The White Sox have already filled a corner outfield spot by acquiring Nomar Mazara in a trade and added some notable salary by inking Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez as free agents. Despite that slate of moves, however, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweets that the ChiSox are still interested in bringing free-agent slugger Nicholas Castellanos into the fold.
Morosi suggests that the White Sox are comfortable with their payroll continuing to grow. He lists the team’s current obligations as close to $100MM, though that seemingly isn’t accounting for pre-arbitration players; Jason Martinez of Roster Resource has the club currently projected at just over $112MM, including Keuchel and Gonzalez — neither of whom has been formally announced by the team.
Regardless, it certainly would seem as though the Sox have the payroll capacity to fit Castellanos into the budget. The White Sox’ previous record for Opening Day payroll came back in 2011 when they approached $128MM, and the team’s clear shift from rebuild to win-now mode has naturally been accompanied by expectations of greater spending. They’ll also see Alex Colome, James McCann and Kelvin Herrera come off the books next season, so there’s ample space down the road as well.
With the Sox, Castellanos, Mazara and Eloy Jimenez could seemingly be rotated through the corner outfield spots and designated hitter in an effort to keep all three fresh. None of the bunch is capable of playing center field, even in a pinch, although top prospect Luis Robert is looming in the upper minors and should get his first look at the big leagues in 2020. With Robert and top second base prospect Nick Madrigal both believed to be on the cusp of MLB promotions, it’s certainly arguable that adding another potent bat to step in at designated hitter is a greater need than adding insurance in center field or at second base.
That said, the White Sox surely aren’t the only ones still vying for Castellanos and arguably don’t have as acute a need as some rival clubs. The Rangers, for instance, have been aggressive in reshaping their pitching staff but haven’t done anything to upgrade their lineup. The Reds have added Mike Moustakas but have reportedly been in the market for an outfielder since, so Castellanos would still seem to fit the bill there as well. Other clubs, including the Giants, D-backs and Cubs have all been linked to Castellanos to varying extents, although the Cubs seemingly aren’t going to spend at anywhere near the level it would take to bring Castellanos back to Wrigley Field.