The Chicago White Sox will definitely have to add starting pitching this offseason, but exactly how many starters should they be signing?
While the latter two had up-and-down performances in 2019, the White Sox will be hoping to see vast improvement from them in 2020.
So, if you go based off pitchers that could be ready for April, the White Sox simply have one spot open and need a depth starter or two behind that.
However, the uberly-talented Kopech did not establish himself as a rotation mainstay in 2018 as he allowed eight runs in 14 1/3 innings over four starts.
That’s not to say that he isn’t ready, it is just to point out that the team can’t look to him as a lock like Giolito.
Ivan Nova is also a free agent this offseason and the idea of whether or not they should bring him back is certainly up for debate after he registered an unimpressive 4.72 ERA, 1.455 WHIP, and 4.98.
Nova did make 34 starts and eat up 187 innings, though, which has value for a team full of young pitchers that likely will all have some form of an innings limit.
Given that the only certainty in the rotation is Giolito, the White Sox should strongly consider bringing in three pitchers.
One of them should come from the top-tier of the market in the form of Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, or Madison Bumgarner. Most playoff teams have two good starters at least that they can line up for big games and if they happen to make the Wild Card Game in 2020, the White Sox don’t want to be handicapped come the ALDS.
They then should get a starter in the next tier down which is more the Rick Porcello and Cole Hamels group that is a little riskier, but also much cheaper. That being said, making a smart choice with this selection could potentially give the team a potent front-line of the rotation.
The third starter they should get is someone who could be had on a cheap major league deal. This is the category where if the team wanted to bring back Nova, it would make sense.
By adding three starters, it forces Lopez, Cease, and Kopech into a three-person competition for the fifth spot and the team end ups simply picking the one that impresses the most in Spring Training.
I know that we all would love to see them develop before our eyes in 2020, but realistically speaking, they won’t all be studs right away and they could even regress.
Furthermore, starters regularly deal with injuries and having just five or six guys you can count on in a season is dangerous.
It usually takes around eight pitchers to get you through a full season and having someone like Kopech or Cease waiting in the minors might be useful when a need arises.
The Chicago White Sox have some very talented arms assembled already, but if they want to truly compete in 2020 and not rely on ifs, they should sign three starting pitchers.