The White Sox are 1-0 since losing Nick Madrigal for months, if not the rest of the 2021 season, to a torn hamstring. The timetable isn’t firm because the involved parties are going to spend the next week determining if surgery is necessary.
Certain roster moves and lineup adjustments were already made, and greater ones could be coming, although Rick Hahn tried to soften expectations for immediate action.
“It’s June 10,” Hahn said. “This is still a little bit early for things to be getting done, but the talks will become a little more focused here. We could well have an interesting next [several weeks] leading up to the trade deadline.”
The White Sox can exercise some patience because they have a 4½-game lead. Were they trailing Cleveland or another Central foe by the same gap, they might have to act quicker to maximize the time remaining. The Sox still need to be cognizant of their margins, but there’s no point in building a little bit of a cushion if you can’t use it to explore all options, internal and external.
Here’s how all the moving parts look to me at the moment:
The impact on him is already obvious, because he’s in Chicago when he wasn’t before, and not because his performance demanded it. He can provide left-handed help to Adam Engel in center and Andrew Vaughn in left without asking too much outfield play from Jake Lamb.
Then again, with Engel taking a righty deep on Thursday night, Tony La Russa may very well play Engel as much as his body allows early on to assess the state of his game. Either way, Goodwin’s presence is more about freeing up …
… to handle second base duties. It’s how the White Sox managed the position during Madrigal absences forced (service-time manipulation) and involuntary (separated shoulder). García split time with …
… but while they stand on both sides of the plate between them, there isn’t a natural platoon to be found. Mendick showed no particular platoon edge in the minors, and his splits have been backwards in the majors:
- vs. RHP: .276/.331/.426 over 150 PA
- vs. LHP: .182/.222/.286 over 81 PA
While you should probably look askance at such a small strange small sample and expect it to work itself out, it’s been fairly prevalent throughout his career. I can’t remember Mendick pulling much left-handed stuff with authority, and Statcast says he struggles to cover the outer half, so maybe lefties can throw him stuff that never approaches the inner half of the plate, and Mendick can’t damage it the way a right-handed fastball might stay inside.
This still can work for the short term because García is stronger against lefties. You just have to believe what your eyes (and Statcast) are telling you and give Mendick some run against righties, no matter how counterintuitive it may seem. At least he can play defense.
When Adam Eaton‘s legs didn’t inspired the confidence, La Russa relocated Madrigal from the ninth spot to second in the order against lefties. Madrigal hit .340/.377/.480 from the second spot, which included improvements against righties. Maybe you’d still rather see Yoán Moncada come to the plate under certain circumstances depending on the power needed, but Madrigal was seldom a bad matchup.
PERTINENT: Nick Madrigal’s improvements make him tougher for White Sox to replace
Mercedes went 2-for-4 against Hyun-Jin Ryu and Toronto during Thursday’s victory, giving him consecutive games with hits for the first time since mid-May. The catch is that Mercedes’ two hits came on an 80 mph changeup and an 88 mph cutter, both with his shortened two-strike approach after extended battles. He can handle softer stuff — especially from lefties — so the start of the game isn’t the problem. The complications come later in the games, when it seems like any manager can bring in any hard-throwing righty out of the pen and neutralize the guy getting the second highest amount of chances in the game.
Mercedes batting second could work if La Russa is prepared to go to Lamb or Eaton or anybody else who stands a better chance of meeting right-handed fastballs, but Mercedes has never been pinch-hit for. He’s only been replaced with a pinch runner or a defensive upgrade.
With Jake Burger being one of the few true success stories in the minors, Madrigal’s absence led some fans to wonder whether Moncada could return to his old position of second base in order for Burger to play third.
Moncada isn’t really a second baseman, at least in the way that we know he’s a third baseman. Yet I don’t really like to see the idea reflexively swatted down, because there are advantages with keeping positions fluid. We just saw Marcus Semien pass through town having a successful season at second base with Toronto, while Mike Moustakas became a second baseman on the fly to meet Milwaukee’s needs a couple years ago. Max Muncy became a second baseman out of necessity for the Dodgers, and shifts there whenever the need arises. It’d help the White Sox considerably if everybody were comfortable with Moncada occasionally pitching in at the position.
The argument against Moncada moving is more about Burger, whose successful start at Charlotte (.266/.316/.514) is threatened by a strikeout rate that’s been rising over the course of the season (36 percent in June). It’s not that big of a problem for Burger overall, because he should be allowed to figure out the game as it comes to him after three years away. It just doesn’t seem wise to place MLB expectations on him at this point. Marco Hernández is probably a better short-term option, even if his line (.325/.333/.439) is a Charlotte-aided mirage (.288/.302/.308 on the road).
Others outside the organization
From his overall production (.329/.391/.471) to his minuscule strikeout rate (10.5 percent) to his left-handedness to his ability cover second base and a corner outfield spot, Frazier is such a natural fit for this roster that a trade almost seems preordained.
But Frazier might be having too good of a season, especially for a guy who has his third arb year coming up afterward. He’s more than a rental, so the Pirates may be inclined to generate a real bidding war for his services.
Josh hosted a Twitter Spaces before Thursday’s game where he and Jordan Lazowski batted around some ideas, and Cabrera was one of them. He’s not as exciting as Frazier, but the 35-year-old switch-hitting infielder is batting .275/.378/.450 for the Diamondbacks, and he’s no stranger to being dealt to a contender and serving the purpose needed (he has a World Series ring with the Nationals as proof).
Sánchez still hasn’t played an MLB game for another team besides the White Sox, even though he’s been a part of three other organizations over the last two years (Giants, Orioles, Braves). I saw him pass through Nashville when the Sounds played the Gwinett Braves, with whom Sánchez is currently hitting .164/.307/.233. That doesn’t sound appealing, but Sánchez came from a similarly humbling situation last year with San Francisco and hit .313/.476/.688 over 21 plate appearances. Until Sánchez surfaces with another team, I’m not convinced you can ever count him out when there’s a vacancy.
(Photo by Laura Wolff / Charlotte Knights)
So, kind of an out there idea admittedly, but might Trevor Story be worth a thought? Elite D and offense on an expiring contract while protecting against something happening to Tim Anderson. Granted, there’d have to be some question about where’d he play, but assuming he’d be willing to move positions (imagining that would mean 2B or 3B with Moncada heading to 2B) it could work. I can’t imagine the price is going to be that high for him either, due to the Rockies absolute lack of any negotiating leverage and the true lack of that many places that really need a SS. Granted, it’s not really management’s MO to make a move like that, but this seems to be shaping up to be a special kind of season honestly. Maybe worth a thought.
The Rockies will get a comp pick for him so they have that leverage
Story is a much better SS than Tim, why would you Trevor to 2B?
Have to agree with Petriello. Frazier is a perfect fit: good enough to start at several positions of need, not too good that he’s impossible to bench if the team gets healthy. It also *seems* like he shouldn’t cost that much (maybe a high-minors guy like Burdi and a low-minors lottery ticket like Bailey or Ramos), but what do I know.
It’s really hard to gauge a price without knowing which other competitive teams would be interested. I know they discussed that injuries are way up all other the league. I would have to guess a bunch of teams would be interested given his positional flexibility.
He is of a strange late bloomer. He sort of feels like a player that would find a way to suck soon after getting here. I’d rather get Haniger and be able to rest easy knowing right field was settled for next year.
Frazier is a great fit and I completely agree on the price—what you suggest sounds about right.
The two (or three) of Kelley/Thompson/Dalquist/Rodriguez is way too high of a price. Frazier is having an exceptional year, but his career norms (and his abnormally high BABIP) suggest regression is coming. He should be #1 on the list to replace Madrigal, but if the cost is 2 of that list, then move on.
Perfect except for the low value you placed on him. The guy is a legit starter, possible all star, his days of riding the pine are over. You want a Ruth type deal, give us your 2nd basman batting .330 for $100,000 worth of minors. Doesn’t happen, + teams know Sox are desperate too. A solid fielding 2nd hitting .330 will cost something like Cease (Kopech moves up to 5th starter) & mendick (to cover 2nd)
The Sox will be able to see Frazier in person in a week-and-a-half when they go to Pittsburgh.
I just get the sense that the Pirates are gonna demand more than the Sox are willing to pay and as a result, they’ll pursue one of either Cabrera or Eduardo Escobar from the D’backs, neither whom should cost them a whole lot in theory.
Rick Hahn has a real talent for speaking in convoluted banalities and legalistic word salad with weak subject-verb connections. He is practically unquotable. Impressive.
The lack of specificity is astounding. You could literally attribute that quote to any general manager (of any sport, not just MLB) and it wouldn’t be wrong. Just a profound lack of meaning.
Omit the word “trade” and it could be about almost any topic.
That is a good thing.
It isn’t really necessary when he is giving injury updates.
His commentary on Eloy and Robert yesterday was a little strange. He can stipulate what the current timetable is for them. The average fan is smart of enough to understand that a setback is still possible. He operates a bit like a politician who is afraid to over promise and under deliver when giving injury updates.
I like the idea of Asdrubal Cabrera. He won’t cost any meaningful prospect, Cabrera’s floor is solid. Veteran. Hits both sides. Decent contact. Some power (slugging % consistently begins with a .4xx in contrasts to Leury’s and Mendick’s both under 0.300). Post season experience. He is the perfect rental
My problem with Cabrera is his defense at this stage of his career is such that I wouldn’t be comfortable giving him innings at either middle infield position. He is a solid hitter though, and would be an excellent third base pickup if Moncada finds himself on the Injur….*beats head against wall*
Cabrera has pitched more times than he has played the middle infield in 2020 and 2021. I agree that he can’t play 2b or ss at this point in his career.
I HATE the thought of Moncada moving to second. It’s not his best position, and the risk of injury is much higher than at third.
I highly doubt the White Sox will move around his best player.
Also watching the balls put in play this year makes anything that reduces the defense at third base seem like a terrible idea. I realize it’s more fun to talk about getting marginal gains in offense, but with this pitching staff attention needs to be paid to infield defense and not giving the opposition any extra outs. As we saw this last series one miscue is not just potentially giving it up runs, but more high stress wear and tear on starting pitchers.
I highly doubt the Sox ownership/management is going to make any trade of significance when they believe that they’re already gonna win the division. Why waste money?
If they had a mediocre team that was 6-17 in their last 23 then they would take on a big salary for a fast-declining aging pitcher and send back a future HOFer in return.
How about a current HOFer?
What would it take to get Lowe or Wendle from the Rays? They aren’t going to be needed soon. The Rays have a 40 man issue (or will soon) plus their roster is full. They might just have the best 2 minor league infielders that should be up already! Take on Kiermaier’s salary and it might even cost less! I know Lowe isn’t hitting that well but he has played in the playoffs and did OK if I remember correctly. My guess is pitching like Stiever, Burr, and one of the high school arms might be more than enough to get it done.
We will see if Hahn’s non-words are just a stalling tactic so their customer(fans) will keep their hopes up that the players with these serious injuries will come back sooner than anticipated ( a carrot in front of the horse’s nose thing). If history is a lesson, Jerry will not sign off on any significant (expensive) move that will replaces the player lost for the season. Why do they do this, because they are lawyers. Lawyers love to twist people around, screw them and get thanked by their victims for doing it.