The White Sox can sense their rebuild ending. Despite losing 100 games last season, Chicago’s future is bright with so many prospects ready to make an impact at the major league impact. They’ve been rumored to be in heavy pursuit of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Will they sign one of them? Only time will tell.
Current State: Rebuilding (For Now)
White Sox Acquire RP Alex Colome In Exchange for C Omar Narvaez
The White Sox have acquired reliever Alex Colome in exchange for catcher Omar Narvaez. Colome, 29, had a 3.04 ERA with a 3.44 FIP last season. He actually had a negative wins above average for his fastball, but his cutter graded out as a tremendous pitch. He consists of two pitches with that fastball and that cutter, so it’s critical for him to have more success with his fastball. Still, he’s been very consistent and will give Chicago a late inning reliever that they lacked. Narvaez is blocked by Wellington Castillo and his defensive woes clearly made the White Sox not see him as their catcher of the future. With two years left of control, Colome will be part of what the White Sox hope is a surge back into contention.
White Sox Acquire SP Ivan Nova in Exchange For SP Yordi Rosario and International Bonus Money
The White Sox have acquired Starting Pitcher Ivan Nova from the Pirates in exchange for 19-year-old pitching prospect Yordi Rosario and International Bonus Money. Nova, 31, posted a 4.19 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and a 4.57 FIP last season. Those numbers are right in line with his 4.26 career ERA, so he’s definitely nothing more than a number three or number four starter. Still, Nova is always an intriguing option with his low walk rate (1.96 BB/9) and his solid ground ball rate (45.6%). Rosario is still a long way away from the majors, and although his high strikeout totals will excite Pirates fans, Chicago has more than enough depth with their pitching prospects. Nova will help stabilize a very young rotation and will eat innings, taking pressure of those young pitchers. That’ll make the White Sox better right now and in the future. All basically for the cost of taking on Nova’s around $9 million salary in his final year of his contract, money that the White Sox can take on with little money committed to next season.
White Sox acquire 1B Yonder Alonso in Exchange For OF Alex Call
In another move for the short term, the White Sox have acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians in exchange for minor league outfielder Alex Call. Alonso, 31, had a very mediocre year with Cleveland last season. He hit just .250/.317/421 with 23 home runs and a 1.6 WAR. While Alonso didn’t have the best of luck last season and remains a solid hitter, it’s unclear where he fits with the White Sox. Chicago still has Jose Abreu, an All Star last season, at first. Alonso could be their designated hitter, but that’ll take at bats away from another left handed batter in Daniel Palka, who hit 27 home runs in his rookie season last year but is a defensive liability in the outfield. Alonso is likely part of a recruiting pitch for free agent Manny Machado, but he’s a rather expensive one at $9 million next season (his last year under contract). Call isn’t a major prospect by any means and is already 24 years old, but the cost of blocking Palka and giving Alonso $9 million is too much. This move may look better if Machado chooses the White Sox, but for now it doesn’t make much sense at all.
White Sox Sign RP Kelvin Herrera
The White Sox have signed reliever Kelvin Herrera to a two-year, $18 million contract that has a $9 million club option for a third season. Herrera, 29, has an interesting season last year. He was outstanding with the Royals, posting a 1.05 ERA, but struggled to the tune of a 4.34 ERA after being traded to the Nationals. His season was cut short with an injury to his plant foot, and though it shouldn’t affect his availability for the beginning of this season, it’s something to keep an eye on since it could affect his performance. All together in 2018, he had a 2.44 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and a 3.95 FIP. There are several concerns from this uneven season. His ground ball rate fell from 47.5% to 35.6%, his strikeout rate was down to 7.71 K/9, and his FIP- was simply league average. The main difference between Herrera’s time with Kansas City this season and his time with Washington was his command. His BB/9 with the Nationals (3.9 BB/9) was more than five times what it was with the Royals (0.7 BB/9). That’s been the key for Herrera throughout his career, as his best seasons have come when his walk rate was low. Chicago will likely use him as their closer, where he excelled with the Royals last season, and they are betting on his plant foot injury not being an issue. There also gambling on his time with Washington being a fluke, though it was right on line with his 2017 campaign (4.25 ERA). Herrera is one of the most difficult signings to project for next season, and while he’ll help shore up the back end of the White Sox bullpen, there has to be some concern that he won’t be able to live up to this contract.
White Sox Sign OF Jon Jay
In an interesting signing, the White Sox have signed outfielder Jon Jay to a one year, $4 million deal. Jay, 33, presents the White Sox with a couple of qualities. For starters, he’s a solid depth outfielder and an excellent veteran presence. More importantly for the White Sox, he’s a close friend of Manny Machado. Still, Jay being here on a one year deal should not make the South Side more attractive for Machado, who’s looking to sign a seven-plus year deal. Therefore, this signing needs to be evaluated from a baseball perspective, and from there, it doesn’t make sense. In every season from 2015, Jay’s OPS+ and WRC+ have been average to below average. In 2018, those numbers dipped to 66 and 86, respectively. While a move to Arizona mid season hurt Jay, as his OPS dropped from .749 with the Royals to just .629 as a Diamondback, the fact that a .749 OPS and 104 OPS+ is his peak is not appealing. Sure, Jay had a career high contact rate of 35.3%, but his ground ball rate of 59.1% is awful. He also saw his walk rate drop to just 5.6%, and it’s safe to say that he’ll likely remain a below average hitter with Chicago. Jay’s defense is solid, but he’s best suited in a corner outfield spot, where he doesn’t have the power to remain, especially with top prospect Eloy Jimenez ready to be called up to along with other younger options. Similar to the trade for Alonso, Jay doesn’t fit with this team, and will likely take away at bats from younger players who need those at bats more. At this point of his career, it’s unclear if Jay should be getting a major league deal, nevertheless $4 million.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The White Sox Make
Stats Courtesy of Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Baseball Savant