The White Sox have made a couple notable free agent moves this offseason. Andrew Benintendi was brought in on a five-year, $75MM pact to solidify the corner outfield and ensure Andrew Vaughn heads to his natural first base position. Mike Clevinger inked a bounceback deal to add some depth to the back of the starting staff.
One position the White Sox haven’t addressed thus far is second base. The keystone was a question mark last year, with five players logging at least five appearances there. Josh Harrison and Danny Mendick are gone, with Chicago declining a club option on the former and non-tendering the latter. That leaves a trio of last year’s options who stand as the top in-house candidates for reps.
- Romy González (26): González made his MLB debut in 2021 with 10 appearances, and he got into 32 more games last season. Between those two years, he’s mustered just a .241/.261/.350 line through his first 142 MLB plate appearances. The right-handed hitter has connected on two home runs with well worse than average strikeout and walk numbers. He’s walked in just 2.1% of his trips against a 35.2% strikeout percentage. It was a fairly similar story with Triple-A Charlotte last year, where González punched out a third of the time en route to a .198/.281/.339 line over 33 games. He’d hit better in Double-A the year before, connecting on 20 homers in 78 contests in a pitcher-friendly environment — albeit with a 28.2% strikeout rate. González has some power upside but serious contact concerns against upper level pitching.
- Leury García (32): García is an organizational favorite who’s headed into his tenth season with the club. He’s defensively versatile and has clearly endeared himself to multiple coaching staffs and the front office, culminating in a surprising three-year free agent deal last offseason. The switch-hitter has just a .253/.293/.350 career line at the big league level, though. Things were even worse in 2022, as he hit .210/.233/.267 over 315 trips to the plate. It’s hard to envision a win-now club counting on him as an everyday player, although he figures to play a multi-positional role off the bench.
- Lenyn Sosa (23): Sosa has almost no MLB experience. He earned his first big league promotion in June and wound up appearing in 11 games the rest of the way. The Venezuela native is coming off an excellent season in the high minors. He hit well at both Double-A and Triple-A, combining for a .315/.369/.511 line with 22 home runs through 536 plate appearances. While Sosa only walked at a modest 7.3% clip, he kept his strikeout rate under 16%. One can’t be certain he’ll continue at that pace against MLB arms until he proves it at the highest level, of course. Sosa ranks 10th among White Sox prospects at Baseball America and may have the most upside of this trio, though there’d be plenty of risk for a team hoping to compete for a division title in turning the keystone over to him immediately.
The Sox have a few other infield options on the 40-man roster but none seems likely to step into the second base void. Chicago has toyed with the idea of playing Jake Burger at the keystone. He’s a better fit for the corner infield and only saw five innings of MLB action at second base last season. Jose Rodriguez and Bryan Ramos were each added to the 40-man after the 2022 season to keep them out of the Rule 5 draft; neither has any MLB experience to date. Yoán Moncada has played second base in the past, but the White Sox have deployed him exclusively at third base for the past four seasons. It doesn’t seem they’re considering moving him back to the middle infield.
Given the lack of an obvious internal solution, it’s unsurprising the club is open to bringing in help from outside the organization. General manager Rick Hahn told reporters yesterday the club could add at second base, though he indicated they were confident enough in González and Sosa they don’t consider that a necessity (via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times). Their early-offseason activity has seemed to align with that expressed confidence, since they’ve watched the free agent middle infield market mostly dry up.
The remaining options on the open market are headlined by Elvis Andrus, who closed out the 2022 campaign with the White Sox after being released by the A’s. The veteran has only ever played shortstop in his MLB career, as he filled in there with Tim Anderson injured late last season. Perhaps Andrus is uninterested in moving to second base, though it stands to reason he’d be able to handle the position if willing to kick to the other side of the bag. Harrison is probably the next-best unsigned middle infielder. The Sox presumably don’t view him as a notable upgrade over their in-house options considering they declined to retain him on what amounted to a $4MM decision at the start of the offseason.
If not Andrus, that’d probably leave Hahn and his staff looking to the trade market. Any specific trade targets for the Chicago front office aren’t publicly known, although a few players stand out as speculative possibilities. The Blue Jays have a number of second base options and might be amenable to parting with Cavan Biggio or Santiago Espinal. The Marlins have relegated Joey Wendle and Jon Berti to utility duty after signing Jean Segura. If the Mets indeed finalize their deal with Carlos Correa, maybe they’d deal old friend Eduardo Escobar somewhere with a clearer path to playing time.
The A’s would presumably consider offers on Tony Kemp. That’s likely also the case for the Cubs and former White Sox Nick Madrigal, who lost his starting job after they signed Dansby Swanson to push Nico Hoerner to the keystone. Longer-shot trade candidates include Ha-Seong Kim and Gleyber Torres, although the White Sox might have to dip further than they feel comfortable into a shallow farm system to land either of those players. The same is true of Nolan Gorman, who debuted for the Cardinals last season but could be available in a deal that lands St. Louis immediate MLB help in another area. That’s not an exhaustive list but highlights a few players the Chicago front office could check in on.
Figuring out second base is presumably the top priority for Hahn and his group. Even if the front office genuinely is confident in González and/or Sosa to step up, adding a veteran complement as insurance for that unproven duo makes sense. The organization might not have much more spending capacity after the Benintendi signing. None of the remaining free agent options should break the bank, though, while a player like Espinal or Berti projected for a fairly modest arbitration salary shouldn’t be difficult to fit onto the books.