After everything that has gone down so far in Chicago, the White Sox still enter the second half of the season at .500 and only three games back in the American League Central. While poor coaching, injuries, and clubhouse unrest have taken over the view of this team, they still have a squad fully capable of making it to the postseason. However, this team does not have a clear-cut deadline plan, like many teams do. While teams succeeding this year are clearly looking to add pieces and rebuilding ones are likely to ship veterans, the White Sox are firmly in the middle and have multiple directions they can take.
A few weeks ago, the narrative that they need to rebuild or at least “retool” began to grow and many believe this is the right option. Their franchise superstar, José Abreu, is set to be a free agent at the end of the season. Numerous veterans on the team like Yasmani Grandal and AJ Pollock hit the open market after the 2023 season. There has also been a general lack of cohesion and success throughout the season from a team with high hopes. These factors lead to a valid option for this team to punt this season and continue to build around their young, controllable core players such as Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Andrew Vaughn, and others.
On the other side of things, this team almost feels too good to give up on quite yet. While they have severely underperformed after entering the season with the fifth-highest World Series odds, they have begun to show life in the recent days entering the break. They won five of their last six games prior to the All-Star break with all those games coming against divisional competitors Cleveland and Minnesota. They also finally appeared to want to play baseball for the first time in a while, as evident by the happiness flowing in the dugout this past week. This leads to the other option of adding a few pieces that can help them overtake Cleveland and Minnesota to win this division as they were originally expected to do with ease.
If the Sox struggle over the coming weeks and decide that retooling for next season is the best option, they have many guys that would appeal to contenders on the open market.
AJ Pollock – OF
2022 Stats: .227/.268/.333, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 111 wRC+
Potential Fits: Mets, Rays, Angels, Yankees, Guardians
Pollock has a had a down year for his standards, as many hitters on this team have. However, he should improve down the stretch and has extensive experience that can help elevate a contending team. He’s a quality veteran bat that can play adequately in all three outfield spots. He is no longer an elite defensive option and likely does not have the pop he used to, but he can still be an instant plug-and-play option for a contending team.
He’s got a player option next year worth 10 million dollars that is certainly not a barrier for teams looking to bring him aboard. Moving him after three months would definitely be a letdown for a White Sox team that traded for him this past offseason hoping he would be a huge upgrade in their outfield.
Kendall Graveman – RP
2022 Stats: 3-1, 2.21 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 40.2 IP, 39 SO
Potential Fits: All contenders
Another recent aquisition that could bring the White Sox some legit capital if they choose to sell. He’s had an excellent year as their set-up man and temporary closer when Liam Hendriks was out with injury. He’s pitched in many different roles effectively which could further boost his value. He’s also under contract for two more years at an affordable price.
It seems unlikely that the White Sox would move on from him given his sucess, but he would certaintly have a large market as he’s been one of baseball’s most realiable relievers the last two years.
Josh Harrison – 2B/3B
2022 Stats: .232/.304/.367, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 94 wRC+
Potential Fits: Phillies, Rays, Cardinals, Angels
Here’s a guy who will not change a team drastically and won’t bring in a lot of prospects, but could find a role as a utility guy on a contender. After a horrid start to the season, he’s put together a very productive June and July for the Sox. He still plays an above average second base and has filled in well at third many times this year.
Nobody is going to ship major prospects for Harrison, but the White Sox can get a flyer and turn over second base to top prospect Lenyn Sosa.
José Abreu – 1B
2022 Stats: .304/.387/.470, 11 HR, 46 RBI, 147 wRC+
Potential Fits: Brewers, Rays, Mets, Padres, Red Sox
Now here’s the big fish. Abreu has continued to be one of the most underrated players in the entire league. People tried to claim he was aging earlier this year, and he proceeded to hit .362 since the beginning of June. He’s one of the most prolific and consistent hitters in the leaguer and will provide a huge spark to any lineup.
All the contending teams listed above should be on the phone already with Rick Hahn. Trading Abreu would hurt the souls of all White Sox fans, but would be a major addition to any contender even as a rental. His bat has the ability to elevate an offense to entire new level.
If the White Sox continue to build on their last six games, they will likely continue to push for the playoffs. This would be an entirely different story if they were in a different division, but they sit only three games back of Minnesota and have a favorable second half schedule. On paper, the roster doesn’t seem to have that many holes. However, a combination of injuries and underperformance has led to lackluster production from many places.
Left Handed Bat
The White Sox have gotten very little production all year from the left side of the plate. It was an issue last year but they proceeded to address it by retaining Leury Garcia and adding right-handers Pollock and Harrison. Yasmani Grandal and Yoan Moncada have failed to provide much of anything as switch-hitting starters while the young Gavin Sheets struggled to bring his rookie success into this year.
Both Moncada and Sheets have looked much better lately but this shouldn’t stop Hahn from going out and getting a left-handed impact bat if they choose to contend. Let’s take a look at some options.
Kole Calhoun – OF
2022 Stats: .221/.275/.389, 11 HR, 41 RBI, 89 wRC+
This is certainly not a player that I can imagine White Sox fans being super pumped about if acquired. However, he would be tied for second in homers for the White Sox as well as sitting comfortably at fourth in RBIs. He may not even be a full-time starter for this team, but would provide some pop from the left side to a team that really needs it.
Calhoun has a team option for 2023 so he isn’t quite a rental but could still be brought in very affordably. Considering the lack of prospect depth the have, this could be easy upgrade for the Sox.
David Peralta – OF
2022 Stats: .236/.301/.444, 12 HR, 38 RBI, 102 wRC+
Peralta has quietly put together a very solid career in Arizona, but is at a point where the Diamondbacks may look to cash in on him. He’s a free agent at the end of the year and has remained a quality bat once again this year. He could be another rental the White Sox could add to bolster their production against right-handed pitching.
He could lock into the left field spot against righties and provide an added pop from the left side. Yes, this would finally push Eloy Jimenez into a DH role.
Ian Happ – OF
2022 Stats: .274/.364/.443, 9 HR, 42 RBI, 126 wRC+
Is there a chance we get yet another Chicago deal? While the White Sox don’t have the prospects that many of his other suitors have, Happ could slide into this lineup very nicely. He’s a productive switch-hitter that plays solid defense in the outfield and gets on base at a good clip. There could be some hesitation from both sides after last year’s Kimbrel trade, but there’s a chance it could work.
Happ’s got one more year of arbitration before he enters free agency next year. This would definitely cost the White Sox at least one of their few top prospects, but could help get their offense over the edge.
While it appears that the five starters are locked in place, the White Sox could use more arms given the struggles of Lance Lynn, the inexperience of Michael Kopech, and the lack of health from others. It seems more likely that they’ll target a bullpen arm to help cover some innings when the starters may not be able to get through as many. However, there’s a chance adding a sixth starter could be considered.
Matt Moore – LHP
2022 Stats: 4-2, 1.73 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 41.2 IP, 46 SO
Matt Moore has turned his career around after a terrible 2021 season. He’s been amazing for the Rangers this season out of the bullpen and has experience starting as well. The White Sox currently have only one healthy left-handed pitcher on the roster and could desperately use some help in that department.
He would be a rental for the season and help this bullpen a lot down the stretch if he’s able to keep up his production.
Carl Edwards Jr. – RHP
2022 Stats: 2-3, 3.15 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 34.1 IP, 35 SO
Talk about up and down! Edwards has had a very up and down career thus far, but has turned in a very strong 2022 with Washington after a brutal 2021. At this point in his career, he is not going to be expected to throw in late situations, but he can fill the middle innings for the White Sox down the stretch.
He’s an affordable rental and has postseason experience that could help this team push towards a playoff spot.
Joe Mantiply – LHP
2022 Stats: 1-2, 2.21 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 36.2 IP, 38 SO
You’ve already heard plenty about this guy lately. He’s had an insane breakout season for the Diamondbacks and is going to be a target for every single contender. He’s a left-handed reliever and has absolutely mowed down hitters with his 38/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He would make the White Sox bullpen deadly heading into the final few months.
The issue for the White Sox is that Mantiply has many years of control and will cost much more than other bullpen options. This would take a huge move similar to the Craig Kimbrel move last year.
The White Sox enter a crucial two weeks following the All-Star break and will need to determine what route they want to go this season. I believe this team has invested too much in this group to punt this year. The most likely situation is they try to add a lefty bat and potentially an arm in an effort to win this division for a second year in a row. One thing that’s for sure is that this deadline is going to alter the outcome of the AL Central.