We’ve made it halfway through the 2017 White Sox season. At the All Star break, the Sox currently sit in last place in the AL Central with a 38-49 record, good enough for fourth worst in baseball. So in other words, things are going great!
There have been very few surprises with this team on the score sheet. They’re bad, just as we figured they would be. They have been bad, but have at least been interesting and fun to watch at times. Ricky’s boys don’t quit, that’s for sure.
The biggest surprise on the diamond has been the career-resurrecting comeback by Avisail Garcia. Avi, a player that many didn’t even want on the roster, got off to a scorching start. He arguably could have won AL Player of the Month in April, and was selected for his first ever MLB All Star Game appearance. At the break, he has 93 hits, 11 homers, and is slashing .310/.353/.497/.850. Avi has undoubtedly been the team’s most pleasant surprise of 2017, and a real feel good story.
Most attention has been centered off of the field in the direction of the minor league system and front office. Sox fans are already enjoying watching and following their budding future stars as they develop in the minor leagues. They’ve also been focusing quite a bit of attention in GM Rick Hahn’s direction as they wait for the Sox to deal current pieces to aid the rebuild plan.
All of this mixed together means the Sox, already out of contention as anticipated, are now in prime position to be huge sellers before the trade deadline. Not really any breaking news here.
The biggest piece to be moved is obviously pitcher Jose Quintana. Rumors have been circulating about a Quintana deal since the offseason and have not stopped. Fans and experts have argued over his stock dropping and rising, his position in a rotation, and his cost-friendly contract. The truth of the matter is that despite his slow start in 2017 Jose is a really good, dependable, cheap pitcher.
The Yankees, Astros, Rockies, Braves, Brewers, Twins and others have been reported to have some interest in trading for Quintana. Many of those teams have great outfield depth in their system, something that the Sox really need. Milwaukee is an interesting new potential suitor, as they sit 5.5 games over the Cubs in the division and possibly in a position to go for it. Quintana’s contract control is also favorable for the Brewers as they continue their own long-term rebuild efforts.
Rick Hahn’s asking price for Quintana has been understandably high. The Sox want to get an acceptable haul in return for their ace. If they don’t get what they want, they can keep Quintana in Chicago and try to find a good deal for him again in the offseason. Hahn holds all the cards, and all the patience to make a winning move. Teams like New York and Houston would have the best return, but haven’t been able to agree on asking price.
Recent reports indicate that the Quintana trade talk has been heating up over the last few days, and that a trade will most likely come sooner rather than later. So buckle up.
The Sox are rich in tradeable assets heading towards this year’s deadline, especially in the bullpen. David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Anthony Swarzak have been the Sox hottest relief arms. Teams looking to succeed in the postseason are always looking for bullpen depth come October. The Sox could move all three of those guys and probably get a considerable return. The Nationals are one team linked to the three, especially Robertson. The Nats’ bullpen has been beyond atrocious in the first half, and despite being up 10.5 games, you have to think the Nats will try to address their blatant bullpen needs. The Sox would be perfect trade partners with Washington, or any competing team, looking to solidify their relief staff.
The craziest part about this is that the list doesn’t stop there. Anyone not named Tim Anderson or Carlos Rodon have been said to be available by the Sox front office. Guys like Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera could be moved at some point if a deal is there. We’ll see what Hahn does come late July. It would be fun to see the Sox get trade happy and cause a frenzy right at the deadline. The obvious goal here is to shore up and add even more depth to one of baseball’s best farm systems.
Now you might be wondering, what is there to even watch for in the second half if all of this crazy stuff happens at the deadline? Well, all of those trades will cause a huge shuffle in the minor league system. Guys will be moving up and down to make room for the newly acquired prospects. That also means that some prospects will make their south side debut, most notably of those will be Yoan Moncada. The second half post-deadline can be nicknamed “Moncada Watch” as we wait to finally see baseball’s top prospect in black pinstripes.
The Sox, clearly gutted from these upcoming trades, will continue to lose games and slide down the standings, hopefully as close to the 2018 No. 1 draft pick as they can get. Getting the top pick would be mission accomplished for the #Tank crowd. There are only three NL teams in front of them, and after the potential trades I’m not sure any of them will be that much worse overall than the White Sox. Regardless, finishing with a top five draft pick appears imminent.
It’s only going to heat up from here on out. The foundation is there, now it’s time to advance the building process. Hopefully it’s a second half (off the field) that we can look back on fondly.