Coming into the off-season a major question was: How are the White Sox going to recruit a Manny Machado or Bryce Harper? Yes, the Sox have the money to give these stars, but other than that what else? Rick Hahn used the plethora of prospects the team has as a key selling point during the meetings as well as the money. But in order to get to the top, Rick had to get creative. And he did just that. He would then acquire Yonder Alonso from the Indians and then go on to sign Jon Jay.
As everybody is aware of by now, Alonso and Jay are best friends with Machado as they all train together in the off-season. Also to mention, Alonso just happens to be Machado’s brother-in-law. Everybody has been looking at these acquisitions as just another way to try and lure Manny Machado to the south side. Although this might be the deciding factor, these players mean much more than that to this club.
There hasn’t been a lot out there on how much of an upgrade these guys really are. Regardless of if Machado signs with the Sox or not, the team is in a much better position than they were a year ago.
Let’s begin with Jon Jay. Jay signed a one year deal worth four million dollars a few weeks back.
Outfielder Jon Jay, White Sox finalize $4M, 1-year contract. https://t.co/I1XnlsgCpb
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) January 10, 2019
For the 33-year-old, he gets another chance to show he still belongs in the league. For the Sox, they get a plus outfielder on a team-friendly deal. Immediately, Jay should take over the reins in center field as an upgrade from Adam Engel. I know with rebuilding teams fans like to get attached to players that won’t be here during the long haul. Adam Engel is one of those players. But let’s face it, Engel doesn’t offer much on the offensive end. His defense is top notch as he just finished top three in gold glove voting for AL centerfielders, but he doesn’t belong on this roster.
What does Jon Jay bring to the table? Upgrade after upgrade. With Jay, the Sox fix one of their problems (for one year) in finding a new leadoff hitter. A glaring need was a man at the beginning of the order who gets on base. As much as I love Moncada getting his plate appearances in last season, he wasn’t cutting it as a leadoff hitter. I have always been a believer of him batting in the second spot.
Last season Jay finished with an OBP of .330 which would have been first for White Sox starters last season. Second, he helps with the strikeout problem. Instead of 120+ from Engel last season, we go down to 95 with Jay. He even almost doubled Engel’s walks from last year as Adam finished with 19 to Jay’s 33. He is the perfect bridge for the coming of Luis Robert.
Virtually the only aspect that isn’t an upgrade is the way Engel can fly around the outfield. I think I speak for everyone when I say I will miss his glove in center, but Jay isn’t such a bad defender himself.
As for Yonder Alonso, his presence will also be felt as another immediate impact. Alonso would seemingly replace Matt Davidson’s role.
When you look at Davidson and Yonder side by side they virtually had the same 2018 batting statistics. Alonso last year had a line of .250/.317/.421 with a WAR of 1.6 and Davidson’s line was .228/.319/.419 and a 1.2 WAR. Pretty evenly matched. But if you dig deeper on Davidson, an area of struggle was against right-handed pitching. He has just a career average of .212 and gets on base on a .282 clip against righty starters. Whereas for Alonso, that’s where he is more consistent where he bats .268 and has an OBP of .338. He succeeds even more against righty relievers. Alonso would be the best option at DH if and when the Sox shy away from Daniel Palka.
Alonso also proves more of his benefits as an option to back up Jose Abreu. Alonso is a great defensive first baseman, which will give comfort to us as Sox fans and Ricky Renteria. This will allow Abreu to be more fresh as the season rolls on. Jose has stated in the past that he isn’t the biggest fan of batting DH, but it is best for the team to give the All-star slugger some breaks.
All in all, Jay and Alonso have proven in their careers that they aren’t just here to attract Machado. Their skills help bring more competitiveness to the roster and are ready to make this team competitive in the AL Central again.
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