The World Series has ended and the baseball hot stove is starting to heat up. This begs the question, which moves are the White Sox going to make this off-season? To figure that out I came up with the predicted lineup and pitching rotation for 2020.
So what will the team look like next year? Team General Manager Rick Hahn has identified the right field, DH, and two starting pitchers as the ideal targets for the off-season. With that in mind, I would predict them to add outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos. Ozuna is the cousin of 2005 Chicago White Sox world champion, Pablo Ozuna, and the White Sox have always liked to acquire people’s relatives. The Cardinals have a crowded outfield situation so he will more than likely leave St. Louis, and my gut tells me he just seems like a White Sox player.
Castellanos fit with the White Sox, mainly by the process of elimination. It’s hard to see a team that makes more sense. Sure, the Chicago Cubs could resign him, but don’t they already have Jason Heyward? I don’t think they will resign him unless they find some way to trade Kyle Schwarber. (If they do that, the White Sox should be interested.) Castellanos is familiar with Chicago, and he’s familiar with the AL Central, and he seems like a good fit. He also probably won’t be too expensive, which is another reason why he seems like a White Sox player.
With those acquisitions, you can expect the White Sox 2020 lineup to look like this:
Now what about J.D. Martinez, you may ask? I think that he would be a good fit, but until he actually opts out of his contract, it’s too premature to say he’s going to the White Sox. Despite his age working against him, he would fit nicely in the lineup. However, he might be out of the White Sox price range, and that is if he even opts out at all. I’m not confident that the front office is capable of getting him.
Another qualm with the lineup might be the lack of left-handed hitters, but I think the Sox are better off getting the best players they can than by diversifying the lineup with guys who do different things. Adam Dunn and Adam Laroche are lefties, and how did that turn out? If the White Sox really wants a left-handed outfielder they should consider Kyle Schwarber, Alex Gordon, or the slugging Japanese free agent Yoshmito Tustugo. They should not consider Kole Calhoun, who isn’t very good and is already 32.
For the starting rotation, it is possible that the team can re-acquire Jose Quintana from the Cubs. The Sox sold high on him, so maybe they can buy low as well.
The projected 2020 rotation would then be:
Signing Gerrit Cole would really help the rotation out, and he won’t be as costly as some might think, but the White Sox aren’t going to sign him when you consider who their owner is. Zack Wheeler is somewhat more of a possibility, but I still think they will get outbid for him.
With that lineup and rotation, I would expect the Sox to finish about 81-81, just based on eye-balling it. Sure it’s possible they could take a step forward and win 86-92 games, but it’s also possible the veterans will struggle and the team might only end up improving by three wins, as they did from 2014 (73-89) to 2015 (76-86), after finishing with a similar record this year (72-89).
The White Sox did manage to avoid losing 90 games last year, so the goal should be to avoid losing 80 games this year and then win 90+ in 2021. I think that it’s very possible they can accomplish those goals, but given the team’s track record I would highly doubt that they will make big expensive moves to speed up the process. Hopefully, the medium amount of money they spend (league-average payroll or below) will end up being enough.