The White Sox Should Check In On The Atlanta Fire Sale

Last week there was a bit of a mini-firestorm when, using a column by Bruce Levine, decided to concoct a White Sox fire sale out of seemingly nowhere. They took a rather innocuous quote from Rick Hahn, and created an entire organizational rebuild with a pair of carefully placed parentheses.

Here's the quote the site used, the parentheses, and the words placed within them, do not belong to Rick Hahn.

“We are trying to do this (rebuild properly) as soon as possible."

Now let's compare this spontaneous rebuild to what Hahn had told reporters a few days earlier, using this quote from ESPN Chicago.

“We haven’t closed off any options in terms of building this team going forward. I think ideally we’re going to be adding pieces, though, that are younger and more controllable for an extended period of time. That’s the ideal plan, but we have not closed off any avenues: free agency, trade, waiver, and whatever else you can come up with.”

So, you know, the White Sox are looking to have a typical White Sox offseason. They want to try to win, but they want to do so while hopefully adding pieces like Adam Eaton. Guys who are still young, with their best years ahead of them, and with an element of cost control.

Which finally brings me to the point of this post. Sorry for the delay, but sometimes it's nice to take the scenic route.

This is an excerpt from Ken Rosenthal's Sunday column, and it's on the Atlanta Braves, who earlier this week traded Andrelton Simmons to Los Angeles. The Braves are a team that's actually rebuilding.
Officials from three different clubs told me that the Braves have indeed shopped first baseman Freddie Freeman, with one saying such a possibility was “the talk of the (Arizona) Fall League” among scouts about 10 days ago. 
The Braves, another official says, are “shopping everyone owed money” – a group that would include right-hander Julio Teheran, right fielder Nick Markakis and center fielder Cameron Maybin, among others.
Is it possible the White Sox could take advantage of the sudden availability of these players? Let's start with Freddie Freeman, as he's definitely somebody who qualifies as a young and controllable asset.

Freeman is 26 years old, and he's signed through the 2021 season, and is owed $118.5 million. He'll make $12 million in 2016, and that will jump to $20.5 million in 2017, with steadier increases from then on. Now, the thing about Freeman is, he doesn't really fill a glaring need, at least, not positionally.

Freeman is a first baseman, as is Jose Abreu. The White Sox don't really need to upgrade that position, and like Abreu, Freeman is an average first baseman defensively (Fangraphs credits Freeman with three defensive runs saved in 2015, and Abreu with one).

But what Freeman would upgrade is the offense. If the Sox either move Adam LaRoche, or just bite the bullet on his contract, Abreu and Freeman could serve in a 1B/DH platoon of sorts.

What that would do is add a bat to the middle of the White Sox order that has a career OPS of .822 (OBP of .366, OPS+ of 129). Freeman doesn't have huge power, as he's "only" hit 103 home runs in his five full seasons with the Braves, but he has a wRC+ of 131 for his career, and is a damn doubles machine.

His presence would vastly improve the White Sox order.

The problem with this plan is that if Freeman is available, the White Sox will hardly be the only team that's interested in him. So considering that adding Freeman wouldn't address the problems in the rest of the infield, I"m not sure the White Sox will want to pay the prospect price he's likely to cost.

It's still an interesting idea, though, even if it isn't likely.

What's more likely is that the White Sox could maybe swing a deal for Julio Teheran. Teheran is coming off a down season, and his trade value isn't worth what it would have been at this time last season. That being said, he basically had the season Jeff Samardzija did for the White Sox, except Teheran is only 24, and is owed only $28.6 million through 2019, with a $12 million option for 2020 (or a $1 million buyout).

A young, cost-controlled asset! The kind with a high ceiling!

You have to feel good about a starting rotation that features Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, Julio Teheran and some other dude, don't you? There's a lot of damn promise there.

I think Teheran would be more easily attainable than Freeman, but again, you have to wonder what price the Sox would be willing to pay in a trade for something that doesn't really address one of the glaring holes of the roster.

Which is why I can't help but believe if the White Sox do take advantage of this Braves fire sale, they'll end up with the newest Brave. The one that came to Atlanta in the Andrelton Simmons deal.

That's right. Erick Aybar. Your 2016 shortstop!

A fine option, as he's basically a switch-hitting Alexei Ramirez at this point, but not quite a sexy as a Freeman or Teheran would be.

But sometimes the bulky, comfortable sweater makes more sense than that black mini-dress.


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