On Friday night, the Chicago White Sox made their third trade of the off-season when they acquired Yonder Alonso from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for outfield prospect Alex Call. The move came as a bit of a surprise, however, there’s a possibility that Rick Hahn is using this move to set up for something much bigger.
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) December 15, 2018
With the outfield being one of the biggest strengths in the White Sox’ farm system, it’s no surprise that they used some of the depth at that position to bring over a big league bat to the South Side. The outfield currently has a logjam at Birmingham and this move clears a spot there for someone else to be able to step in and show what they can do in Double-A. Cleveland needs outfield help, so even though this is a trade within the division, it was a good match for the White Sox as they were able to add a left-handed bat with some pop to their lineup.
In 2018, Yonder Alonso slashed .250/.317/.421 with 19 doubles, 23 home runs, and 83 RBI. In 2017 as a member of the Oakland Athletics, Alonso was selected to play in the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. He has spent the majority of his career playing first-base, however, he has also spent time playing DH, left field, third-base, and played second-base for one inning. With the White Sox, it seems like they now have the option to split time at first-base and DH with Alonso and Jose Abreu. Yonder Alonso is due to receive $8 million this upcoming season, and has a $9 million vesting option for the 2020 season which means that he’s likely to stick around for two years.
So what does a move like this mean? Yonder Alonso happens to be the brother-in-law of Manny Machado, one of the “big fish” free agents that the White Sox have been linked to this off-season. The White Sox have a meeting set with Machado next week when he does his free agent tour with a few different clubs of his choosing. Not only are Alonso and Machado represented by the same agent, but they also appear to have a very close relationship and work together during the off-season. Some of those moments are captured in the video below:
Will the acquisition of Alonso have Manny Machado ready to jump the gun and sign with the White Sox after their meeting next week? Probably not, but it does make the South Side of Chicago a more appealing destination for the superstar free agent. The White Sox are coming off a 100 loss season and are competing with teams like the Yankees and Phillies to win over Machado during his free agency visits. With both the Yankees and Phillies having more success than the White Sox this past season, Rick Hahn is showing that he’s willing to do whatever he can to put the White Sox in a good position to land one of the top free agents available.
A move like this indicates that the White Sox are shifting their focus from Bryce Harper to Manny Machado, right? Not necessarily. Harper is going to sign the biggest contract in MLB history if everything goes according to his plan. He’s on the verge of committing 10 or more years to a team and while money is a big factor in his decision, winning also plays a role too. Opt outs will also be a key component of where Bryce Harper decides to play, and the White Sox will have to do anything they can to make their team as competitive as possible for the first few years of Harper’s contract if he decides to sign with them.
Acquiring Yonder Alonso is a step towards that direction for the White Sox. Right now, it seems like Bryce Harper is still weeks away from making his decision and the White Sox are just playing it safe by bringing Alonso to the South Side. There’s been rumors that the White Sox will be one of the highest bidders for Harper and it’s been known that he is their preference this off-season. Maybe the White Sox are thinking that making a move that shows they have significant interest in Machado could speed up Harper’s decision instead of having them wait weeks to potentially lose the bidding war for his services. Time will tell, but at this point, the White Sox are doing everything they can to make themselves a more appealing destination for the two superstar free agents and that’s all you can ask for.
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