The most essential 2020 White Sox: Nos. 59-31

With Opening Day on the doorstep, it’s time to once again summarize where players stand entering the season, then rank them in a way that only stands to embarrass me if players decide to pleasantly surprise.

Aaron Bummer ranked 36th on this list last year. Players who ranked in the top 20 included Daniel Palka, Jose Rondón, Yonder Alonso and Welington Castillo. That looks bad, but so did the Sox. So many players above Bummer needed to hold their own in order to have a chance at a winning season. So many did not, and that’s how you end up at 72 wins.

Basically, these players are ranked by how important good seasons from them would be. Entering the 2019 season, the White Sox didn’t need Bummer to excel when it looked like they had a bevy of big-armed lefties. Then Jace Fry wobbled, Caleb Frare collapsed and Kodi Medeiros failed to materialize into anything, so Bummer became essential. That’s reflected this time around in this album of snapshots.

Usually I limit the list to 40 players or thereabouts, but since there’s a hard cap of 60 for the player pool — the White Sox have 59 after Michael Kopech dropped out — I may as well account for the entire cast of eligible players and give me more chances to humiliate myself.

(NOTE: This list has been updated to reflect changes made by the White Sox in advance of their Opening Day roster.)

The White Sox invited these three journeyman righties to spring training as pitching depth in Charlotte. That pitching depth is now in Schaumburg. In either scenario, if any of these guys are called upon, disaster has struck. They’re ranked in order of MLB experience, from least to most.

Burr is coming off Tommy John surgery, and there are a mountain of right-handed relief candidates on the 40-man roster. He just needs to get back to full strength in order to be assessed next season.

He’s basically in the same boat as Lail, McRae and Mitchell, except the White Sox put him on their 44-man training cast in Chicago.

Until these three members of the aluminum-selling quartet Birmingham Logjam distinguish their futures from one another, I don’t feel like I have to. I put Gonzalez in front because the White Sox called him up to train in Chicago when Luis Basabe suffered a bruised foot.

It’s hard to see a path for the fifth catcher on the 40-man roster, but if the Sox needed someone to catch — as in handle pitchers, receive, etc. — he’s their third-best option.

Here’s how far Fulmer’s stock fell: Despite an 11-man bullpen, the White Sox designated Fulmer for assignment to make room for Ross Detwiler. He might be off this list completely if another team claims him off waivers. (Previously ranked No. 39.)

I don’t quite see a path for Flores as a kitchen-sink lefty starter who hasn’t reached Triple-A. He’d be a better use of starts than the aforementioned AAAA pitchers, but I don’t see it bearing success, either.

The White Sox have a shortage of left-handed options behind Bummer, so you can’t rule out small-sample success stories from Schaumburg playing a part. Lindgren’s pitched in the majors before, although that was two Tommy John surgeries ago.

Basabe is spiritually with his Birmingham brethren in the 50s, especially yet another injury took him out of the literal running in Chicago. That said, he’s using the second of three option years, and he can cover all three outfield positions, so he’s the guy I see the Sox randomly grabbing under dire circumstances.

They’re both on the 40-man roster, but because they weren’t invited to the Chicago portion of training camp, I’m inclined to think they’ll be among the first jettisoned from the 40-man roster to open additional spots.

He has a history of playing wherever he’s told. The White Sox’s depth issues on the left side of the infield and outfield corners suggest such a player could become necessary. (I originally wrote this blurb about Andrew Romine, but it still works.)

There’s a scenario where Stiever rebounds from his spring forearm issue to become a feasible multi-inning guy for a contending team in September, but that seems like it’s asking too much from a pitcher with one good professional season under his belt.

There’s a scenario where Vaughn’s bat is dangerous enough that he could stand at third for a few games in September for a team that needs him, but that seems like it’s asking too much from a first baseman with a half-season of pro ball under his belt.

Burdi has to overcome a lot of other right-handed relief candidates for sunlight, but the Sox have invested enough in his arduous recovery from Tommy John surgery that I imagine they’ll want to give him a look should he earn one.

Mejia looked like left-handed pitching depth in spring training, and under my Year of the AAAA Player theory, he’ll benefit from being a guy who enjoyed four MLB stints for three MLB organizations last year, given that he has plenty of experience showing up for an unfamiliar team on short notice. I had him above Detwiler initially, but Detwiler now holds the edge because he actually made the MLB roster.

If 1990s kitsch is indeed back, then the White Sox can make a quick social splash with the Detwiler Frogs, who will serve a purpose as a long man out of the bullpen early. Det-WI-ler. Is that anything?

Three big right-handed arms, all of whom face a closing door as the roster shrinks from 30 to 28 to 26. Guerrero would probably be the guy you want now, Johnson would be the guy you want later. Hamilton just needs a couple months without a horror befalling him to better understand where he’s at.

After seeing Yolmer Sánchez and Jose Rondón ranked in the top 20 last year, the White Sox have hopefully accrued enough potential impact players to make spare utility infielders more or less interchangeable. I think Mendick has a better shot at becoming somebody, but I don’t think he’ll get the chance to show it under these circumstances.

If the White Sox need a seventh starter way earlier than anticipated, Detwiler’s probably the guy. If the White Sox need a seventh starter during the second half of the season, one of these two guys stands a better chance of showing the organization something more substantial, as they both figure to be part of the depth picture in 2021. Lambert’s getting a head start by breaking camp with the team in the bullpen, perhaps because his high fastball-curve combination is a better bet for one scoreless inning at a time.

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asinwreck

Until these three members of the aluminum-selling quartet Birmingham Logjam distinguish their futures from one another, I don’t feel like I have to.

If Birmingham’s outfielders get a waiver to use aluminum bats, we might yet see power from Blake Rutherford. Also, I could refer to the trio forevermore as The Aluminum Group.

shaggy65

I thought Basabe would be on his 3rd and final option year in 2020. We may finally be approaching the consequences of the Sox adding him and Micker to the 40-man at least a year too early (though I think Micker was granted an extra option).

asinwreck

Roster announcement, including the return of Ryan Goins. Sure looks like Delmonico is the short-term Mazara replacement.

I mean, it’s a real mouthful of White Sox moves pic.twitter.com/Ev33NXDK0p

— James Fegan (@JRFegan) July 23, 2020

asinwreck

Also….

Madrigal gets to evaluate whether eating meatballs at the Schaumburg IKEA is a good idea.

Heuer starts the season in Chicago, Guerrero gets sent down, and Carson Fulmer gets designated for assignment. Other than the Madrigal move, all these moves signal an attempt to be competitive in Week One.

Eagle Bones

Kinda feel like they should have given Fulmer one more shot until the rosters trimmed down, but I can’t really say this looks like a mistake based on anything he’s done. Bummer, he seems like a hard worker and a nice kid. Just not working out for him.

Like them being aggressive with Heuer, he looks ready to contribute, maybe even in a meaningful way. Not crazy about using spots on Cuthbert and Detwiler, but I guess I understand given it sounds like they don’t want to push Moncada too fast and they’re a little vulnerable in the rotation at spots. Also on the bright side, I’m having trouble getting down to 26 guys (trying to remove 4 for the planned roster reductions and then two more spots for Mazara and Madrigal eventually), so that’s good! Depth (kind of)!

roke1960

Assuming Madrigal and Mazara are with the team and also assuming no injuries/illness (a pipe dream), I would guess the 26-man would be:

Catchers- Grandal/Collins/McCann
Infield/DH- Abreu/Madrigal/Anderson/Yoan/Leury/Edwin
Outfield- Eloy/Robert/Mazara/Engel
Starters- Giolito/Keuchel/Cease/Rodon/Lopez/Gonzalez
Bullpen- Colome/Bummer/Herrera/Cordero/Cishek and 2 of Heuer/Marshall/Fry

Just because Fry is left handed shouldn’t guarantee him a spot. If he can’t throw strikes, Gio can be the 2nd lefty out of the pen. They could also keep all 3 of those relievers and send Collins down.

Eagle Bones

I had the same except I think Herrera might be in the mix to get the axe if he still look off. No point in holding him if he doesn’t look more like his old self (especially if the young guys look decent).

roke1960

I agree about Herrera. Since this is his last guaranteed year, if he’s not performing it would be easy to eat that contract. If he’s healthy, though, I would expect good things from him.

Eagle Bones

He’s also got some kind of vesting option (see below). Think these got prorated for the shortened season, right? That would have left him needing 53 games played in 2020 to get to 110. Prorated that would be like 19 or 20 now I guess? That’s actually pretty easily reachable if he doesn’t get hurt.

2021 option is guaranteed with 110 games combined in 2019-20, including at least 55 games in 2020, and if Herrera passes a physical exam after the 2020 season

peanutsNcrackerjack

Carson Fulmer=Mitch Trubisky. Walker Buehler =Patrick Mahomes or at least Deshaun Watson.

MrStealYoBase

1. If only Benintendi had lasted one more pick back in 2015.

2. People are going to trash the fact Madrigal isn’t on the roster to open the year but… I’m not totally sold it isn’t the right move, even from a purely competitive perspective. I didn’t watch all that much of him last year in the minors and from what I’ve seen so far in Spring and Summer camp, I gotta say that all the weak ground balls don’t get me too excited.

asinwreck

Congratulations to Ross Detwiler.

Congratulations to former York Revolution pitcher Ross Detwiler for making the @whitesox opening day roster!

(AP Photo/Matt Marton) pic.twitter.com/BYIiJ5ctKP

— Atlantic League (@AtlanticLg) July 23, 2020

roke1960

Looks like the Sox chances of making the playoffs just got a lot better:
Just hours before the first pitch of the 2020 season, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have reached an agreement on an expanded postseason field. ESPN’s Marly Rivera reports that the union has agreed to the proposal, which now needs only to be ratified by the owners. Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggests that will indeed happen, and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that there’ll be 16 teams as well as a best-of-three first round series (rather than a sudden-death Wild Card setting). The agreement covers only the 2020 season, per both Rivera and Sherman.

Eagle Bones

I’m not a fan of half the teams making the playoffs, but if it gets the players additional cash I guess I’m for it. Hoping they come with a more streamlined format in the next CBA though.

roke1960

It only covers the 2020 season. i’m sure they’ll go back to 10 teams if there is a full season in 2021.

Eagle Bones

I would assume for 2021, yeah. But if everyone likes the way this goes, have to think this has a good chance of sticking in the next CBA. It’s more money for the owners and presumably they would give up something in negotiations that the players want to keep it.

35Shields

I guarantee it sticks. Going back to 10 teams would require the owners to show forethought and a preference for the long-term health of the sport over immediate-term profits; something that seems particularly unlikely after they spent the last five months ensuring that there’ll be a strike in a few years just to save a few dimes this year.

I really wish that college ball would switch to wood bats. I’d seriously consider just ignoring the MLB at this point.