White Sox fans have been enamored at the potential thought of landing a superstar caliber player in Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. As well as these 26-year-old phenoms, the White Sox have been linked to virtually every free agent during the winter months. Whether Rick Hahn simply poked his nose around and got a feel for some free agents or tried to compel Jerry Reinsdorf into a couple signings, it is always bright to have a backup plan. Yes, a backup plan for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
It is widely known that our beloved White Sox don’t always land the marquee free agents. And if we do they are years out of their prime such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Manny Ramirez. To make matters worse, Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t always open up his pockets the way many fans would like him to. The pessimist in all of us has to think about the what if Machado or Harper don’t pick Chicago.
This year’s free agent class has been a special group with many talented players. With that being said, a lot of those talented players have already fallen off the board and landed with other teams. Some of these players include Third Baseman Josh Donaldson and Outfielder Michael Brantley (whom the White Sox were previously both linked to).
That being said, there are still plenty of players looking for a potential new home, but who would make the most sense for the White Sox? If the Sox do miss out on Harper or Machado it is imperative that Rick Hahn doesn’t go out and sign a player just to make the fan base content. As fans, we should be confident that the front office won’t take this route. Rick Hahn has reiterated over and over that the acquisition has to make sense for the club now and in the long-term.
However, a few head scratchers that the Sox are linked to don’t seem to make much sense. Recently, Jon Morosi reported that the White Sox have shown interest in slugger Edwin Encarnacion of the Seattle Mariners and Outfielder/First Basemen Jose Martinez of the St Louis. Cardinals. The addition of one of these two 30+ year old’s would create a problem that Rick Renteria doesn’t want to encounter.
With Encarnacion and Martinez most likely commanding most of their time being a DH or playing First Base, this seems somewhat silly to have interest in. The Sox already have two veterans in Jose Abreu and recently acquired Yonder Alonso who are going to split time at First Base and DH. Not to mention Daniel Palka is ready to show he belongs in the DH spot when it is time to compete. Therefore this would not be an ideal situation because things could get real ugly real quick.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a player who makes a little bit of sense would be Outfielder A.J. Pollock. Pollock who played centerfield for the Arizona Diamondbacks for seven seasons, has a career line of .281/.338/.467. This would be an immediate offensive upgrade over Adam Engel. However, Sox fans will be missing Engel’s potential gold glove caliber defense.
Another downside the 31-year-old brings to the table is that over the past three seasons the former Notre Dame star has been injury prone while also requiring the forfeiture of a 2nd round draft choice. After a star studded 2015 where he was an All-Star, his numbers have deteriorated. However, Pollock is still an above average outfielder in today’s game. He would fill the gap in centerfield until the highly touted Luis Robert is ready to play in the big leagues and then ultimately move to the opposite corner of phenom Eloy Jimenez.
A reunion that could ultimately benefit both sides would be the return of Avisail Garcia. The White Sox have been rumored to be in favor of bringing back the ex White Sox. Avi was non-tendered by the organization earlier in the off-season. He battled an injury filled season where his knee bothered him while he was on and off the DL. Avi never caught the groove he was on two years ago when he represented the White Sox in the All-star game. A simple one year contract could help Avisail show he is still capable of being a .300 plus hitter and potential All-Star. Roster construction issues could prove this point to be moot however.
When it comes to potential replacements for Machado, there are virtually no free agents out there who would fit for the White Sox as of now. Instead, the Sox should play out another season with Yolmer Sanchez taking the controls at the hot corner. In the following year, Rick Hahn should and will make a move for Third Basemen Nolan Arenado. Arenado is in the upper echelon of third basemen right beside Manny Machado. You simply can’t go wrong with either player while Machado is likely the preferable option and years younger.
Another option could be to wait for the arrival of prospect Nick Madrigal. Madrigal is expected to fly through the system and be on the south side in a few short years. With Madrigal considered to be a second basemen, Yoan Moncada could proceed to move over to third base. Third base isn’t so foreign to Moncada as he signed with the Boston Red Sox with the flexibility of playing second and third.
There are a lot of options Rick Hahn can choose from if they do indeed miss out on one of the two superstars. The best option being simply not to force any moves or acquisitions and letting everything play out at their speed.
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