While 2019 has not been a spectacular season for the Chicago White Sox, they did manage to meet their modest expectations and improve their record from last year. However, with the team looking to contend in 2020, they have a lot of holes to fill and the one where they need help the most important is probably right field.
The 2019 Chicago White Sox team of right fielders have been absolutely atrocious to the point where they are historically bad. It doesn’t really matter that much with the team 20.5 games back of a playoff spot this year, as no right fielder would close that gap. However, the White Sox need a dramatic upgrade at the position to solidify their chances for being contenders in 2020.
Many have suggested that the White Sox don’t need hitters and the real problem is pitching. While the starting rotation does need an upgrade, the fact is that offense has been a much bigger problem this year as the White Sox rank 14th in the American League in runs scored. Comparatively, they are ranked 10th in AL ERA, which is slightly more respectable. The White Sox need to improve their lineup more than anything else, and right field has the biggest room for improvement. After resigning Jose Abreu, getting a right fielder should be the top priority.
What’s the Sox best solution to the problem? Simple, trade for Mike Trout and move Luis Robert to right field. As awesome as that would be, we know that’s not going to happen. However, there are other potential options that are more realistic that they could target for the position.
Here is a list of right-fielders with present and past ties to the White Sox, along with their 2019 WAR:
Mike Trout (8.1)
Mookie Betts (6.2)
J.D. Martinez (3.3)
Bryce Harper (3.1)
Nicholas Castellanos (2.5)
Avisail Garcia (1.6)
Adam Eaton (1.6)
Leury Garcia (1.6)
Yasiel Puig (1.1)
Ryan Cordell (-0.5)
Daniel Palka (-1.5)
This list provides a lot of different options the White Sox could have or could go with for their right-fielder of the future, but literally almost anything would have been better than giving Ryan Cordell the majority of the time out there or opening the season with Daniel Palka starting.
An obvious takeaway is that the White Sox probably should have signed Bryce Harper, but on the flip side he is sort of turning into Adam Dunn so maybe it would have been bad in the longer term to give him all those years (which is the only way they could have got him). Mookie Betts would be a perfect fit, but the White Sox probably wouldn’t give up the prospects necessary or give him the contract extension that would make the trade worth it.
The White Sox need to go with an option that is at least above-average and Castellanos and Martinez seem to be the best fits, especially given that Harper is off the table. It’s true that J.D. Martinez is very poor defensively, but the offense is worth the trade-off, especially given that he’d likely split time between right field and designated hitter. Of course, he does seem like the type of player that would go to the White Sox and start to decline, but the fact is he’s been a dependable hitter as any and the White Sox certainly have a need for good hitters.
In any case, the Sox should steer clear of Yasiel Puig, who is probably the most overrated player in baseball and a terrible clubhouse example for the younger players. Puig is the last thing they need. Leury Garcia proved he can be a dependable fourth outfielder, but his bat doesn’t play in right field. The White Sox are going to need a new right fielder and perhaps they’ll pick one from the options above, though their track record on free agents doesn’t provide much promise.
Unless they can get Mookie Betts in trade the White Sox best bet for right field are J.D. Martinez and Nicholas Castellanos, both ex-Tiger sluggers that could help the White Sox get revenge on their former division rivals and compete for a playoff spot. This is unless Kris Bryant is an option as well. That has a 1/1000 chance of happening.