The White Sox are “currently planning to keep” closer Alex Colome rather than shipping him out of town today, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Colome checked in at the #26 spot on MLBTR’s recent ranking of the top 75 trade candidates in baseball.
Colome has all the outward signs of a top trade target. The 30-year-old carries a 2.21 ERA and has racked up 21 saves in his 40 2/3 frames on the season, and still possesses mid-nineties heat.
Otherwise, however, he hasn’t been very impressive in 2019. Colome’s combination of 7.1 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 and a 44.8% groundball rate looks more like that of a common middle-reliever. He surely deserves some credit for holding opponents to an anemic .147 batting average on balls in play, but Statcast figures suggest quite the opposite. Colome carries a .324 xwOBA based upon the quality of contact against him, well north of the .223 wOBA that batters have produced.
As ever, contract rights matter quite a bit as well. Colome is earning $7.325MM this year with one more arbitration season yet to come. That’s an appealing situation for a lock-down closer, but seems quite pricey if that’s not how you value Colome. Indeed, the low ERA and lofty save totals he’s accruing this year also promise to raise his salary quite a bit in 2020.
In the aggregate, it’s not especially surprising to hear that interest isn’t building to a crescendo on deadline day. True, the White Sox’ postseason hopes are dim. And Nightengale says that the South Siders have fielded interest from “plenty of teams.” But the club wants a reliable ninth-inning arm for 2020 and already paid a fairly heavy price for Colome. (In addition to the salary, the cheap and controllable Omar Narvaez is raking in Seattle.) Rather than swinging a trade and going out to find a replacement this fall, the Chicago organization will seemingly hang tight and keep the known quantity.