How 14 compelling White Sox-adjacent players fared in 2022

As I added Johnny Cueto to this season’s list of the most intriguing White Sox-adjacent players, I realized I never reviewed the list of 14 players to receive the honor in 2022 last April.

So, here are those 14 players.

PREVIOUS HOLDOVERS

Assuming their performances would hang around in the same neighborhood, the White Sox wouldn’t yet have reason to regret spending the money to acquire their services. Even Harper, who missed a chunk of the 2022 and will be out for the first half of 2023 with Tommy John surgery. In between holding off the procedure, he posted a 145 OPS+and hit six postseason homers. Wheeler posted a sub-3.00 ERA for a third consecutive season, and a sub-3.00 ERA over six postseason starts, and Machado finished second in the MVP race.

FORMER WHITE SOX

Rodón proved the White Sox wrong. His second-half problems in 2021 did not carry over into 2022. Instead, he threw a career-high 178 innings for the Giants, striking out a career-high 237 and finishing sixth in the Cy Young race. He then opted out of his SF deal and signed a six-year, $162 million contract with the Yankees, so the Giants got a draft pick.

The White Sox were right about Madrigal, who played just 59 games due to issues with his back and both hamstrings. He hit just .249/.305/.282, and he struck out 27 times in 228 plate appearances. That K rate still looks admirable, but it pales in comparison to what he did with the White Sox (24 over 324 PA).

Kimbrel posted a superficially decent season for the Dodgers — 22 saves, 3.75 ERA, 72 strikeouts over 60 innings — but he lost the closer job before the end of the season.

PITCHERS

The White Sox had their choice of disappointing former Padres this winter, and they went with Clevinger for one year and $12 million, rather than Manaea for two and $25 million. Manaea has durability on his side, but all of his core peripherals went in the wrong direction, resulting in a 4.96 ERA. In San Diego, that’s good for -0.9 WAR.

The White Sox wouldn’t meet Oakland’s asking price for Montas after the lockout, and Montas’ recurring shoulder problems over the second half of the season showed they were correct to be reluctant about overcommitting. Ray signed a pretty cheap deal for a Cy Young winner (5/$115M), and while he didn’t repeat his out-of-nowhere success with the Blue Jays from the year before, he gave the Mariners 189 good innings (3.71 ERA, 212 strikeouts, 2.1 WAR).

POSITION PLAYERS

Conforto didn’t play in 2022, and he’ll probably pop up on this list in a couple months after signing a two-year, $36 million to be a left-handed right fielder for the Giants. Suzuki solved right field for the Cubs adequately, but a strong April gave way to a more ordinary .258/.320/.413 line over the last five months, with a finger injury in June.

Semien ended up taking a scenic route to a competent season, hitting .248/.304/.429 with 26 homers and 25 stolen bases. Considering his batting average was in the .150s halfway into May, he was staring down the barrel of a worse start to his seven-year, $175 million contract. In the end, thanks to his defense and league-leading durability, he managed to be worth 5.9 bWAR. FanGraphs only has him at 4.2 WAR, but that’s still plays.

I liked Barnhart among the backup-catcher candidates for most of the winter, but Reese McGuire did a better job with the same profile as a glove-first guy. Abrams, who struck me as a more exciting third-overall pick than Andrew Vaughn in 2019, is now on the Nationals after the Juan Soto trade. He made his debut last year, hitting .246/.280/.324 over 90 games between San Diego and Washington. Plate discipline is the big problem right now (50 strikeouts, five walks).

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Augusto Barojas

They needed at least 2 of the players listed to have any chance at a WS. Semien and either Harper or Springer would have given them a shot. Probably would need to add Wheeler to give them an excellent one. They’re two or three 9 figure contract caliber players from being true WS contenders. Which is the difference between a really good owner, and one of the worst in pro sports.

BenwithVen

From Nightengale’s article today. Should be noted he quoted a “white sox official” earlier in the article:

The White Sox, who picked second baseman Nick Madrigal in the first round of the 2018 draft and traded him to the Cubs in 2021 for veteran closer Craig Kimbrel, now have a chance to get him back. 

The Cubs no longer have room for Madrigal in the starting lineup after signing shortstop Dansby Swanson and shifting Nico Hoerner to second base, and guess who desperately needs a second baseman? 

Yep, the White Sox.

I’d laugh if he comes back.

Last edited 2 months ago by BenwithVen
Yolmer's gatorade

I’d honestly be happy with Nick Madrigal back. He’d probably only cost a decent but not great prospect too.

Right Size Wrong Shape

He shouldn’t cost anything. Maybe a DSL backup guy or something.

dongutteridge

I’d be happy to give Madrigal one more chance at a fresh start as long as the cost in trade was minimal.

Joliet Orange Sox

The Sox traded Madrigal to the Cubs for Kimbrel, an overpriced reliever whose best days were behind him.

Symmetry demands the Cubs trade Madrigal to the Sox for Diekman. I’m for that deal!

I’m less enthusiastic about getting Madrigal back at a higher cost.

Joliet Orange Sox

I’m going to give this a more serious reply (although I stand by my willingness to trade Diekman for Madrigal).

I don’t have any enthusiasm for reacquiring Madrigal but I’m not as dismissive of the idea as some are. I think the fact that his glove did not live up to the hype of being elite led some to think his glove was weak instead of seeing his glove as solid (his statcast success rate added has been 1%, 0%, 1% in his three MLB seasons). I think Madrigal is a good bet to be mediocre (700+ ops and solid glove). It’s not a certainty that the Sox other options will do as well.

Last edited 2 months ago by Joliet Orange Sox
As Cirensica

If Madrigal hits near 700 OPS I will eat my hat.

As Cirensica

He would cost a prospect AND Lenyn’s opportunity to establish himself as a 2B. Too expensive. Pass.

chipporter

And that’s the rub…does he block a worthy up and comer or does it afford Sosa more time in the minors for polish?

Augusto Barojas

Maybe they can convince Adam Eaton to come out of retirement to add depth to RF as well.

I wouldn’t doubt that they get Madrigal back, his trade value very low at the moment. If they wait they can get him mid season when the Cubs DFA him. He’ll probably be on the DL by then.

I don’t want him. I might not even bother to watch a game if he is their opening day starting 2b. No upside whatsoever, a slap hitter with no power and who doesn’t hit righties, or take walks, and is a near certainty to wind up on the DL. Pure nonsense that they would consider him after they could have gotten Segura for a few million. At least Sosa is healthy and can hit some homers.

Having said that, Nightengale has proved about as reliable as Hahn, so hopefully there is nothing to this rumor.

Last edited 2 months ago by Augusto Barojas
Jeff

I wouldn’t give up on Madrigal so fast, and I would be happy if the Sox could get him for a middling prospect (which I doubt). He was very good for the White Sox in 2020 and 2021 (until he got hurt). He was injury ridden and otherwise terrible for the Cubs last year, but picked up a little in August. He may turn out to be an injury prone mediocrity with limited upside, but I liked his game when he was here.

Bonus Baby

I think I agree about the price of Madrigal. There are several years of control there, and the price may be higher than most people seem to think.

I do, however, think that a mid-level prospect could get one Tony Kemp, LH2B extraordinaire!

Joliet Orange Sox

I’m surprised no one has suggested Tony Kemp prior to today.
😉

Last edited 2 months ago by Joliet Orange Sox
Bonus Baby

If y’all think you can shame me into not bringing up Tony Kemp, it ain’t happening 😉

At least until they do something real to fix 2B. And if they don’t, woe unto the comments section if and when Tony Kemp outperforms the internal options during the regular season — particularly against RHP.

texag10

My biggest concern is hamstring and back injuries don’t just go away and in my experience, they tend to negatively reinforce each other.

As Cirensica

This ^

Pretty much a summary of my view. No upside. Hurts a lot. Depends on legs. Legs get hurt. Hips get hurt. Poor defense. Poor baserunning. I rather we play Josh Harrison in 2B.

hitlesswonder

Hahn is getting the band back together! The band, Elwood! The band!

phillyd

If the Sox were going to trade for a 2B entering arbitration years that has underperformed draft expectations, I would rather they go after Brendan Rodgers.

a-t

The Rockies front office acts in generally insane manner is the issue with Rodgers. They would probably either give him away for little or (more likely) demand the world for him unreasonably

Bonus Baby

Brendan Rodgers career OPS+:
against LHP: 139
against RHP: 83

Tony Kemp career OPS+:
against LHP: 87
against RHP: 103

Another guy who has problems against RHP would not be great. Rodgers plays better defense, but Kemp obviously should be much easier to get in a trade.

🙂

steelydan52

A month ago I would have laughed at the Sox bringing Madrigal back because I “knew” that Hahn would trade for a good 2B. The laugh is on me so far so considering who the Sox have battling for 2B, bring Madrigal back providing, like you all have mentioned, they don’t give up much.

NancyFaustsOrgan

There was a story last week about how the Cubs are working with Madrigal on the way he runs in order to take stress off his hamstrings.

For Madrigal, part of the solution to a healthy regiment in 2023 comes from advanced data the team has on each player’s biometrics through their running and other movements they make. According to some within the Cubs system, for Madrigal, that means the way he runs — Madrigal’s running pattern has him more upright than other players, meaning he’s putting more stress on his hamstrings, which can, in turn lead to hamstring or lower body injuries.

Spending the offseason to build a workout plan that combats the way Madrigal runs could lead to success for Madrigal in the health department.

ParisSox

Admittedly knowing nothing about biometrics, I could see the next headline:

“Madrigal knee issue caused by change in running style.”

GrinnellSteve

If it’s a nominal cost, I would gladly welcome Nicky back. I think he will have a solid major league career.

vanillablue

Leaving aside the merits of trading for Madrigal – how many other players have gone from the Sox to the Cubs, and then back to the Sox? Only one I can think of is Steve Stone.

MikeAndrews2

It is “so Sox” that we are even discussing a possible return of Nick Madrigal to the Sox. Despite the fact that the position has been a wasteland for years, and despite the increased importance of the position given the ban on shifts, we’re four weeks from the start of spring training and the Sox have taken no apparent steps to fill the position. To think we would even consider filling a key position in this way speaks volume on the Sox’ commitment to winning.

ParisSox

“The So-So White Sox of 2023!”

StockroomSnail

🎶Let’s so-so whiiiiite sox mired in mediocrity all the wayyyyy🎶

Last edited 2 months ago by StockroomSnail
a-t

I’d be fine with bringing Madrigal back for a reasonable price. My preferred 2B option Wong already got traded, and none of McNeil, B. Lowe, K. Marte, Albies, or Cronenworth, or Lux are at all available at prices worth considering, and I don’t think the Twins are terribly interested in trading Polanco to us. So the options were always rather slim, and they didn’t secure the best realistic option, Wong, like they should have. Thus: happy to roll the dice on Madrigal being the 3-win dude he looked like pre hammy injury.

Alfornia Jones

Recency bias, not QO’ing Rodon is the real de-stabilizer. They knew Kuechel was finished, so they were willfully stupid in thinking they had a whole staff without Rodon. By doing the QO, they probably could have locked him down for 2 yr deal/20-22 each yr, no opt out. He was the difference in 21, and he certainly gets them closer in 22. Making any move is a gamble, but the real talent evaluators knew he turned the corner and could hold up.

Madrigal is a Mike Caruso without the 2 home runs per year. He doesn’t walk, really poor base runner, and his defense is mediocre at best with no flash. if that’s their move, please give me Sosa or Romy. Romy aside, I’m interested in the Marco Paddy guys hitting the ML roster, he’s the best talent evaluator the Sox have so please don’t trade any.

a-t

I don’t think the baserunning & defense assessments for Madrigal are accurate. He was brutal running the bases in the 2 month pandemic season/rookie debut, which means rather little, and the defense eye test and metrics have him as a little above average, just not the bordering on Gold Glove level that scouting on him in college reported.

Alfornia Jones

his profile is no XBH and no walks. if he isn’t a plus defender and a plus plus base runner, then why would anyone want him or worse give up another player for him? the Sox made a good trade, it just didn’t work out on our side and they made it worse with the Kimbrell option. he should work out great hitting fungos for the rookie league team when his career is over in 2 yrs.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Agreed. We were lucky that someone took him off of our hands. The Sox should count their blessings and move on to an actual baseball player that can do things like throw and hit the ball hard.

a-t

because he has a bonkers 70 hit tool, lol. which means when healthy, he is an above-average offensive contributor at an up-the-middle defensive position. which mean that before getting hurt in ‘21, he was on pace to put up an excellent 3.6 fWAR season. maybe he’ll never be that guy again— pretty much exactly the guy he was projected to be when drafted!—after the injuries. but if you think that version of him is recoverable, he’s a worthy restoration project.

texag10

2021 is such a weird season for Madrigal. He had a decent number of PAs so I’m not definitely calling it a fluke but the man had an ISO of .120 which is just kinda bonkers for his profile.

Trooper Galactus

Doing the QO wouldn’t have changed anything except they would have gotten a comp pick. He and Boras would have turned it down and the Giants would probably still have offered him the same money.

peanutsNcrackerjack

Can we ask for Codi Heuer back as well?

PauliePaulie

Today Grifol doubled down on Eloy seeing time in RF.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

All of the Sox problems can be solved internally, as if by magic. The answers lie within. Just you wait.

jorgefabregas

Yes, said it would help him at the plate to play in right a couple times a week. Jim previously suggested that maybe this was just to send a message to Eloy to stay in shape.

He hit very well as a full-time DH last year!

StockroomSnail

This is your brain on white sox… any questions?

a-t

1-2 times a week seems fine. If he can’t handle that, he can’t handle running the bases either.

MattVerplaetse

In my experience, there’s typically much less “running into a wall” risk on the base paths than there is in the outfield.

SupportSoxFamily

Sign Andrus…..TA to 2b. Defense improves at shortstop and second base.

bobsquad

TA has repeatedly stated that he wants to remain at SS. This seems to be of particular importance to him, and unless we see injuries and age fully sap his athleticism, it would come off as a sign of disrespect to the All-Star starting SS.

MattVerplaetse

This, and people tend to label TA’s defense as being worse than it actually is. The data says he’s become somewhere around league average, which is fine as long as he’s above average offensively.

StockroomSnail

Had a big laugh reading this in The Athletic:

“Where he was in his career and where we’re hoping we can get him to, that’s a No. 1 or No. 2 in your rotation,” said Katz of free-agent signing Mike Clevinger”

StockroomSnail

Be lucky to get 75 pitches from him every 5 days.

a-t

Not really sure why you’re so cynical about this. Clevinger certainly used to be that level of pitcher, and Katz has waved his magical mechanics wand and fixed even more currently broken pitchers (Rodón) than him. Not at all a guarantee obviously, but doesn’t seem insane.

Augusto Barojas

If you look at the Sox staff last year other than Cease, I don’t think Katz is a miracle worker. Gio was awful, Lynn so-so and injured, Kopech all over the place. And the pen had the 12th ERA in the AL.

Maybe he’s helped Rodon, Cease, and Lopez, but all pitching coaches have the ability to help some guys or they wouldn’t have jobs. The Giants staff wasn’t anything special when Katz was with them. Sure, Clevinger could do well, anything is possible. But mediocrity and time on the DL is enormously more likely for a guy coming off an injury and who hasn’t been both healthy and good since 2019, and who has only thrown 130 innings once in his career.

Between Clevinger and Kopech, I think Davis Martin or somebody like him is a good bet to get 15 starts, maybe more than that.

Last edited 2 months ago by Augusto Barojas
a-t

Katz was also the guy who turned Gio from worst starter in MLB to a genuine top-10 starter in for 2019-21 in a single offseason a couple years back, that’s kinda a big one lol. And while Gio certainly had a quite bad year, he was still playable, no. 4/5 instead of the no. 1/2 we’ve come to expect from him— not that 2018 replacement-level terribleness.

No credit given for Cueto’s little miracle year either? Re Lynn and Kopech, they dealt with leg injuries much of the year like nearly everyone else on the roster. Dunno how much of that is Katz and how much is the training staff’s ineptitude, or Lynn just being old and large.

Anyways, no pitching coach is really a miracle worker, but… can you name another pitching coach today under whom 3 SPs went from barely playable to genuine TOR pitchers in 3 years? It’s a damn impressive feat to do once in 3 years, let alone thrice, and I think you’re really taking for granted how much that’s saved the Sox from being truly mediocre.

Augusto Barojas

Nothing has saved the Sox from being truly mediocre, for anybody watching them play exactly .500 since July of 2021. They could be worse, certainly. I’m also not saying Katz isn’t a good pitching coach, either. It’s just there is a limit as to what a pitching coach can do. He didn’t make the SF staff great, or the Sox because no pitching coach has that much of an impact. He is a coach, not a magician. They are set to start the year with Clevinger and Kopech, with only one mlb season of over 130 innings between the two of them. Is that a good plan, is Katz going to fix that? Have they factored in that they might need 20 starts from Davis Martin when those two (and probably Lynn) spend time on the DL?

I’m not saying Katz isn’t good but no pitching coach can be expected to compensate for a staff with no depth, and two of it’s five starters with the injury history that Clevinger and Kopech have. It’s still possible that Clevinger or Kopech throws 180 innings. It’s far more likely that they throw more like 200-250 between the two of them, and that the Sox wind up with the equivalent of a minor league fifth starter in Davis for at least half a season because they were too cheap to get a starter who is healthy and reliable. Quintana maybe doesn’t impress as much as Clevinger, but he’s healthy and coming off a good season where he threw 165 innings, and would have been an enormously better choice and investment. Of course we all know the reason$ why they chose Clevinger instead.

a-t

“Truly mediocre” means they’re not sniffing the playoffs with anything less than like an 80th+ percentile season outcome. The vast majority of things that could go wrong did go wrong last year, which I’d estimate at like a 20th? percentile season outcome, and they were .500. The team’s overall true talent level is clearly higher than that.

bobsquad

Personally I’m bearish on Clevinger becoming a TOR starter again, but Jesus, no pitching coach is going to say “we’re hoping Mike can continue to pitch at the replacement level he has demonstrated since TJ surgery”.

I propose a moratorium on reading quotes from the coaching staff until ST. Regardless of your evaluation of Katz’s contributions, you can’t say he’s content to view his staff as a unit of fringe Major Leaguers.

upnorthsox

Katz didn’t arrive until 2021, Gio was already an AS in 2019 and 2020 was a bit better. I’m guardedly optimistic on Clevinger but overall we’ve been pretty healthy with our SP the last 3 yrs and I’m fearing for that to rear up. I suspect Martin will get his fair share of starts.

a-t

Katz was who Gio went to during the 18-19 offseason and credited Katz specifically, lol. Do I gotta link the articles on that?

texag10

Lynn was going through his ST during the season and was downright dominant to finish the year off. Katz is responsible for getting 3 players into the Cy Young conversation the past 4 years that no one thought would get there. There’s no guarantee he can get Kopech and Clevinger there but the track record exists and I’m interested to see what he can do.

texag10

Right? But hey, that’s been the theme this offseason. Players that are on the White Sox will be lucky to hit their 10th percentile outcome while players we didn’t get are guaranteed to hit their 100th percentile outcome.

MattVerplaetse

In addition to the reasoning already presented here, the history of guys ever returning to form after their second TJ surgery isn’t favorable to Clevinger’s outlook. Also, I’m not sure how many people who are optimistic about him actually watched him at the end of last season and in the playoffs… it was rough. I’ll be interested to see who has the better season between him and Cueto.

Last edited 2 months ago by MattVerplaetse