My five-year-old daughter got a hold of the Holiday Catalogue from the overlords at Amazon the other day. Every other page would illicit a gasp of excitement and her saying “Oh I WANT that for sure”. Didn’t matter if it was an LOL! Doll (kill me now) or yet another Barbie to add to her armada that would outnumber the military of some small nations at this point. I had to play diplomat and just tell her to mark the page and we will just have to see. I would like to picture Rick Hahn doing the same, sitting on his stomach in Jerry’s office, marking off players he wants for 2021.
Unlike my daughter though, Rick’s Christmas List won’t need to be very long.
Is Renteria’s Dismissal a Precursor to a Shopping Spree?
While a surprise — and welcome — hole was created with the firing of Ricky Renteria last week, we will be looking at who might be available to help on the field fill the very few empty holes on the Chicago White Sox roster.
The Nomar Mazara experiment ended with a whimper and ONE, count them, ONE entire home run. Nomar’s lasting White Sox Legacy will be a plethora of Game Worn jerseys on the discount rack at the Sox Fest Garage Sale section.
While Mazara was on the IL, Adam Engel filled in nicely. He played a great Right Field, including grabbing the last out of Lucas Giolito’s No-Hitter. In 36 games, Adam put up an OPS+ of 121 and hit a big homer in the Wild Card Round against Oakland.
Adam is more of a fourth outfielder, but he’s a good one to have on the roster. The White Sox should look to upgrade, and there are three damn fine options the Sox.
Springer is going to be the top OF Free Agent on the market this winter, so if the Sox want him, they are going to have to pay top dollar. Usually that’s when snarky comments about this organization come out, and normally I would join in, but canning Renteria the way they did, everything I thought I knew about this team is off the table. Perhaps Springer possibly reuniting with his old manager in AJ Hinch would be enough incentive to give the South Side a look if the money is right.
Ozuna was an option last off-season for the Sox, yet they chose Mazara in a trade instead. Marcell bet on himself, signing a one year deal with Atlanta — and he clearly made the right call. Ozuna put up a career high OPS+ (175) and lead the NL in Homers and RBI’s in a shortened season, setting him up for a nice multi-year contract. His swagger, from Selfie’s after hitting bombs, to his funky home run trot, would fit in nicely in Chicago.
Brantley is a steady and consistent hitter, and kept right on producing in 2020. After years of torturing the Sox in Cleveland it would be nice to see him hitting homers at The Rate that count for the White Sox instead. He’s also a lefty, which would be nice to have in a righty-handed heavy line up.
All three took their teams to the LCS this October, which only increased their price tag. Even so, it would not surprise me to see the Sox end up with one of these three if they are serious about their window of contention being open.
Edwin Encarnacion had hit 30 or more home runs in each of the last eight seasons. He was the most reliable power bat available. Once it became obvious that this wouldn’t be a full season, we knew that streak would end. What we didn’t expect was him to crater and slash an abysmal .157/.250/.377. The Parrot got to fly 10 times, but that’s not enough to have him return in 2021.
Andrew Vaughn is more than ready to take the AB’s for him. While Andrew missed a full Minor League season he was able to show the Sox he can hang with a nice display in Summer Camp and hitting enough in Schaumburg to merit consideration of a call up later in the season/playoffs if need be. Vaughn was the most major league ready bat in the 2019 Draft and the Sox will probably not need to look on the Free Agent Market to fill that hole. Vaughn should figure into the plans for both DH or First Base… Speaking of …
Jose Abreu was signed to a three year contract last off-season — after accepting a qualifying offer. At the time I thought the Sox did not need to sign him an additional three years when he was coming off a down season. I was wrong, and was proven so MANY, MANY times over by Jose in 2020 — and I gladly ate the crow. However, if the Sox could find a way to convince Jose to begin to split time at DH so Vaughn can get his reps at first, eventually taking over, it would be an ideal scenario.
If Vaughn still isn’t ready, and needs a little time in a theoretical minor league season in 2021, fan favorites like Yermin Mercedes could fill the void in the mean time.
The White Sox only had two starting pitchers they could rely on in 2020 as Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel were a solid one-two punch. Sadly, the backend of the rotation acted more like a punch to the gut for Sox fans. Dylan Cease showed flashes, but control issues sank his season. Reynaldo Lopez and Gio Gonzalez were either hurt or inconsistent all year, which forced the Sox to give starts to Dane Dunning and Jonathan Stiever to “meh” results.
Lucas and Dallas were good enough to lead the Sox to the playoffs, but the disaster of Game 3 was a stark reminder that the Sox will need more pitching. Dunning showed good control — and sweet glasses — in his starts. Cease, while his control was erratic, had no issues with velocity. He was sitting upper 90’s with his fastball, so if the new pitching coach can harness his control and keep the velocity up, 2021 could be a bounce back year for Dylan.
Garrett Crochet, jumping right from college to the Bigs, pitched out of the ‘pen and sat at 100mph. He will probably be ticketed for the ‘pen again in 2021 if his UCL remains healthy, but dreams of seeing him in the Sox rotation will dance like sugar plums in our heads.
Speaking of health, Michael Kopech opted out in 2020, and that might have been for the best as the amount of arm injuries around baseball, especially for guys still recovering from Tommy John Surgery, were staggering. He should have no restrictions heading into 2021 and his few starts in Spring showed his velocity was there.
Every team, including Houston, will want to sign Trevor Bauer. Bauer claims he would listen to an offer from Houston, but would he sign with a White Sox team that might hire AJ Hinch/Alex Cora? Time will tell, but if the Sox offer the most money, maybe that will convince him to turn the other cheek? Also, his debt needs to be paid…
This is what it’s like to be a team done with the rebuild. You don’t have many spots to fill and little competition to make the team. After over a decade, it’s a nice position to be in heading into the Winter.
Featured Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today
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