At 12-11, the White Sox currently sit three games back of the Twins for the division lead. They’re one and a half games behind the Indians for second place in the American League Central. As things stand, they’d squeak into the postseason as an eight seed in MLB’s expanded 2020 playoff format, but the organization that spent $169MM in free agency and $168MM on extensions for young talent surely has its sights set a bit higher. Barring some form of collapse in the next couple weeks, the ChiSox will be looking to add pieces at this year’s deadline, but GM Rick Hahn said last night that rental players won’t be his focus (Twitter link via Scott Merkin of MLB.com).
It’s an understandable outlook, given that the South Siders are only in their first season of attempting to emerge from a lengthy rebuilding process. The early returns look promising, as young players like Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson have fueled a strong offense. There’s work to be done on the pitching side yet — particularly in the rotation — but the Sox clearly aren’t interested in parting with any young talent for a one-off shot at the postseason in a bizarre 2020 campaign. Many fringe contenders could feel similarly, opting instead to focus on players who can help them at least in 2021, if not longer.
A few more notes on the ChiSox…
- Hahn also gave strong indications yesterday that pitching prospect Dane Dunning could be called on for his MLB debut against the Tigers Wednesday (link via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times). The GM cautioned that he prefers not to announce roster moves until the day they happen so as to avoid unforeseen circumstances necessitating a change of plans, but he followed shortly thereafter with an acknowledgement that Dunning is firmly in the mix as an option. “I know Detroit’s throwing Casey Mize, which will be fun to see,” said Hahn. “And we are certainly having conversations about one of our good young arms, like Dane Dunning, coming to make that start.” Dunning, 25, ranked among MLB’s 100 best prospects but underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and hasn’t pitched in a regular-season game since. He’s been working out and pitching in intrasquad games at the team’s alternate training site, however. The righty owns a career 2.94 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 429 minor league frames since being drafted by the Nationals with the No. 29 overall pick in 2016. The White Sox acquired him in the trade that sent Adam Eaton to D.C.
- Yasmani Grandal exited last night’s game with stiffness in his lower back after fielding a ball in front of home plate, Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago writes. There’s no indication to this point of how much time he’s expected to miss. The Sox have a much better backup options than many other clubs in the form of James McCann, who is out to a blistering .333/.400/.583 slash with three dingers through 40 plate appearances. That said, Grandal was the centerpiece of the White Sox’s offseason free-agent spree and offers superior defensive and framing chops to McCann. Grandal is off to a slower start in terms of hitting for power but has walked in 17 percent of his plate appearances, helping him to a .346 OBP. Duber notes that he’s also been plagued by a nagging foot issue as well, so perhaps a few days down would do him some good. Grandal has been in the Sox’ lineup early every day, spending time at DH and first base when he’s not catching.