The Chicago White Sox have been connected to big free agents like Bruce Harper and Manny Machado, but could they turn to a smaller signing and make a big splash next winter?
The Chicago White Sox are a rebuilding team on the fringes of contending. They’ve been mentioned in reports about generational talents like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, but it seems as though those two will sign elsewhere. The New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and Los Angeles Dodgers are teams that are more ready to win, so those seem to be the clubs that have the inside edge.
Chicago still has plenty of work to do to knock the Cleveland Indians off their perch in the AL Central and signing an impact free agent is a good start. But the club should wait to make a big splash next winter and sign A.J. Pollock now.
Yes, for a lot of White Sox fans, not getting Harper or Machado will be a letdown of sorts. But if they make a smart signing now and cash in next offseason, that would be the smartest route. The reasoning here is that Chicago reportedly won’t go more than seven-years to net one of the two big players, so saving up for when they’re ready to contend is wise. With that said, augmenting the team now with a good veteran free agent who plugs a hole is a great first step. That’s where A.J. Pollock comes in.
The White Sox depth chart in the outfield isn’t too pleasant. Adam Engel is the best player they have out there, and he is a glove-only player. Sox top prospect Eloy Jiminez is a guy that is ready to play in the majors, so he should be up at some point in 2019. Daniel Palka has thump, but does he really need to take up an outfield spot? This projected outfield isn’t getting the White Sox to October. Pollock is a player, when healthy, that can be an anchor in a team’s lineup.
His hard contact rate in 2018 was 44.5 percent, which means he was excellent at hitting the ball hard. Another interesting statistic, his HR/FB ratio is 17.1 percent, which translates to great at the chance of his FBs being a home run. That would be intriguing on the South Side. He is a veteran presence that can mentor the younger position players, preferably the outfielders.
Pollock wants a Lorenzo Cain type deal, but he most likely won’t get that due to him not playing a full season since 2015. Although, he will still cost less than both Harper and Machado and gives them more funds for next year’s free agent class.
That class is headlined by Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Sale, and Madison Bumgarner to name a few. Chicago can’t go wrong with any of these names, although Sale may not be back since he cut up their jerseys. The club could add a big bat in the form of Arenado or Goldschmidt, and then sign a top flight starter such as Bumgarner or Gerrit Cole. The team would have another year of development under their belt, which could give them more credibility to possible signees.
The White Sox clearly had the green light to spend big this offseason. Waiting an additional year would give them even more to draw from next winter. Chicago wasn’t going anywhere this year, so let the young players grow and go at it next offseason. Signing an established veteran in Pollock solidifies the outfield. He can anchor that area and mentor the young players and is one of the most underrated hitters in the game, when healthy.