After the Oakland Athletics locked in a wild card spot to secure a return to the postseason for the first time since 2014, Chris Bassitt posted a photo from the celebration that should have resonated with some employees at 35th and Shields.
— Chris Bassitt (@C_Bass419) September 25, 2018
From left to right, that’s Bassitt, Marcus Semien and Josh Phegley — all former White Sox whom the White Sox sent to Oakland for Jeff Samardzija.
Of the trio of #TheTrade, Semien is the only one the White Sox might’ve missed. He’s shaped himself into a steady shortstop on both sides of the ball — the metrics loved his defense this year — and while he might’ve not have found the necessary playing time at shortstop in Chicago to improve his glvoework, he could’ve helped at other positions. Failing that, he could’ve been dealt for somebody more useful to the long-term plan than Samardzija.*
Bassitt recovered from Tommy John surgery to soak up some starts early, after which he was deployed as the post-opener for three or four innings at a time in September. Phegley’s OPS has fallen short of .600 the last couple of seasons.
That deal didn’t kill the White Sox on an individual level, but it’s remarkable — and distressing — that all three of them could be on a postseason roster for a 95-win Oakland team with the league’s lowest Opening Day payroll, while the White Sox had to scrap their first rebuild, and the second one has been slow to take root, too.
(*The White Sox did get Zack Burdi with the compensation pick after Samardzija signed with San Francisco, so keep hope alive.)
At any rate, Oakland has the highest concentration of former White Sox in the American League, and it’s not even close. If you’re only interested in pulling for players you pulled for, then an A’s-Brewers World Series is the matchup for you.
Along with Bassitt, Semien and Phegley, the A’s also have a couple more familiar names from other deals. J.B. Wendelken has surfaced in the bullpen, where he has a 0.54 ERA over 16 2/3 games. The White Sox acquired him from Boston in the Jake Peavy trade, then sent him to Oakland in the Brett Lawrie deal. His first attempt at sticking with Oakland in 2016 didn’t work. He seems to have improved his curveball, and he’s also working ahead in counts. Frankie Montas is also around, as he came from the Dodgers in the Rich Hill deal after the Sox dealt him to LA in the three-team Todd Frazier trade.
I suppose there’s also Edwin Jackson, but nearly half the damn league can claim ties to him. The A’s are his 13th organization.
Chris Sale will take the mound in search of his first postseason victory. He’s battled a velocity drop since coming off the DL, which he and the club attribute to a mechanical issue with his hips, not anything shoulder-related.
The White Sox helped the Yankees fortify a postseason bullpen by trading David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to them last year. Robertson’s still doing his thing, but Kahnle still hasn’t found his old fastball, and has become far more hittable as a result.
You can’t keep Melky Cabrera away from his career averages, whether it’s before, during or after his time with the White Sox.
- Before: .286/.339/.415
- During: .287/.331/.427
- This year: .280/.335/.420
He’s also just as steady with his glove, in the sense that his defense makes him a replacement-level player.
Just Chris Devenski, whom the Astros acquired from the Sox as a player to be named later in the Brett Myers deal. Two awful outings at the end of July inflated his ERA before he went on the DL with a hamstring issue, and he’s been sporadically used since returning in August, so he’s not a lock for the postseason roster.
Josh Hader aside, Milwaukee practically won the NL Central with the White Sox’ bullpen. They acquired Joakim Soria and Xavier Cedeno directly from the White Sox, and Dan Jennings is a part of the action, too. Matt Albers played a prominent role in the first half, but he fell victim to a relapse of his 2016 season. Look at this line over his last 10 games: 6.1 IP, 22 H, 22 R, 22 ER, 6 HR, 6 BB, 7 K, 1 HBP. That’s good for a 31.26 ERA. This time, it’s injuries. He went on the DL in June with a shoulder injury, and then back on it for a hamstring in August. Albers won’t be on the postseason roster, but Junior Guerra and Gio Gonzalez in the starting rotation make up for it.
Tyler Saladino is the lone representative on the position-player side. He’s been limited to coming off the bench since the acquisitions of Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop.
The Brewers beat the Cubs in Game 163, but nobody could blame Jose Quintana, who allowed just one run over five-plus innings. Joe Maddon went to the bullpen after 64 pitches when Quintana gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich in the sixth.
Hey, whaddya know, Tyler Flowers is big part of a postseason team. Flowers is hitting .227/.341/.359 with the league’s best framing numbers as part of a time-share with Kurt Suzuki. Brandon McCarthy is technically part of the organization, but he’s on the 60-day DL and will be retiring after the season.
Yency Almonte, whom the Sox acquired from the Angels for Gordon Beckham before flipping him to Colorado for Kahnle, is on the postseason roster bubble. He’s been up and down with the Rockies throughout the year, and he only pitched once over the last 15 days of the season, but his rookie numbers are decent (1.84 ERA, 2.96 FIP over 14.2 IP).
They have a Josh Fields, but not the Josh Fields.