The White Sox have decisions to make. And soon, for that matter.
Do they want to move forward with the current core, hoping to win AL Central and earn a playoff spot? Or would they rather sell their expiring commodities at a high price and bring back long-term assets?
Here’s how MLB insider Ken Rosenthal reported on the Sox’s situation as the trade deadline approaches.
“The White Sox, 5 1/2 in AL Central but 10 games under .500, telling potential trade partners that at least at this point they might only be willing to trade players under expiring contracts and not those with greater control.
“Potential rentals include right-handers Lucas Giolito and Mike Clevinger, wide receiver Yasmani Grandal, second baseman Elvis Andrus and relievers Reynaldo López and Keynan Middleton.”
The White Sox may have to make up their payroll this offseason. One way to get a head start is to trade players they don’t want to re-sign, to avoid losing them for nothing, and to save some money in the process.
The question, however, revolves around whether or not the front office would prefer to keep a certain player. Remember: it comes at a cost.
Lucas Giolito is entering his first season out of refereeing, which means he’ll probably want a long-term contract, and a rather reputable one. He’s been on a steady decline since his All-Star run in 2019. But since then he’s been posting Giolito-like numbers; an ERA of 3.54, a WHIP of 1.18 and a strike-out ratio of 82:25. That might do the trick for a nice contract.
To paraphrase Rick Hahn’s trademark philosophy, you can never have enough pitch. If the Sox don’t sign him, someone will. Knowing that, will the Sox trade Giolito at the August 1 deadline or re-sign him to stay in the starting rotation?
Giolito is arguably the most difficult player to make a decision about his return. The others listed by Rosenthal are quite easily consumable, to some extent.
While pitching phenomenally off the mound this season, Mike Clevinger would make a great trade play for a candidate looking for a rental starter. His injury problems surfaced, as he proved on Thursday by reaching the 15-day injured list. But the Sox locked him in on a one-year deal, just looking to see what they could get out of him.
MORE: White Sox place Mike Clevinger on 15-day disabled list
Yasmani Grandal may not have lived up to his franchise contract. He’s not the All-Star he was the year before he signed with the White Sox in Milwaukee. But he’s showing signs of life this season from home plate and behind home plate.
He cuts .271 / .330 / .410 (that would be the second all-time batting average in his career). He also holds the value of the best defensive runs on record (DFRS) he has seen since 2021. Obviously, the injuries he suffered to his back and hamstrings in 2022 set him back. However, he is aging (34 years old) and has not played more than 100 games since 2019.
The other intriguing – and perhaps most valuable – trade piece the White Sox can offer is Keynan Middleton. Middleton, a typical two-way player between The Show and the minor leaguers, is enjoying a career season.
Middleton holds a 1.93 ERA, allowing just five points in 25 games this season; he had a streak of not giving up a run in 14 straight appearances. He has 30 strikeouts for eight walks on the year. He saved the life of the Sox bullpen. Now, he can be traded to another club at the trade deadline, if the Sox determine he is better off elsewhere.
Overall, the White Sox have options. They could — easily enough — make a run in the AL Central Division in hopes of stealing a playoff berth. Despite 10 games under the .500 mark, the Sox are only 5.5 games ahead.
But, after playing a core that hasn’t seen much sustained success since its inception in 2016, they may opt for change. If the front office decides in this direction, however, it can get off to a productive start at the trading deadline.
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