White Sox outfielder Micker Adolfo has been generating trade interest in recent days, tweets MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. The out-of-options Adolfo has, somewhat remarkably, ranked among the organization’s top 30 prospects at Baseball America for eight straight seasons. Since signing as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, Adolfo has slowly risen through the South Siders’ system, though injuries and the canceled 2020 minor league season have slowed his ultimate path to the big leagues. Adolfo has twice undergone right elbow surgery, including Tommy John surgery in 2018.
Now 25 years old, Adolfo split the 2021 season between Double-A and Triple-A, where he slashed a combined .245/.311/.520 with 25 home runs, 24 doubles and a triple. There’s little doubting Adolfo’s prodigious raw power. FanGraphs gives him 70 power on the 20-80 scale, while, MLB.com notes that even after the Sox’ signings of Oscar Colas and Yoelqui Cespedes, Adolfo might have the most raw power in the system. That said, Adolfo’s hit tool is lagging quite a bit behind his power. He’s fanned in a jarring 33.1% of his plate appearances, including a combined 34.1% in Double-A and Triple-A last year.
Chicago doesn’t have much room in its outfield mix for the 6’4″, 225-pound Adolfo, so trade speculation is only natural. Like Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, AJ Pollock, Adam Engel and Andrew Vaughn, Adolfo is a right-handed hitter. MLB.com touts his plus-plus (70) arm strength but notes that he doesn’t have the speed or range to handle center, likely relegating him to corner work.
There are plenty of clubs that could roll the dice on a slugging left or right fielder, and given Adolfo’s lack of options, some form of deal involving him indeed seems likely. The Sox would have to designate him for assignment and pass him and attempt to pass him through waivers before they’d be able to assign him to Triple-A Charlotte. Adolfo likely wouldn’t command a huge return for the Sox, but clubs like the Padres and Guardians, for instance, are known to be looking for some corner outfield help. It’d also make sense for rebuilding or retooling teams to take a look at Adolfo and see whether that power might outweigh the strikeouts at the MLB level. The Orioles, Pirates, Rangers and Nationals ought to at least have a bench spot available.
A move involving Adolfo seems all the more likely given that it became clear last night the Sox would need at least one additional spot on the 40-man roster. That spot will go to eight-year minor league veteran Tanner Banks, a 30-year-old left-hander whom the Sox drafted back in 2014 and has been informed he’s made his first big league roster (as first reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale).
Assistant general manager Chris Getz told reporters last night that Banks has seen a velocity jump this spring and is now sitting at 94 mph with his heater (Twitter link via James Fegan of The Athletic). With some extra life on his heater, a strong spring showing (two runs in 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks), and a newfound need for some bullpen lefties following Garrett Crochet’s looming Tommy John surgery, Banks finds himself on the cusp of making his big league debut.
The Sox can, of course, just move Crochet to the 60-day injured list to open a 40-man spot, but Banks probably isn’t the only player for whom the Sox will need to open a 40-man spot. Veteran righty Kyle Crick, per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times, appears ticketed for the big league bullpen and will need to have his contract formally selected to the 40-man roster himself.
Crick, 29, had a big showing with the White Sox’ Triple-A affiliate last year — one run in 10 1/3 innings with a 15-to-3 K/BB ratio — but didn’t make the Majors. He re-upped with the ChiSox on a minor league pact this winter and has continued that impressive showing in Cactus League play, ratting off seven shutout innings with just one hit and two walks allowed against five punchouts.
Formerly the No. 49 overall pick in the 2011 draft (Giants), Crick went to the Pirates alongside Bryan Reynolds in San Francisco’s ill-fated trade for Andrew McCutchen (a Pirates heist that is often overshadowed by Pittsburgh’s own regrettable Chris Archer swap). He had four mostly solid seasons in the Pittsburgh bullpen, working to a 3.62 ERA with a 25% strikeout rate but a bloated 13% walk rate. He’ll get a chance with the Sox to show that the command gains he’s displayed in Charlotte last season and so far in Cactus League play can be sustained at the MLB level. If that’s the case, Crick has the stuff to serve as an important bullpen piece for Tony La Russa — one who can be controlled through the 2023 season as he still has only four-plus years of Major League service time and would be arbitration-eligible next winter.