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Eloy Jiménez came off the disabled list on Sunday and went 0-for-3 in his return. The other key White Sox on the injured list, Tim Anderson, is probably coming back to take the roster spot vacated by Dylan Covey after his disastrous outing on Sunday.
Anderson’s return, combined with the designation of Jose Rondón that accommodated Jiménez’s return, marks what looks like the start of a White Sox infield reconfiguration.
From his performance (.197/.265/.282) to his playing time (one start over the last week), the writing was on the wall for Rondón. A hitless nine plate appearances over three straight starts from July 19-21 sealed his fate. He showed flashes of a major-league game, but once the power dried up, he didn’t have the hit tool or plate discipline to compensate.
His DFA is not a major move in isolation, but it’s the first domino to fall for a second base/utility infield spot in flux. Rondon might’ve been scuffling all season, and he wasn’t the only vulnerable middle infielder.
Yolmer Sánchez is hitting .246/.302/.325, and that OBP is .244 in July. He went from hitting righties better in 2018 to flailing helplessly against them this year (.561 OPS). The White Sox held onto Ryan Goins over Rondón because Goins poses a threat to right-handed pitchers, and I wouldn’t surprised to see him cut into Sánchez’s playing time once Tim Anderson returns.
If Sánchez is limited to playing only against righties, that would seem to create an inroad for somebody like Danny Mendick, a right-handed utility infielder who, like Sánchez, is likely to project to replacement level, but, unlike Sánchez, wouldn’t require a $5 million salary in arbitration the following year.
And should Sánchez end up being non-tendered after the season, the path then more or less cleared for Nick Madrigal, who is hitting .353/.413/.468 with 14 walks to five strikeouts over 172 plate appearances in Birmingham.
Some like Scott Merkin are lumping Madrigal into the same boat as Luis Robert, worthy of a call-up this season …
… and talent-wise, that’s probably the case. But I think it makes sense to separate their debuts — Robert as soon as possible, and Madrigal in April 2020. For one, it lengthens out the timeline for various key White Sox hitting free agency, but what’s equally pragmatic, it also gives the Sox all of September to figure out what to do with the lesser infield prospects who could still theoretically contribute.