11:38am: The White Sox announced that they have indeed recalled Burger from Triple-A Charlotte. Chicago has also reinstated Adam Eaton from the injured list. In a pair of corresponding roster moves, they’ve optioned righty Zack Burdi and, most notably, designated hitter Yermin Mercedes.
The 28-year-old Mercedes was the talk of baseball when he started the season 8-for-8 and generally decimated big league pitching for the first six weeks of the season. Mercedes batted .368/.417/.571 through the season’s first 38 games, producing at a Herculean level even as hitters throughout the league struggled so extensively that MLB finally began to crack down on pitchers’ use of foreign substances.
In his next 31 games, however, Mercedes has seen his offensive production completely evaporate. The endpoint here, admittedly, is rather arbitrary, but Mercedes is hitting just .150/.220/.196 across his past 118 plate appearances. Understandably, the Sox have begun to cut back on his playing time, and he’s now Charlotte-bound, where the team will hope he can get a reset of sorts to round back into the form he displayed early in the 2021 campaign.
11:00am: The White Sox are calling up infield prospect Jake Burger for his big league debut today, tweets The Athletic’s James Fegan. Scott Merkin of MLB.com suggested last night (via Twitter) that Burger was likely to be with the club in Detroit this weekend, and the White Sox themselves have even tweeted a not-so-subtle indication that Burger is getting the call — though they’ve yet to make a formal announcement and reveal the corresponding roster moves.
It’s the culmination of a remarkable journey for the 2017 first-rounder, who has twice torn his Achilles tendon and endured grueling, months-long rehabilitations. Burger didn’t play in a single minor league game from 2018-19 (or in 2020, for obvious reasons). Making the jump from Class-A to Triple-A after a three-year layoff from competitive games is impressive in itself, but Burger has done far more than simply make that leap — he’s absolutely torn Triple-A pitching apart. In 185 plate appearances over 42 games, the former No. 11 overall pick has mashed at a .322/.368/.596 clip, swatting 10 homers, 15 doubles and a triple along the way.
Burger only recently turned 25, so despite the considerable injury hurdles he’s had to clear in his journey to this point, his age lines up nicely with the rest of an increasingly impressive core of young White Sox stars. He’s played primarily third base in the minor leagues, but the Sox began getting him some looks at second base when Nick Madrigal went down with a season-ending hamstring tear. For the time being, however, Burger could get a look at his primary position at the hot corner, as Yoan Moncada sustained a hand injury on a slide into third base yesterday.
Burger’s early performance could be pivotal for the White Sox. While they’re comfortably in command of the American League Central, they’ve still reportedly been discussing a trade centering around D-backs infielder Eduardo Escobar. While those talks have apparently slowed as other teams jump into the Escobar bidding, Burger’s performance could conceivably curb Chicago’s own interest.
If Burger storms out to a hot start and Moncada comes back healthy sooner than later, the Sox could just let Burger run with the second base role and forgo an infield upgrade entirely. Conversely, if Burger looks overmatched, the Sox might be more interested in pursuing a short-term upgrade at a clear position of need on a win-now club — be it Escobar or another trade candidate.