The Chicago White Sox could’ve looked significantly different if they had kept a certain player they dealt a few years ago.
The Chicago White Sox made an extremely regrettable trade in June of 2016 when they acquired James Shields from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Erik Johnson and a player who would go on to become a top prospect, Fernando Tatis Jr.
Shields’ tenure in the South Side obviously didn’t go that well as evidenced by his best season with the team being in 2018 with a 4.53 ERA.
This trade is going to likely go down as the worst one of GM Rick Hahn’s tenure.
Fortunately for Hahn, Chicago White Sox fans can likely forgive him due to the other phenomenal moves he’s made of late and the fact that Tim Anderson emerged as one of the better shortstops in baseball in 2019.
However, fans are left to wonder what the Chicago White Sox would look like today if they still had Tatis Jr.
What I personally think would’ve happened is that Anderson would have, eventually, seen himself moved to second base to accommodate Tatis Jr., with the former registering -12 DRS and a -9.1 UZR over 1,050 innings in 2019 (FanGraphs).
Meanwhile, Tatis Jr. had only -3 DRS and a -5.8 UZR over 731 1/3 innings this past season.
Neither one was particularly great, but the team probably would’ve wanted to keep their top prospect at the shortstop position when they called him up. He also likely would have come up when Anderson got injured in late June to replace him, temporarily.
The decision to have Anderson move to second base to accommodate Tatis Jr. would have worked out very nicely for the team, leading the organization to boast one of the elite infields in baseball with Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada to the right and left of them on the diamond.
That also likely would’ve put Nick Madrigal‘s future into question with the Chicago White Sox, with no clear spot for him to contribute in this scenario.
More depth is always a good thing, though, and he likely could have been used as trade bait to acquire someone at a position of need.
Tatis Jr. has proven to already be major league ready in his rookie season in 2019, so there wouldn’t be much of a reason to reserve that spot for Madrigal.
Had Anderson been bad in 2019, Tatis Jr. very well could’ve supplanted him, and, in that case, Madrigal could’ve found himself competing with Anderson for the second base job long term.
It certainly would’ve been interesting to see how the Chicago White Sox would have used Fernando Tatis Jr. if they hadn’t traded him, but the organization still has a pretty bright future in 2020 and beyond without him.