It’s been long suspected that the Athletics were going to undergo a roster teardown after the lockout. Those predictions have been coming true in recent days, as the club has already traded Chris Bassitt to the Mets and Matt Olson to the Braves. Among their most likely trade candidates, they still have third baseman Matt Chapman, along with starting pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas. When it comes to those pitchers, the White Sox are among the teams interested, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
The Pale Hose already have an excellent front three in their rotation with Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease. However, there are some question marks in the backend. For one, Dallas Keuchel had a rough season last year, throwing 162 innings with an ERA of 5.28. As for Michael Kopech, he missed most of 2018 and all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery and then opted out of the 2020 pandemic season. Last year was mostly about getting him re-acclimated to pitching and building up his arm strength. While he fared well, putting up an ERA of 3.50, he only amassed 69 1/3 innings. While he may be able to handle a starter’s workload this year, it’s certainly not a sure thing.
In terms of depth, the club has Jonathan Stiever and Jimmy Lambert on the 40-man. Both are optionable and likely to be in Triple-A until an injury creates a need for their services. Vince Velasquez was also just signed to bolster the depth, perhaps serving as a long man out of the bullpen to start the year.
Adding Manaea or Montas to this group and bumping everyone down a peg would surely bolster the staff as a whole. Manaea pitched 179 1/3 innings last year with a 3.91 ERA, 25.7% strikeout rate and 5.4% walk rate. He’s scheduled to hit free agency at the end of the season and is projected to earn a salary of $10.2MM, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Montas, meanwhile, tossed 187 frames with a 3.37 ERA, 26.6% strikeout rate and 7.3% walk rate. He’s projected for a $5.2MM salary and comes with an extra year of control.
One obstacle the White Sox might face is their farm system, or lack thereof. On Baseball America’s most recent Organization Talent Rankings, the club’s system came dead last. In order to pull off a major trade, they would have to further deplete what it already arguably the weakest system in the league.
However, the club will surely want to take advantage of what is a very strong MLB team that just made the postseason in back-t0-back seasons for the first time in their 120-year history. With the Twins and Guardians still aiming to compete and the Tigers making strong moves to emerge from a rebuild, the South Siders may be willing to take that hit to strike while their competitive window is wide open.