veteran with winning experience in the clubhouse.