By: Aaron Shariq
In recent history the Chicago White Sox have tried aggressively to fill holes in their roster with the goal of winning now. With the team’s lack of success (last playoff appearance in 2008) Rick Hahn has started the team in a different direction. At the winter meetings Hahn traded away ace Chris Sale and defensive stud Adam Eaton for a hull of young talent. Overnight, the White Sox went from one of the worst farm systems in baseball to one of the best.
The new direction of the team is obvious, get as many young and talented players as possible. With this new agenda for the team many White Sox fans are wondering who the Sox should trade and who they should keep.
Jose Quintana’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors since before the trade deadline of the disappointing 2016 campaign, and for good reason. Quintana is a top of the rotation pitcher whose value has been highly underrated across the league due to him being second in the rotation behind ace Chris Sale and his lack of run support from the White Sox offense. Quintana’s great command of the strike zone is what makes him an all-star pitcher and one who would be hard to let go.
Best case scenario for the White Sox they are four or five years away from being a serious contender in the MLB and at that point Quintana will be in his early thirties. Considering the shelf life of a pitcher is much shorter than the rest of the eight players on field it is hopeful thinking to believe Quintana will still be an effective pitcher once the White Sox reach that point.
The White Sox have quite a few promising young starting pitchers in their system such as Giolito, Kopech, Lopez, Fulmer, and Rodon. Assuming these players are the future rotation of the Chicago White Sox that leaves Quintana as the odd man out.
With other needs still unaddressed, Quintana should be used to get as many talented young position players as possible.
Jose Abreu opted out of his original six year deal with the White Sox and eventually signed a one year extension with the club this offseason in order to avoid arbitration. The Cuban slugger brings a hard hitting bat to the White Sox lineup capable of hitting 30+ homeruns and driving in 100+ RBIs. For his bat alone there should be a healthy amount of interest in Abreu from the rest of the league.
With as great as Abreu’s bat has been, he did have his fair share of struggles last year swinging at breaking balls in the dirt. Even with those struggles Abreu’s strike out percentage was the lowest of his young career at 18% and he finished the season hitting 14 homeruns while driving in 44 RBIs in the last two months of the season.
Abreu has only been in the league for three years and could still continue his development defensively at first base. A swing like Abreu’s is hard to let go of and could be a big part of the White Sox lineup when the team is good again. At 30 years old Abreu isn’t exactly a spring chicken but I don’t anticipate a drop in his play any time soon. Let’s not forget that Abreu plays in the American League, if he ages quicker than anticipated he could still be a highly effective designated hitter.
David Robertson is another player who has been surrounded by trade rumors since the middle of the 2016 season for the White Sox. Every team is looking for a closing pitcher who can record their last three outs en route to victory. Luckily for the White Sox they have one of the league’s top closers in David Robertson. Unluckily for the White Sox they do not have a real need for a top closer considering all he will do is pad their record with a few additional regular season wins that will not matter for a team in rebuild mode.
Teams in the beginning of a rebuild usually look to keep their payroll low which means the White Sox will most likely look to unload Robertson’s $12 million salary which increases to $13 million in 2018. If the White Sox hold out long enough a team looking to solidify their bullpen may overpay for Robertson hoping he can help their team win some meaningful games.
While the White Sox were trying to bolster their roster last offseason they traded away three prospects in a three team trade with the Reds and Dodgers that landed the team the 2015 all-star third baseman, Todd Frazier. Frazier is another player with a powerful bat for the White Sox, hitting a career high 40 homeruns during the 2016 campaign.
Not only is Frazier an accomplished batter but he is also a great defensive third basemen, posting a career fielding percentage of .973. Frazier’s skills as an all-around player could result in the White Sox receiving some interesting trade offers.
With the White Sox growing younger one valuable asset they may miss out on is veteran leadership. Young player development can be expedited with help of a veteran leader in the club house. Frazier’s skill set as a two way player makes him the perfect player to fill that role as the White Sox continue to bring up players from the minors over the next few years.
Unless they receive an Adam Eaton like deal….