Third base once again an open question for White Sox

Yolmer Sanchez seemed to hit his ceiling as an everyday player, and there are other options besides Manny Machado

When it comes to Wins Above Replacement, the White Sox are usually in the position of taking it however they can get it.

According to FanGraphs, the White Sox finished 26th out of 30 teams in position-player WAR with 9.9. This has long been a problem for the Sox, who are dead-last in position-player WAR in the Rick Hahn era at 64.9. The Padres, the National League’s White Sox, are second-to-last with 66.3. These two teams also occupy the cellar if you stretch it all the way back to the start of the White Sox’ postseason drought.

The Sox’ problems accruing WAR are twofold: They’ve run out a lot of bad hitters, and their good hitters are mediocre-at-best defenders. There are only a few who defy this label, and they’re the only ones who lead the Sox in WAR over the last 10 years:

  1. Alexei Ramirez, 18.3
  2. Jose Abreu, 15.9
  3. Adam Eaton, 13.4
  4. Alejandro De Aza, 7.6
  5. Paul Konerko, 7.5

Ramirez was an acceptable hitter with a strong glove at the game’s second-toughest position. Adam Eaton was a strong hitter who was stretched in center, but then made a Gold Glove case in right. Jose Abreu had a record-setting start to his career at the plate.

After that? Yech. The Sox are so WAR-starved that adequate seasons look like godsends, and that brings us to Yolmer Sanchez.

There’s a gap in WAR valuations when it comes to the fan favorite. puts him 6.1 WAR over the last two seasons, while FanGraphs has him at 3.9. That’s a bigger difference than the numbers may indicate, in the sense that the former is “solidly average,” and the other is more along the lines of “not a total liability.” Because the White Sox are the White Sox, even Sanchez’s lower number rates as the team’s third-best output among non-pitchers the last two years.

As Mike Moustakas languished on the free agent market last year, Sanchez’s surprising WAR became an argument against an outside acquisition. Sanchez held an argument for being the better overall player, and so giving him everyday at-bats was a cromulent use of a rebuilding year in the event that he hadn’t hit his ceiling.

Sanchez’s 2018 performance suggests he hit his ceiling the year before. Or maybe he benefited from the juiced ball. Whatever the case, Moustakas narrowed the gap/crept ahead in 2018, his second year removed from major ankle surgery. The tale of the tape shows two players who get to the same neighborhood via different nav systems:

Sanchez 1196 53 18 20 84 249 .253 .312 .390 6.1 3.9
Moustakas 1233 57 1 66 83 197 .262 .315 .489 4.3 4.5

The question about third base going forward is how you’d rather go about getting your value if it isn’t from Manny Machado. Sanchez’s defensive-boosted brand seems like a dead end to me, perhaps because he hit .223/.302/.345 over the final four months (imagine what that line would look like if his walks didn’t triple in frequency). The value evaporates as soon as the glovework looks more ordinary, and while you could say that about the particular strength of any player, defensive metrics have a history of being more tenuous.

If Sanchez has another step in him, it’s more likely with a step back, falling into the utility role. There’s a lot of value in stepping in and providing adequacy at multiple positions, including third base if disaster strikes.

From there, how the Sox can go about filling third base when Machado isn’t likely? Todd Frazier gives us an idea of what kind of impact Moustakas-like production would make (fine, but a little empty). Maybe they give Jose Rondon a chance to see what’s behind his 24 homers over 122 games between Charlotte and Chicago in 2018. Personally, I’d want Adrian Beltre for the material.

Third base should be one of the most fascinating areas of the Offseason Plan Project, because activity in any direction can be justified. Sanchez as Plan A holds less appeal to me this time around.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Slight nitpick

That’s a bigger difference than the numbers may indicate, in the sense that the former is “solidly average,” and the other is more along the lines of “not a total liability.”

Yolmer Sanchez is like the definition of an average player according to fWAR. Over the last two years, he’s only been 1.3 runs below average.

Also, he’s got 6.1 bWAR over the last two seasons, not 5.1.


Agreed. I think you put it nicely with “If Sanchez has another step in him, it’s more likely with a step back”

Trooper Galactus

Pierre had the worst arm I’ve ever seen. Great range in left, but routinely turned singles into doubles because everybody knew they could outrun his throw.


If Madrigal is all that he’s pegged to be at 2b, and Anderson continues to progress defensively at SS, that leaves Moncada as a candidate for 3b – no?

As Cirensica

Moncada first needs to resolve many issues himself because right now he’s a candidate for bust

karkovice squad

“Bust” is usually defined as failing to produce 3 WAR before free agency. He’s already cleared that threshold. He’s at risk of merely being league average instead of a perennial MVP candidate.

They’ve probably already lost the trade, though, sure.

As Cirensica

Well…bust might be a strong word, but to the eyes of some fans, the expectations vs reality, etc…he looks like a bust. He is still young though. I am willing to give him a couple of years.


I would prefer to see Moncada in left field. I’m not impressed with his infield play, too many errors and plays not made that should be made. I’m also disappointed with the job our hitting coach has done with him. I think he has potential, though more so batting left handed. He works the count too much and strikes out looking or at a bad pitch after two strikes.

Trooper Galactus

If Moncada played left field in 2018, you’d be griping about how awful his bat was for the position even if he was a Gold Glove fielder there. Never mind that Eloy is likely going to be in left field shortly.

Eagle Bones

Why would you put him in left? If outfield, why not center?

Right Size Wrong Shape

Why are you so sure that he’s a centerfielder? Why is everyone positive he’s an outfielder? Has he ever even played outfield?

Eagle Bones

I’m not at all. But if you’re trying him in the OF, why would you put him in the spot where everyone puts their fat sluggers who cant move and their guys who have to roll the ball back to the infield? He has elite speed and a great arm, try him in center.

lil jimmy

I think a statue or “bust” of Moncada at this point is premature. Although he has a strong jaw.


I’d go to Vegas right now and drop a boatload if money on Moncada having a much more valuable career than Madrigal. One guy just put up a league average season as a rookie in the majors. The other is a single A slap hitter who can field really well.


Machado is obviously the first choice, and even though I am more optimistic than most, it is still a fairly long shot. The Sox still need to put forth every effort to sign him. I think option number 2 should be an incentive laden big one-year deal for Donaldson, then go hard after Arenado or Rendon next year if they are available. The Sox would have to overpay for Donaldson, but with only a one-year investment, they can afford to do that. Option number 3 would be move Moncada to 3rd in anticipation of Madrigal being the 2nd baseman of the future. And even if he doesn’t work out, it is easier to find 2nd basemen than 3rd baseman. Option 4, sign Moustakas. Then, if all those don’t work, leave Yolmer there. I agree with Jim- if anything he will fall back this year. That kind of production is unacceptable from a 3rd baseman.

As Cirensica

All this talk about Madrigal…I don’t get it, he is maybe 2 years (very best case scenario) before being called up.


I’m not sold on Madrigal either, but I think for Moncada’s sake, if they are going to move him off 2nd, they should just do it now, so he can settle in at a spot. I have a very hard time believing Moncada is a candidate for bust. Once he gets a hitting coach who will help his approach, he will be fine. He is loaded with talent, and still has only a few years of experience outside of Cuba. But I still think his best spot would be in the outfield.


I really could see Donaldson as a White Sox next year on a high dollar show me contract. He will not be getting pushed by any other player and could recoup value with the chance to be traded to a contender at the deadline.  If he stays healthy and performs, he could net himself a 3 or 4 year deal next offseason.

Eagle Bones

If Moncada had proved to be lacking the tools to handle second, I can see going ahead and just moving him now, but I don’t think that’s the case. I see all of the tools, it just looks like there’s additional polish needed (similar to Anderson last year). With that in mind, I don’t think you move him until someone else pushes him off the position (or he proves incapable of handling it himself). I don’t think we’re there yet.


That’s probably the best way to handle it. But I hope the F/O has a plan for this team going forward. If they do, I’m sure that plan includes having Madrigal at 2nd in 2020 or 2021. And if that’s the case, it would be better to move Moncada now so he can be comfortable at a position when the Sox are ready to win. I’d hate to see him moved in a year when we are expected to compete for a playoff spot. Plus, like I said in my earlier post, it would be easier to find a 2nd baseman than a 3rd baseman if Madrigal doesn’t work out. But, ideally we just sign Machado.

Eagle Bones

Sure, but it would also be a shame to have Madrigal get stuck at AA and have already moved Moncada to 3rd (which is further down the defensive spectrum) when he has the tools to stick at 2nd.


You’re right. That’s why I said at the top that it was probably the best way to handle it.


Signing Machado, or even Donaldson, would make that a moot point this year.

Eagle Bones

While I agree that no one should be moving positions right now in anticipation of Madrigal coming up, I don’t think its ridiculous to think that he could be up mid-2020. He is supposed to be very advanced so, while I don’t think it should be expected, it seems very possible that he could hit multiple levels this coming year.

Eagle Bones

I’m with you on your first two steps. (1) Go hard after Machado. (2) Assuming that’s a no go, try for Donaldson on a one year deal. See how Madrigal does this year and probably try for Rendon/Arenado after 2019.


why Rendon/Arenado over Xander Bogaerts?

Right Size Wrong Shape

Because they are better.

Eagle Bones

I guess it’s not the worst backup plan, but if Anderson sticks at short, it seems sub-optimal to pay a bunch of money for Bogaerts just to move him over to third (which he doesn’t really need to do since he’s fine at SS).

Trooper Galactus

Donaldson won’t take a one-year deal, nor should he. He’s already old for a first-time free agent, and he isn’t going to push that back further looking for a bounce back contract, because anything he might gain from a healthy year he’ll lose simply for being a year older and making teams even more wary to invest in him as a result.

If Donaldson is the route they take, I’m fine with a multi-year deal, the. Go hard after Arenado and shift Donaldson to first. Abreu becomes a FA or gets signed to DH. 

Eagle Bones

One of the FG guys mentioned in a chat the other day (can’t recall who it was) that something similar to the Arrieta deal might make sense for him.


I like that idea as a fall back to not signing Machado.

As Cirensica

Article short version:

sign Manny Dadgum it!


Inevitable plug for Richard Lindberg’s Who’s On Third?

It would not shock me to see the Sox give Josh Donaldson a contract this winter. His age and health record make it a way more LaRochian move than a megacontract to Machado, which is one reason I can see this management team making such a move.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Great book, except for the photo that identifies Carlton Fisk as Carlton Zisk.

Josh Nelson

I’m inching closer to just accepting that the White Sox will never figure out what to do at third base.


i dunno . . . at some point “chair on glove” will at least provide the consistency they’ve been lacking

Trooper Galactus

In Soviet Russia, chair goes on glove.

As Cirensica

In White Sox country, chair plays better than some players


You ares cha(i)ritable in your judgements.


hashtag “cromulent”


Outside the box option… wil myers started playing some third base for the padres, if they were willing to eat a chunk of money maybe give him a shot at third… if it doesnt work out in 2019 at third, he can shift to 1st in 2020 when abreu is gone… He is 27 and probably a pretty good bounce back candidate with the bat.

Eagle Bones

It seems hard to believe that he’ll stick at third, but I don’t hate the idea of taking on a big chunk of his money as a way to get a potential contributor for very little in return. As you mention, he could slot in at several other positions the Sox need help at.


I don’t think a Wil Myers experiment would work for the White Sox, though it’s a cool idea in theory and he’s definitely a buy-low/bounce-back for someone. Myers has never been known for his defense and his career line against the other teams in the AL Central is 212/272/318 albeit in a relatively small, but still meaningful sample size. I don’t think putting him in this division is the best way for him to reach his potential or for the White Sox to find a future piece.


basically hit 30 homers in back to back years in san diego, to me that should translate to the sox home park but those numbers are a bit odd vs the al central

like I said, just an outside the box idea, also keep in mind he is a lot better base runner then you would think which adds a little value


that’s true. He’s also a good way to get SBs out of your 1B spot if you play fantasy baseball (not super applicable here, just a note)

Eagle Bones

So Ryan Raburn then?

Right Size Wrong Shape



Might have to make a trade for someone who is blocked elsewhere. First one that came to mind was Blandino in Cincy blocked by Suarez (and Peraza).