The White Sox announced today that they’ve placed center fielder Austin Jackson on the 15-day disabled list with a medial meniscus tear in his left knee. Jackson will undergo surgery to repair the injury and will miss a minimum of six weeks, GM Rick Hahn told reporters, including Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). Beyond that, Hayes tweets that Hahn informed the media that relievers Jake Petricka and Daniel Webb have undergone season-ending surgery. Webb had Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament, while Petricka required surgery to repair an impingement in his right hip. Outfielder Jason Coats has been recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take Jackson’s spot on the roster.
The loss of Jackson won’t subtract an overly productive bat from the club’s everyday lineup — Jackson is hitting .254/.318/.343 through 204 plate appearances — but it will thin the team’s outfield depth and deprive the Sox of their primary center fielder. Adam Eaton shifted over to center field for tonight’s contest and could very well take the reins at the position he frequented for the first four seasons of his big league career. Jackson had posted below-average defensive metrics in center this season, but Eaton rated as arguably the best defender in all of baseball while playing right field, so moving him off that position could be a detriment to the club’s overall outfield defense even if his work in center is a small step up from that of Jackson. Eaton, after all, also carries below-average Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating marks in center field for his career.
Petricka, 28, is a particularly big loss for the Chicago bullpen. While he’s hardly a shutdown reliever, the former second-round pick tallied 144 1/3 innings of 3.24 ERA ball across the 2013-15 seasons for the ChiSox and had averaged 64.5 appearances over the past two seasons. He’s been limited to eight innings this year, however, as a result of the hip injury that ultimately required surgery. Webb, meanwhile, opened the season in Triple-A and pitched just one inning in late April before landing on the disabled list with right flexor inflammation. While he struggled through the 2015 campaign (6.30 ERA in 30 innings), Webb was better in 2013-14, pitching to a 3.87 ERA in a combined 79 innings out of the bullpen. The hard-thrower averaged nearly 96 mph on his fastball in that 2013-14 span, but his heater was sitting at 92 mph in his lone big league appearance of the 2016 season (though he still managed to strike out the side).
While the Sox can stick with Coats and Avisail Garcia and cover right field internally, the team has shown a very proactive approach in attempting to right the ship after a hot start disintegrated into a .500 record. The South Siders have already picked up James Shields in a trade and designated Mat Latos for assignment, and earlier today the team promoted top shortstop prospect Tim Anderson from Triple-A and designated veteran Jimmy Rollins for assignment. The Sox have already been connected to both left-handed bats and bullpen help, so it’s reason to believe that these significant hits to their depth could push Hahn and his staff into further action on the trade market. Jay Bruce and, to a lesser extent, Carlos Gonzalez stand out as reasonable options on that would satisfy Chicago’s desire for a left-handed bat and fill the right field void left by Eaton. Alternatively, they could pursue a left-handed bat with center field experience such as San Diego’s Jon Jay. Petricka and Webb, while neither are exactly cornerstone relievers for the Sox, further deplete the organizational depth and could lead the Sox to pursue any of the considerable amount of relievers that are currently available or could become available on the trade market.