The upstart Chicago White Sox made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Unfortunately for the young squad, they lost in the best-of-three opening series to the Oakland Athletics. However, they did show baseball what they are capable of and put the league on notice that they aren’t going away any time soon.
The Sox will look to fill in a couple of spots on the roster. There isn’t a glaring need, but Edwin Encarnacion is a free agent and Nomar Mazara had a dismal year while heading into his final season before hitting the market. A solid bat would lengthen the already-potent lineup. You can also never have enough pitching. While the staff was solid last year, after Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel there are question marks. The bullpen can also use a couple of arms to replace those leaving in free agency.
Keys to the Offseason
A Starter or Two
After the aforementioned Giolito and Keuchel, the rotation is not quite settled. Dylan Cease hasn’t been able to find the strike zone or keep the ball in the yard. His 34 walks this season led the American League as he also surrendered 12 HRs in just 58 1/3 innings. Reynaldo Lopez is a fifth starter at his best. Dane Dunning showed some promise but has only started seven games at the major league level. No one knows what they will get from Carlos Rodon who returned from Tommy John surgery last season. For a team looking to win now, a couple of good starters would go a long way in solidifying the staff.
Alex Colome, Steve Cishek, and Ross Detwiler gave the Sox 62 innings out of the pen in 2020. While Chicago still has a few good options in Aaron Bummer, Matt Foster, and Codi Heuer, bullpen depth is a critical piece of any MLB team nowadays. If the Sox can’t or won’t spend the cash to bring in reliable starters, the pressure on the bullpen over a full 162-game season becomes that much more pronounced.
Kirby Yates, 34, RP
With Colome hitting free agency, the Sox would be wise to grab a closer. Heuer was the only other reliever with a save last season. Yates was one of the most dominant relievers in the game in 2018-2019 throwing 123 2/3 innings and striking out 191 batters (38.7% K-rate) and allowing only eight HRs. His ability to keep the ball in the yard would serve the Sox well in Guaranteed Rate Field. A proven closer would also allow Chicago to bring along young relievers Bummer and Heuer a little more slowly. Yates should command a three-year deal worth around $10-$14 million a year.
Jose Quintana, 31, SP
A familiar face returning? Why not? Quintana is still a workhorse. From 2013-2019 the lefty made at least 31 starts and thrown at least 170 innings. Quintana did have minor surgery last year on his pitching hand but returned in August for the Chicago Cubs. He will be 32 in January but would give the Sox a reliable and consistent starter they need. The Sox could probably have him back on the South Side for three years and $12-$15 million per year.
Marcell Ozuna, 30, OF/DH
While this may be seen as a luxury, the White Sox could go for it. Last year the team made a couple of high-profile signings bringing in Keuchel and Yasmani Grandal. If their window is the next few years, getting Ozuna to play right field or DH would immediately improve an offense that is already pretty good. Ozuna also brings playoff experience which much of the team didn’t have before this season. Chicago could be in the mix for Ozuna at around a five-year deal worth $20-$25 per year.
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