The White Sox announced a series of roster moves today, reinstating right-hander Mike Clevinger and infielder Elvis Andrus from the injured list. In corresponding moves, they optioned right-hander Jesse Scholtens and designated infielder Hanser Alberto for assignment.
The White Sox haven’t had a good solution for second base for most of the year. Andrus was signed with the idea of slotting him next to Tim Anderson but Anderson ended up missing most of April due to a knee sprain. Andrus slid over to short to cover for him but hit just .201/.280/.254 before going on the IL himself due to an oblique strain about three weeks ago.
With Andrus out of action of late, the club has tried a couple of different players. Jake Burger had been playing third base, covering for the injured Yoán Moncada, and hit well enough that the club has considered moving him over to second base now that Moncada is back. He has 11 home runs in 40 games this year and an overall batting line of .270/.314/.603, leading to a 145 wRC+. Given that output, it’s unsurprising that the club wants his bat in the lineup, but he’s still only been entrusted with two innings at the keystone so far this year. Another option is Romy González, who had a terrible start to the season but has been on fire lately. He had a dismal .103/.103/.103 line through April 25 but has hit .286/.295/.667 since that time.
Manager Pedro Grifol recently spoke to James Fegan of The Athletic about the situation, essentially saying that the club will try to ride the hot hand. “I don’t think I’m going to be mixing and matching at second base,” Grifol said. “We need to win baseball games so if somebody’s playing as well as Romy (Gonzalez) is playing, then he’s going to play. If Elvis comes in and he does what he can do, then he’s going to play. Those are conversations that I’ll have with whoever’s involved and we’re going to put the best team on the field that’s going to help us win a baseball game every day.”
With the club suddenly juggling multiple options for the second base position, it has squeezed Alberto out of the picture. Signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, he made the club’s Opening Day roster to serve as a bench piece. He has since played in 30 games for the club, around a two-week IL stint due to a quad strain, but has hit just .220/.261/.390. That’s not too far off from his career line of .269/.292/.381, but it seems the Sox will roll with the younger and more exciting players in Burger and González.
The Sox will now have a week to trade Alberto or pass him through waivers. He has more than enough service time to reject an outright assignment and retain his $2.3MM salary. Given that financial commitment and his tepid production this season, it seems likely he simply ends up released in the coming days.