Chris Sale (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
On paper, there are not many things that really stand out about the Chicago White Sox. In fact, Chris Sale anchoring the starting rotation is really the only true sure thing. But with that being said, they could be a team to watch a little bit this season. I would not bet on them making the playoffs this season, or being series Wild Card contenders in September, but I would not be 100% surprised by it.
Prediction: 4th Place American League Central
Additions & Subtractions:
Yes, I know, we can’t talk about the White Sox and not mention their big addition; Jose Abreu. Astros’ fans should be familiar with the Cuban first baseman as he was a player Jeff Luhnow seriously pursued. Ultimately the power hitter took about $13 million more from Chicago, and I don’t think he is going to disappoint. However, it would not surprise me to see Abreu struggle at times in April and May as he adjusts to the cold. By the time the year is out though, Abreu will be anchoring the middle of Chicago’s order as they transition away from Paul Konerko who will be retiring after the season.
The White Sox also made a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks this winter exchanging closer Addison Reed for outfielder Adam Eaton and third baseman Matt Davidson. On a few levels, this is an interesting deal. Moving Reed left Chicago without a proven closer and that could be something that hinders them all season. The thought was that Davidson would fill the gaping hole at third base but this spring he was unable to earn the job and instead the former top prospect will be starting the season in the minor leagues while Conor Gillaspie mans the hot corner in Chicago.
Eaton on the other hand could be primed to make an impact in center field this season. He is a highly regarded prospect who so far has failed to distinguish himself in the major leagues. The hope is that with regular playing time that will change and his speed and defensive ability will be on display. How Eaton truly performs will be dependent on his ability to hit line drives and get on base.
There is not much that stands out for me here, but how far the White Sox go this season will depend on their young outfielders. We already spoke about Eaton, but Avasail Garcia (“Baby Miggy”) is loaded with potential, but has yet to do it at the major league level. The same goes for Dayan Viciedo, but his time might be passing him by. I know this isn’t much of a true “strength”, but I am going out on a limb here as their certainly is talent and potential.
It really comes down to pitching for the White Sox, or lack there of. After Sale, the rotation gets thin quickly. Jose Quintana, who just received a long term extension, is a solid young starter but he must prove himself at the major league level. John Danks has been inconsistent at times and we all know Felipe Paulino could be a wild card.
But more importantly, the closer situation is still up in the air. Jones is currently slated to close, but he is a unknown quantity.
Gordon Beckham has thus far failed to live up to his expectations, and will start the season on the Disabled List. That opens up a spot for Marcus Semien to start the season. The versatile prospect, could very easily make people forget about Beckham or move to third base when he returns.