Yolmer Sánchez could be winding it down with White Sox

(Portrait by Carl Skanberg)

Yolmer Sánchez could be entering his penultimate weekend with the White Sox, and while he’s among numerous players to develop extreme loyalty to the club, we don’t often see roots go as deep as his.

Sánchez is really the only international success story the White Sox can boast, as he signed with the Sox as a 16-year-old the year after the club fired Dave Wilder for skimming bonuses. Even with their infrastructure in ruins, Sánchez still managed to climb all the way to the majors and serve as an effective-at-times second baseman in the majors. There’s a reason why his likeness looms like that of an enlightened despot at the White Sox academy in the Dominican Republic.

Luis Robert will soon follow suit as a White Sox prospect whose career with the club started in the DSL, but he started about $25 million richer than Sánchez. When it comes to the classic, no-longer-prohibited type of international signing, Sánchez and Andre Rienzo are the only players who started as nothing and turned themselves into something. Sánchez is the only one casual White Sox fans readily recall.

So here, it’s extremely understandable why Sánchez sounds reluctant about playing anywhere else.

‘‘This has been, like, my only team, my baseball family,’’ he said. ‘‘They [gave] me an opportunity to be a professional baseball player, to make it to the big leagues. I’ve been here when we’re winning games, and I’ve been here when we’re losing 100 games. But I always love the Chicago White Sox.’’ […]

‘‘It makes me sad, man, because I know this team is going to be really good in the future and I love this team. I definitely want to be part of this. I know everybody here; everybody knows me. I don’t want to leave.’’

Sánchez is the most expendable because his arbitration number (which would be something like $6 million) outpaces his offensive numbers (a 73 OPS+, a .282 wOBA). Nick Madrigal’s coming in hot, and the Sox have Leury García and Danny Mendick to hold down the fort.

That said, it wouldn’t be the White Sox if Sánchez weren’t necessary in some regard. Non-tendering Sánchez would risk taking their best defender out of the equation.

The SABR Defensive Index, the composite metric that accounts for a quarter of the Gold Glove selection process, identifies Sánchez as the leader among American League second basemen, at least as of a month ago. He probably still tops that list, because he’s first among AL second basemen in UZR and DRS.

The downgrade from Sánchez to anybody else as a defensive second baseman is readily apparent any time you see Mendick or García or José Rondón turning a double play in his stead. Sánchez’s hands are just so much faster, and they seldom let him down. The good news is that Madrigal should come the closest, as he’s another player used to compensating for middling arm strength with faster releases. It’d just be unfair to saddle him with Gold Glove expectations during his first months in the majors.

Along with his superlative defense, Sánchez also the only regular starter who’s regularly drawing walks for some reason. He’s just about doubled his personal walk rate over the last two months, and he’s leaving everybody else in the dust. Walk totals since Aug. 1:

  • Sánchez, 21
  • Jose Abreu, 15
  • Ryan Goins, 10
  • Yoan Moncada, 8
  • Eloy Jiménez, 8
  • James McCann, 8

Madrigal probably won’t be able to help in this regard in 2020, as he can handle the edges of the strike zone and won’t be challenged outside it until his contact is loud enough for pitchers to fear working over the plate.

Sánchez’s unique skill set could have a place on the White Sox roster if the rest of the roster could absorb his weaknesses. Instead, the combination of a triple-digit strikeout total for 23 extra-base hits contributes to the club’s undesirable absences of power and plate discipline. The Sox would undoubtedly be able to absorb his arbitration number since only Kelvin Herrera’s salary looms on the 2020 payroll, but the Sox also had the room for a massive expenditure last year, and they pointed to the specter of theoretical payroll issues as an excuse. It’d be unfortunate if Sánchez’s $6 million contributed to the Sox bowing out on superior players.

Basically, it seems like a healthy time for the White Sox to move on, and moving on could also benefit Sánchez, whose skill set should be able to help a winning team that won’t have to risk overexposing his shortcomings. He’d leave some shoes to fill as a homegrown international signing, a reliable defender and a massive personality, but if the White Sox want to becoming a healthy contender themselves, they should be able to produce more players like him, even if some parts of him are impossible to duplicate.

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I’ll miss Yolmer.


Yeah, the arb salary probably will make even a tender and trade option too cost prohibitive. He is definitely valuable to a lot of teams, but in the $2-$4 million range. The Sox may be forced to non-tender him because he’d wouldn’t even be worth a lottery ticket or international cap space on the open market.

It sucks though because he is a good teammate and fun guy. Did the Yolmer t shirts sell out from last year? I’d get one to remember the good times.


If they do part ways, I’ll always remember him as somebody who made these dismal seasons more watchable. And I’ll always be grateful for that. Whenever you’d go to the park or tune in not expecting much entertainment from the gameplay, he was usually there putting smiles on everyone’s faces in one way or another.

Judging by his social media, he also seems like a loving, devoted husband and father. Genuinely someone with a big heart.

But…we all knew this was coming. If this is all going to work out like we hope it will, there’s a time when the placeholders have to vacate. He’s been given every opportunity to stick and has never produced enough offense for his position. If the cliche about baseball ultimately being a business rings true, it rings painfully true now.


This article on Yolmer is another reason why all Sox fans should support this site. Your articles and observations with some minor exceptions have been spot on all year. Even though the Sox season have been , with a few exceptions ,largely a slog and national interest in the Sox has been almost nil your reporting and analysis has continued to be been first rate. Thanks Sox machine.


100 percent agree. You guys continue to produce analyses that are top notch. Thanks so much for making following this miserable team bearable.


It wouldn’t shock me to see the Sox tender him. This is a team that paid Yonder Alonso $9 million and Wellington Castillo $8 million. Yolmer could have value to this team, but not at $6 million.

karkovice squad

The fact that Yolmer can be perceived as not worth a $6m contract, which wouldn’t even be fully guaranteed, is a big problem with baseball’s economics.


The big question is “Does Rick Hahn believe Yolmer is worth $6 million to the White Sox?” I’m not sure he doesn’t.

As Cirensica

Yolmer is worth 6 million and probably more. It’s about timing more than economics


If the Sox non-tender him, we’ll see how much he’s worth. I doubt any team would give him $6 million.


That’s why they should just tender him at 4.65 (tiny raise) and see if he takes the risk of filing for arbitration. If he wins 6M in arbitration, he still runs the risk of getting cut in spring training for 1M and hoping to find 3.65 million on the open market. So he’d probably take the offer.

As Cirensica

I have no doubts he’ll get that in the free market. Descalso got 5 million last year. The corp of Brian Dozier got 9 million. Wilmer Flores got 5 million

Yolmer is better than all of them.


I agree that there is a problem with baseball economics. Yolmer is worth something to a major league team. But the question the White Sox have to ask is whether he is worth 10 times as much as Danny Mendick, who could do the same job while providing 80% of the production?

Patrick Nolan

Reynaldo Lopez is kind of living proof of that this year.

Trooper Galactus

Lopez’s season has been so utterly baffling. Still a believer, but holy ass he does not make it easy.

As Cirensica

I think it’ll be the right thing to do to part ways if we are gonna use the money to get actual players that make the White Sox competitive. I have a bad feeling that once Sanchez goes to another team, he will become another Eduardo Escobar.

Trooper Galactus

Well, yeah, it’d be great if they used the money to get players that would actually make them competitive, but this is Hahn/Williams/Renisdorf we’re talking about here.


If it’s a choice between Yolmer and Leury, I’d go to arbitration with both and see how to move Leury in trade. If you can’t find a taker by mid-March, one or both could be released.


Leury is likely to be the 4th outfielder along with a backup infielder. He has more value to the Sox than Yolmer.


I’d take Engel over Leury as a 4th outfielder.

Trooper Galactus

Except Leury would be a lot more than a 4th outfielder. He’d also be the backup SS, 2B, and 3B. I don’t know why people keep forgetting that.

And how do their bats compare?

Leury’s is better, especially accounting for the vast disparity in sample size. Engel has a slightly better OPS on the season in barely a third as many PAs, and that’s after riding a hot streak to get there.

Leury is also a switch hitter.

John SF

Wow, Engel’s hot streak lately has been way way better than I had been following if his OPS is up to 700 range.   That’s incredible (and almost certainly unsustainable).  How many options does he have left?


I can hardly believe we’re weighing Garcia vs. Engel. Adam Engel is not a major league hitter. He is completely overmatched. Solid contact is always accidental. Meanwhile, I was pleasantly surprised when, given the opportunity to play every day, Leury became a solid leadoff man, someone I had real confidence in when he came to the plate. Things may have tapered off as the year dragged on, but he was hitting near .300 for much of the season when it still mattered. And he knows how to drive the ball to the gaps. I did not expect him to be as good as he was this year. Honestly, I don’t know why you don’t make him your starting right fielder next year, and let him hit either leadoff, or, assuming Madrigal ultimately takes over that spot, hit him ninth.

karkovice squad

I wouldn’t say being more mediocre at more positions is a selling point for Leury over Yolmer. He’s both injury prone and less useful the more he plays. His advantage is a lower salary.

Yolmer’s got the higher ceiling and an actual calling card skill.

As Cirensica

What can you get in a trade with Leury or Yolmer? Nothing exciting. They could be nice additions to a larger deal involving another more impact player.


Or some minor league depth. Leury would fit in Boston as I can’t see them tendering Jackie Bradley.

As Cirensica

How is minor league depth helping the White Sox to contend?

Patrick Nolan

Would’ve been nice to have in 2016.

Trooper Galactus

Would be nice to have NOW. That’s still a serious problem with their system.

karkovice squad

Cash considerations or international pool money.


Sox acquire J2 $? That’s funny.

Trooper Galactus

I mean, having it doesn’t mean they have to spend it, right?

karkovice squad

It’s more a question of whether you tender either of them as insurance against injury or not finding an upgrade.

Trooper Galactus

If this team let go of Leury they’d better make some really good signings in the offseason, because teams with minimal depth can ill afford to part with their best depth piece.


I am firmly against bringing Sanchez back at 6 million. Team is too cheap and has too many holes to bring back a guy who is a glove only 2nd basemen.

Miguel Rojas got 2 years 10.5 mil, so its not even that Sanchez’s arb number is crazy its just the total lack of upside, the lack of homers and extra base hits, ect ect

Trooper Galactus

While not good, Yolmer at $6 million would probably be one of the best dollars-for-performance deals this team has made in the last five years, which is pretty pathetic.


Though this is a relevant topic and a well written article, I will choose to believe that this article only exists as an excuse to use that awesome Skanberg portrait of Yolmer.

As Cirensica

I thought about it. jimmy is running Skanberg well-drawn gallery of portraits in interesting White Sox articles. Jim better hopes Skanberg does not drawn Hahn’s portrait. That could be a tricky article.


Skanberg could easily portray Hahn to look like a doofus


Hahn easily portrays Hahn as a doofus.

Patrick Nolan

He’s been a very watchable baseball player. I’ll miss him if he moves on. The good thing is that there should be plenty of teams that would be happy to have him.


For most of this year, I’ve been against bring Yolmer back, but the more I think about it, the more I now believe that we need him for next season.

His ability to turn the double play helped us get out of many big jams this season, and his overall defense, outside of a few horrible spurts, has been very good. Yolmer would be a very good place-holder for Madrigal, because he is a proven starter at the MLB level, and he likely would accept being a backup once Madrigal comes to the big leagues. Yes, we might have to pay him $5 million or $6 million, but if we can get him on a one-year deal, it’s worth it. (Sometimes you have to slightly overpay for the overall good of the team.) We don’t exactly know when Madrigal will be ready, so it would be good to have Yolmer around in case the kid gets off to a slow start at Charlotte.

With rosters expanding to 26 next season, we will be able to carry an extra man, so I don’t see a problem with having Yolmer, Leury, Engel and Collins as backups next season once Robert and Madrigal come up. Engel can be used almost exclusively as a pinch runner/defensive replacement.


I’d be happy if they non-tender him and then bring him back at a lower price. With the 26 man roster, could you find a spot for him as a utility guy on a competitive team? Sure. Would you pay him $6M to fill that role? Not a chance.


Non-tender Yolmer. Sign Moustakis for 2 years with a 3rd year mutual option. You get a guy who has  post-season experience, hammers home runs, is a good glove at second and third base, gives you another DH left handed option. He’s a winner and pluggable into two positions that can be injury prone. I hope Yoan doesn’t get hurt throughout next season. I wouldn’t bet on it. The White Sox  need superior redundancy in order to be a credible contender going forward. 


Brewers have a club option on him for next year. I imagine they will pick it up.


It is a mutual option and Moustakas will almost certainly decline it coming off another solid season.

As Cirensica

Boras client too


My wife and daughter know him from the Gatorade dumps.  Especially when he does it on an unsuspecting person who had nothing to do with the play.  We’ll miss him. 

Trooper Galactus

“Sánchez’s unique skill set could have a place on the White Sox roster if the rest of the roster could absorb his weaknesses.”

This sums him up perfectly. The guy is a legitimate MLB caliber player, but, like many players, he has shortcomings that need to be worked around, and the White Sox have gone multiple years exposing them to the league at this point because they failed to sign or develop any better options (and no, I don’t think Mendick will be a better option, just a cheaper one).


Couldn’t Hahn just come to an agreement with Sanchez. He makes $4,625,000 now. Would he take the same thing? Probably for one more year

John SF

Yes winning is important, but baseball is also entertainment.  

And it’s not like the dollars belong to us.  These are Jerry’s dollars.  

I firmly believe that 1% of next year’s budget can afford to be spent on Yolmer for non savermetricly justified reasons just because we love him and he sparks joy.  

This goes beyond clubhouse value and into team value and Gatorade dumps and whatnot.   

Watching the 2020 season will be more fun, and that’s what it’s all about.  And that extra 1% isn’t going to be spent so much better anyway.  We’re not going to miss the playoffs or make the playoffs by a couple of runs in one game, we just aren’t.   That’s the difference 1% is worth.   

So spend that extra hard to justify million on Yolmer, and probably make most of it back in ticket sales anyway because Yolmer is a fans favorite and provides continuity.    

That’s my opinion.