A little over two months ago on May 15, the Chicago White Sox were enjoying quite the ride. They sat at 24-14, tied for the league’s second-best record, and owned a comfortable five-game lead in the American League Central. The south side of Chicago was partying along with their north side counterparts, as both fans bases had visions of postseason baseball in their head. For White Sox fans, this would’ve been their squad’s first postseason appearance since 2008. However, the White Sox have had quite a reversal of fortune over the past two months.
Following their 24-14 start, the White Sox have gone 22-34 since. Now, the White Sox sit at 46-48, currently 10 games behind the Cleveland Indians for the lead in the AL Central. Fans have been scrambling to find an answer to their teams’ struggles. Immediately, attention turned to star pitcher Chris Sale. Through his first nine starts, Sale went 9-0 with a 1.58 ERA. Since then, Sale has gone 5-3 with two no-decisions, and 5.05 ERA. Finger-pointing has also fallen on fellow pitcher Jose Quintana. Quintana started out the season 5-1 through his first seven starts, with a 1.38 ERA. Since May 8, Quintana has been a putrid 3-7, with two no-decisions, and a 4.23 ERA in 12 starts. Perhaps the White Sox biggest problem though, was that their offense practically disappeared. As of May 15, the White Sox averaged 4.41 runs per game, good for 12th-best in baseball. If you take a peek at today’s statistics, the White Sox have lost nearly 0.5 runs in per game production, currently sitting at 4.07 runs per game, the seventh-worst mark in baseball. Since May 15, the White Sox have averaged 3.25 runs per game in 66 games. The team scored two or fewer runs in 20 of those games, and were shut out six times over that span.
The significant length in Chicago’s slump has led the team to reverse course on their stance as the trade deadline approaches, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. In a tweet earlier this afternoon, Nightengale notes that the White Sox are now open to moving practically everyone on their team, the exceptions being shortstop prospect Tim Anderson, and their starting rotation (Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, James Shields, Carson Fulmer, Carlos Rodon). This hasn’t stopped teams from trying to pry Sale away from the Windy City, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted that the Sox have already received a “king’s ransom” type of offer from an unnamed team for Sale. That “unnamed” team was met with what Rosenthal described as a “flat no.” With a little over 11 days until the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline, there’s still time for a teams to take a run at Chris Sale. Although, Rosenthal’s tweet suggests that it would be a wasted effort.
Aside from their rotation, the White Sox have a number of other veterans that could garner significant trade interest. The top name that comes to mind is third baseman Todd Frazier, who is hitting .216 with 28 home runs and 64 RBIs. Frazier would make for a great addition to any team that is looking for solid defense at the hot corner, while adding one of the most prolific power bats in baseball to their lineup. The report by Nightengale is especially interesting, as it seemingly suggests that the White Sox are open to dealing Adam Eaton. Eaton has established himself as one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball, and an all-around bargain, given his three remaining seasons of team control followed by a pair of team options in 2020 for $9.5 million and 2021 for $10.5 million. Eaton’s having another stellar season this year, hitting .271/.353/.393 with five home runs, 30 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases. Eaton’s also continued to produce Gold Glove-caliber defense, compiling a career-high in assists (14), and has already tied his career-high in double plays turned (two).
Additionally, reliever David Robertson appears to be garnering significant interest, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. Robertson could wind up as the best reliever on the market, in the event that the New York Yankees opt to hold onto their three-headed monster of Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller. Robertson currently sits with the eighth-most saves in baseball (23), while also compiling a 4.03 ERA over 38 innings of work. With a number of teams in search of bullpen help, the White Sox should have no problem finding a suitor to take on Robertson. Another possible candidate for teams in search of bullpen help could be Nate Jones, who owns a 2.53 ERA over 42.2 innings pitched this season. What also makes Jones attractive is the fact that he’s under team control through 2019 by way of a three-year extension, coupled with a pair of club options in 2019 & 2020.
First baseman Jose Abreu, who is under contract through 2019, could also garner some major interest. The 29-year-old signed with the White Sox as an international free agent in 2013. In his first two seasons, Abreu slugged 66 home runs and drove home 208 runs, hitting no lower than .290 in each season. This year, though, Abreu’s going through some struggles. 92 games into the 2016 season, Abreu’s hitting .266/.323/.423 with 11 homers and 52 RBIs. Nightengale’s report seemingly suggests that Abreu could be available, although one has to imagine that his price tag won’t be cheap.
Other possible trade targets could include infielder Brett Lawrie, outfielder Melky Cabrera, and pitcher Zach Duke, all of whom are free agents at the end of next season. Both Lawrie and Duke come at affordable prices, although Lawrie’s likely to get an boost from his current $4.13 million salary via arbitration this winter. Duke’s owed approximately $7.5 million over the remainder of his contract. On the other hand, Melky is owed a large amount of money — nearly $21 million, to be exact. That could be a sticking point in any deal for the “Melk Man.”
Given how Chicago positioned themselves only weeks ago by trading for James Shields, it’s interesting to see how much the White Sox mindset has changed.. They’ve gone from being atop the AL Central, to basically putting an “open for business” sign on the majority of their roster. It’s important to note that this doesn’t guarantee that the White Sox are going to clean house, or go on a fire sale. This just clearly states that the organization is open to listening to offers, as the trade deadline draws near.
Just a friendly reminder: The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is on Monday, August 1 at 4 PM EST.