Often in life it is important to take stock of all that we are an act They have, and they reside in gratitude rather than continuing to desire more of the things.
Not us, though, am I right? Not us.
See, it’s January, a time when front offices look at their deep charts with grimaces and wonder if something more can be done. And the current situation for the White Sox is probably Looking good enough to contend for a division title, in the Year 4 competitive window, it’s clear he’s not going to meet the expectations set by team leadership over and over again to win multiple championships during this run. Which means yeah, I think you’re totally crazy. but also your environment made you are crazy.
Let’s all sift through the potential Opening Day roster together. Please check your weapons at the door.
Others on 40 men: Carlos Perez
Unlisted odds: Sebastian Rivero, Xavier Fernandez
In early March 2022, I was probably a day or two away from writing a story about Fernandez gleefully tanking against juniors at spring training devoid of the big hitters. Then lockdown ended, allowing us to focus on more of the more remarkable underdog tales. Former third-pick Sibi Zavala, for example, has been picked six times in his career and dropped off the 40-man roster at the start of last season, entering his 29-year-old season as the current reserve. In each of the past two seasons, the Sox have installed a former first-round pick in that role, only for Zavala to snatch the job away and even post a career-best either side of the ball in 2022 (a year he started on clearance waivers).
404 batting average per play last year while still hitting north of 30 percent, which probably isn’t the way to post a second straight above-average season at the plate. But even if you completely discount his offense, Zavala posted one of the best pitch framing rates in the sport last year along with average pop times. This should keep him a salaried employee until Auto Strike Zone recalibrates things a bit. But with no secondary teams options, where Zavala works can be subject to the whims of the season. “Long-term backup catcher” is a relatively rare term for reasons usually beyond backup’s control.
In this case, the motivation in adding to the Sox’ catching depth isn’t about whether Zavala is fit to catch two games a week, but rather about having a stronger backup plan if Grandal struggles through a repeat of 2022. But Grandal’s $18.25 million salary for 2023 as The 34-year-old catcher is coming off an injury-plagued season as predictably flat, and it’s hard to find superior reclamation projects from a two-time All-Star for a club already looking for ways to trade military resources to deal with second base. So here things stand on the range of positions which, even given Perez’s unique skills, seem to be absent from a long-term solution beyond this season.
The Others in The 40th Man: Jake Burger, Lenin Sosa, Jose Rodriguez, Brian Ramos
Unlisted prospects: Eric Gonzalez, Hancer Alberto, Yolbert Sanchez
Had Garcia been coming off his best season of his career in 2021 and coming in This is amazing Winter’s accelerating free agent market, perhaps his contract seems like a product of his environment. Instead, he came off a season in which he was the least productive hitter in baseball (by wRC+) to receive 300+ games. And with two years left on his contract, the Sox are still touting the idea that he can be a valuable contributor when removed from last season’s back issues and committed to a super secondary role, rather than being pressured into regular duty. For me at least, the first page of the playbook “So you’re committing a place on the roster for Leury García…” would prevent another backup midfielder being put on top of him. Thus, the loser of any indoor battle for second base will receive the consolation prize of hitting the top of the order in Charlotte, with Gonzalez and Souza potentially forming a solid Major League duo with depth with the Knights — the Sox should continue to make something in the trade market.
The potential of Andrew Benintendi and Oscar Colas in the corners of the field is enough to spark a little curiosity as to whether the proven left-handed annihilator might be a neat little piece. If one thing Burger has proven, it’s that he loves the look of a left slider back up above the plate (.278/.355/.537 career vs. left). But since Burger can’t actually spell those two outfielders, and this offense still uses Grandal, Vaughn, Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and other left-handed wicket enthusiasts (Moncada even caught a left-hander last year for ₹122+), a point can’t be reached. Arguing about the burger is on the sheets. The latter provides versatility outside and a more consistent production against right-handers, which remains a weakness for the team until proven otherwise.
Alberto (set to make $1.3 million if he makes the majors from his minor league deal, according to a source) and Eric Gonzalez provide veteran bench options that would have a cleaner path to making the opening roster if it wasn’t for Garcia. Alberto’s selling points are specialized — . 790 career OPS against lefties, stellar club reputation, every plate appearance seems to end up with a ball in play — which doesn’t necessarily complement what the Sox have at home. Though, since Sosa and Romy Gonzalez can stop the match, it doesn’t matter if Alberto can’t. I’m not sure if any direct batting practice encounters between Gonzalez and Lucas Giolito can replicate the tense ninth inning at bats from 2020, but I’ll fly to Arizona determined to find out.
Outfielders (5): Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Andrew Benintende, Oscar Colas, Jake Marisnick
Others on 40 Guys: Uh, Well, Sheets and Vaughn Are Still On The Outsiders List, For What It’s Worth
Unlisted prospects: Victor Reyes, Billy Hamilton, Adam Hasley
With Adam Engel outfitting the Padres uniform, the Sox are looking for a fourth baseman, something that clearly indicates the bulk of notable minor league signings. Hamilton offers the ultimate in speed, defense and feel, but has no attacking tackles to target in his occasional starts. Reyes is probably the most consistent hitter and fielder of the bunch, but he’s actually no better than Benintendi or Colás for center fielding. Maybe that’s fine. Marisnick has enough of a track record as a great backup center fielder with a bit of a pop against the left – just the kind needed for this role – that he wouldn’t be available for a minor league deal (according to a source) if he had a healthy season. However, “a healthy start to the season” hasn’t been a fair description for Maresnik since 2019.
In other words, it’s kind of sloppy to me, so I chose Marisnick. Mentally, I’m prepared for Haseley hitting . 470 on Cactus League play and multiple reader comments about how it would be an “organizational foul” not to put him on the list. This is what usually happens in baseball prediction.
After years of guarded language about pitching top prospects, Rick Hahn made an undisguised insertion of Colas’ name in discussing the team’s current image during GM meetings in early November. Nothing has happened since then to dampen the sense that it is a relatively open path for a rookie to take over starting in right field. There are definitely people in the organization who think Colás’ aggressive approach would gain something from the Triple-A move, but I’d be surprised if that consideration wins out today at this point. The Leafs should have an important role in right field if Colás is struggling or faltering, or play a major role in the Thunder’s left roaming even if he doesn’t.
Others in the 40th Man: Davis Martin, Jonathan Steffer, Jason Bellos
Unlisted odds: Sean Burke, John Park
There is no actual discussion of the composition of the Chicago rotation unless health gets in the way. As much as last season’s injuries contribute to a certain level of uncertainty about how seasons will go, Lance Lane is poised to be ready for the World Baseball Classic, let alone the regular season. Mike Clevinger is throwing the bullpen after getting a platelet-rich injection into his right knee, and Michael Kubis arrived in Arizona this week to continue rolling toward surgically prepping his right knee for the start of the season.
It probably won’t work. Maybe Cease will backtrack, maybe Clevinger won’t regain his pre-Tommy John form, maybe Kopech will be late in ramping up and Giolito won’t get his speed back. But this is the group, where Martin is positioned to reprise his top starting role. Burke has been mentioned because the hope is that he develops into a depth option this year, but contention for a spot on Opening Day is just too much to ask at this point. Until Stiever shows his form in 2019, before getting injured again, starting depth ready for the major league is at a premium.
It’s very much a conversation for another day, but with Giolito and Clevinger free agents beyond this year (there’s still a club option for Lynn in 2024), the seeds for the next cycle will have to start sprouting from the farm. Burke is the start, but the imminent rotation candidate is yet to emerge from a slew of high-spending picks on Garrett Crochet, Matthew Thompson, Andrew Dahlquist and Jared Kelly. Injuries and the pandemic haven’t helped any of these projects, but the Sox have reached the point where they need to start filling their staff with more than the proceeds from their 2016-17 trades.
Others in 40 Men: Tanner Banks, Jarrett Crochet, Matt Foster, Nicholas Padilla, Gregory Santos, Bennett Souza
Unlisted prospects: Jesse Schultins, Nate Fisher, Lynn Ramsey, Declan Cronin, Sammy Peralta, Andrew Perez, Caleb Barragher
“Health” has long been credited to me as a stressful term to refer to sports injuries. It is usually an umbrella under which to objectively discuss what hinders very healthy young men from achieving elite levels of athletic performance. The usual way of discussing injuries certainly seems ill-suited to address the severity of what closer Liam Hendrix is facing at the moment. Similarly, the White Sox did not offer a typical “return to play” schedule for Hendriks, and any discussion of his roster status would be more appropriate to defer until at least Opening Day. My approach is not to make any expectations of Hendrix on the field this season. Partly because it focuses on who he’ll throw at spring camp, and because it sets a framework for recognizing what a huge accomplishment it would be if he pitched in 2023.
The depth of this unit is that trading from it was a consideration for everyone, and that will certainly look a lot more solid when Crochet returns from Tommy John surgery. But he wouldn’t have a year’s worth of surgery removed even by opening day, so even with smooth sailing from here for health—not exactly what painkillers are known for—there should be a place open for competition. For now, let’s fill it in with Avila, who literally needs to win a roster spot to stay in the organization (or just make a separate deal instead of being sent back to the Giants), and was already hired by Hahn as a candidate for some sort of multi-inning relief role when the Sox picked him up. in a Rule 5 draft. That’s a safe enough use to get one last spot in the ‘pen’, but it’s worth noting that Santos’ raw stuff and rookie side could shoot toward some middle relief work quickly if the Sox are able to make any improvements. Successful leadership.
The biggest focus in the bullpen in the spring will be on who is the ninth inning reliever rather than who is the eighth reliever. Graveman has recorded 16 saves over the past two seasons and took over the closer role when Hendrix was on the injured list last year. The White Sox loved developing Reynaldo López as a reliever last year, and pitching coach Ethan Katz said he has the potential to be a closer in this league. Thinking long term and speculating on my own, if Crochet has a precarious path to develop into a beginning, end game role could be a compelling use of his talents in the end.
This, like so many things about this team, has to be understood by watching it work on the field.
(Top photo of Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger: Jason Miller/Getty Images)