Valuing the trade chips: Chicago White Sox
Last winter, the Chicago White Sox flirted with the idea of making a big offseason addition. But their pursuit of a free agent star fell short, and instead they have again found themselves well out of the American League playoff picture.
Having moved high-value players like Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Adam Eaton in previous seasons, the White Sox lack a true impact player to move this summer. However, they have a handful of helpful veterans on short-term deals that should return a few mid-level prospects.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the chips they have left (values in $Ms):
Right-handed reliever Alex Colome (4.6) should draw the most interest. He has been a solid bullpen arm for his entire career and is in the midst of another great season. He is more than just a pure rental, coming with a second season of team control. He could make sense for a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers, possibly in exchange for a mid-range prospect like corner infielder Cristian Santana (4.4).
That being said, the biggest name is first baseman Jose Abreu (3.1). Abreu has a reputation as one of the game’s top sluggers. However, over the last few seasons, his production has not matched the hype. His bat has been above average instead of elite, and at first base he provides little to no defensive value. He is owed approximately $10.7 million the rest of the way and few, if any, contenders have a need at first base. He may have more value to the White Sox as a veteran leader than to any other team. If they decide to trade him, the best fit might be the Boston Red Sox, in exchange for a prospect like righty Bryan Mata (3.2).
Chicago also has a pair of interesting backstops. James McCann (1.7) has been excellent this season and comes with an extra year of team control, while Welington Castillo (-1.6) showed promise in his last full season of work in 2017. However, the former has no track record as an above average bat, while the latter missed the majority of 2018 due to a PED suspension and has struggled at the plate in 2019. Contenders might take a flier on either player as a back-up catcher, but the White Sox likely won’t receive a whole lot in return.
In Yonder Alonso (-4.6), Jon Jay (-1.6) and Ivan Nova (-1.1), Chicago has three veteran rentals whose seasons are off to disappointing starts. Alonso had a breakout year in 2017 but has been a below-average hitter ever since. Defensively he is limited to first base. Jay has put together a career as a solid fourth outfielder, but hasn’t played yet this season due to a groin injury. Contenders will see both players as cheap bench bats. Nova is in the midst of the worst season of his career and has never been much more than a back-end arm. A fringe contender may take a chance on him.
Kelvin Herrera (-15.0) has not been the same reliever since his elite 2016 season with the Kansas City Royals. He has approximately $15 million over the next two seasons remaining on his contract and will be difficult to unload. Chicago will have to either eat a significant portion of his deal or hang onto him and hope he can rebuild value.
The White Sox are in a rough spot, with most of their top trade chips off to poor starts to the season. They have a handful of other pieces with value, but most have considerable team control and Chicago will likely hang onto them. As is, they shouldn’t expect to get another Eloy Jimenez or Michael Kopech this summer.