It’s obviously no surprise to see the White Sox lining up as sellers as the trade deadline approaches. Chicago dealt away two of its three best assets over the winter in Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and has fallen into the AL Central basement after a decent start to the year.
Rival teams have had plenty of time to peruse the White Sox roster in anticipation of summer dealmaking. Here’s how it looks at present:
Todd Frazier, 3B | Salary: $12MM
Though his overall output hasn’t been great this year (or last), Frazier has hit much better of late (.256/.368/.533 in his last 106 plate appearances). His ultimate trade value will hinge upon his performance over the next month and a half, as well as the shape of the market. Demand at third base remains an open question, and there could be some competition if players like Mike Moustakas and David Freese are marketed.
Melky Cabrera, OF/DH | Salary: $15MM
The Melk Man is also trending up after a poor start to the season, and he is also playing on the backdrop of a strong 2016 campaign at the plate. Of course, he’s also earning at a very healthy rate and is rather a poor baserunner and fielder, so there are very real limits to the levels of interest that might be anticipated even if the bat keeps producing.
Anthony Swarzak, RP | Salary: $900K
Plenty of pitchers end up with surprisingly good earned run averages over short samples, but Swarzak was also showing impressive peripherals early on. That has all come to a halt more recently, but that’s not to say that Swarzak won’t still hold some appeal at the trade deadline — especially if he can turn it back on a bit (and particularly for organizations that don’t want to take on salary).
Miguel Gonzalez, SP | Salary: $5.9MM
Gonzalez has allowed a dozen home runs in as many starts and has only managed 5.1 K/9 on the year. Perhaps it’s more likely at this point that he ends up holding down the fort for the rest of the year in Chicago, which may have some innings to account for if other pitchers are dealt.
Derek Holland, SP | Salary: $6MM
While Holland has fared rather well in the earned-run department, allowing 3.79 per nine innings through 73 2/3 frames on the year, there’s also quite a lot of reason for skepticism. ERA estimators are not buying it — 5.35 FIP; 5.08 xFIP; 4.87 SIERA — but perhaps another organization could see cause to add Holland for rotation depth down the stretch.
Mike Pelfrey, SP | Salary: $535K (balance of $8MM salary owed by Tigers)
Like Holland, a palatable (3.88) ERA is masking some bigger issues. The veteran carries just 5.4 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 on the year and has benefited from a .260 batting average on balls in play.
Controlled Through 2018
David Robertson, RP | Salary: $12MM in 2017; $13MM in 2018
The dollars seem increasingly palatable for Robertson, who may end up being the best-performing closer available at the deadline. He has managed to tamp down on last year’s walk issues while running at a career-best 16.6% swinging strike rate. The Sox will likely be willing to hang onto some salary in order to increase the prospect return, which could result in some interesting trade possibilities.
James Shields, SP | Salary: $10MM in 2017; $10MM in 2018 (remainder of $44MM guarantee through 2019 owed by Padres)
The veteran righty proved an ill-advised early trade acquisition last summer for the South Siders. Though he managed a 1.62 ERA through his first three starts of the current season, Shields’s growing control problems worsened and he was clearly benefiting from some good fortune (.150 BABIP; 100% strand rate). Since then, he has been shelved with a lat strain. Shields will return this weekend, though, so he’ll have some time to show off for possible suitors.
This is where things get really interesting for Chicago. Quintana has long been discussed as a significant trade piece, but the White Sox held off on making a deal over the winter in hopes of finding a better return this summer. A rather poor start to the season from Quintana may have scuttled those hopes, though it’s still possible to imagine something coming together if he returns to form over the next six weeks.
It’s tough to gauge the outlook for Abreu, a 30-year-old slugger who’s controlled through 2019. He isn’t going to be particularly cheap now that he has opted into arbitration, and it’s not clear that there’ll be a ton of demand for non-premier first basemen. Abreu is hitting well — .289/.343/.472 with ten home runs through 268 plate appearances — but that’s not the kind of top-end output that would motivate a team to give up significant young assets when more affordable rental players can likely be found.
Garcia, meanwhile, has played himself into an interesting situation. He’s owed just $3MM this year with two more years of control remaining and only just turned 26. While the deeper track record is filled with question marks, he’s slashing /333/.373/.551 through 249 trips to the plate. Of course, Garcia is walking less than ever (3.6%) and is benefiting from a .402 BABIP, so rival organizations will maintain some healthy skepticism.
It’s more likely that the Sox will retain the cheap and controllable Kahnle, who has broken out with a 1.42 ERA and ridiculous 17.2% swinging-strike rate this year, though it’s always possible that the opportunity to cash in on a reliever would be taken. (Fellow setup man Nate Jones looked like a possible trade chip, though he has been out long enough with an elbow injury that it no longer seems very likely.) As for Garcia, who will reach arbitration eligibility next year, it’s questionable whether he can sustain anything like his current .300/.349/.461 output. But he is a solid all-around player who has rated well in center this year and can also play the middle infield, so he could be quite a useful piece for a contender.