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When the White Sox traded Jake Peter for Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan last week, it created a bit of a gap in their utility infielder depth chart.
Wednesday afternoon, they plugged that gap by buying shortstop Jose Rondon from the Padres (or acquiring him for cash considerations).
Rondon was once a prospect of some regard. Signed out of Venezuela for $70,000 by the Angels, he was traded to the Padres and surged up their prospect list due to his bat-to-ball skills and plus defensive potential. Double-A exposed the limitations of his bat — specifically the lack of pop — although a fractured elbow may have thrown off his timing.
At any rate, he’s existed in the high minors as an average shortstop who can be challenged, hitting for a decent average and neither walking nor striking out notable amounts.
Rondon got a cup of coffee with the Padres in 2016, and went 3-for-25 with a walk and four strikeouts in what remains his only MLB action. The Padres opted against calling him up in either of his Septembers while on San Diego’s 40-man roster. They designated him for assignment on Saturday to make room for Craig Stammen, so this should all give you an idea of his present stock.
That said, he remains a little bit intriguing, if only because he can play shortstop and make contact, and injuries abbreviated two of his last three seasons.
He's flashy but erratic at shortstop and has seen time at 2B/3B. On a White Sox 40-man that has three 1B/DH-only guys, he might get a long big league look this year.https://t.co/J4USUuzUew
— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) January 10, 2018
Rondon has one minor-league option left, so he doesn’t have any immediate implications for the 25-man roster. He does loom in the periphery as an actual shortstop, and I’d take notice of that if I were Tyler Saladino.
Saladino had the lowest slugging percentage of any MLB player with 150 plate appearances last year (.229), which would seem like an arbitrary end point if Saladino hadn’t exceeded that total by 131. Of players who received similar playing time, Saladino’s slugging percentage was nearly 50 points lower than the runner-up.
Saladino’s chief attribute is an ability to play shortstop better than Yolmer Sanchez, which the bat-first Peter couldn’t offer. Rondon now provides Saladino some competition, although the health of neither player can be assumed.
Rondon took the last 40-man roster spot, so room will need to be made for future acquisitions. Dylan Covey and the recently acquired Jose Ruiz seem like the most vulnerable on the pitching staff, and Jacob May of the incumbents on the position-player side. I suppose you could also include Saladino, although I imagine he’ll at least get a shot to prove his well being in spring training.