The Chicago White Sox have been a heavy discussion topic during the offseason with their trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. The two popular topics have been how good will the club be down the line and who will the Sox trade next? A transaction on Tuesday may have the answer to the latter.
Shortly after the deal between the Washington Nationals and Matt Wieters was announced yesterday, Jayson Stark of ESPN took to Twitter to get everyone talking about another potential deal that could be coming.
A team that has been talking with the White Sox says they’ve been waiting for Nats to sign Wieters to rekindle David Robertson trade talks
If you’re taking the tweet as face value, it seems ridiculous that the Chicago White Sox would trade a highly coveted relief pitcher, likely the best to become available this season, for a catcher when they already have a highly rated one in the minors. While Robertson’s ERA stayed pretty consistent with his output from his first season with the Sox in 2015 (3.41 to 3.47), his FIP and walk rates could have his trade value slumping just a little bit for the analytically inclined, which the Nats definitely are after giving up such a bevy of prospects for the otherwise unspectacular Eaton and his 6.0 fWAR.
Robertson’s BB/9 returned to the higher rates he held early on in his career, sitting at 4.6 in 2016. Granted, in his best season back in 2011 with the Yankees when he finished 11th in AL Cy Young voting with a 1.08 ERA while not even being the team’s closer, he held nearly an identical walk rate of 4.7, so he can be effective while walking guys, but as he ages and loses velocity, location will become more of a factor.
His FIP sat at 3.58 last season, which isn’t necessarily lockdown closer production, and is the highest of his career while also being a full run above his 2015 mark. Robertson’s stat line doesn’t do him a lot of favors in providing added, unseen value.
If the Nats and White Sox were to come together on another trade to get the Nats the piece that their fans have been clamoring for all offseason, it would likely take someone like Pedro Severino and then someone else.
Severino is seen more as a defense first backstop, but in his short stint in the bigs last season after Wilson Ramos went down, the 24-year-old hit .321 with a .441 OBP in 28 at-bats. It’s a small sample, and certainly not enough to make this a 1-for-1 deal. Plus, the Sox already have Zack Collins in the minors who could become the everyday catcher in the next couple of seasons. Severino would offer some insurance, but adding insurance behind the plate doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to trade a valuable asset.
It would likely cost the Nationals another prospect or two, depending on the level of experience and rating they’re looking for. If the White Sox want more players that are just about big league ready like they’ve gone for with Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada, then they could potentially go with a backstop and some depth options with upside. If a player’s progression through the system to this point isn’t paramount, then they could go a little further down the ladder in the Washington system and pick out a player rated a bit higher with a higher floor/ceiling.
According to the Baseball America rankings, the Nats have five shortstops in their top 30 prospects, so if the Sox would like some Tim Anderson insurance, there are plenty of options to potentially choose from. These two teams are going to match up on a deal for Robertson because he represents the only reliever that should be a big upgrade over the Nationals’ current options. With time potentially running out on Washington’s window of contention, the Sox can take their own time and make sure they get some real value for their closer.