In contractual terms “consideration” is the thing you give the other guy for the thing he’s giving you. Usually consideration is the money, the service or the good exchanged. But it is also a word that means a thought given to the impact of an action before taking it.
In the case of the Sox offseason, it’s easy to talk about the consideration they should or could give for new players to upgrade the team. How much money to give Marcus Semien or Nick Castellanos, or who to trade for Ketel Marte.
But it’s harder to give consideration about where the team is at and what thought needs to go in before the money or players head out. Harder… Not impossible. Luckily after a two week hiatus to consider consideration while considering what to consider… The answers are below. Also if may have been a lowatus. Just saying.
THE HOLE: Right Field
Not even a question that RF became a turnstile of who’s next this season. After Adam Eaton flamed out, and because Adam Engel was left with 68.7% of his legs, Brian Goodwin, Andrew Vaughn, Billy Hamilton, Gavin Sheets and I want to say Jordan Danks and Shawn Abner all had shots at holding down RF. Goodwin had moments, Vaughn struggled defensively moreso than in left field, Sheets needed a platoon partner and Hamilton was iffy on O and hurt at times. Easy peasy…grab a top free agent bat and plunk him in right. Right…?
Sheets and Vaughn could have tagged up as a platoon if the Sox were interested in being bat-first. Jake Burger could have been given a look. And roughly 28 outfielders were traded at the deadline. Of those, guys like Eddie Rosario, Kyle Schwarber, and Jorge Soler were indicative of what was there for the taking…a good bat with a bad glove. Goodwin, Hamilton and Engel had the distinction of being good outfielders defensively, with speed. Why? Well because the Sox are a flyball pitching team. Having Robert and two liabilities is a good way to have a few extra doubles taken on you and not getting out of an inning. Think about game two of the ALDS. Leury Garcia, an infielder who isn’t all that good in the outfield, misplays a ball that Goodwin, Engel, Hamilton and Eaton all catch. Damage is limited in the inning and the Sox maybe take the game. They’re willing to put up with either Vaughn or Jimenez in left, but in choosing Adam Eaton over Eddie Rosario or Kyle Schwarber the Sox made it clear that their next RF has to be a complete player. Unfortunately, Yoelqui Cespedes is a year or two away. So Nick Castellanos, as much as he can hit, consider his defense the thing the Sox will likely decide on (and he’s not good). Offensively, the Sox may also not look at RF for power, as much as someone who offers more all around game, closer to vintage Adam Eaton. That could be Andrew Vaughn taking the next step…more immediately a healthy Adam Engel profiles that way. But assuming the Sox fill RF from outside…oh good gravy the profile fits possible free agent Avi Garcia. Well…there’s always trades, too.
THE HOLE: Second Base
Talk about self-inflicted wounds. Nick Madrigal was hurt and was going to be out the rest of the year, but heading into 2022 he is expected to play. Granted, the theory espoused in this space that the Sox believe the injury will irreparably diminish Madrigal is still one way to justify the trade, but in reality the Sox left themselves with no one to man the position in 2022. Romy Gonzalez represented probably the closest to a ready replacement in the minors, while Leury Garcia was the most productive replacement and is a free agent himself. There’s been jibber-jabber about Jake Burger getting up to speed at the position, and recall Andrew Vaughn actually started there in a real game, or that Yoan Moncada was a really awful defender there but played a whole season at the keystone. There’s still Cesar Hernandez sitting there, but his decline from the sort-of model replacement-level useful plug-him-in guy to an aging vet trying to hang on to starting jobs isn’t something a championship team needs. But, hey, Marcus Semien can come right on home for a whopper contract and all is well. On second thought…
Nick Madrigal was the missing link in the Sox lineup at the end of the season. By the playoffs you basically expected the Sox innings with scores to be a hard-hit single, followed by a hard-hit single or maybe double, followed by a homer, a loud lineout, an ill-timed strikeout, Yas Grandal walking or hitting another homer, and then a weak tapper somewhere after a pitching change. When Nicky Two Strikes was healthy and building his legend, the innings he was in where there were scoring chances usually featured him making contact. That contact resulted in bloops, bleeders, grounders, flyouts, singles, doubles, triples or whatever, but also was not going to be a K or pray at-bat. The Sox lineup beyond Tim Anderson and Luis Robert really fell into that latter category…you watched praying for hard contact because the feeling was that the K or grounder right to him was the most likely scenario. With Madrigal it was anything possible. Marcus Semien is a good 2B, but his appeal is the power numbers that he’s had for only two of his nine seasons. His 45 homers would look great, his .265 average with it is suggestive of being Eloy, Jose, maybe the evolution of Gavin Sheets, or Yoan and Vaughn figuring out how to hit homers. Not to say that a Madrigal-type contact guy HAS to be at 2B…especially if the Sox were to install 35+ homers at the keystone in the form of Semien or a position-switching Corey Seager or Trevor Story. Moncada focusing on contact and putting the ball in play versus power (if that changes anything at all with him) would be fine, as would Andrew Vaughn taking that route. Finding that in the outfield would be fine too. But when roster construction is discussed, the Sox biggest Achilles’ heel was that everyone in the lineup except TA and Pantera profiled as under .300 but can hit you that homer…sometimes. With that hole there at 2B, getting a leadoff-type hitter that will put the bat on the ball a lot is in keeping with the position. Free agent-wise, there’s really not much there, but Josh Harrison is a contact guy that at worst is a stop-gap utility guy, and is a different look from the rest of the lineup.
THE HOLE: 4th and 5th Starters
Lance Lynn and his myriad of heaters shall return. Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease are under club control. Carlos Rodon probably pitched himself into a big deal and isn’t a lock to return. That leaves one open spot, with Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo Lopez and a few kids to fill out the rotation, Problem is, but they aren’t looked as the solution. Michael Kopech should transition to starter at some point, filling the hole, and then trade Keuchel and get a guy or bring back Rodon. Starting to seem like this isn’t an issue…
That maybe the Sox aren’t sure whether Kopech has enough of an arsenal to be a starter and aren’t sold on what’s available. On the Sox in the Basement show, it was discussed that the pitchers were all really two-pitch guys at the end of the season, with Kopech being a fastball-slider guy. He didn’t throw much else all year, adding some changeups and curves when he was spot-starting. Not as discussed was the fact that the Sox lacked guys who consistently went deep into games. The best average innings per start was Giolito at 5.2 per, with Carlos Rodon and Lance Lynn rounding up to join him but with fewer starts. That’s twice through a lineup. Each of the top 4 starters (Not you Dallas) had one complete game. Giolito went past the 6th seven times…Cease three times but never over 7 innings (including his complete game)…Lynn, known as an innings eater, only went more than 6 five times and Rodon posted four such starts. Keuchel equaled him. By comparison, Blue Jay Robbie Ray went there 11 times and his teammate and ex-Twinkie Jose Berrios had 12 starts that went at least into the 7th. MLB innings leader Zack Wheeler? Went past the 6th 20 times. TWENTY!! Now Giolito is probably due for a few more here or there but he’s not the most efficient guy on the mound. Lynn with better health likely gets a few more by adding more innings, but he’s also on the downslope age-wise. Keuchel had better ratio of longer starts in 2018 and 2019, and Cease needs to develop into that guy. Long story short, the Sox need a guy who can go deeper into games. That usually means having a pitch to contact guy (think Mark Buehrle) or a superstar. The Sox really can’t have a five-and-out guy at the back end because the three that are locked in are generally done in the 6th. The Sox bullpen was terrific this year, but they need a guy that in a playoff game, or for the entire month of July, can get you straight to Bummer and Liam, otherwise they still need Garret Crochet and, yeah, Kopech to be multi-inning guys. So assuming you need to fill one starter slot and would like to fill two, then the Sox would be best served focusing on innings and varying the look from the 4-Seam and slider/4-seam and cutter combos that Giolito, Kopech, Cease, Lynn, Keuchel, Rodon, and Garrett Crochet all use. That could mean giving a different look, like Kevin Gausman’s splitter, or, well, a guy who was top three in groundball outs in Dallas Keuchel. But Keuchel’s problem is that he can’t strike anyone out anymore, and the results aren’t good enough. The Sox lack variety to the point that simply adding back in Rodon or promoting Kopech without any of them learning some new tricks is just going to be more of the same.
THE HOLE: Craig Kimbrel
Yeah, well, hole might be a touch nasty as a descriptor but the fact is that the hall-of-fame candidate struggled after being traded to the Sox, whether because closers are weirdos who can’t pitch the 8th as a setup guy or because, uhhh, because closers are weirdos is really the theory. In reality he lost control in the zone and for a bit, some movement on his curve. Still, assuming the Nightengale tweet is correct, the Sox intend to recoup the investment on the trade market. The guy could be a legit hall of fame baseball guy, that means something, right? Case closed…?
This isn’t trading Chris Sale to get top prospects. This isn’t getting a team to overpay at the deadline like with Q netting Eloy and Cease. This isn’t even trading Bill Simas for Jon Garland. The Sox need help now, and even to the extent that Kimbrel would net a highly-regarded prospect, he’s only on a one-year deal and he’s 34. Teams that he fits are teams that intend to win the World Series in 2022, that lack a closer, that have players available that the Sox want and need, and if you want to add in further restrictions, won’t be a team directly competing for the Sox’ playoff position. That really leaves it to teams like Padres and Dodgers, who used free agents Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen last year; or teams like Boston, Toronto and Houston who didn’t have that one guy who got it done; or teams like the Phillies or Seattle that think they will compete better next year and could shift their current guy to a different role. What would a Padres or Dodgers team give for a year of Kimbrel? Adam Frazier, who was insurance against Fernando Tatis Jr.’s injury issues? Why wouldn’t the Padres keep him in case that happens again? Trading Kimbrel for the right return will probably depend on a lot of things outside the Sox control, like whether the Cardinals want top prospect Nolan Gorman to be their 2B and are willing to trade Tommy Edman, instead of just ending Paul DeJong’s increasingly lousy time as their SS by putting Gorman there…or the Padres losing Melancon and being willing to send Jake Cronenworth or Frazier for Kimbrel, because top prospect CJ Abrams is ready to take 2B and run with it and there’s no moving Eric Hosmer…or the Dodgers losing Jansen but keeping Corey Seager and the Sox being willing to take Gavin Lux on as an Andrew Vaugn-esque project in the majors…or, well, anything any team needs to sort out before they start dealing. Point being that Kimbrel might not be traded until late in the offseason or until the deadline, unless one of those teams just wants him because they want him. But also, they know the Sox are motivated. It is unfortunate, but the reality is that Nick Madrigal was probably traded for a few months of Kimbrel and a guy set to debut in 2024.
THE HOLE: Backup Catcher (and a guy that can nail runners)
Yeah…Zack Collins and Seby Zavala weren’t good. They were well below average at throwing runners out, 17% and 11% respectively (23% was league average). Collins also seemed to regress in blocking pitches and neither really distinguished themselves behind the plate in general. At the plate…woof. Seby was a bad hitter in the minors and Collins has yet to show at any time in the majors that he can actually hit. They are AAAA players that need to go. Replacing them should go off without a catch…
Well…if the concern is throwing runners out, Yas was too (19%) and in his career he’s generally been above the league average. Frankly it was discussed at length that Sox pitchers were brutal at holding runners on, and most of them remain deliberate to the plate even in running situations. That’s not the catchers’ fault. If there’s questions about being useful at the plate, it’s less of an issue unless Grandal gets hurt again. Expect that a veteran will make an appearance in spring training, and maybe it’ll be James McCann-like in catching lighting in a bottle. But really, the thing Tony seemed most irked at with his backups was calling the game, which is something that can be learned. They might just stick with Collins or Zavala if one shows up having a better feel for the pitchers and the league and shows better pitch calling in spring. Or it’ll be one of those veteran catchers that makes you go…huh.
LIST O’ TRADE BAIT.
Trades being the likely early run in the offseason due to CBA uncertainty, it stands to reason that there’s a pecking order of who is tradeable, who should be traded, and who is untouchable. Here, by position group, is how they are pecked:
UNTOUCHABLE: Lucas Giolito, Liam Hendriks, Lance Lynn, Aaron Bummer. These guys are too valuable to the team. No one is offering enough to pry them away. Lynn was just extended, Giolito is the ace, and Bummer and Hendriks are the bullpen aces.
TRADEABLE, BLOCKBUSTER LEVEL: Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Garrett Crochet. I mean, for a huge return you’d include one of these guys, but we’re talking getting a bona fide Ace back in return, or a legit star player. For instance, you wouldn’t necessarily trade one of these guys for Sonny Gray straight…but if the Phillies offered Zack Wheeler or Bryce Harper then there’s reason to move one of these guys.
ON THE BLOCK: Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo Lopez. They are available, and maybe in a “take what you can get” way with Keuchel. Kimbrel is all but gone, Keuchel might depend on whether the Sox add to the rotation. In both cases if they rebuild their value by starting 2022 on the Southside, they could just stay. Lopez rebuilt his value, but he’s maybe more useful in the swing role again unless he can help net an RF or 2B.
NO VALUE: Matt Foster, Jimmy Cordero, Evan Marshall, Jace Fry, Jimmy Lambert, Jonathan Steivers. Lambert and Steivers are still prospects but didn’t exactly distinguish themselves this year. Of the rest, Ruiz had a good year but is just a guy and won’t bring back anything more useful than himself. Marshall and Cordero were hurt, Fry and Foster were bad.
UNTOUCHABLE: Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson. This is actually something of a misnomer because TA and Pito aren’t at a level where their production is irreplaceable, they just mean too much to the locker room to swap in another slugging 1B and another of the proliferation of star-level SS. They also have some value issues in that regard on the market, where Jose as an aging RBI machine has value, but not enough will come back to warrant taking him off the Sox. With Anderson, the issue is more that teams all over the MLB tend to have one of their best players at SS, and the teams that aren’t set there, say the Yankees or Reds for instance, would do better to throw money at Corey Seager, Trevor Story, or Carlos Correa this spring. The Sox also lack a viable TA replacement, and you don’t trade the face that runs the place to make way for Danny Mendick.
TRADEABLE, BLOCKBUSTER LEVEL: Yoan Moncada. Moncada is a damn good player who, if he repeats 2019, can be a damn great one. Which is why you’d have to bowl the Sox over to move him, and why he’s almost certainly staying. Let’s say that the Diamondbacks make Ketel Marte, and David Peralta available; Marte solves 2B and Peralta solves RF with a star (statistically similar to Moncada) and a very solid vet respectively, while Andrew Vaughn and Jake Burger get to stake their claim to 3B for the Sox. The Sox don’t make that trade. But given something even bigger? Moncada simply has the value on the market to be the centerpiece of a Godfather deal.
ON THE BLOCK: Jake Burger, Gavin Sheets…Andrew Vaughn? I don’t think any of these three are being shopped or should be shopped. But if there’s a move that brings an established veteran to fill 2B, Rf or upgrade pitching, these guys aren’t untouchable and aren’t irreplaceable. Vaughn should blossom into a much better hitter than he’s shown and may yet find a home on the field. I list him here (and Sheets) because they are really 1B’s playing OF. Of the three, Vaughn is the enigma in that he either brings home a bigger piece or needs to build value, depending on whether a team looks at his pedigree and draft status as a prospect, or puts more into his 182 professional games. Sheets is also a guy that is the lefty power that the Sox have been seeking, and as a DH or fill-in at first and right maybe has more value here than what he might bring in. Jake is a great story, showed well at AAA and in limited time in the majors, but he’s not enough for a Ketel Marte and could be viewed as maybe too much for 1 year of a David Peralta. He’s blocked at 3B and needs to learn a new trick to be on the Sox, but he’s the 6th best prospect on MLB Pipeline’s list of 3B and a team in need could be willing to roll the dice for some good value. It’ll be about finding that need.
NO VALUE: Danny Mendick, Romy Gonzalez. Romy is less of a prospect than Burger, and isn’t exciting enough to bring back any huge value. He could be part of a package, maybe. No knock on Danny Mendick but he’s useful as a utility guy and there’s many of those around.
UNTOUCHABLE: Eloy Jiminez, Luis Robert. Eloy will rebound with some more rest and building back up, and he’s too big of a bat to trade now, especially if there’s any thought that he merits a discount due to injury and a little bit of a down year. Robert? No. Just, no.
TRADEABLE, BLOCKBUSTER LEVEL: Yoelquis Cespedes. He’s not been in the majors yet, but if he’s traded at this point with the potential that’s there, it would need to be for something big. It stands to more reason that the Sox would find a stopgap for RF and look to Cespedes as the next wave. He’s the only true prospect on this list as far as no MLB experience. That’s mainly because the expectation is there that he is the long term answer to the RF hole, and actually, makes a case for being a part of the 2022 Sox at some point. He’s not a top 100 MLB prospect so he’s not going to headline a blockbuster, but for the Sox purposes it isn’t likely that he’s traded unless it is part of something major.
ON THE BLOCK: Adam Engel, Micker Adolfo. Assuming teams will see that the injury issue was what held him down, Engel still has an attractive enough profile as a CF that a team could bite. Really, though, the Sox at worst have a really good 4th OF in Engel and to the extent that they end up going bat first in RF and need some defense late in games, Engel is worth keeping on the Southside. Micker has yet to really arrive in the minors. He has power, and the strikeouts to go with them, but he has power and power. Teams want that power, and even though the Sox could use his power, if Micker brings in a more seasoned RF or a good 2B or pitching, that’s more help to the Sox. Right now, he’s Diet Eloy…and that could be enough to bring back a key piece of 2022.
NO VALUE: Blake Rutherford. A .726 career OPS in the minors but with all of the strikeouts associated with a power hitter isn’t really something you trade so much as release. He’s on the 40-man and there was no one else to put here.
UNTOUCHABLE: Yasmani Grandal. There’s just no replacing the guy.
NO VALUE: Seby Zavala, Zack Collins. Not much to say here. They aren’t anyone’s future, though both could end up being in the league for an oddly long time as backups.
So you want to build a trade package? You’re looking at Kimbrel, Keuchel, Lopez, Sheets, Burger, Vaughn(?), Engel and Adolfo. Otherwise you’re looking to prospects, and the Sox have no prospects in the MLB Pipeline Top 100. That means that they are not bringing back anything of major value. You can trade Moncada, Cease, Kopech…but there’s not an obvious deal there where their subtraction makes the White Sox World Series favorites, and that might be trading one hole for another. Even Vaughn and Sheets have such value to the 2022 White Sox and likely beyond that it would need to be a similar long-term value in return. So the Sox are left with the maybe back to form Reynaldo Lopez, the hopefully valued like an HOF Closer Craig Kimbrel, a probably reduced value Dallas Keuchel and Adam Engel, and minor league bats in Jake Burger and Micker Adolfo. That’s not a list that screams for major star power in return. It isn’t crazy to think that Rick Hahn will want to make a splash and retool the lineup or the starting staff, but it has to be championship-caliber and MLB ready now. If and when the Sox make a trade, as a fan, be prepped that the list of guys that can be done without won’t get it done, and someone you really like is leaving the team.