How the Padres Beat the White Sox at Their Own Game

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

As of 2018, the San Diego Padres and the Chicago White Sox were on the same footing from a rebuild perspective…a year later, that is no longer the case.

The Chicago White Sox are now in the third year of their well-chronicled rebuild.  Like any major overhaul in professional sports, this one has certainly been filled with it’s share of ups and downs.  The Sox currently sit in fourth place in the American League Central Division, with a 10-14 record.  While no one covering Major League Baseball expected the White Sox to contend this season, White Sox fans certainly expect them to develop and compete on a daily basis.

There have been some glimmers of hope, with third baseman Yoan Moncada and shortstop Tim Anderson playing consistent and solid baseball 24 games into the season. Anderson is currently leading the American League in batting average (.402) and stolen bases (10).  Starting pitcher Carlos Rodon has performed admirably with the exception of his start on Friday night, and so long as he stays healthy, should have a solid season.  There has also been plenty to not write home about, with White Sox starters not named Rodon posting some of the worst numbers across MLB.  The bullpen has only been slightly better.

While rebuilds can certainly take time (not to mention their toll on fans), one can’t help but wonder where this rebuild would be, had the White Sox closed on the Manny Machado deal and not traded away a then 17-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr., who was widely regarded as the top prospect in baseball last year and is performing extremely well for the San Diego Padres thus far this season.

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To be fair, the White Sox traded Tatis Jr. just prior to the rebuild for starting pitcher James Shields.  At the time, the White Sox felt that they were in contention for a division crown and traded for starting pitching depth, hoping that longtime pitching coach Don Cooper could help Shields regain his form.

That of course never happened and Tatis Jr. is now the one that got away…a trade that may come to haunt the White Sox in the years to come.  He (and the rest of the Padres young core) is also a big reason why Machado chose the Padres over the White Sox (it also doesn’t hurt to give the man the exact contract he was looking for).

The Padres are playing above .500 baseball and at 15-11, sit in third place in the National League West Division.  With a pitching staff that is solidly performing and an infusion of young talent on the everyday roster (coupled with a potential future Hall of Fame player in Machado), it’s no wonder the Padres and its fan base are feeling pretty good about where they are headed these days.

The same cannot be said for White Sox fans.  Missing out on the Machado sweepstakes to the Padres (of all teams) was downright embarrassing.  In an off-season where none of the blue-chip franchises were interested in shelling out big contracts, the Sox needed to capitalize and add a surefire talent in Machado or the Philadelphia Phillies Bryce Harper.

Furthermore, knowing that he was far more attracted to playing with Tatis Jr. than say Moncada or Eloy Jimenez speaks volumes about how talented he viewed the Sox roster.  He spurned the opportunity to play with close friend Jon Jay and his brother-in-law, Yonder Alonso, both of whom the White Sox picked up in an attempt to lure him to Chicago.

While most Sox fans are justifiably tired of this story and are ready to move on from it, it’s worth re-emphasizing what a Machado or Harper signing would have meant to White Sox fans everywhere–not to mention what it would have meant to the rebuild.

Sadly, Sox fans can only dream and wonder what might have been and they need look no further than sunny San Diego, where the Padres organization has revived a once numb fan base into believing that their time has come.  Make no mistake, the Padres are closer than the White Sox to competing for a playoff spot now and in the years to come.

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They’ve accelerated their rebuild thanks to none other than the White Sox organization, who gift-wrapped them Tatis Jr. and Machado through poor personnel decisions and a willingness not to spend.  Let’s hope Moncada, Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal, and Luis Robert are enough to turn things around in time to compete with the Padres for the 2021 World Series.