The White Sox have been one of the offseason’s busier clubs, and according to GM Rick Hahn, the South Siders may not be making more headline-grabbing transactions. While the Sox are taking a “never say never” approach to further opportunities and “various potential smaller additions” could potentially still occur, “we’re probably done with any major acquisitions,” Hahn told reporters (including NBC Sports Chicago’s Vinnie Duber).
“The nature of the job is you always feel like there’s one more addition you can make, so I’m probably never going to stand up here and say we’re finished,” Hahn said. “But in reality, I think the safe assumption is the bulk of our heavy lifting for this winter, at least, is over.”
The White Sox have erased any questions about whether the organization was willing or able to expand payroll, spending over $201MM on several new faces (i.e. Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion, Gio Gonzalez, Steve Cishek) and a familiar one in Jose Abreu, who first accepted the club’s one-year qualifying offer for the 2020 season and then inked an extension that will run through 2022. If those signings weren’t enough, the Pale Hose also acquired Nomar Mazara in a trade with the Rangers, and locked up star prospect Luis Robert to a long-term extension prior to Robert’s MLB debut.
These moves have already gone a long way to turning the White Sox from an also-ran with a 72-89 record in 2019 to a potential postseason contender in 2020. That said, there are a few areas that could still possibly be upgraded — Duber cites rotation and bullpen depth, as well as a potential platoon partner for Mazara and a more stable veteran to play second base. In regards to the latter position, Hahn did say to “ask me again on March 25” about the second base plan, which could hint that the Sox are still exploring second base options. For now, “some combination of Leury Garcia, Danny Mendick and Nick Madrigal” will handle the keystone.
Madrigal is one of Chicago’s top prospects, and a player expected to eventually take over the position at some point in the 2020 season. Madrigal is likely to begin the season at Triple-A for extra seasoning (and service time reasons), leaving the veteran Garcia and the rookie Mendick with the bulk of at-bats at least early in the season. Garcia has displayed average-to-solid glovework — depending on your defensive metric of choice — and not much hitting over his seven seasons and 1493 plate appearances for Chicago, while Mendick had some good numbers at Triple-A and even over his 16-game cup of coffee for the White Sox in 2019.
Despite the promise on hand, there isn’t a lot of certainty within the group, especially for a would-be contender. There are some interesting veteran second base options still hanging around the free agent market, and would potentially be had for a relatively low price at this late date in the offseason. Signing such a player to even a one-year deal could be a good investment, and it would lessen any pressure on Madrigal to immediately contribute in his first exposure to the big leagues.
Mazara appears to be Chicago’s first choice as the everyday right fielder, as Hahn said “our scouts and coaches think there’s more upside to” Mazara’s hitting potential. The former star prospect hit a middling .261/.320/.435 over his first 2189 Major League plate appearances, though Mazara is still only 24 and could benefit from a change of scenery. The White Sox have often been linked to Nicholas Castellanos this offseason, though it seems like the Sox will give Mazara a clear shot at right field rather than make another splashy addition.
Depending on how things shake out with right field, second base, or other positions over the first few months of the season, Hahn indicated that the White Sox are open to addressing any future needs at the trade deadline.