White Sox eye relief aid and possible offensive reshuffle at trade deadline
There are some elements of the White Sox’s effort to climb back into the American League Central race that seem fixed: primarily, the Reconstruction’s signing acquisitions.
“(Yoán) Moncada being Moncada, and (Yasmani Grandal) being Yaz, that’s kind of what drives this team forward,” general manager Rick Hahn said Friday. “You don’t change that. You’re going to try to make it work – when they’re healthy, the best they can be – with these players because of what they’re able to do when they’re right. You saw what Yaz did last year when he came out of IL. He really carried this team for a little while. So I think going from players to four or five wins (WAR) mid-game is probably not the strategy you want to follow.
That belief could be extended to Eloy Jiménez, who returned to the lineup on Friday night and Hahn said he will return to the outfield as early as this weekend, despite another surge in his surgically repaired hamstring last week. That could even apply to Lance Lynn, who was obviously going to have every chance of returning to form to earn Cy Young votes for three straight years. But Hahn also indicated they expect a quick return to normal from Lynn, having racked up a 7.50 ERA in his first six starts after surgery, rather than being newly motivated to add a starter to extend his rest times and those of Michael Kopech. between departures.
“I wish these were the five here,” Hahn said of his starting rotation, which will likely also have Davis Martin as the 27th man for Saturday’s doubleheader. “If there’s a chance to add more and improve, we’ll look at it. I’m not sure this market has a ton of volume right now.”
Then there are some things that obviously have to change at maturity. Tanner Banks has quietly compiled a 1.08 ERA in 16 2/3 innings since the briefest of spells at Triple-A Charlotte, and the 30-year-old appears to be completing the journey from a great spring training story to a crucial reliever after a handful of successful high-leverage appearances. But the Sox bullpen has been speculated to have Garrett Hook and Aaron Bummer as proven left-handed setup men, and Banks as the only left-hander in the bullpen is a tenuous place. Hook underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of spring training, and Bummer’s lat fatigue recovery timeline shifted to hoping he’d have enough time to look alike. here the playoffs.
“I think right now it would be early September,” Bummer said. “It was a little bit worse than what we had originally planned, which I originally felt. I really felt like it was something that was going to take two weeks, or we were going to take a few days off and come back to it.
Bullpen help is usually relatively easy to acquire, especially for a two-month rental. The White Sox were able to acquire Ryan Tepera at the last trade deadline with no meaningful prospect in return, at a time when their farming system was widely seen as worse than it currently is by league scouts covering it. The Sox’s ever-frequent trading partners, the Texas Rangers, even have a veteran left-handed reliever who is having a strong season on an expiring contract in 33-year-old Matt Moore. But overall, Hahn noted that the expansion of the playoffs and the nature of this season has reduced the number of sellers. Apologies if any readers have been high on A, 30-year-old left-hander Sam Moll for a long time, of course.
“You have a lot of teams right now, so the so-called true sellers are a bit limited right now, and what they have may not be exactly what we need,” Hahn said. “It’s going to be a fun couple of weeks from a playing different ideas perspective and hopefully we find a way to improve this team.”
And with that, there are certain elements of the White Sox’s offensive mix, which finished the first half with the 22nd-best offense against right-handed throwing, that Hahn seems willing – if not committed – to juggle mid-season d one way or another. He specifically identified second base and right field as areas where the team’s overall production has been lacking. While Hahn noted that Josh Harrison (.288/.355/.460 since Memorial Day) and Gavin Sheets (.260/.325/.452 since his two weeks at Triple A in June) have improved lately , he didn’t grant them the same dispensation from the struggles of their respective position group as Moncada and Grandal.
Currently, even with third baseman Jake Burger on the injured list, there’s already such a crunch to get bats for Jiménez, Sheets, Andrew Vaughn and AJ Pollock, that it’s a regular occurrence for anything. less than a true man-made corner fielder. one or two outfield spots on any given day. The return of Grandal, who surely goes DH regularly when he’s not catching (and the Sox still carry Reese McGuire and Seby Zavala as backups), will only intensify the competition for spots. If the Sox want to get better in right field and better against right-handed throwing, it will have to be done by shuffling play.
“It will probably require a bit of remodeling or switching to more platoon-like situations that happen in a few places,” Hahn said. “It’s speculative, it’s not like we have anything on the table that’s going to reshape the whole outfield or the offense at this point. But that’s when you stay open to spirit and flexible. Again, my point alluding to those two places (right field and second base) is that if you’re talking about offensive production, those are two areas that we haven’t measured how far we’d like to be.
One of the best hitters against the right-handed pitcher so far this season just moved on Friday with Daniel Vogelbach heading to the Mets and entering a division where pending free agent Josh Bell has also been elite against the pitcher. right-handed while not offering much defensive use. If the Sox need a platoon outfielder, Andrew Benintendi, much talked about in Kansas City, and less talked about Tyler Naquin in Cincinnati, were both among the top 100 batters against right-handed throwing in baseball (per wRC+) among those with more than 100 board appearances this year.
If there was a rough summary of who the Sox should add, it would be someone left-handed and with power. They’ve always liked powerful weapons and high speed out of the bullpen. And despite broader philosophical discussions about hitting approaches that actually give home runs, the Sox finished the first half 24th in MLB in home runs and 27th in isolated power. When asked how the attack was improving, their general manager offered a short joke.
“Keep hitting the dingers.”
(Photo by Gavin Sheets: Quinn Harris/Getty Images)