Chicago White Sox Preview
We are less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to training camp, and approximately a month away from the beginning of Spring Training. Already. It seems like that epic Game 7 was just a few weeks ago, and yet we are already at the end of January. Well, I will be doing my previews on all 30 MLB teams, starting with the defending American League Champion Cleveland Indians (who now have the longest title "drought" in baseball) all the way to the defending champion Chicago Cubs. So now, here is the second team in the AL Central and other team in the Windy City, the Chicago White Sox.
The White Sox are supposedly in a fully fledged rebuilding mode, but have only traded CF Adam Eaton and SP Chris Sale so far. Granted, those are some of the better pieces on this roster, but this team is far from being torn down completely. They still have a lot of talented, veteran talent, so expect this roster to be in flux throughout the season, and expect a struggle for them to contend. However, their rebuilding has at the very least rebuilt their farm system, and it now is among the best in baseball.
PROJECTED ROTATION: Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, James Shields, Miguel Gonzalez, Derek Holland
This is probably the most set portion of the roster at the moment, led by the young arms of Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon. James Shields was once an ace for an AL Championship roster, but has fallen quickly. Derek Holland is a good rebound candidate to try and get some trade value from, and Miguel Gonzalez is a viable rotation member. As far as who can challenge for a rotation spot, you don't have to look too far down in the farm system with Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer both on the 40-man roster. After that, Michael Kopech is a non-roster invitee, but I wouldn't expect too much from him in the Majors until 2018.
BULLPEN: David Robertson (CL), Nate Jones, Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka, Tommy Kahnle, Michael Ynoa
This group should be broken up sooner than later too, with Nate Jones and Dan Jennings both coming off great seasons, and David Robertson also is coming off of a 37 save season. Expect the lower half of the bullpen to change frequently, however, with Juan Minaya and Chris Beck both being clear contenders for the final three bullpen spots. Non-roster invitees Cory Luebke, Blake Smith and Anthony Swarzak all have major league experience as well and are going to contend for a spot as well.
CATCHERS: Geovany Soto, Omar Narvaez
Zack Collins, their number six prospect, is a non-roster invitee, but unless he has a breakthrough campaign in Spring Training, he won't be making the roster. That leaves a three way battle between last year's starter at the end of the season Omar Narvaez, incumbent veteran Geovany Soto, and backup Kevan Smith fighting for the two spots. It likely will be either Soto or Narvaez starting, barring a signing of someone in free agency, and Kevan Smith and Zack Collins in Triple-A.
INFIELDERS: Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier, Tim Anderson, Brett Lawrie, Tyler Saladino, Matt Davidson, Carlos Sanchez
The White Sox have a much weaker crop of big league ready outfielders than infielders right now, so I am going to give this infield seven roster spots. Abreu, Anderson and Frazier are all everyday players, but expect Frazier to be traded soon due to the rebuild, plus having top prospect Yoan Moncada waiting in Triple-A. Brett Lawrie holds second base for now, but Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez have both started in the White Sox infield in the past and will contend for playing time. Matt Davidson holds the DH for now, but if he continues to struggle expect Lawrie and Saladino to hold both 2B and DH. They also have familiar depth, with utility man Leury Garcia still hanging around the organization. A name to keep an eye on is non-roster invitee Everth Cabrera, as he was once a borderline All-Star with the San Diego Padres.
OUTFIELDERS: Melky Cabrera, Avisail Garcia, Charlie Tilson, Adam Engel
The Sox are likely to give two of the four roster spots left for the outfield to their 11th and 12th prospects, Charlie Tilson and Adam Engel, respectively. They are going to be competing for the wide open job in center field, although Tilson is the clear favorite. Jacob May and Willy Garcia are homegrown candidates as well to fight for an outfield spot, where Rymer Liriano and non-roster invitee Cody Asche were brought in as depth players. Melky Cabrera is the only player here who is locked in to his position, and Avisail Garcia is fortunate to be on a rebuilding club now, because he might have run out of chances otherwise.
LINEUP: Tim Anderson (SS), Melky Cabrera (LF), Jose Abreu (1B), Todd Frazier (3B), Matt Davidson (DH), Brett Lawrie (2B), Avisail Garcia (RF), Geovany Soto (C), Charlie Tilson (CF)
This lineup is likely going to change quite a bit, as only Tim Anderson and Charlie Tilson are players who are unlikely to be traded due to their youth. Jose Abreu has been a fixture since his international signing, and Melky Cabrera is a solid producer. Expect Tyler Saladino to find his way into the lineup as well multiple times a week.
PREDICTION: Overall, this team is not yet awful as they plan on being for a few years while they rebuild, but you can definitely see the holes starting to pop up and prospects filling in. Center field, catcher, DH, and the bullpen all have openings, where second base, third base and the rotation will garner more attention later in the season. If this team were to make no trades prior to the deadline, I would peg them for about 75 wins, as the Jose's (Quintana and Abreu) are studs, and they have young talent surrounding capable veterans. But, I'm expecting a trade or three, and I'll push it down to 68-70 and fighting to stay out of last place in the AL Central.