White Sox acquiring Yonder Alonso, but why?

Yonder Alonso

While I’m not a fan of the James McCann signing, I at least understand why the White Sox picked him up earlier today. The Sox needed a catcher between Welington Castillo and Seby Zavala, and McCann is that.

This evening, the White Sox traded for Yonder Alonso. It only cost them Alex Call, a superfluous outfielder in the Birmingham logjam, so the exchange isn’t the problem. It’s just hard to determine the chief motive, and then the fallout.

Alonso checks off some boxes — a lefty bat with some power and an understanding of the strike zone. The Indians tried to cut a corner by signing him to a two-year deal that was cheaper than Carlos Santana’s, but they didn’t get all the production back at first base. Over 574 plate appearances with Cleveland in 2018, Alonso hit an unremarkable .250/.317/.421. The 23 homers were OK, but the 19 other extra-base hits left a lot to be desired. Ultimately, he still needs right-handed help to carry a position.

The Indians ended up going back to the way things were. They regained Santana by trading Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle in an exchange of big salaries, which made the fellow first baseman Alonso wonder what it meant for him. He posted a tweet with the quizzical emoji, which has been since deleted.

Now Alonso is apparently heading to Chicago, and that emoji still comes in handy.

The deal makes sense on Cleveland’s side. It saves the Indians at least $9 million (a $8 million salary for 2019, followed by a $9 million club option or $1 million buyout), so they may not have to trade a pitcher. They’ll also now have an idea of what their team might’ve looked like had they just stayed the course after 2016.

So it’s clear what this accomplishes for the Indians. For the Sox, while he theoretically slots in at first and DH alongside Jose Abreu, it might be more about a sales pitch.

You see, Alonso is Manny Machado’s brother-in-law, and the White Sox supposedly have a meeting with Machado on Monday.

Hey, it worked in 2004. The White Sox beat all contenders to the punch for Freddy Garcia a month before the trade deadline. It didn’t make much sense for the out-of-the-running Sox until they signed him to a contract extension 10 days later. The fact that Garcia was close to Guillen — related by marriage, in fact — helped.

Maybe that’s what’s going on here, because helping a division rival free up some payroll for an unnecessary player who won’t make a difference on the Sox seems somewhat self-defeating at this point.

Either that, or the White Sox now have a feasible first baseman to step in should they trade Jose Abreu, but White Sox Vessel Bob Nightengale says that isn’t happening.

Either way, Alonso’s club option past the season doesn’t put the Sox’ incumbent first baseman in a great position. Unless, perhaps, the White Sox are just trying to accrue as many Cubans as possible for the long haul. If so, Abreu’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

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jose robcada

watch them release him the day after machado signs with someone else


In which case, the Indians would owe the Sox approximately 9 million thank you notes.

Patrick Nolan

That’s two “but why’s” in one day.

Trooper Galactus

That’s it, somebody cut Hahn off. He’s surpassed his allotment for this offseason.

karkovice squad

It’s a talent to make signing Adam LaRoche look thoughtful by comparison with just 2 moves.


left handed bat…has some pop. Ok, but not very excited

As Cirensica

You know, we already have Plaka…left hand bat. Lots of power.


I smell Kenny! Alonso, Abreu, Palka? Where do you put these light footed gazelles?
Everybody can’t DH


Maybe Palka is the one on his way out if they truly aren’t going to trade Abreu.

Trooper Galactus

Or maybe, just maybe, everybody CAN DH!


I’m all for designated defenders. The union would support this.


Palka younger with more power same weak defense and $9 mil cheaper. 

All this so Manny can play for the Yankees?

Trooper Galactus

Palka strikes out at a considerably higher rate and runs a lower OBP to even the worst version of Alonso, but makes up for that gap with bruising power. They’re two rather different offensive profiles at a glance, but given how much money is owed Alonso, yeah, I’ll be pissed if they whiff on Manny and Alonso is stealing PAs from Palka (or, just as bad, if Palka is the every day right fielder…ugh).

lil jimmy

Palka just got pushed off the 25 man. He has options. I guess they didn’t want to hide his glove.

Trooper Galactus

Did he? Who’s listed as their right fielder then?


oh boy


Albert Amora is Machado’s “cousin,” right? How many more Machado-adjacent players are there to collect?

Trooper Galactus

You ask the question why, and I just sit here hoping the answer isn’t simply, “because Rick Hahn is really bad at his job”.

As Cirensica

6 loss seasons in a row. What was that Razor’s occam thing?

Trooper Galactus

More like Rick’s playing Razor Ramon. “I’m the bad guy.”

Trooper Galactus

We are definitely The Outsiders in free agency.


Good thing for him this kind of thing doesn’t matter to his boss.


This front office is truly serious about winning at least 68 games. 

As Cirensica

How are the off season plans going?


Were they in any plan?


Yes. My unpublished plan of acquiring mediocre players.


All but Colome on one year deals.


Oooh, temporary garbage.

Trooper Galactus

Supplements our permanent garbage rather nicely.

karkovice squad

The White Sox tell the press they have no intention of trading Abreu the way presidential candidates say they have no intention of running for the office.


Get all the Cubans!

jose robcada

go home kenny, your drunk


Alonso is the answer to the problem I was thinking through last night–who bats lead-off in front of Machado? I’ve never liked Yoan up there. This is a pretty deep lineup.
1. Alonso
2. Machado
3. Harper
4. Abreu
5. Jimenez
6. Moncada
7. Castillo
8. Garcia
9. Anderson

jose robcada

alonso had an obp of .317 and cant run, no thanks


But can he make outs with bunts?

jose robcada

doesnt matter because we are replacing renteria with machados uncle, and he hates bunting


I heard it was his mother. Uncke’s gonnacplay LF


Supposedly we signed Castillo because of his relationship with Machado too, both playing in Baltimore together. I do like the out of the box thinking.


If that is the logic, McCann makes sense as a second catcher who will not threaten Castillo’s playing time. This is truly three-dimensional chess…


Alonso traded for, James McCann’t the backup catcher! No Manny or Brice as yet? This season could really blow! Somebody help me down!


If acquiring people that Machado is close with actually works, (an idea of which I’m highly skeptical), then I move that they replace the retired Herm Schneider with his old gf from high school that used to give him handies. 


You think Herm can’t give good handies??


The sox have paid top dollar for an innings eater starter with no upside, a dh/1b with limited pop and hit tool with no upside, a good not great closer, and a terrible backup catcher ….

If they are playing 3D chess good for them, but its hard to feel like they arent simply struggling to set up a game of checkers.


$9 million is now “top dollar” for a starting pitcher? Interesting.


Interesting, you totally missed the point of what was meant. Its the top any team would spend to land a 4+ NL ERA pitcher, and an extremely limited dh/1b guy . 18 mil can be spent in a lot of ways a 5th starter type and a 1st basemen who doesnt get extra base hits arent the way I would have allocated funds. But lets give the benefit of the doubt to the sox they have done so many things right during their entire existence.


Are the Sox going to assemble a posse to woo Bryce Harper as well?


thats why they kept delmonico


Maybe they will bring back J.B. Shuck who, like Harper’s wife, is a former Ohio State athlete.


His dad will be our hitting coach.


I’d prefer we be more aggressive and just sign Machado’s wife and sister.


The Sox are burning money on players that will not win them more games. I fail to understand how any of these moves is a remotely good idea for the current state of the team. You either go all out and try to be good this season OR give a ton of kids chances and grab the first pick along with hoping someone steps forward.

This is building a bad team for no purpose.

I’m done paying attention (until a good move is made or I get really bored) #classicAngryFan

Eagle Bones

As pnoles said, this is two odd moves in one day. While the Colome and Nova deals didn’t blow me away, I could see the logic as part of a bigger picture offseason. These two? I don’t get it. I don’t mind trading for a player of Alonso’s caliber (projected for ~1 win next year), but the positional fit is really odd. They literally have zero OFs on the roster right now that I would feel comfortable starting on Opening Day (other than Eloy of course). If this was a trade for an OF of similar level, that would have made a ton more sense. A 1B/possible DH? I don’t see the point given all the other holes they need to fill. Palka is by no means a sure thing, but given the internal options at a lot of these positions, he at least seems worth a shot (which I can’t say about pretty much any of the OFs).


I suspect McCann, Nova, and Alonso have at least something to do with wooing Harper and/or Machado. If the Sox truly think they have some kind of shot at both (and that’s a big if), the only “hole” left to fill is CF. McCann, Nova, and Alonso surely aren’t game-changers, but they are all well-respected players that simply fill the roster out a bit more. I’m sure Harper & Machado are well aware that reinforcements are on the way to Chicago for 2020 and beyond, but that doesn’t make signing onto a 65 or 70 win season easy. If making these sorts of signings makes it even a little easier for Harper/Machado to sign, go for it. 

Eagle Bones

How does signing McCann do anything to increase their chances on those two guys?


We got a couple more guys. Yay. I guess Alonso vs Palka is a slightly more interesting debate than Asche vs Davidson, Engel vs Leury, Avisail vs Gloveonchair or other recent Sox position battles, but there’s still no sign that Hahn actually knows what he’s doing.


Alonso is a slight improvement over Palka, and if his walk rate and ISO bump back up, then they could probably swing him in July for a similar prospect. At least Call was from an area of depth.

Hate the McCann signing but not sure what the hand ringing is for this one. Whether it helps with Machado or not.