The most essential White Sox of 2023: Nos. 40-21

White Sox spring training
(Photo by Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports)

We’re about 29 hours away from the White Sox taking on the Astros on Opening Night, which gives me just enough time to wedge in 40 snapshots of 40 players, ranked by their importance to the season.

Normally I use this paragraph to undermine the very premise of the post. You know, the rankings are mostly a way for me to write down expectations for the players who are the most likely to contribute to (or detract from) this year’s White Sox team, and the specific order doesn’t matter. All of that remains true.

It just so happens that last year’s disappointment validated the concept of “essential,” as flimsy as it may be.

Revisiting last year’s Top 43, I didn’t rank Seby Zavala (who was outrighted off the 40-man roster for Reese McGuire) or Davis Martin (who I was lucky to even mention during prospect week), so they count as the biggest whiffs by default. Danny Mendick could’ve been more of a mistake at No. 41, but the season-ending knee injury cut a promising season well short of a meaningful conclusion. Otherwise, besides Johnny Cueto at No. 25 and Reynaldo López at No. 22, no White Sox regular outperformed their standing to a meaningful degree, while most of the most essential players fell flat.

Hopefully this year will have more volatility and variability that makes the order too messy to treat as anything meaningful. (Last year’s rankings are in parentheses; NR stands for “Not Ranked,” and “NA” stands for “Not Around.”)

No. 40: José Rodríguez (40)

The White Sox are loaded with infielders who can play multiple positions at the moment, whether it’s known bench commodities like Hanser Alberto, fringe guys like Erick Gonzalez, organizational favorites like Zack Remillard, up-and-comers like Rodríguez or Bryan Ramos, and even dormant prospects like Yolbert Sánchez. I went with Rodríguez, as his late-season power surge at Birmingham might’ve had him knocking on Chicago’s door before he broke his knocking hand. Maybe he picks up where he left off. That’d sure be nice.

No. 39: Matt Foster (37)

A forearm strain takes him out of play early, and the Sox brought in a couple of more powerful arms you’ll see down this list, so his days could be numbered. If the injury ends up being a minor one, he’s on the 40-man roster and has lived the low-leverage lifestyle for a few years now, so he could get some games.

No. 38: Franklin German (NA)

One of the aforementioned more powerful arms, German had a decent spring for the White Sox, who acquired him from the Red Sox at the start of February. I’d like to see a better proof of concept with his breaking ball, but he’s made strides with his fastball. Being able to sit in the high-90s buys him some time to put it all together. Nick Avila could be somewhere in this territory if the Sox can arrange a way to work out a post-Rule 5 deal with the Giants.

No. 37: Adam Haseley (39)

He might be a spring mirage — .400/.415/.575 doesn’t scream “sustainable” — but with Adam Engel in San Diego (and injured), the Sox could have plate appearances for anybody who can cover center field. He also stole five bases in six attempts, so it’s worth seeing if the new rules benefit somebody with Haseley’s good-not-great speed, just like the way Rodríguez stole 40 bases in Birmingham last year. Maybe Jake Marisnick deserves this spot instead, but you get the point.

No. 36: Sean Burke (NR)
No. 35: A.J. Alexy (NA)

Alexy gets the edge because he’s on the 40-man roster, but here are the most promising seventh-starter candidates at the start of the season. Feel free to wedge Jesse Scholtens in here as well as the Mike Wright for a new generation.

No. 34: Tanner Banks (29)

If Banks’ reverse splits are to be believed, then he probably has some utility as a multi-inning reliever at various points in the season, just like he was last year. If he’s due to regress while still being unremarkable against lefties, then he may be fringe/low-leverage guy in a bullpen picture full of them.

White Sox outfielder Billy Hamilton
(Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports)

No. 33: Billy Hamilton (NA)

He’s not on the 40-man, but he decided against opting out of his minor-league contract, so he’s at least on the team through April. Maybe he never surfaces on the field for the White Sox, but between the rules changes emphasizing stolen bases and the White Sox’s shallow depth in center field, there’s also a decent chance he plays an outsized role as a specialist. Putting him here seems like a way to split the difference.

No. 32: Lenyn Sosa (NR)

I like him the best of the White Sox’s non-Oscar Colás prospects to contribute in 2023, but between the late signing of Elvis Andrus and the apparently fervent belief in Romy González, he could have a hard time cracking the roster. If he wants to force the issue the way he did in 2022 with another strong showing in the high minors, by all means.

No. 31: Carlos Pérez (36)

Pérez’s standing depends on what the White Sox seek from their third catcher. If it’s general talent they want, then they’re in pretty good shape. Perez upped his power without losing much of his renowned contact ability, and he’s improving behind the plate. If the Sox want somebody with more experience and a stronger arm to defend against more active running games, they might look elsewhere, like Sebastian Rivero, whom Pedro Grifol knows from KC.

No. 30: Jake Diekman (NA)

His acquisition felt like a mistake when it happened, and I don’t have high hopes for a turnaround.

White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks
(Photo by Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports)

No. 29: Liam Hendriks (8)

The Sox should plan for going without their closer for 2023, because who knows what kind of toll the treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma will take, but you can’t count him out, either. Rick Hahn said today they’re keeping him off the 60-day IL on purpose.

No. 28: Hanser Alberto (NA)

He’s the new Leury García, importing the duties as utility infielder and clubhouse favorite. He also appears to be a Grifol favorite, so it’d be easier if he hit and defended well enough that we didn’t have to really think about him. As we learned from the García experience in 2023, devoting so much time to a bench guy gets exhausting.

No. 27: Jake Burger (24)

In a world where everybody basically stays healthy, there isn’t room for Burger at first base, DH, or faking it at third. With Andrew Vaughn and Yoán Moncada battling back issues in spring training, his usefulness becomes apparent pretty quickly, especially if his plate coverage improves in any way.

No. 26: Romy González (28)

A successful-enough González works with Alberto to fill out the rest of García’s duties, with the athleticism to play six positions, and doing so with legit power. It’s hard to believe that González is ready so soon based on what he showed last year, but he also didn’t deserve to be written off after dealing with both leg issues and a tonsillectomy. The gap between what we’ve seen and what they’re saying makes him the most interesting guy on the roster, at least pound for pound.

No. 25: Garrett Crochet (NR)

The final stages of his Tommy John surgery recovery sideline him until May or thereabouts, but it’d be great if he could sharpen his command by the summer, because the Sox don’t have much in the way of reliable left-handed depth.

White Sox outfielder Gavin Sheets
(Photo by Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports)

No. 24: Gavin Sheets (18)

You could call me a skeptic because I question whether he hits the ball hard enough to make up for his lack of a position. Still, he played the outfield better than Andrew Vaughn, and his bat control and plate discipline make him a comfortable start on a per-game basis, so it doesn’t take much to get him regular activity. I remain steadfast in my belief that the Sox should explore illegal and immoral experiments that could fuse him and Burger. For science.

No. 23: Davis Martin (NR)

We saw the kind of usefulness he could provide as a spot starter last year. It’s just a shame that his heroic emergence was wasted on an otherwise shoddy enterprise. Here’s hoping he can summon an encore.

No. 22: Gregory Santos (NA)

Every good team figures out how to generate high-leverage relievers from talent on hand, and it’d sure be helpful if Santos’ spring foreshadowed that kind of jump, even if it’s more of a months-long project than an April sensation. He has the stuff. The command is what’s held him back, but he’s a worthwhile use of Kade McClure.

No. 21: Seby Zavala (NR)

His blocking, framing and power gives him a fine backup catcher kit. The hope is that he can cut his strikeout rate, and that his ordinary arm doesn’t get exploited by the combination of a slow-to-the-plate staff and the new baserunner-friendly rules, because he stands to get a lot of playing time if Yasmani Grandal’s body betrays him once again.

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Hendriks no goin on 60-day is interesting…


It’s stupid shit, but everyone will act surprised when it blows up after rushing him back

Augusto Barojas

The worst that happens if he rushes back is he has fatigue and doesn’t perform well, which would be obvious. There is much less risk of some harm coming to him coming back too soon from cancer than an arm injury. I’m sure they will be sensible about it and not compromise his health in any way, and that he will be plenty strong before he returns to games.

Last edited 1 year ago by Augusto Barojas

Or he snaps his arm in half.

Augusto Barojas

You mean like Dravecky? I’m not aware of anything like that ever happening to anyone else. That was like 35 years ago.

That’s pretty dark thinking. And I thought I was dark!


A buddy of mine who was going thru chemo stepped funny off his stoop and snapped his femur, your femur is a big bone and doesn’t break easily but when you’re in treatment(and for a time after) you are susceptible to severe bone loss, anemia, and reduced immunities. And it’s not just chemo, most of the treatments have the same effects. It doesn’t happen in sports much because a grisly instance can bring reality home and so they take the time to properly heal, but as the years go on there’s always some yahoo who thinks it wont happen to him. Is Hendriks that kind of yahoo? Idk, but a FO of fucking morons actively encouraging him doesn’t help.

Augusto Barojas

Liam is not the first player to recover from cancer by a long shot. Jon Lester was one, for a pitcher that comes to mind. He did quite well. Liam has umlimited money, and undoubtedly has the best people possible working on him and advising him. I am sure it will be exceedingly unlikely that they would put him in a situation that would jeopardize his arm or health. I trust Liam’s doctors and medical advice even if you do not. I am sure they are aware of the risks and take those into consideration while advising him. I doubt that Hahn and company, as inept as they are, are advising him to come back sooner than his medical advice would deem appropriate.

Greg Nix

Carlos Carrasco came back well pretty recently, as well. But it wouldn’t be the internet if people didn’t suspect they’re smarter than the man’s literal doctors.


The illegal immoral experiment would need to take place in Pennsylvania, where the SheetzBurger is already a thing.

Joliet Orange Sox

I think hoping the Sox explore experiments that are both illegal and immoral is being greedy. I’ll settle for experiments that are one or the other.

Augusto Barojas

I consider La Russa managing for two years an illegal and immoral experiment. Well maybe not illegal, but certainly immoral.

Joliet Orange Sox

My comment was limited to actual real-world science experiments like Jim proposed. It’s not science unless everyone is wearing white lab coats (that’s how you can tell) and Hahn wasn’t wearing one when TLR was hired.


Some health departments will permit anything.


So many gems in this article. Happy Opening Day everyone!


Trying hard to get excited for this season. The video of Colas reacting to making the team and calling his mom was helpful.


Nick Avila, he gone


While I’m disappointed he didn’t work out, I’m encouraged that the Sox made the attempt. A mere $25-50k to potentially snag a prospect means there is basically no downside to doing this every year.


The fusion could be done with the teleporter from The Fly, but then you’re left with a Brundleburger. Talk about snapping off a dude’s arm.