The Chicago White Sox Friday added some potential left-handed pop, signing former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Nick Williams to a minor-league deal.
Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Williams agreed to a minor-league deal with the White Sox, joining an outfield that appeared to be well-stocked with Gold Glove center fielder Luis Robert flanked by Silver Slugger recipient Eloy Jimenez in left and former Washington Nationals right fielder Adam Eaton signed in December.
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The White Sox also have former starting center fielder Adam Engel as the fourth outfielder, so Williams will have an uphill climb to earn a roster spot.
However, Chicago managed to finish second in the American League Central and earn a playoff berth despite the designated hitters — led (and we use that term very lightly) by current free agent Edwin Encarnacion — contributing just a .148/.238/.350 slash line in 253 plate appearances with 13 homers, 25 RBI and 72 strikeouts.
This is where Williams might be able to fill a void.
A second-round pick in 2012 by the Texas Rangers, Williams went to the Phillies as part of the Cole Hamels trade at the trade deadline in 2015 and made his major league debut a little less than two years later in 2017, coming up on June 30 of that year.
In 83 games, Williams slashed .288/.338/.473 in 343 plate appearances with 14 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs and 55 RBI, posting an OPS+ of 111 despite striking out 97 times.
But in 2018, his numbers slid a bit with more playing time as he made 89 starts in right field for the Phillies along with 12 starts in left. His slash line fell to .256/.324/.425 in 448 plate appearances to go with 12 doubles, three triples, 17 homers and 55 RBI. He struck out 111 times and his OPS+ was just below the league average at 99.
Williams bottomed out in 2019, losing his starting spot and earning a trip back to Triple-A in early August. In 112 plate appearances, Williams produced just a .151/.196/.245 slash line, striking out 45 times with four doubles, two home runs and five RBI. That wound up an OPS+ of 14
He was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds last August, but spent the entire season at the alternate training site after opening the year at Philadelphia’s stash location.
At worst, Williams can be a spring reclamation project for hitting coach Frank Menechino and if Menechino is able to cure what has ailed Williams since his breakout rookie campaign, the White Sox could end up with a solid DH candidate who can provide some relief on the outfield corners as well.