White Sox send out Tyler Saladino, bring back Trayce Thompson

It's an exchange of hard-luck homegrown products

Trayce Thompson has played more pinball than baseball this season. A brief history of his 2018 existence:

As he made his way around the league, I’d wondered whether the White Sox would get in on the action, similar to the way they provided a home for the itinerant Casper Wells so many years ago. Thompson being a product of the White Sox farm system is one element, but with Adam Engel scuffling in center field and Ryan Cordell breaking his collarbone, it seemed like Thompson offered a decent chance at possessing the skills required to fill in the Sox’ fourth outfielder gap.

Sure enough, Thompson is back via a series of moves that amounts to a three-way trade. Now you can add:

  • April 19: Acquired by White Sox for cash considerations.

The Sox made room by trading Tyler Saladino to the Milwaukee Brewers for cash considerations.So basically, the Brewers sent cash to the A’s as both Chicago and Milwaukee sought to reverse some individual fortunes. Here’s a more jaded way of viewing this sequence of moves:

  • White Sox: Received a Player Who’s Battled Back Problems.
  • Brewers: Received a Player Who’s Battled Back Problems.
  • Athletics: Received cash considerations.

When the Sox traded Thompson to Los Angeles as part of a three-player deal for Todd Frazier, the Sox risked giving up an emerging outfielder in Thompson. Micah Johnson and Frankie Montas had problems staying healthy, making Thompson the best bet to succeed. He hit .295/.363/.533 over 135 plate appearances for the White Sox in 2015, and so maybe the Sox were making a mistake prioritizing Avisail Garcia.

And for a while, Thompson made such an argument. He worked wonders as the Dodgers’ fourth outfielder, hitting .290/.355/.560 over his first 110 plate appearances as Memorial Day approached. Alas, he said his back started bothering him around that time, and after a massive slump in June, he succumbed to the disabled list with fractured vertebrae on July 10, missing the rest of the season.

Since then, he hasn’t been able to generate any major-league momentum. He hit .122/.218/.265 for the Dodgers across three stints in 2017, and he went 1-for-7 with four strikeouts with Oakland in his only action this year. He did rob Yasiel Puig of a homer, which is something.

Saladino can sympathize. He looked like a capable utility infielder and spot starter in 2016, but that season was cut short in September by back tightness, and it wasn’t an isolated event. The issue flared up again during a disappointing 2017 in which he was perhaps baseball’s least effective non-catcher (.178/.254/.229). With Yolmer Sanchez seizing control of third base, Matt Davidson making positive strides at DH and Leury Garcia floating around as an all-purpose player, Saladino was limited to just nine plate appearances this year.

Both the White Sox and Brewers are hoping for the same thing: that they have the playing time to restore a useful bench player to his former glory. Thompson slides in as either an outright challenger to Adam Engel or a right-handed complement to Nicky Delmonico (and, optimistically, Charlie Tilson at some point). Saladino gives Craig Counsell another option to boost a middle infield with bottom-five production early on.

With Saladino out of the way, this now elevates the importance of Jose Rondon, as he’s the only other middle infielder who is on the 40-man roster. He’s shown some pop early for Charlotte, hitting .260/.315/.540. The 14 strikeouts over 12 games suppresses enthusiasm.

In case you were wondering, Jake Peter is off to an unremarkable start with Triple-A Oklahoma City, hitting .225/.279/.275 over 43 plate appearances.

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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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Josh Nelson

Maybe Saladino will hit some home runs in Colorado Springs.

MrTopaz

I remember thinking in 2016 that Saladino had a decent shot at being a cromulent bench guy on the next White Sox contender, and I kind of liked the idea of following him, specifically, through the rebuild. An odd thing to look forward to, given all the other talent coming up, but there’s something compelling about the storyline of a guy who isn’t a starter, but nevertheless hangs around through the lean years. But, man alive, last season was atrocious. I wish him well. He seemed like a good guy, and we’ll always have Catatafish.

Greg Nix

You’re smarter than me. I thought Saladino could be a league-average 2B.

tommytwonines

You’re smarter than I am. 

Trooper Galactus

I thought he was a fringy guy with the bat, but his defense could prop him up as a regular. As soon as his back betrayed him he lost what little margin for error he had.

tommytwonines

I thought Saladino might embiggen an otherwise lackluster infield. 

Patrick Nolan

WE WON THE FRAZIER TRADE!!

Trooper Galactus

Just wait ’til Tito Polo cracks the 25-man!

As Cirensica

I wsih we won more games too

jorgefabregas

Oh man. Maybe they will reunite with Montas. Or other players missing ribs.

Patrick Nolan

I can think of at least one person who hopes that won’t happen…

polishwith

I would like to see Thompson get time in center over Engel. I really like Engel’s defensive skills, but I just don’t see that bat going anywhere. At least Thompson has SOME history of offensive success. Both of them seem like a long shot for a starter, but Thompson has more likelihood of being a power bat.

PauliePaulie

Liberatore ate Gorman, and his team, up. Threw a lot of pitches. K’d 13 in 5 1/3 innings.

PauliePaulie

Soxfan2:Is Travis Swaggerty’s swing (hitch and lower half) more project than you’d like to have while picking in the top 5 or so?
Longenhagen: I think so. I’m actually a little more apprehensive about him and Jenista than Kiley is.

Patrick Nolan

Glad there’s at least some awareness of him on a broader spectrum. I think a couple things got lost in what basically amounts to a purely “plate-discipline-metrics” piece….

1) Moncada is striking out looking quite a bit. 10 of his 29 strikeouts are looking, and that’s a ding on his “selectiveness”

2) Moncada is absolutely murdering the ball and has still been pretty unlucky this season. There’s no mention in the piece of just how hard he crushes it, probably because the bad luck has suppressed his stats to the point where people who haven’t been watching him don’t realize that anything out-of-the-ordinary is happening there.

zerobs

Seems like Engel is going to get optioned when Smith’s rehab is done, since Smith is out of options. Saladino had options but Charlotte’s need is in the outfield.

zerobs

I see him optioned in 2015, 2016, and 2017. What circumstance got him a another option year?

zerobs

The 2017 option might have only been 19 days, just barely enough to not count.

Patrick Nolan

Yup, you figured it out. Nice work.

Kinda convenient that Soto went on the DL that day….

As Cirensica

The white sox in the front page picture looks like a hockey stick

end of useless comment

DuhSox

We are hitting like we are using a hockey stick, so picture is appropriate.

Greg Nix

The more I think about this, the more I really like this swap (at least, for such a small deal). Thompson will make the club more watchable in the immediate future, and IMO the odds that he provides value for the next Sox contender are higher than Saladino’s odds of the same (though obviously Thompson’s odds still aren’t great).