Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan address White Sox’ lack of MLB relievers

Considering the bullpen looked like the one area the White Sox would actively seek proven upgrades this winter, it’s pretty easy to explain Rick Hahn’s motivations for wedging his way into Thursday’s deal with the White Sox and Dodgers.

Here’s how the bullpen picture changed after acquiring Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan and $3 million for Jake Peter, in order of trustworthiness:

Before After
Nate Jones
Juan Minaya
Gregory Infante
Danny Farquhar
Aaron Bummer?
Thyago Vieira?
Nate Jones
Joakim Soria
Juan Minaya
Gregory Infante
Danny Farquhar
Luis Avilan
Aaron Bummer?

The White Sox received $1 million from the Royals, which takes care of Soria’s buyout for 2019. They also received $2 million from the Dodgers, which could take care of Avilan’s entire salary, as MLB Trade Rumors has him projected to make $2.3 million in his second arbitration year.

Soria was a whipping boy for Royals fans due to a homer-heavy 2016, but he stabilized last year by going to his changeup nearly one-third of the time. He’s probably a mid-leverage guy from here on out in most bullpens, but Soria could inflict some pain on his former fans with a renaissance, which is fun to think about. Avilan throws his changeup more often than his fastball, which fits with the White Sox’ m.o. of letting relievers throw their secondary pitch as their primary offering.

Simple accounting says the White Sox paid $9 million or so to get two MLB relievers. That’s better than the going rate in free agency, especially if the White Sox would’ve had to pay extra to lure relievers who know they might be dealt. If Soria and/or Avilan have a great half-season, nothing’s stopping the White Sox from flipping them the way they did several relievers last summer.

All in all, the Sox made good use of Jake Peter, the lone White Sox prospect involved in the deal, especially if you expected the Sox to lose him in the Rule 5 draft. Hahn said they liked Peter, but Yoan Moncada makes other second basemen expendable.

“Jake does have some versatility and is a quality baseball player but with that versatility, potentially becomes a valuable option for a big league roster in the future. Given that we have similar such players at the big league level and coming along behind Jake, it made it a little easier to part with someone we weren’t by any stretch looking to move, but was important to this deal.”

Peter was previously lost in the shuffle, but his path to the roster became a little more clear over the course of the year. Tyler Saladino slugged .229 last year while battling back problems and the White Sox cut Alen Hanson. If Yolmer Sanchez becomes the everyday third baseman, it’s easy to see another utility player being necessary, and I’d call Peter more interesting than Saladino. That doesn’t say as much as it used to, and similar players tend to shake loose from other organizations (see Hanson). Ryan Cordell can supposedly play third, too, if his back allows him to play at all.

If this goes the way it’s supposed to, the White Sox traded one superfluous middle-infield prospect to protect multiple relief prospects.

Avilan keeps the lefties in line. Aaron Bummer handled an aggressive series of promotions as well as anybody could expect for a 19th-round pick, but he could use more than five innings in Triple-A. Jace Fry’s career is off to a historically awful start, but the White Sox called him up because they were going to protect him anyway. He since responded with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League. Perhaps the White Sox will look to one of them to give Renteria a second lefty, but Farquhar’s changeup makes him a decent situational option among the righties.

Soria does the same down the line with guys like Thyago Vieira and maybe Zack Burdi (their availabilities might not overlap). That responsibility is just as much on Nate Jones, who missed most of 2017 with ulnar nerve repositioning surgery. Hahn expects Jones to be healthy, and such hope isn’t unfounded. That procedure is less critical than the two others he’s had. Then again, he’s had three surgeries, so who’s to say a fourth isn’t around the corner?

As the final “???” shows in the table above, the White Sox still have room to add an arm or two, and Hahn said additional depth remains a priority. That could mean another arm to come in a specific move, but I’m guessing the bulk of it will come when we look at the club’s non-roster spring training invitees. That’s how Swarzak joined the club last year.

I’m more interested in the Royals’ immediate plans. Cutting Soria’s $9 million salary could be part of an overall goal to lower payroll by shedding unnecessary veterans, but if there’s any truth to the Eric Hosmer rumors, such a trade also accommodates them toward that end.

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I like the move. Basically no risk and the reward is not forcing guys into the bullpen before they are ready. If they can be flipped, that’s just gravy. Thanks, Jim.

Patrick Nolan

It’s probably beneficial but I’m not crazy about it.

The White Sox have very little middle infield depth in their system. I was a proponent of having Peter replace Saladino outright on the roster to start the season. I may be higher on Peter than most, though.

Josh Nelson

I think that’s a fair reaction.

karkovice squad

If they need infield depth they can clearly always promote Grudzielanek.


Or call up an outfielder and have Leury focus on infield depth. If Leury’s hurt, sign some flotsam to fill innings. I’d take the risk that whatever value Soria and Avilan bring in performance/later trade return well outpaces Peter’s contributions going forward.

If Moncada and Anderson are injured, the Sox’ progress is slowed whether or not Jake Peter or his doppleganger Jake Petricka are playing or not. This is a low-risk move.


Well, he did say “clearly”…


what’s a clearly?


Clearly, you say? It’s obviously the second domino to fall in the Willie Harris comeback story.


I worry about the Curse of Willie Harris.

Willie Harris was around when the Sox won their only World Series of the last 100 years. They replaced him with Omar Vizquel, who did not win a championship with the Sox. In fact, Vizquel brings back some painful memories.

Bring back Willie!


I think it’s worth it.  Another year of Saladino while not contending, and then we have Yolmer to replace him with once we sign Machado (or another 3B) next offseason.  And if either reliever does well, they will probably bring back a prospect better than Peter at the deadline.


I think a lot of people need to be a lot more realistic about Yolmer. I am admittedly bearish on Yolmer and have been for a while now, but he had a OBP of .319 and a BABIP of .321 last year. Any sort of “bad” luck or regression makes him close to unplayable even with his outstanding glove.

Eagle Bones

He’s saying he would move Yolmer into a utility role, which seems like a pretty realistic future.


I am going to say that Saladino does not make the Opening Day roster.


I suspect you’re right.


It’s just a darned shame about Saladino’s back.  Third base certainly takes a toll on backs and I’m afraid it has ruined Saladino’s promising career.



I’ve been schooled a bit on that “other” WS site on Peter’s virtues. He wasn’t f,or whatever reason, somebody I had paid a lot of attention to. However, even with that, I like this move. Having a half-ass decent bullpen is going to help in any number of ways.

Ted Mulvey

Oh, clearly you mean

Un Perro

I think this trade has more ass-biting potential than most.  Peter showed some pop at Charlotte last year, and it isn’t hard to see his minor league track record translate into a league-average bat.  If that’s the case, they just traded away six years of a sound backup – something that isn’t easy to come by if Yolmer is traded.

That said, I’m pretty sure that a player just like Peter could be had for the RP acquired at the deadline, so the short term positives outweigh the possibility of regret for me.

Eagle Bones

Pretty much everyone shows pop in Charlotte.

karkovice squad

And sound backups/depth are fairly easy to acquire, even if currently in short supply in the Sox high minors.

How much do the Jake Peter fans bemoan the absence of Eduardo Escobar? That’s basically Peter’s ceiling and the Sox’ worst case scenario.

Patrick Nolan

Honestly? There were a couple years in there when Escobar would have helped a lot.

karkovice squad

But not enough to make the playoffs.

His real value is that they probably wouldn’t have traded for Lawrie. Yet Wendelken and Erwin aren’t really difference-makers,  either.


Un Perro

Yeah, but jumping from 6 HR in 541 PA to 13 in 516 PA?  And 4 of those 9 2017 AAA homers were away?  The pop can be attributed to his growth and changed mechanics.  It isn’t park factors.

mechanical turk

Though I wouldn’t say I’m more high on Peter than most, I agree with you.  (I would say I’m average on Peter because I’m average on every prospect because rather than form my own opinions which turn out to be things like “Brent Morel will be great” or “Mike Trout is overrated and I don’t see what the fuss is” I have opted to just use everyone else’s opinion.  If you’re loud enough on Peter I’ll probably be more inclined to agree.)  It’s a pretty meh trade, trading some guy for some other guys.  It’s a 2-for-1 deal which on the face is very promising, but the 2 is for now when the Sox aren’t contending and the 1 was for later when they might be.  It’s pretty tough!

Jim makes a good case too, though.  The White Sox went from 5(!) question marks in the bullpen to 1.  That means these two guys are basically as good as four, which is a lot more than one Jake Peter.  You’ve got to like those odds.


It’s kind of annoying that you can’t be made green here (yet, anyway). I suppose, though, it means you don’t need to bother with a REC account.

Reindeer Games

I suggest red, to match the site aesthetics and Jim’s previously stated desire for it to be added to the Sox unis.


I suggest black. After all, good posts wear black.


Solid analysis.  Rec.


I still treasure (and wear) my Morel hoodie Sox sweatshirt!


From a “we need to make sure there are at least four or five actual MLB arms in the bullpen” perspective, this move makes all the sense in the world. Improves the teams bullpen depth, should lower the number of pen meltdowns a few games, and is a good baseball move.

However, from a “we’ll flip ’em at the deadline” stand point, I don’t think it’s nearly as much of a home run. Soria has a good comp from last year: Swarzak. So if Soria can pitch as well as he did last year, I’d expect a return somewhat similar to that of what the Sox got for Swarzak, which was of course Ryan Cordell. Cordell had a FV of 45 put on him by Longenhagen last spring and preformed well at AAA (before the injury) for us to all safely assume he held the FV of 45.

Peter was given a FV of 40, but was coming off a so-so start at AAA; last year he hit much better across AA and AAA (hitting for more power than we’ve ever seen at AAA) but his K rate went up five points too. Considering age and assuming Peter’s power surge in AAA in ’17 was a bit fluky, I think his standing as a prospect has remained the same. And every org has a Jake Peter (though the fact the Dodgers wanted him worries me a little).

This is a long way of saying… I have no issue with the move and I would have pulled the trigger too because of how it helps the 2018 team, BUT the Sox are taking on more risk than I would like from a rebuilding stand point. From a purely 2018 major league team perspective, this deal was a no brainer: saves money, improves the pen. From a rebuilding stand point, the Sox are betting that they can turn Soria into a better prospect than Peter. And they may! But it’s a bigger risk than I would assumed they’d take on (and really all that I’m pointing out in a long winded way (sorry talking myself though this a bit while writing)).


I’m ignoring Luis Avilan which is unfair. However, his ceiling seems to be much lower than Soria’s and thus any return for him in a trade will be fairly uninteresting from a prospect stand point (imo).


In an era where postseason games feature approximately 15,009 pitching changes per inning, I don’t see why being a specialist limits your ceiling when you’ve shown signs of being incredibly good at that role.


Not to mention that Avilan is controllable for just as long as Soria for like 1/3 of the cost.

Patrick Nolan

I basically agree with this. The move is being praised most places I’ve seen, like the Sox just pulled a something-for-nothing situation. Andrew Friedman is not in the business of giving something for nothing.

Eagle Bones

Yeah I mean this isn’t some heist as the “Hahn does it again!” crowd seems to be crowing on Twitter, but I think it’s a fine move.

Patrick Nolan

The HahnBots really are something. Like, critically think about a transaction for a change instead of jumping through hoops like a playful dog every time a move gets made.  HAHN JUST FLEECED ANDREW FRIEDMAN ZOMGZORZ!!

Reindeer Games

Subtweeting WSD on a site I’m not even sure he’s aware about, huh Pnoles?

Patrick Nolan

I wasn’t thinking of him specifically (don’t even follow him, actually), but from what I’ve seen, not a bad example.

Though given whatever FO connections WSD has, he’s probably in a more complicated position than most when it comes to criticizing Hahn.

Reindeer Games

Seems #scoopcity or whatever has run out of a lot of steam.  Getting beat to the punch by wetbutt on reddit is pretty bad.

Greg Nix

True, but there are other ways to read the Dodgers side of the deal. They gave up Mejia to get Scott Alexander and Culberson in the Braves trade, so they really needed organizational infield depth. Obviously the fact that they chose Peter as that depth means they probably like him, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they see him as a meaningful major league piece.

I don’t think it’s “something for nothing” but I like it a lot better than giving, say, Pat Neshek and Zach Duke $20 million combined. I’d also expect the Sox sign or claim someone roughly equivalent to Peter at some point before Opening Day (a la Hanson last year).


I doubt the Sox were going to sign anyone like Duke or Neshek; much more likely they’d get a million dollar arm than has never put it all together for next to nothing, then pray. They’ll probably still sign one or two guys like that, but they were probably looking at three or four guys like that 24 hours ago. There’s obviously a lot of value in not praying.

Greg Nix

The Sox probably weren’t in the market for those two guys, but my point is they’re likely pretty close comps to what Soria and Avilan would get on the open market.

You’re right that the more likely Sox path would be signing super-low base salary guys and I like this move better than that idea, as well.

Un Perro

As noted above, I am also skeptical, but the purported fleecing isn’t of Friedman, but of Moore. Which Hahn has a recent tendency of doing (see yesterday’s Melky discussion).

Patrick Nolan

Not really. Moore didn’t receive anything from the White Sox, so it’s hard to say that Hahn pulled one over on the Royals (or even directly traded with them). Hahn inserted himself into this deal so that the Dodgers would have someplace to dump Soria’s salary (which the Royals wanted to rid themselves of). I don’t think of this as a true three-team deal, but one where the White Sox simply facilitated the Dodgers’ side of a transaction with the Royals.

I agree very much with your take on Peter above. I like him a good deal and feel like the upside of the trade is higher for the Dodgers.

Un Perro

That’s a lot of surplus value flowing out of KC. Most runs to LAD, but CHW gets a proven high-leverage reliever and a cromulent LOOGY for below market rates.  While trading away a guy with a potential plus bat at a premium position (though he supposedly plays 2B poorly – I didn’t get to see more than a couple Charlotte games last season) has the risk upon which we agree, I would still take that risk given that Peter’s most likely outcome is as a bat-first utility IF pinch hitter.  I think LAD wins and CHW has a slight win, but this is much riskier trade than the usual C-list prospect for reliever swap, and Hahn is by no means a genius for doing it.

Josh Nelson

Well, Friedman got Scott Alexander. He is the gem out of this trade. If Jake Peter becomes useful in the majors, the Dodgers crushed both the White Sox and Royals in this deal.

As Jim pointed out in the article, this was a cost-effective way of adding necessary arms to the bullpen in an attempt to survive the 2018 season. That’s the White Sox “win”, but it’s not a major one by any means.

The Royals…yeah I don’t know what they are doing. I hope they sign Hosmer for the LOL’s.

Eagle Bones

Seems like a decent chance they can flip Soria for someone better than Peter at the deadline.  Especially if they eat some of the money.

Eagle Bones

He didn’t really hit well at AA last year.


Peter I assume you mean? .270/.340/.361 wRC+ of 106 from second base is fine if unexciting and assuming that the slugging is repressed a bit by Birmingham.

Eagle Bones

It’s fine, I just wouldn’t characterize it as better than the year before.


Just to be clear, because I’ve seen a few people say this, the White Sox did not save money. Actually, they’re spending more money.

Soria is owed at least $10m. KC kicked in the $1m for his buyout next year. So the Sox are on the hook for his whole $9m contract this year.

Avilan was predicted to get $2.3m in arb this year. LAD sent over $2m. So the Sox may also be adding ~$0.3m.

Personally, I quite like the move. The Sox pick up two relievers coming off solid years, each with two years of control. Not to mention that in an era where the flyball is king, being 17th and 22nd in baseball in GB/FB ratio (min 40 IP) seems useful.


You’re right. But I’m also working under the assumption that the Sox were going to bolster their bullpen in February. So someone like, say, Bud Norris, would cost more than Avilan (but less than Soria) for what is likely about the same in production. The other option is signing, say, Matt Albers, and know for sure you’re not getting a very good arm and praying he isn’t DFAed by mid-May. The Sox options for the pen was either go cheap and pray, or spend about $10-$12m to get players who aren’t as good as Soria and Avilan.


Otter – Really good analysis and I agree. I don’t think this is a move Hahn really wanted to make but once the price for bullpen arms was shown to be fairly aggressive on the free agent market he had to get the arms somehow. 

Brett R. Bobysud

The biggest issue Peter was going to have breaking into the Sox lineup is that his best position is 2B, which is going to be Moncada’s unless injuries happen.

They couldn’t given him a shot at 3B, but that’s asking a lot for a guy who hasn’t played a lot of games at the position in the minors.


It’s not about playing time, it’s about assuming that the Sox are going to flip Soria for a prospect who is better than Peter. There’s a lot of risk that is being ignored by Sox fans; Soria could get hurt or not be as good and thus the Sox would end up with a prospect worse than Peter (or no one at all).

We’re also assuming that the Sox are properly evaluating Peter, something they don’t have the greatest track record at doing… and there is the added twist that Peter is going to the Dodgers, who have a good track record with player evaluation recently AND presumably saw a lot more of Peter the last few years than the other 28 teams in MLB because the Sox and Dodgers share spring training facilities.

Now, if Soria does what we hope/expect, he can be flipped for the likes of Mauricio Dubon or Edmundo Sosa, and Peter is who we think/hope he is; then Hahn and the Sox win.


It’s also all about giving the ’18 team an at least half-ass decent bullpen to help provide innings and cover for a rotation of mostly young, most inexperienced starters who most of us would prefer seeing spared from both over-extension and the experience of having to stand out there taking a shelling on those days when they’re struggling.

I may be speaking only for myself, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a handful of wins this year while I’m waiting on 2020.

Lurker Laura

Hey, I just said mostly that. Get your own thoughts!


Would it have killed you to sign up as “CurrentlyKnownAsKatiesPhil”?

karkovice squad

Yeah, flipping either Soria or Avilan is secondary to providing a safety net for the starters. Assuming we buy Castillo’s improvement as a receiver, it fits with that move, too.

If they manage to flip any of them for prospects, that just lowers the net cost of acquisitions they needed to make anyway.


I’ve said it a few times, but as a 2018 Chicago White Sox baseball move, I like it. It was a good trade. Sox got two MLB bullpen arms for Jake Peter.

My issue is more from a rebuilding stand point. Yes, there is value in not rushing Fry or Stephens or whoever; and a tad of value in not having the bullpen blow a 6-2 in the 7th+ after Giolito gives you six strong innings. However, it cost you Peter. I don’t want to repeat myself as I’ve stated why I have some concerns about this.

karkovice squad

“Yes, there is value in not rushing Fry or Stephens or whoever; and a tad of value in not having the bullpen blow a 6-2 in the 7th+ after Giolito gives you six strong innings.”

There’s a lot of value in not having to extend the starters’ outings just to finish games, regardless of whether it winds up with a win. It’s likewise more about the stability of those veteran arms compared to the prospects’ volatility than about the prospects’ development.


Agreed, and at a reasonable cost. Also, I “liked” your post and got a “thanks” from Soxmachine; what a day!

Eagle Bones

Considering the level of prospect we’re talking about (i.e. Peter), that’s still a pretty low risk wager.


The Sox just exposed Peter to the Rule 5 draft where he went undrafted when the Dodgers could have had him for 50k. A month later they trade him for two relievers. I don’t see the cause for any uproar over trading Peter at this point.


Lot of very short memories around here.  Last I heard everyone was bemoaning leaving Guerrero off the 40 man and thought he was gone and he’s still here.   I don’t remember much if any teeth gnashing over Peter, but that was over at SSS.  Your point is dead on.  If the Dodgers loved him so much and he was so valuable why did everyone pass on him.

Patrick Nolan

re: fundman

Not sure how much a difference it makes, but acquiring Peter in this context is more valuable than acquiring him in the Rule 5 draft. Had the Dodgers selected Peter in Rule 5,

1) He’d be chained to the 25-man roster all season

2) He’d require a 40-man roster space

Acquiring Peter in this way requires neither, which gives the Dodgers additional flexibility on both rosters and allows them to deploy Peter when they want.


Patrick, your points are true, but with that scenario there’s also a third point:  the Dodgers acquire an additional top-30ish prospect from the White Sox.

They obviously don’t think he’s quite ready, and they are a WS contender so that roster spot is significant.

Trooper Galactus

Oh come on, it’s not like the White Sox have ever traded a middle infield prospect for hot garbage and instantly regretted it before.


Reading this write up of Peter gives me a little more pause about the trade (again from a rebuilding stand point, not a 2018 MLB roster point of view).

Eagle Bones

More upbeat on the bat than I would have guessed, but then there’s this:

Peter was almost exclusively a second baseman in 2017 with a little bit of time spent in the outfield corners and at third base. He’s a below-average defensive infielder with sluggish footwork and actions. He’s below-average runner with an average arm.

Right Size Wrong Shape

That skill set doesn’t really project well for someone who would need to be able to play SS occasionally (which Yolmer, Leury and Salad can all do) as your IF utility man.  He’s either a 2B (where he’s blocked by the face of the franchise), or a utility man who you don’t feel comfortable putting in for defense at any position.


I think it’s real good that now those young bullpen guys like vieira don’t have to be pushed and rushed into the majors and some of them already up will go back down to smooth out things and develop some more. Ideally of course.

Lurker Laura

At this point, I believe that having a serviceable bullpen in the majors now is more important than having a serviceable utility guy in the minors ready for later. The starting pitching rotation is full of young guys who are going to spend the season figuring stuff out. Sometimes they’ll be terrible. Sometimes they’ll be good. When they are good, I think it matters to their development that they don’t leave a game on a strong note, and then have the bullpen cough it up on a regular basis (the “regular basis” part is key – we’ve all seen that lately). It’s demoralizing, and it adds the extra mental distortion of, “I have to give up 0 or 1 runs every time I pitch for my team to win because we can’t trust our bullpen.”

Jake Peter may come back to bite the WS a little, but I think it’s a risk worth taking right now.

Josh Nelson


I think the lack of happenings is causing some people to overstate implications of this deal.

Sox needed more top tier up the middle depth before yesterday.

It’s a non-contending year, the FA ‘Pen market has been expensive, and we gave up a potential UTIF for 2 potential flip guys on reasonable salaries.

karkovice squad

The Sox will fix their near-term depth issues by acquiring/promoting starters for the OF and 3B. Leury and Yolmer have quite a bit of team control left.

And in the long-run, we’re all dead. Eat cheap fastfood deli sandwiches.

Josh Nelson

Speaking of Arby’s

Went to the Thompson Center for lunch. I guess Arby’s now has a sandwich called “The Meat Mountain.” –

For those that want an early death, you can buy a Meat Mountain for $10 bucks.

Ted Mulvey

Good lord. It reminds me of the Bacon Explosion.



They actually sell a version of the bacon explosion at Kaiser Tiger in the West Loop (they call theirs the Bacon Bomb). They also have curling during the winter.

karkovice squad

When are you arranging a sponsorship?


@ Josh – so did you order it ?


For those interested the latest issue of Baseball America profiles the top 10 prospects of each team in the American League Central-I enjoyed reading the scouting report on the White Sox prospects.


This is a lot of comments dedicated to a Jake fucking small peter. Get out of here with this garbage. Good trade. They should sign a vet utility if anyway. Brandon Phillips, come on down.


Probably the wrong thread, but I like the new digs, Jim.  Keep up the good work.