It’s been a week since the Chicago White Sox initiated their rebuild with trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, but it feels like forever for Sox fans, as the excitement of those two days have died down significantly with no further trades being made.
However, rumors have floated around about everyone on the trade block, including closer David Robertson, third baseman Todd Frazier, first basemen Jose Abreu, and most notably, star pitcher Jose Quintana. Today, one of the minor obstacles has been removed, as Abreu and the Sox avoided arbitration with a salary agreement of $10.825 million for the 2017 campaign. What could this mean, and what’s next?
ABREU’S SALARY SETTLED: NOW WHAT TO DO WITH HIM?
On December 5, Thomas Harding from MLB.com reported that the Colorado Rockies had preliminary talks with the White Sox about Abreu, yet nothing serious was discussed. The next two days the White Sox completed trades to send away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, so everyone pretty much forgot about Abreu.
Now, however, Abreu is back in the headlines, as his new deal shows what teams can expect to pay him next season if they were to trade for him. However, there are multiple reasons for the White Sox to keep Abreu. Primarily, Abreu’s presence would benefit Yoan Moncada, the number one prospect Chicago received, with others in return for Sale. The duo competed together in Cuba, so the friendship and chemistry is already there. In a statement released by the White Sox, Abreu had this to say regarding Moncada:
“He is a very talented player. It will be an honor to work with, guide and support him.”
Moncada is expected to come up to the major-league level later next summer, and Abreu could help his adjustment with their friendship and their Cuban roots. With Alexei Ramirez gone, and Quintana most likely traded by the time Moncada debuts, the Sox would have a small amount of latin-born players on their roster if Abreu were to be traded.
On the flip side, Abreu has the potential to bring back a valuable return for the White Sox. The Rockies have five Top-100 prospects according to MLB Pipeline, and Abreu could fetch one or two of those guys, and maybe others.
Ultimately, it still seems like the time isn’t right for the Sox to deal Abreu. The first base, designated hitter market is thick with big names like free-agents Edwin Encarnacion, and home run leader Mark Trumbo. Additionally, Abreu had an inconsistent year in 2016, as he performed poorly in the first half, but exceptionally in the second half. Whereas teams might undervalue him based on his inconsistency, the White Sox should be optimistic about his post-All Star Game stats, when he went batted .319 with an OPS of .898. Look for Abreu to remain on the south side for the time being.
WHAT’S NEXT: POTENTIAL Destination for ROBERTSON, Possible HOLLAND DEAL OVER THE HOLIDAYS?
After striking out on Chris Sale and Kenley Jansen, the Washington Nationals still have deals to make even after acquiring Adam Eaton from the White Sox. David Robertson has been mentioned multiple times as the next potential Nationals closer.
Robertson was average in 2016, posting a 3.47 ERA while notching 37 saves in 2016. He finished exceptionally well to close the season though, which could bolster his appeal. It appears like he may be Washington’s last quality option, as Jansen returned to Los Angeles and Aroldis Chapman went to the Yankees.
Although Robertson is almost guaranteed to not bring back prized outfield prospect Victor Robles from the Nats’, Washington still has other intriguing prospects to offer. Names mentioned in possible returns are young hitters, number three prospect Carter Kieboom and number five outfielder Andrew Stevenson, along with second ranked pitcher Erick Fedde or number eleven ranked catcher Pedro Severino .
It’s likely the White Sox would get one of those four, but anything past that is questionable. If Robertson is dealt, the White Sox would need someone to fill the closer’s role, and a player worth taking a look at is former Kansas City Royals closer/reliever Greg Holland. After consecutive seasons with an ERA under 1.50, Holland had a down season in 2016 as he finished with a 3.83 ERA and a WHIP of 1.46.
Despite the disappointments this year, Holland is only 31 and has time to regain his former, dazzling form. One might wonder why the White Sox would try to ink any quality player during a rebuild. The idea is that the White Sox would be hoping for the player to perform well, so that they could trade them at the deadline for prospect or two.
It’s exactly what they are doing with Derek Holland, who they just signed on a 1 year, $6 million deal. If both can bounce back, and are dealt at the deadline, Chicago’s farm system would be downright scary. If they fail, the Sox haven’t wasted much money and don’t stand to lose anything else. So as much as I’d like to see Tommy Kahnle and Michael Ynoa single-handedly drag down the Sox for a number one draft pick, it’s more reasonable to try out someone like Holland.