White Sox make six roster moves when they could’ve made 10

When Davis Martin was a late scratch from his Thursday start with Charlotte, even a postgame announcement that he was joining the White Sox didn’t exactly clarify matters, because it was unclear who he’d be replacing. The White Sox had named their probable starters through the weekend, and Dylan Cease and Kendall Graveman were activated from their unvaccinated staycations as well.

Well, tonight’s originally announced starter was also scratched. The White Sox placed Vince Velasquez on the 15-day injured list with a left groin strain retroactive to May 31, so Martin will take his place on the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

The last time we saw Velasquez, he was the only pitcher to solve the Boston Red Sox offense, throwing three shutout innings on 45 pitches in the White Sox’s 16-3 loss on May 24. Perhaps the time between appearances signaled that something was the matter, but between the all the off days and the DFA of Dallas Keuchel, enough had been reshuffled to assume that Velasquez just wasn’t a priority starter.

Tonight’s scratch represents a missed opportunity for him. With Lance Lynn scheduled to make his second rehab start for Charlotte tonight, the number of extra starts for fringe types in the White Sox rotation is on the verge of narrowing considerably. Baseball being a zero-sum game and all, that means it’s a big night for Martin, who gets a chance to follow up on his five fine innings in his MLB debut against Kansas City on May 17.

The other moves were made according to LIFO: Cease and Graveman are back, replacing Kyle Crick and Jimmy Lambert. Cease is still scheduled to start on Saturday, so it’s like he never left. Graveman’s absence was felt, as he would’ve been the most likely to pitch with the Sox trailing 4-3 in the eighth inning on Thursday, so his poor decision was compounded by poor performances.


The White Sox made six roster moves in total this afternoon, and yet my first reaction was “Is that all?” due to all the other positions in need of interchangeable parts.

As long Gavin Sheets is hitting .203/.271/.328, the White Sox may as well call up Adam Haseley. Haseley is hitting .282/.336/.536 over 119 plate appearances in Charlotte since the White Sox sent him back for the last week of April, and at least he plays the outfield by trade.

As long as Josh Harrison is hitting .167/.248/.255, the White Sox may as well call up Yolbert Sánchez, followed by three other guys who might be able to eclipse Harrison’s production if Sánchez falters.

And as long as Yasmani Grandal’s season resembles a two-month-long rehab stint, the White Sox may as well call up Carlos Pérez, because Reese McGuire is playing just about everyday regardless.

Regarding Grandal, Daryl Van Schouwen addressed the elephant in the room with his recorder, and there’s not much reason for immediate encouragement.

Grandal’s swing has looked a bit long, and he has been late on hard stuff from pitchers. He attributes that to his legs not being at full strength. Grandal had knee surgery July 5 to repair a torn tendon and a cleanup procedure after the season.

“[Not] being able to fire with the lower half,” Grandal said before taking batting practice before the series finale against the Blue Jays. “Hopefully it starts coming along.” […]

“It’s not so much about cage work, it’s more about weight room more than anything, to get the strength I need back in my legs so that I can use them the way I should be using them,” Grandal said. “That sounds pretty simple but it’s actually much harder than it is. I’ve been feeling better and better, the strength has gone up, which is huge. So hopefully things change a little bit in the coming weeks.”

I can believe that Grandal’s struggles are due to a specific physical issue than overall decline, because he went from destroying fastballs last year to lagging on everything, which isn’t usually how aging manifests itself.

But if it is a strength-building issue, then you’d think this would best be addressed with a move to the injured list followed by a rehab stint, because Grandal in his current form might not do a whole lot of damage against Triple-A pitching, either.

If the alternatives were still Zack Collins and Seby Zavala, I’d get the White Sox’s hesitation. But with Carlos Pérez, the Sox have what appears to be a better third-catching option. He’s hitting .286/.339/.513, and with a measly 11 strikeouts over 168 plate appearances.

Carlos Pérez (Sox Machine photo)

There are a few reasons to think Pérez’s performance in Charlotte might not smoothly translate to the majors. The power is a recent development, and while it doesn’t look like a Truist Field mirage (he’s slugging 14 points higher on the road), he’d probably find himself in counts where he’d be less likely to access it. He gets rid of the ball quickly, but he has to thanks to a below-average arm.

As for his receiving, it’s graded out as below-average throughout his minor-league career, and the automated strike zone in Charlotte makes it hard to gauge the progress with that particular skills. When I caught the Knights play in Nashville, former manager Wes Helms urged Pérez to set up closer to the plate, because he wasn’t getting low strikes.

That said, a couple of Pérez-adjacent developments have occurred since that series. Helms was placed on indefinite leave, and the Sox replaced him with Julio Mosquera, who opened the season as the organization’s catching coordinator.

Also, that series featured the first of Cueto’s three starts with Charlotte, and fellow Knights catcher Nick Ciuffo told FutureSox’s Jeff Cohen that Cueto and Pérez developed a bond.

“The transition that he’s made in the past two or three weeks with his catching has been unbelievable,” Ciuffo said of Pérez. “He’s so close, he’s knocking on the door. He’s playing more now because of it, and a lot of that has to do with the conversation he had with Johnny Cueto.”

The longer that Grandal looks reluctant to swing and late when he tries, the more of a missed opportunity this becomes. The White Sox are getting the sixth-worst production at catcher and are bottom-three at DH, while third base and left field are similarly compromised by players who are started gingerly. The Sox opened the Toronto series with a 25-man roster because of Cease’s absence, but throw in the guys who La Russa would rather avoid penciling in for one reason or another, and they’re effectively playing with 22½.

That’s what makes a the idea of placing Grandal on the IL more than the mere venting of frustrated fans. Their 23-26 record and -55 run differential should’ve been sufficient evidence to show the White Sox are not good enough to play so shorthanded, and while the season’s far from over, the end of it will only arrive sooner if the Sox are so content to stand idly by.

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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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HallofFrank

I’ve been a proponent of giving Harrison a little more time, but… it’s time.

And yes: while you’re at it, swap Sheets for Haseley. I have no confidence that Haseley will hit, but at least he’s a decent corner defender. So, as long as he keeps his OPS above .600, he’ll be an improvement over Sheets.

a-t

If Lenyn Sosa had been promoted to AAA and still going nuts I would be clamoring for him. But I’m just not confident Yolbert is really much of an improvement. Trading for a decent 2B (Adam Frazier?) would be my preferred move to address the 2B issue

HallofFrank

I’m not sure Yolbert will be an improvement, either. But I’m pretty sure he won’t be a downgrade. So, that he *could* be an improvement makes this worth a shot. And it has the added benefit of learning more about Yolbert + opening a space for Sosa in AAA.

As for a trade, sure, if they can find the right guy. But why not call Yolbert up until then?

Augusto Barojas

Frazier has like a .660 OPS in his last 100 games. Massively overrated player who had a career year last year, and is probably unlikely to ever have a WAR over 3 again. He has no power and hardly gives them a hitter who can do any real damage like they need.

Call up Sanchez. He might produce close to what Frazier is doing without a trade. Considering the state of this team with their manager, I am far from convinced they should trade any prospects.

Last edited 4 months ago by Augusto Barojas
a-t

It’s a OBP-over-SLG .660 OPS, so it’s around league average offensive performance even with dropping BABIP. He’s on pace for 2.4 fWAR, which would be a significant improvement on what the Harrison/Leury combo has done or likely will do.

Sanchez has even less power and is running mildly worse plate discipline numbers in AAA than Frazier is in the bigs, while also hitting from the left side. Second base has very few stars, and by fWAR Frazier is the best player likely to be available at the position. Everyone above him is either on a contender or too controllable for their cheap teams to give up. Frazier cost just a relief prospect for a full year of him at his $10M arb-3 salary, so he’s not going to cost much more in trade.

Augusto Barojas

I think it’s too late to fix this season, personally. Frazier is certainly not great, and middle infield is one of the only positions they have anything in the minors to address in a year or two. Huge pass.

upwithscoots

Roster management has been abysmal – not sure if it’s more LaRussa being willing to trust a veteran or what, but Moncada and Grandal at the very least should have hit the IL.

Not sure why Sheets is still up. Other than some brief glimpses, he appears overmatched and we definitely shouldn’t be putting him in the outfield.

There’s clearly a need for something or someone to light a fire under this team’s ass, so why not take a chance on calling up someone other than Mendick?

Last edited 4 months ago by upwithscoots
a-t

I am less sanguine about Yolbert replacing Harrison than some, mostly because their offensive lines are extremely similar but for a .150 gap in BABIP. Which might be real, but I’m not very confident about it being so going forward when neither is producing power to any degree. Contact hitters are prone to this, TA7’s now 80-grade hit tool excepted.

Giving Grandal two weeks to rest/strengthen his legs and Perez two weeks to see what he can do in the bigs I am fully behind. There’s still a decent chance that Grandal goes nuts when fully healthy/strong after the ASB, because I suspect it’s basically the same thing this year but with more of a strength deficit. They could extremely use the real Grandal.

Haseley replacing Sheets I am also fully on board with. Sheets clearly has adjustments to make about how the league is attacking him, and he can work on that in Charlotte. Haseley I liked bringing in quite a bit, with his rejuvenated performance in Charlotte after initial struggles he may be back to what he was with Philly— an excellent bet to be a well-rounded 2, maybe 3 WAR player who can cover all 3 OF positions credibly if not excellently from the left side.

As Cirensica

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
This.

Their 23-26 record and -55 run differential should’ve been sufficient evidence to show the White Sox are not good enough to play so shorthanded, and while the season’s far from over, the end of it will only arrive sooner if the Sox are so content to stand idly by.

lifelongjd

Kind of baffling the Sox don’t try at least something to shake things up. Last season was propped up by stretches of good play by unexpected rookies (Sheets, Yermin) and vets (Goodwin, Hamilton) that served as bridges during injuries. At this point, what the hell do they have to lose?

a-t

It was much more propped up by the stars of the team producing like stars when they *were* healthy imo

lifelongjd

The stars of the team? Eloy and Robert were out the majority of the season. Grandal didn’t start hitting until June (although he was walking a lot more), Abreu was ok but fell off from his MVP season. TA has had a much more productive season this year.
They had the same amount of injuries last year as this, but just don’t have a guy who has gotten hot or a big hit to help them win games.

shaggy65

The fact that the Sox have bottom tier production at DH despite the most DH-heavy 40-man in baseball is perhaps the biggest indictment of Rick Hahn I’ve heard yet.

phillyd

Is it not an indictment on the players who are hitting like shit?

Augusto Barojas

They have bottom tier production at 2b, 3b, catcher, and DH. Only TA, Robert, Vaughn, and most recently Abreu have not sucked. 5/9 of their lineup is just complete crap.

And with how pitiful the past two offseasons have been, they deserve no better.