MLB Offseason Preview: Chicago White Sox

MLB Offseason Preview: Chicago White Sox

by November 21, 2021 3 comments

The Tony La Russa experiment worked well enough in its first year. That means that the Chicago White Sox did not completely collapse, as they won the American League Central in a landslide. However, they were routed by the Houston Astros once the ALDS came. This team has a strong core. But they need fixing. They still have some obvious holes. The rest of the division is starting to close in on them. The window for the White Sox may not be as big as it seems.

Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Offseason Previews.

Offseason Strategy

The White Sox made a splash at the deadline when they dealt Nick Madrigal, who was looked at as the future at second base, plus Codi Heuer, for Craig Kimbrel. The veteran closer was dominant for the crosstown Chicago Cubs before the deal. Then he collapsed after moving to the Southside. Chicago has picked up the option on Kimbrel, making his return more likely. The trade will impact this offseason, as it has hurt the team more than helped. After a huge breakout, Carlos Rodon is a free agent. Is his long, mostly flawed tenure in Chicago over?

Keys to the Offseason

Find a Solution at Second Base

After trading away Madrigal, the White Sox tried to find a short-term replacement in Cesar Hernandez, but he did not work out. He hit three home runs with a .608 OPS after arriving from the Cleveland Guardians. In short, Chicago should be cutting ties with Hernandez. Second base was the biggest blind spot the White Sox had as their season came to a close.

Get an Outfield Stopgap

Of course, Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez are the future in the outfield. Andrew Vaughn, a top-five draft pick who is a first baseman, was moved to the outfield. But with Jose Abreu blocking him, Vaughn should stay at DH. The White Sox attempted to do something about this last offseason, bringing back Adam Eaton, who did not pan out. The idea was good, but not the execution. We might see a take two this winter.

Deepen the Rotation

Lance Lynn ended up becoming a Cy Young finalist. Whether you think it should have been him or Nathan Eovaldi, the point still stands that Lynn led the rotation. Lucas Giolito was a lot of people’s preseason Cy Young pick. He did not live up to that but still had a decent season. Dylan Cease established himself as a very good rotation piece, as his 226 strikeouts led the team. After that, the team has a problem. Dallas Keuchel was terrible, with a 5.28 ERA and a 5.23 FIP. Rodon is a free agent. Michael Kopech will move back to starting after 103 Ks as a reliever in 2021. There is still a good amount of risk with that. Adding at least one starter would make sense.

Offseason Targets

Chris Taylor, 31, Utility

Taylor seems like the perfect guy to go after for this team. He can play all around the field, with second base being one of his primary spots. After declining his qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Taylor is going to want at least four years. He hit 20 home runs in 2021, along with a .344 OBP and a .782 OPS. Taylor has been an above-average hitter according to OPS+ for the past five seasons. He made his first All-Star team this year and also swiped 13 bags. The fit is there.

Kole Calhoun, 34, Outfielder

Calhoun is an interesting option for the Eaton role. He played in 51 and 54 games in the past two seasons, due to an injury last year and the shortened season in 2020. In 2021, he was not good, as it became a lost year. In 2020 Calhoun was great. He hit 16 home runs with a 125 wRC+. In 2019 he hit 33 home runs. Calhoun also has a career 9.8 BB percentage. According to Outs Above Average, he has been around standard as a defender in right field. A one-year, prove-it deal could make sense.

Carlos Rodon, 28, Starting Pitcher

Bringing back Rodon still appears to be the likeliest scenario to happen with the rotation. He burned out at the end, although the overall numbers are good. Rodon had a 34.6 K percentage, a 2.37 ERA, and a 2.68 xERA. His value will never be higher, so there is a reason to move on. His asking price could, and should be very high.

Corey Kluber, 35, Starting Pitcher

Kluber is the low-end option if the higher-end Rodon does not return. The two-time Cy Young winner missed most of 2019 and all but one inning of 2020 and was looking to rehabilitate his career with the New York Yankees last season. Once again, he did get injured. But in the 16 starts he made, Kluber had some highlights. One was a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers. In 80 innings pitched, he had a 3.83 ERA with a 1.5 fWAR. Health is the elephant in the room but there is potential here for a short-term deal.

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