White Sox offseason preview: Shopping for help at the corners
(We will preview one team’s offseason each day leading up to the start of free agency. Now up: the Chicago White Sox.)
Last offseason, the White Sox underwent a serious makeover as GM Rick Hahn made a number of high-profile moves. But the exciting offseason didn’t account for much on the field, and the White Sox finished 2015 with a record of 76-86 for fourth place in the AL Central.
While most of Hahn’s 2014-15 offseason acquisitions seriously underperformed this year, the White Sox still have a talented core of Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Jose Quintana and Adam Eaton. Three things the White Sox should do if they want to contend in 2016:
1. Acquire a corner outfielder. It’s time to end the Avisail Garcia right field experiment. The 24-year-old hasn’t developed into the outfielder the White Sox expected, and he’s hurting more than helping at this point.
Trayce Thompson will compete in spring training for an outfield spot, but he’s been inconsistent at the plate and would probably be best suited as the team’s fourth outfielder.
With a number of mid-level outfielders on the free-agent market this year, the White Sox shouldn’t have a problem acquiring a player like Gerardo Parra, Austin Jackson, Denard Span or Dexter Fowler. If they really want to break the bank, they could go after one of the top-tier free agents like Yoenis Cespedes or Alex Gordon, although that seems unlikely due to payroll constraints.
2. Add a third baseman. Their internal options of Matt Davidson, Tyler Saladino and Mike Olt are weak, so it would probably be in the White Sox’s best interest to upgrade the position. There aren’t many third basemen on the free-agent market this year, so a trade might be the best route to go. Luis Valbuena, Trevor Plouffe and Todd Frazier could all be worth exploring, so Hahn should be working the phones to fill the hot corner.
3. Strengthen the pitching depth. With Jeff Samardzija likely leaving in free agency, the White Sox are losing one of their front-of-the-line starters. Granted, Samardzija greatly underperformed in his short time on the South Side, but starting pitchers of his caliber are still hard to come by. Sale, Quintana and Carlos Rodon are locked in as the top three starters, with Tyler Danish, Chris Beck, Erik Johnson and Frankie Montas all competing for spots. The internal candidates certainly aren’t blowing anyone out of the water, so the Sox might look to acquire a second-tier starter like Doug Fister, Ian Kennedy or Mike Leake.