Over the past four seasons, I’ve published an article about what the White Sox should do at the Trade Deadline based on their current situation. In this fifth edition, this is the first time I am making this about the White Sox selling pieces, rather than buying them. That in itself is a shame, mostly because this was supposed to be the contention window. But, we don’t need a bad trip down memory lane. This article is meant to address the current situation as it is and suggest trades to try and find better days ahead.
Unlike recent seasons in which I’ve done this, I’ve put together multiple iterations of trades for the same player – for example, there are quite a few different Lucas Giolito packages spelled out below, all with different end goals in the types of players received. I did consider some scenarios in which the White Sox could both buy AND sell, but none of those honestly came to fruition for me – this is absolutely a seller’s market, and most of those players who will be available are rentals.
Overall, I did my best to gauge recent season’s returns on players to judge who the White Sox would receive in return. In most circumstances, I try to err on the side of thinking a trade return is “too light” for the Sox rather than creating a bunch of “steals” – though, in some instances, I list what I would shoot for as my initial offer while being willing to inevitably accept less. It’s not easy to do this, especially when you have next to no information about how teams view players.
With that all out of the way, let’s begin.
Trade #1: White Sox acquire RHP Chase Petty, OF Hector Rodriguez, and RHP Joe Boyle from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for SP Lucas Giolito and RP Kendall Graveman
A trade similar to this one in terms of headliners has surfaced in recent days – truthfully, this might be shooting a *bit* high for the return on Giolito and Graveman, but hear me out first.
The White Sox have already made it clear that Giolito isn’t likely to be back next season, and while I personally disagree with that assessment, it means the club should be looking to get a return on Giolito that goes beyond the second-round pick they’d get if he were to reject the Qualifying Offer. Petty fits this description.
Petty is the Reds’ #7 overall prospect, according to Baseball America, and he started off this season as the 94th-ranked prospect in baseball – though he has since fallen off the site’s most recent top 100 list. In 35.1 innings in High-A this season, the 20-year-old has a 1.53 ERA, 28.3 K%, and 6.5 BB% and projects as a potential top-of-the-rotation starter in the future. It’s still a long road for him at the age of 20, but it’s the sort of arm that would be awesome to add to a system that only has a few intriguing ones at current. He has been limited in innings due to an elbow injury, so his timeline may not match up perfectly with the Reds’ current contention window as he works back to full strength and begins to build up innings.
Rodriguez ranks as the team’s #14 prospect and is answering some previous power concerns by ranking second in the Florida State League in home runs. The 20-year-old is hitting .303/.355/.569 on the season and could be a true rising star in the minors despite previously being projected as a fourth outfielder at best. This would be a nice wild card pickup for the White Sox.
Finally, a former Notre Dame pitcher, Boyle couldn’t find the strike zone if he tried. However, his 32.5 K% is intriguing as part of the return for including Graveman in this trade. Get him in the Katz Lab and see what happens. The Reds have still been using him as a starter surprisingly, as it seems he is destined to be a high-leverage relief arm.
As I said at the beginning, this trade package may seem a *bit* too rich for a rental and a back-end reliever, even with an additional year still on Graveman’s contract. In terms of including Petty: Reds fans, take it from White Sox fans – playoff appearances can be few and far between. It’s worth capitalizing on the team’s success while it is in front of you, especially when the arm you’re concerned about losing is still 2-3 seasons, at best, away from contributing.
If the White Sox can get Petty – a longer-term upside play – at the very least out of this package, I’d consider that a win for the White Sox in this case. Between Boyle and Rodriguez, I think Rodriguez would be awesome but more costly. A package with Boyle and Petty in it, for me, would be more than adequate for Giolito if you want long-term solutions in return for him.
Trade #2: White Sox acquire INF Vaughn Grissom and LHP Dylan Dodd from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for SP Lucas Giolito
I went through multiple iterations of this move with the Braves, ultimately settling on Dodd over fellow LHP Jared Schuster. The Braves have the second-best bullpen in baseball and don’t really have a need for another reliever like Joe Kelly – who I view as the difference between Dodd and Schuster in a move like this. However, I’d happily include a reliever to get this done.
The Braves lead the NL East by a wide margin but still face some starting pitching health questions. Acquiring Giolito would go a long way in shoring up their rotation in hopes of making a deep playoff run. Plus, re-uniting longtime friends Max Fried and Lucas Giolito would be a great story for those of us who will be watching the playoffs without strong rooting interests.
Grissom burst onto the scene last year for the Braves to help fill in for an injured Ozzie Albies. He skipped Triple-A entirely, going on to hit .291/.353/.440 in 156 plate appearances down the stretch last season. However, in 70 plate appearances to start 2023, Grissom hit just .277/.314/.308 (70 wRC+), leading to his demotion to Triple-A. At just 22 years old, Grissom’s best days are ahead of him, but it could make plenty of sense for the Braves to move a player like him who doesn’t have a set position on the infield just yet – while the White Sox could potentially line him up to be the next long-term second or third baseman on the South Side.
Dodd, on the other hand, would be a left-handed arm with the ceiling of a fourth starter. He averages 92 on the fastball but is known for his pinpoint command. He struggled mightily in his major league stint this season, posting a 7.40 ERA with just a 10.5 K%, so a bit more seasoning may be in store for the 25-year-old. However, should the White Sox be able to refine his arsenal a bit, the club could see some nice value via spot starts or even a back-end rotation spot from Dodd heading into 2024.
Unlike the Reds trade above, this trade prioritizes the current White Sox roster and the remaining core of players. Grissom could be ready to contribute as soon as next season, while Dodd could likely pitch throughout the rest of this season as the White Sox offload their available starters.
I don’t know how the Braves or their fans view a trade like this. With the current state of the Braves, Grissom ends up being a bit blocked by Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, Orlando Arcia, and, potentially, a player like Braden Shewmake. Could adding Tim Anderson to this deal change things up a bit, and give the Braves a better stopgap at shortstop?
One other player I’d probably ask about in any trade with the Braves is C Drake Baldwin. The 22-year-old received fringy grades on his likelihood to stay behind the plate, but with a 13% walk rate in High-A and the Braves pretty set long-term with Sean Murphy behind the plate, perhaps they would view this development project as a moveable piece for the right price of a starter at the deadline.
Trade #3: White Sox acquire RHP Gavin Stone and LHP Maddux Bruns from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for SP Lucas Giolito and RP Aaron Bummer
This is a mix of sorts of the two packages above. The Reds’ package is very future-oriented, with the earliest contributor likely two or three years away at best. The Braves’ package has two contributors that would be able to contribute this season in some form or fashion. The Dodgers’ package above has one near-ready contributor (Stone) and one long-term project (Bruns) from a team that needs starting pitchers pretty desperately as they look to keep pace with the Diamondbacks while dealing with constant injuries.
Stone, 24, made his major-league debut this season but has been far from expectations over the course of this season. With a 6.03 ERA and 5.21 FIP in Triple-A this season, Stone has seen his numbers regress from his previous two seasons in Los Angeles – especially considering his 1.60 ERA and 2.24 FIP in Double-A last season. Stone remains the 76th overall prospect in baseball (per Baseball America), but has reportedly seen his fastball take a step back and his slider not develop. That seems like a good project for Ethan Katz, who has seen pretty good success among those pitchers he’s worked with in developing sliders.
While he’s far from expected to be a finished project at this time, with the Dodgers churning out pitchers at a pretty high rate, the team could likely afford to move a work-in-progress for a player in Giolito that doesn’t need as much work right now in the middle of a playoff race.
Bruns, 21, is a much longer-term project, as he’s just passed the 100 IP mark for his minor league career across three seasons. He struggles mightily with walks to the tune of a 17.9% walk rate this season but has electric stuff that has given him the ability to post a 31.8% strikeout rate and 2.52 ERA across 35.2 innings.
Other players the White Sox could be looking at in this sort of move with the Dodgers would include Nick Nastrini (#10 Dodgers prospect), Nick Frasso (#8 Dodgers prospect), or River Ryan (#12 Dodgers prospect), among others. Again, the Dodgers aren’t necessarily in the business of simply handing away players to achieve a short-term gain, however, they have plenty of near-ready arms that still need to take that next level in their development. Instead of trying to rush any player to fill a gap, they can trade from a surplus to help themselves in 2023. The White Sox, on the other hand, receive someone who could get innings this year as well as a long-term project to develop alongside Noah Schultz.
Trade #4: White Sox acquire RHP Alex McFarlane and C Caleb Ricketts from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for SP Lance Lynn and RP Keynan Middleton
Let’s be clear: the White Sox likely aren’t getting much of anything for Lance Lynn – though he has certainly boosted his stock enough recently to be worthy of a top 15 prospect in an organization with a weaker farm. With Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler struggling and the Phillies still just a half-game back of a Wild Card spot, they’re going to need to bolster their pitching staff in one way or another.
For this trade, how about finding a catcher of interest for the future? And a left-handed one at that. Ricketts is the Phillies’ 19th-ranked prospect and was drafted in the seventh round of the 2022 MLB Draft. He’s known for strong bat-to-ball skills, though some injuries this season have prevented him from having a strong showing in High-A. This season, he’s played in 39 games, and it’s a tale of two different leagues:
- Low-A: 93 PA, .386/.409/.568
- High-A: 79 PA, .177/.291/.265
He’s considered a solid receiver behind the plate, and a quick transfer and accurate arm make up for a lack of arm strength. Overall, this is the sort of player the White Sox should be willing to take a chance on.
McFarlane, 22, was drafted last season by the Phillies and has quite a live arm. He has been able to hit 99 on the radar gun, though his most interesting pitch might be his slider. Per Baseball America, the pitch averages over 2,700 rpm of spin, and projects as a legitimate swing-and-miss offering. It sat at 84.7 mph in his pro debut and produced a whiff rate greater than 44%. He has struggled with walks in his professional debut, evidenced by his 5.5 BB/9 this season. However, with a 3.72 ERA in 46 innings to start this season and 12.3 K/9, his is certainly a live arm that could one day be a mid-rotation starter.
I’d be curious to see if the White Sox could get any more than this for Lynn, but I have my doubts. If they could, interesting names to consider here would be Christian McGowan, Enrique Segura, and Andrew Baker. However, with the Phillies certainly a win-now team that isn’t just trying to catch lightning in the bottle, combined with the fact that they’re pretty set long-term with J.T. Realmuto behind the plate, the White Sox should certainly capitalize on Dave Dombrowski’s usual willingness to move farm pieces for a major league impact player. If I was targeting one of two players in this trade, I’d prefer Ricketts.
Trade #5: White Sox acquire OF Dominic Canzone and RHP Bryce Jarvis from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for SP Lance Lynn and RP Reynaldo Lopez
There are going to be a lot of teams in need of pitching, and this article definitely attempts to tackle all of them. With the Dodgers, Reds, Braves, and Orioles all mentioned, another team that makes sense to mention here is the Diamondbacks.
With Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly at the top of the rotation, the Diamondbacks are certainly set up for success at the top. However, beyond that, Arizona has gotten just 2.0 fWAR from their other three starters: Ryne Nelson, Zach Davies, and Tommy Henry. While still young and developing overall, if the Diamondbacks are serious about maximizing this season’s success, they could use another arm.
A potential upside player, Canzone, 25, also has the makings of a potential Quad-A player, as he tore up Triple-A this season to the tune of a .351/.431/.643 slash line in 304 plate appearances. To his credit, however, he’s hit everywhere he has gone, posting a career .933 OPS in four seasons. He grades out as an average defender at best, meaning his bat will definitely have to carry him. However, the risk may be worth it, especially for what the White Sox would have to give up.
Once considered one of the fastest-moving arms in college, Jarvis has certainly stalled out in his development. The 25-year-old has a 5.79 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A this season while definitely not living up to the first-round expectations of his draft spot. His fastball has velocity without life or movement, and while he has two strong offspeed pitches in his changeup and curveball, he often struggles to throw them for strikes. His future may end up being in relief, but could the White Sox help him get his career back on track?
The Diamondbacks don’t have the deepest farm system – it’s rather top-heavy with guys like Jordan Lawlar and Druw Jones. With the assumption that neither of those players moves this deadline, the Diamondbacks will likely find themselves shopping in the Lynn tier of available starters. RHP Slade Cecconi could be another name of interest if the Diamondbacks do in fact become involved in the race to add pitching.
Trade #6: White Sox acquire LHP Robby Snelling from the San Diego Padres in exchange for 1B/3B Jake Burger
Whether or not to trade Jake Burger is an interesting question. On one hand, it’s hard to find someone who can post a near-.300 ISO throughout the season. At the same time, his -3 Fielding Runs – among the lowest at 3B – with his sub-.300 OBP and 33% strikeout rate give pause to those who may think Burger could be anything more than a streaky power bat for the White Sox long-term. With several playoff teams certainly struggling in the power department, could the White Sox sell high in this case to a team that ranks just 15th in SLG this season?
With the Padres and Robby Snelling, they’d certainly be doing so. At just 20 years old, the left-hander has thrown 61.2 innings in his first professional season, going 6-1 with a 1.73 ERA, posting 9.8 K/9 and just 2.5 BB/9. He is the fourth-ranked prospect in a deep Padres system, and he projects as a mid-rotation starter with the development of a third offering outside of his fastball and high-spin curveball.
Burger wouldn’t necessarily be “cheap” in the sense of the word – he’s under contract through 2028, so another team would get a lot of value from him long-term. As a result, the White Sox, theoretically, *could* get a higher-quality player in return. That being said, Burger’s profile isn’t exactly hard to find either.
All told it’s pretty difficult to gauge just what sort of return Burger would garner – no matter the profile, it’s hard to argue with the fact that he has delivered the power. It’s going to be difficult to gauge just how much Burger would bring back; though, if I had to guess, I probably overshot this one in terms of player value in return. This is definitely the trade I feel the most iffy on in terms of overall value – probably because Burger’s value is by far the hardest to judge of any of the team’s trade deadline chips.
The Padres certainly aren’t known for hoarding their prospects – especially because they’re so good at developing new ones that come after them. With San Diego looking to hold on to the rebuilding dreams after all the money they spent, an additional bat for the price of a southpaw that doesn’t fit this current window wouldn’t be a bad trade. Other teams that could be interested in Burger include the Yankees, Brewers, and Marlins – three teams with varying levels of desperation/desire to make moves to upgrade the team and compete for a playoff spot.
Trade #7: White Sox acquire LHP Trey Dombroski and C Korey Lee in exchange for C Yasmani Grandal and RP Keynan Middleton
The Houston Astros could appear on this list a bunch of times – they definitely don’t look as fearsome as they have before, very much needing pitching help. However, in looking at their catching situation, they could certainly use some help there as well. They rank 28th in all of baseball in fWAR from their catching position:
- Martin Maldonado: 67 G, .172/.252/.304, 56 wRC+, -0.9 fWAR
- Yainer Diaz: 52 G, .263/.277/.492, 106 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
- Yasmani Grandal: .248/.313/.370, 91 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR
Well, he’s not much of an upgrade, but perhaps his left-handed back could provide some sort of backup spark in Houston?
The Astros aren’t strangers to these sorts of moves, trading for Christian Vazquez last season from the Red Sox in exchange for two very low-level prospects. Vazquez, at the time of the trade, however, was three years younger and had about 50 more points in OPS, so it’s not a perfect comparison – that’s where Keynan Middleton comes into play.
Regardless, however, the players Houston would be giving up are far from impact players at current. Dombroski, 22, is the team’s 25th-ranked prospect with a four-pitch mix that’s led to a 3.28 ERA in 74 innings in Low-A this season. His 11.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 are certainly encouraging, though to be 22 at the Low-A level is a reason to temper expectations.
Lee, 25, has had multiple cups of coffee in the majors but looks to be a Quad-A player at this point. He has a strong arm behind the plate and could fill in either as a backup or at the Triple-A level once he comes over.
All told the White Sox would probably be better off packaging their viable pieces together to get a better return. However, if you’re of the opinion to “trade Grandal for anything you can get,” this certainly qualifies as “anything.”
Trade #8: White Sox acquire OF Heston Kjerstad from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for SP Lucas Giolito and RP Reynaldo Lopez
Let’s circle back to another Giolito trade because if it isn’t painfully obvious by this point, he really is the only player of value the White Sox are open to trading at the deadline. The Dodgers, Reds, and Braves were the first three teams mentioned, but the fourth – the Orioles – may make the most sense. They are certainly the most desperate for pitching, with very few prospects in the pipeline who can provide the upside Giolito can this season. They also have a TON of hitting prospects, something the White Sox don’t have many of.
Kjerstad, 24, was just ranked the 68th overall prospect in baseball by Baseball America, so this is pushing the limit on the quality of prospect the White Sox would be able to get for Giolito – even with a reliever included. After battling some health struggles early in his career, the 24-year-old has torn up Double-A and Triple-A this season, putting on display the power that caused him to go first overall to the Orioles back before the COVID-19 Pandemic. There are still questions about his overall ceiling as a player, as his hit tool is considered average at best (55 grade by Baseball America), but he has played both corner outfield positions well. He’s a bit blocked in the near future, and with the Orioles’ desperate need for pitching, could that be enough to make them pull the trigger?
Should the White Sox look to trade Giolito to the Orioles, other names to look at could include Kade Povich, Jud Fabian, or Connor Norby. Kjerstad is likely the highest-quality prospect the White Sox could reasonably respect in return.
Trade #9: White Sox acquire LHP Mitch Bratt from the Texas Rangers in exchange for SP Lance Lynn
How about a reunion back in Texas for the right-hander? Texas is rumored to be one of three suitors for Lynn’s services – the Reds, Dodgers, and Rays have apparently all checked in on him – as they look to remain on top of the AL West with the Angels, Astros, and Mariners all struggling to compete despite their preseason hopes.
Bratt, 20, was drafted in the fifth round out of high school in 2021 and is currently the team’s #19 prospect. If his name sounds familiar, you likely watched the World Baseball Classic, where Team Canada decided to start him against Team USA this year.
Bratt pitched all of 2022 in Low-A, and so far, all of 2023 in High-A, where he’s thrown 56.1 innings with a 3.83 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 26.4% strikeout rate, and just a 6.5% walk rate. He works with a four-pitch mix that starts with a low-90s fastball that touched 95 and plays better because of some deception in his delivery as well as run and carry through the zone. Per Baseball America, he shows feel to land both his mid-70s curveball and low-80s slider for strikes, but needs to do a better job making them look like two disparate pitches. The Rangers also believe there could be more power to come in his arm because of his athleticism – could the White Sox develop it?
The Rangers have a strong system but in terms of talent, I personally like Bratt the most of some of their mid-teens prospects. Other names to consider here might be Cole Winn, Gleider Figuereo, and Cody Bradford – additionally, the return could change a little bit if the White Sox were to attach one of their relievers to this return. Bratt, however, has the makeup of a potential mid-rotation starter in the future, and he would be a strong return for eight starts of Lance Lynn in 2023.
Trade #10: White Sox acquire OF Colton Cowser, SS Jordan Westburg, and C Samuel Basallo in exchange for SP Dylan Cease, SP Lucas Giolito, and RP Kendall Graveman
Let’s end this with a giant blockbuster. The White Sox said they are listening to offers on any players except for Dylan Cease, but what if they listened on Cease?
Should something like this ever occur, the White Sox would receive a top 20 prospect in Cowser, a top 40 prospect in Westburg, and a top 60 prospect in Basallo. This haul may be a bit rich in top prospects, so a trade that includes two of the three listed names above along with some other prospects that aren’t as highly regarded as these three could still make up a reasonable trade. My personal preference would be to grab Basallo no matter what, as the Orioles have Adley Rutschman lined up in the near future behind the plate while the White Sox could use someone to dream on as the next homegrown catcher on the South Side.
This trade would push the number of Top 50 prospects the White Sox have from two to four and would give the team a clear current and future answer up the middle in Westburg and another major league-ready bat in Cowser. Plus, as mentioned, Casallo is the sort of player that the White Sox don’t have right now in the system behind the plate.
While the future of the White Sox’ rotation would be absolutely barren, the team would absolutely turn around their offensive outlook long-term with Cowser, Robert, Westburg, and Montgomery making up the core of the offense, with role players Eloy Jimenez, Andrew Vaughn, and Andrew Benintendi rounding out a solid top seven. This would be a balanced lineup of both free-swingers and guys who are willing to go out, work counts, and take their walks.
Again, this trade isn’t very likely – but it’s fun to dream about, isn’t it?
Other Trades Considered
Obviously, there are a lot of different things the White Sox could consider at this trade deadline, and every time you find a good trade partner for them, another two pop up. So, here are some trades I considered, but didn’t include in my top list, but that I find interesting because of either the destination or some of the names included in return.
- Lucas Giolito to the Rangers in exchange for 2B Justin Foscue and RHP Cole Winn
- Lucas Giolito to the Astros in exchange for OF Drew Gilbert and RHP Spencer Arrighetti
- Lance Lynn and Kendall Graveman to the Giants in exchange for C Joey Bart
- Jake Burger to the Yankees in exchange for RHP Drew Thorpe/RHP Clayton Beeter and SS Trey Sweeney
Realistically, I could do 10-15 more of these trades; everyone has different evaluations of prospects, and when you are talking about players in the mid-teens of prospect lists, you can make a case for many of the players’ upside. I also consider the relievers attached in all of my proposed trades as interchangeable – I expect the club to move Graveman, Lopez, Kelly, and Middleton in some form, so it doesn’t necessarily matter to me who they are sent to. I also didn’t include Tim Anderson, as this is possibly the worst time ever to try and trade him. The club is better off seeing if he can rebuild some of his value during the second half before re-visiting the idea of trading him this offseason.
As a small note, I didn’t include Liam Hendriks or Mike Clevinger in any trades, as due to their injury status, it’s hard to project whether or not they will still be here in August. If I had to guess, both players end up still in a White Sox’ uniform by the end of this season, with the White Sox not picking up Clevinger’s option at the end of the season and trading Hendriks heading into 2024.
In taking an overall review of the proposed trades above and comparing them to what I’ve seen online, I think the return for Giolito is going to underwhelm a lot of White Sox fans – in reality, it’s only seven or eight starts of Giolito that a club is paying for. Players in the back half of the top 100 list at best are going to be the most likely names in return – 80th-ranked at best, in my opinion. Giolito isn’t a true ace being dealt at the deadline, but the lack of too many better starting pitchers than him available will naturally inflate his price (possibly to those 80th-ranked prospects that I mentioned).
Outside of Giolito, the White Sox find themselves in a tough position. Lance Lynn, Yasmani Grandal, and the reliever core currently in place here don’t exactly scream “big return” at the deadline. At the same time, the team only naming Eloy Jimenez, Andrew Vaughn, Dylan Cease, and Luis Robert Jr. as untouchable is a signal that the front office (hopefully) understands what is happening here isn’t working and is more open than ever to being creative at the deadline – something we discussed extensively on our last podcast. This is the front office’s first chance to make things right on this team – hopefully, those in charge do a strong job with it and get this team on the right path heading into 2024 and 2025.
Overall, I feel pretty good about most of these mock trades. Some definitely feel like they border on overpaying for the opposing team, but all feel like they definitely blend together team needs for the White Sox with strengths and weaknesses of other team’s farm systems and major league rosters.
So, what do you think about the suggestions, Sox fans? Sound off in the comments below!
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