What the Yankees Could Use from the Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have added a number of pieces over the past few seasons, but it has yet to translate into wins. Perhaps now would be an ideal time for the club to think about rebuilding for the future. The Yankees could take a star or two off their hands.
For those keeping up with this series of articles, you may have noticed that although I’ve been touching upon each MLB team in alphabetical order, I’ve skipped over the Red Sox and Cubs, and landed here on what the White Sox could potentially offer the Yankees for the upcoming season.
The reason I’ve done so is simple. As for the Red Sox, we’re likely to never see another Stephen Drew-like trade between the two bitter rivals. It just doesn’t make sense to make a swap within the division, not when both are usually right in the thick of a pennant race. Also, Red Sox free agents consist almost predominately of over the hill type players (Brad Ziegler, Koji Uehara, and Aaron Hill.) At 30, Junichi Tazawa is the baby of the bunch, and I’d be surprised if Boston lets him go.
The Cubs, on the other hand, are currently down 2 games to 1 in the World Series to the Cleveland Indians–so it’s a little more difficult to speculate who, if anyone, this club will look to move come the offseason. I bet they wish they could get out from under that Jason Heyward contract!
The obvious choice for the Yankees to pursue this winter is Aroldis Chapman, who was traded to the Cubbies this past Aug. But I’m not so sure Chapman should be the main reliever the Yankees target once free agency begins.
While it’s imperative to have a left-handed arm out the bullpen in Yankee Stadium, he’ll likely command the richest contract for a relief pitcher in baseball history (more than Jonathan Papelbon‘s 4-years, $50MM from the Phillies back in 2012). Unlike last winter, are the Yankees willing to spend big to reinforce a glaring need, or would they rather continue to trade for cost-controlled pieces?
Chapman’s time spent with the Yankees was effectively wild (not the other way around), so I’d take a good look at other options before settling on him just because.
Getting to the White Sox: Anytime you finish a season further back in your respective division than 10 games, it’s fair to say things went awry. A 78-84 record and 16.5 games back in the ultra-competitive AL Central were reasons enough for Robin Ventura to lose his job. So in comes Rick Renteria to manage a club that could see a ton of turnover.
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Signing a Former White Sox
Their slate of pending free agents are pretty thin–I’d expect them to let Justin Morneau, Alex Avila, Austin Jackson and Matt Albers all walk. The only name here I’d have even an inkling of interest in if I were the Yankees might be Morneau.
As a left-handed bat off the bench, he still provided the White Sox with 6 home runs and 25 RBI in just 205 at-bats. At 35, his starting days at first base are likely numbered, but he proved in ’16 that he’s overcome the post-concussion symptoms that derailed his once-promising career in Minnesota.
At 1-year, $1MM Morneau would provide an alternative DH option if Brian McCann is dealt, and/or a day off replacement for Greg Bird at first base. In small doses, Morneau can still be effective.
Trading for a White Sox
As I see it, the only player the White Sox would deem untouchable is Jose Abreu. 29-year-old power hitters, who also bat around .300 don’t grow on trees.
Staying in the infield, I wrote a while back about why New Jersey native, and Rutgers alum Todd Frazier would be a perfect for the Yankees. While I still believe that, I don’t think it’s a wise move for the Yanks to trade for most any player with only one year remaining on a contract.
Sure, the Yankees would probably have an upper hand in resigning Frazier (who grew up a Yankees fan–idolizing Derek Jeter), but unless the White Sox would take back Chase Headley in return and not demand a superlative haul including the Yankees’ No. 7 overall prospect Miguel Andujar (who has scouts drooling), I’d simply wait til next offseason, when Frazier hits the open market.
By then the Yankees may not even need to spend the money of Frazier since many of us hope the club gives Andujar a shot sometime this year to unseat Headley. Also, Frazier’s diminishing batting average (.225 in 2016) is concerning, to say the least. Yes, he hit a career-high 40 home runs this past year, but at 30-years-old, do the Yankees feel the need to add another all or nothing bat?
A name that was floated this past summer was that of closer David Robertson. The former-Yankees stopper actually finished tied for 4th in the AL for most saves with 37. His 3.47 ERA was .50 higher than his career average, yet he did strike out 75 batters in only 62.1 innings pitched.
Getting back to my Chapman dilemma–the Yankees shied away from resigning Robertson in 2015 because he wanted to be handsomely paid. Which he was at 4-years, $46MM. But now that two years are erased from the deal, would the Yankees be willing to pay a familiar face $25MM through 2018?
Again, it depends on what type of haul his current club would demand. A 31-year-old relief pitcher not named Andrew Miller shouldn’t cost a bunch of blue chip prospects, although if the current trend of teams utilizing top relief pitcher for multiple innings, multiple times a week continues, then all bets are off.
Lastly, there is the big prize–one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball since 2012, Chris Sale. Sale’s name too was floated around the league this summer, so it’s evident the White Sox are at least open to the possibility of moving the five-time All-Star.
The issue with acquiring Sale, for any team that is, is the fact that he might have the most team-friendly contract ever for a player of his pedigree. His 5-years, $32MM contract expires in 2017, but the club holds two options after that, which would pay him $12.5M in 2018, and $13.5M in 2019.
The White Sox did a marvelous job of locking this guy up when they did back in 2013. There are incentives that could push the current contract up between $1.5-$2.5MM per season if reached, but even then Sale is an absolute steal!
People will ask ‘then why would the White Sox even entertain trading the most dominating lefty in the AL?’ It’s because even though Sale finished this past season at 17-10, with a 3.34 ERA and 233 strikeouts, the Sox are still club lost in translation.
It makes more financial sense for them to hold onto cheaper alternatives in Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon–and to trade Sale for a wish list of prospects to fill in the gaps.
So here’s where we find ourselves Yankees fans–a Minor League system finally stocked to the brim with exciting talent, but a Major League pitching staff that likely won’t be good enough to keep the club in contention for the foreseeable future.
While we should get some glimpse of what else is down on the farm at some point in the waning summer months of ’17, it would be wise for the organization to take a good hard look at any/all expendable pieces.
As it stands right now, the Yankees seem to have a glut of middle infielders and corner outfielders throughout the depth of the organization. While it may not be a popular move to determine which top prospects can be moved, it very well could be the right move, because as it stands, future Yankees teams should be flush with hitting, but lacking in pitching.
And although Chris Sale is only one man, he’s an ace–which would slide Masahiro Tanaka to the No. 2 slot, potentially making him the most dominating No. 2 in all of baseball. There would still be holes to fill in the rotation, but knowing the type of outing you’d get from the top of the staff would greatly and positively affect the other three men going out there every five days.
Next: Yankees Should Inquire About This Former Rockie
For those who think having Sale on the Yankees is a luxury this club doesn’t need because the Yanks are still a few years away from contending, I’d like to remind you that Sale is only 27. He’s still got a lot of innings left in his arm.