Chicago White Sox: Options exist to improve club post lockout
By Chip Egan
As days inched closer to a lockout in Major League Baseball and money was being shelled out to free agents by some of the least likely of teams. Chicago White Sox fans were waiting for a major signing to be made but that didn’t happen. At least not yet.
The lockout has put a temporary hold on any trades or free-agent signings until a new collective bargaining agreement is completed. While a number of players have inked new deals, there is still a boatload of players at all positions looking for places to call home in 2022.
The problem is that some of the names available at several positions of need may not be very enticing. Once the lockout ends, instead of going the free agency route, the Sox might consider making a trade or two to bring in some help.
The White Sox managed to add to its bullpen depth with the signing of Randall Graveman and brought back the human Swiss Army knife in Leury Garcia. However, those signings did little to make their fans feel as though a major step was taken to strengthen their chances of getting to a World Series.
The Chicago White Sox can still make a big move after the lockout ends.
One area that needs to be addressed is second base. The hopes of many fans centered on seeing Marcus Semien come back to Chicago to take over second base but the Texas Rangers opened their checkbooks and laid that dream to rest. Perhaps Javy Baez or Corey Seager would fill that void, but they went to Detroit and Texas respectively.
With the work stoppage in place, for now, the bad taste fans have in their mouths of watching those players head elsewhere will linger for a while. Hopes may lie in Trevor Story signing with the club when work resumes but should that not occur, the list of traditional second basemen available isn’t making fans forget Nellie Fox.
The list of players with WARs over zero includes Donovan Solano, Josh Harrison, Jed Lowrie, Chris Owings, and Jason Kipnis. Owings is the youngest of that group at 30 years of age with the others all over 34. Solano led that group in games played at second with 91 while Lowrie had the highest fielding percentage at .986.
Since the pickings are slim at second via free agency, perhaps the Sox may look to the trade market to fill the void. Reliever Craig Kimbrel could be shipped to a team looking for a closer which could, in turn, bring back an everyday player at the position. If Kimbrel isn’t enough, the Sox might have to part with a younger player to get what they want.
The same might be said for finding a defensive catcher who could provide some offense. Luke Maile and Stephen Vogt are the only two players with WARs over zero at 0.3 and 0.1 respectively. A possibility could be to look north and see what the Cubs may want to do with Wilson Contreras after the club signed Yan Gomes to a two-year deal.
On the plus side, there are some quality names still available to jump on to cover rightfield. Nick Castellanos, Michael Conforto, Jorge Soler, Joc Pedersen, and Kyle Schwarber are still out there and would provide more offensive punch to the lineup. While the combination of Garcia, Gavin Sheets, and Andrew Vaughn-to name a few-performed well, landing one of the aforementioned players can provide needed stability to the position.
The Sox found gold last year in the trade for Lance Lynn to solidify the pitching staff and they may look to go that route again. Losing Carlos Rodon and seeing Dallas Keuchel struggle has led to talk of bringing Michael Kopech into the starting rotation. By going the free-agent route, big-name options include Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke along with guys like Michael Pineda and Tyler Anderson.
There is still work to do for the White Sox to get the roster to where it needs to be if they want to be serious World Series contenders. Turns out they might have more time than originally thought to figure out how to add those players.