What Trade Assets Do The White Sox Have?
Judging by what Hahn has said since trading for James Shields -- which is going great! -- this team isn't done adding.
Well, maybe we should be.
Being 33-36 and 5.5 games out of first place on June 20 isn't the worst thing in the world, but it's not exactly a strong position to be in, either. The odds the White Sox will miss the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season are far greater than the team's chances of getting to the postseason.
Toss in the fact that a bunch of teams will still consider themselves contenders in July, with many of them having far better farm systems they can use to get the best players available, and odds are the Sox will fall short on their pursuit of those players that can truly help.
And even if they do land one of them, there are far too many holes in this roster to think it would be enough to make a playoff push.
So instead of thinking about what the Sox can trade for, the truth is it's probably time to start thinking about what the Sox can give up in a trade.
Now, we have to think of this realistically. You can say "BLOW IT ALL UP AND START THE REBUILD!" as many times as you want, Jerry Reinsdorf has already made it clear that's not going to happen. Sure, he did it in 1997, but Reinsdorf was 61 years old then. He's 80 now, and he's really not interested in a long rebuild he knows he might not be around to see the end of -- if it even works out.
So that means the Sox aren't trading Chris Sale, and they aren't trading Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton or Jose Quintana, either. Nor will they trade Carlos Rodon, or any of their top prospects.
There are still other options that could be available, however, so let's go over what those options are.
I have a hard time believing the Sox would trade Frazier this summer, even if they go into sell mode. As I said, Reinsdorf isn't going to be looking to rebuild, and Frazier still has another season of team control before becoming a free agent. Even though he is mired in a slump that now has his average below .200 on the season, he is still one of only four regulars with an OPS+ over 100 thanks to his 19 home runs, and the fact that he's still drawing walks at a good rate.
Still, his power potential would be appealing to other teams for the same reason it was to the Sox and others over the winter. Plus, that year and a half of control a trade partner would get only makes Frazier more valuable, and that means the Sox could get a useful prospect for him. Not a top guy, but somebody that at least has a good chance of being a Major Leaguer. So, even if they wouldn't want to, it'd be irresponsible to not at least listen to what teams have to offer.
Of course, there isn't exactly an easy option to replace Frazier at third in free agency this winter, so if you trade Frazier it leaves a big question mark at third base in 2017.
On a personal level, I would hate to see Melky traded. He's one of the few players on this team that makes me happy when I watch him play, both because he's been productive, and also because he's just an odd, funny little man.
But he is valuable.
Melky hit his sixth homer of the season on Sunday, and is now hitting .286 on the season -- the highest average on the team. Melky has another year remaining on his deal in 2017 for $15 million, which is a perfectly reasonable price for what he brings. Odds are there are worse corner outfielders who will be free agents this winter that will be paid more than Melky is next season.
Which makes him valuable to the White Sox should they want to keep him, but valuable to trade partners as well. It's important to remember that Melky will turn 32 in August, so trading him this year, while he's still playing well, might be the right thing for the Sox to do. After all, if Reinsdorf is truly serious about contending in 2017, he could always throw a bunch of money at Yoenis Cespedes and put him in left field next year.
As for what Cabrera could bring back in a trade, it would depend on the amount of interest in him. As a baseline I'd say an upper-middle tier prospect is likely the most realistic return, or maybe a middle-tier prospect and a lottery ticket. The biggest gain the Sox would probably get by trading him is freeing $15 million from the payroll and using it toward a Cespedes type player in the winter.
So, even if I don't want them to, trading Melky at this point makes a lot of sense.
Listen, you aren't going to get much of anything for either one of them, but you aren't getting much of anything from them. Frankly, if anybody comes sniffing around either of them, the Sox should be motivated sellers. They're both on one-year deals, and guys like Jason Castro, Wilson Ramos and Matt Wieters will all be free agents this winter. Plus, having just drafted Zack Collins, if you believe he can stick at catcher, you really only need a stop gap for a year or two before Collins is ready.
But, again, I don't think anybody will want to trade for either Avila or Navarro.
I just don't see this happening. Tweaker will still be only 27 when the 2017 season begins, and won't be a free agent until after the 2017 season. His bat has definitely cooled off as the team has fallen apart, but he's still playing solid defense at second, and with Carlos Sanchez and Tyler Saladino as his only real middle infield competition, it's not like he's currently a road block to anybody in the farm system.
And, let's say you do trade Todd Frazier. Lawrie could be moved back to third base, allowing both Saladino and Sanchez a shot at playing time for the rest of this season and giving you some flexibility heading into the winter.
Plus, I just don't think Lawrie brings back much in a trade. Let's not forget what the Sox gave up to get him. He's still not hitting well enough to raise his stock as an asset, and even if there haven't been any complaints about his attitude leaking from the Sox clubhouse, his reputation is hard to shake.
What are you going to get for him? That's the problem here. Plus, even if you just want to trade him because you're sick of him, let's think about how the White Sox would approach this situation.
You're selling off everything that you don't need, and you're giving up on the 2016 season. Well, if that's the case, why not just keep sending Avisail out to right field every day for the rest of the season? It's his final shot. Either he figures things out and actually becomes a reliable regular (he won't), or he's terrible, and you continue to lose games and improve your draft position. Maybe sneak into the bottom 10 so you have a protected first round pick next summer that allows you to sign a top free agent without losing it.
Avi being bad might actually be to your benefit in this instance!
He didn't have much trade value before the injury, and he's not going to have much after it. The reality is that AJax wouldn't be traded until after the July deadline, and instead have to be moved via a waiver deal in August. And those deals never bring back anything of value, but he's a free agent at the end of the year anyway, so you really don't need much for him anyway.
First of all, if you're going to trade Shields, you need him to stop being fucking terrible. That's first and foremost. If he can actually get his shit together over the next month, then he might be movable before the trade deadline. There's never a shortage of teams looking for starting pitching at the deadline, and with San Diego on the hook for so much of his contract, Shields for 2.5 years at $27 million still isn't a horrible deal.
Also, there's a decent chance you get more for him than you gave up to get him in the first place. Combine the price tag on him with the surplus of teams looking for starters, and Shields' price is driven up.
But, again, this is all contingent on Shields not being a steaming pile of dog diarrhea before the deadline. So root, root, root for the home pitcher every five days.
Hey, he hasn't been bad! This is a situation where you really couldn't expect anything of actual value in return, so I don't know if there's much to gain by moving him, as you're going to need an arm to eat up innings down the stretch, even if you don't plan to contend, but you never know.
Every team that wants to get to the postseason thinks they need to improve their bullpen. Every. Single. Damn. One. Even the Royals will think adding another shutdown reliever can only be a good thing.
It's a battle of the bullpens these days, you know. I don't know if anybody has ever told you that.
All of which means that Robertson could be valuable on the market if he's made available. He's been in a rut the last few weeks, but he hasn't been in a lot of actual save situations, either.
The problem is that he's still owed $25 million over the next two seasons, and I don't know how many teams will be happy to take that on. You're probably limited in who you can trade him to with that price tag, but let's not forget that the Dodgers were looking to bring in Aroldis Chapman to pair with Kenley Jansen over the winter before the domestic abuse problem broke that deal down.
It's possible the Dodgers wouldn't mind paying Robertson that kind of money to be their eighth inning guy in front of Jansen. Ask for Trayce Thompson! They'll say no, but you can still ask!
Jones could be extremely valuable to a team. He has a big arm, and he can be used in high leverage situations, and he's on a very friendly contract. He's owed only $1.9 million in 2017, and $3.95 million in 2018. Then he has team options for 2019, 2020 and 2021. All can be bought out for $1.25 million, or if you want to pick up all three options, it'll run you $15.8 million. A reasonable price for somebody who could one day be your closer.
But he could also be the White Sox closer too.
Which is why I believe trading Robertson is much more appealing to free up that salary, as Jones could step in and probably be just as effective in the closer role as Robertson has been. Then the Sox could spend the rest of 2016 trying Michael Ynoa in the Nate Jones role. Maybe then you salvage something from the Samardzija trade.
Honestly I think he's more valuable to the White Sox than what you could get for him in a trade. He's under team control through the 2019 season, and it's not like he's racking up saves, so that will keep his salary low in arbitration. Plus he could be a useful late-inning guy that's well worth the price.
Lefty relievers always have some appeal on the market, and even if Jennings and Duke drive Sox fans crazy from time to time, the bigger problem has often been Robin Ventura's usage of the two rather than the pitchers themselves.
Jennings has an ERA of 2.10 and a FIP of 3.57 while Duke has a 3.18 ERA and a 3.14 FIP. They're both still useful, but Jennings will be much easier to trade since he's not owed $5.5 million next season like Duke is.
If you move either you won't get much in return, though.
You can move him, but you won't get much.
So, there you have it. The Sox have plenty of guys that they could trade, but the reality is there isn't much that will bring back anything of value. If you aren't going to trade Chris Sale or Jose Quintana, you can't fix the farm system in a move or two.
At best the Sox would be looking at mid-tier prospects with high floors and low ceilings, and the biggest benefit of most of these deals would be shedding salary to use this winter in yet another attempt at trying to contend in 2017.
It's not exactly an exciting proposition, but I think it's a better path than the one that involves trading what little prospect depth you have remaining to try and save 2016.
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