The White Sox need a healthy Yoan Moncada to turn the rebuild around

Yoan Moncada has played in just 38 games this season for the Chicago White Sox.
Yoan Moncada has played in just 38 games this season for the Chicago White Sox. / Ron Vesely/GettyImages

Yoan Moncada has become the forgotten man for the Chicago White Sox.

Moncada, because of a seemingly never-ending stream of injuries, has played in just 38 games this season, hitting .232 with just three home runs and 13 RBI.

The 28-year-old third baseman is currently working his way back from yet another injury (back) at Triple-A Charlotte, going 1-for-23 in four games.

It is easy, after all, to forget about a player like Moncada who has played in just 142 of the White Sox's 258 games since the start of the 2022 season. White Sox fans, understandably, have also simply grown weary of waiting for Moncada to turn his potential into production on the field.

The Chicago White Sox have a very interesting player in Yoan Moncada.

Moncada, acquired in a five-player trade with the Boston Red Sox in December 2016, has become the poster boy of the failed White Sox rebuild. There are, of course, other White Sox faces on that poster but Moncada's mug is front and center.

The one-time Baseball America No. 1 prospect in all of baseball has a lifetime average of just .252 over 2,562 career at-bats and has hit over .263 just once (.315 in 2019) in eight seasons. He has been equal parts frustrating, unproductive, unreliable, and mediocre.

Moncada has also been forgotten for the most part this year because, it seems, the White Sox have finally found his replacement at third base.

Jake Burger, who also dealt with numerous injuries early in his White Sox career, has stepped in for Moncada this year and has hit 21 home runs and driven in 47 in just 77 games.

Burger has also shown great improvement with the glove at third with just three errors in 48 games. The 27-year-old former first-round draft pick (2017) is seemingly on his way to a 35-homer, 80-RBI season, if not more.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound former Missouri State star has clearly done enough in Moncada's absence to suggest that he should keep the starting job at third base even when Moncada returns to Chicago.

But don't forget Moncada. Not yet. The White Sox, after all, need a healthy and productive Moncada if this rebuild is ever going to work. There's room in the lineup for both Moncada and Burger.

First of all, Moncada is almost untradeable. He's likely not going anywhere anytime soon.

Moncada is due to earn just under $25 million next season, whether he plays one game or all 162. Would you want to trade for a guy that is due to make roughly $25 million and risk getting just three homers, 13 RBI, and a handful of trips to the injured list by the middle of July in return?

Moncada, by the way, has hit just 35 home runs, driven in a mere 149, and hit .237 since the start of the 2020 season when the White Sox gave him a $70 million, five-year deal.

So, yes, it is easy to see why White Sox fans are frustrated with the centerpiece of a trade that cost the franchise Chris Sale.

The White Sox, though, didn't give Moncada one of the richest contracts in team history so that he could bounce back and forth from the injured list and never come close to his vast potential.

They gave him that deal because he was coming off a 25-home run, 79-RBI year in 2019 when he hit .315 and looked like a future All-Star.

It was one of the best seasons ever for a White Sox third baseman. Before Moncada, after all, third base was handled by the likes of Yolmer Sanchez, Todd Frazier, Gordon Beckham, Conor Gillaspie, Kevin Youkilis, Brent Morel, and Omar Vizquel for the previous 10 seasons.

Moncada was going to take care of third base for the next 10 seasons. And the White Sox were going to flirt with going to the World Series every year with Moncada as one of the poster boys for their success.

It can still happen. It has to happen if this White Sox rebuild isn't simply labeled as one of the greatest failures in team history.

The White Sox owe it to themselves to see it through for one more year. They really don't have any choice because Moncada isn't going anywhere right now. Remember that $24 million-plus for next year?

Nobody is saying Moncada should simply step back into the White Sox clubhouse in the coming weeks and be given the keys to the third base job. Burger has to play. He should also play a lot at third because, after all, he has earned it and might indeed be the future at that position.

But Moncada also has to play. The White Sox, after all, aren't going to turn him into Leury Garcia. Remember that $24 million next year? You don't sit $24 million on the bench, even if your only goal is to deal him by the 2024 trade deadline.

The likely scenario for getting both Moncada and Burger into the everyday lineup is to play one of them at third and the other at designated hitter. But why not get a little creative and try to solve multiple problems?

Why not point Moncada to second and see if that is a possibility? That, after all, is where he began his Sox career in 2017 and 2018.

Yes, he struggled at times in the field, making 29 errors in 203 games combined in those two seasons. But he also was involved in 109 double plays and handled 96 percent of his chances flawlessly.

Moncada was just 22 and 23 years old in 2017 and 2018. He'll be better at second as a 28-year-old, especially after five years at third. It might turn out to be a way to shed that "bust" label that has now replaced his "future phenom" label of just seven years ago.

Putting Moncada at second also might finally solve a White Sox problem that has baffled the franchise since Ray Durham was traded away in 2002.

What do the White Sox have to lose by experimenting with Moncada over the next year and a half?

This year is already over. Next year and the following three or four years will also be over if the Sox do what many fans want them to do and trade away everyone not named Luis Robert Jr. that is connected to the current rebuild.

The time to simply throw up your hands, give up and start over is not now. The White Sox did that seven years ago. How did that work? Does anyone believe White Sox fans have the patience for another total rebuild?

A total rebuild was in vogue, after all, after the 2016 season. The Chicago Cubs did it and won the World Series in 2016. The Houston Astros were doing it and about to win the World Series in 2017.

Almost every team that tried a total rebuild starting about a decade ago was rewarded with a championship. See the Cubs, Astros, Kansas City Royals, Washington Nationals, and Atlanta Braves.

But not the White Sox.

Does anybody really have the stomach for another White Sox rebuild? That's why now is not the time to abandon the current rebuild and start over. The time has come to fix and fill the gaps in the rebuild.

The rejuvenation of Moncada is where it all starts.

Moncada, of course, could fail miserably at second. Even if he stays at third he might also continue to flip back and forth between the injured list to Charlotte and back to Chicago a handful of times the next year and a half.

His potential might forever be stuck in 2019.

If all that does indeed happen, then go ahead and forget him forever.

Next. The 15 worst contracts in Chicago White Sox history. dark