Major League Baseball spring training is officially less than a month away, and the hot stove is as freezing as Chicago in January. With many quality free agents still on the board, and many highly coveted trade targets yet to be moved, baseball fans are beginning to get restless. Many teams still have holes on their roster, and the White Sox are no exception.
For what feels like the 200th year in a row, the White Sox have needs in right field and at second base, among other places. When asked about the White Sox starting right-fielder during his last media session, new GM Chris Getz said bluntly, “We’re looking to add.”
While the White Sox have since signed Brett Phillips and Rafael Ortega to minor league deals, let’s say for the sake of this exercise that they’re looking for a more impactful addition to the club.
Here are five remaining free agents that could make sense.
2023 Stats: 92 G, .247/.303/.531, 21 HR, .834 OPS
Perhaps the most logical fit available, Duvall was tied to the White Sox last offseason before inking a one-year deal with the Red Sox. Despite turning 35 in September, Duvall put up a very productive season at the plate when healthy, still showed enough athleticism to play some center field in Boston, and has experience at all three outfield spots as well as first base.
Though he’s a right-handed hitter, Duvall has nearly identical numbers vs. righties and lefties in his career, so he should be a reliable bat that can be in the lineup daily. At this stage of his career, he may prefer to play for a contender, but the White Sox should absolutely be interested in adding Duvall to a lineup that lacks much pop.
2023 Stats: 129 G, .256/.328/.446, 16 HR, .774 OPS
A highly-coveted trade deadline target around the league, it’s somewhat surprising to see that Pham has yet to find a home this offseason. Jon Heyman of the NY Post reported back in November that Pham has “a considerable amount of interest” from teams, and with six consecutive seasons of at least 15 home runs, Pham has shown that he still has something left in the tank at 36 years old. He’s been a highly respected leader and teammate in several different clubhouses, something that Getz and the new front office have stated is a priority for the White Sox.
While he’s not the best defender in the outfield, he has an above-average arm and is athletic enough to stay out there. He may have lots of interest from contending teams, but should he decide to take on a mentor role for a young clubhouse, consider the White Sox a good fit.
2023 Stats: 111 G, .171/.301/.440, 21 HR, .741 OPS
Gallo has always been a fascinating player. His career numbers have always featured a ton of strikeouts, a ton of walks, and a ton of home runs. He’s been the very definition of a three-true outcome player. The White Sox were connected to Gallo last offseason but instead pivoted to Andrew Benintendi.
Despite two down years in a row, Gallo was an all-star as recently as 2021 and will be just 30 years old for the entire 2024 season. He would certainly add some left-handed power to a White Sox lineup that doesn’t have much of it. A hitter-friendly ballpark might help Gallo get some of his numbers back on track. Defensively, he’s got one of the stronger outfield arms in the league, though he isn’t more than average in other areas. If the White Sox were to make this move, it wouldn’t be a needle-mover, but he could be an intriguing bounceback candidate.
2023 Stats: 6 G, .238/.238/.286, 0 HR, .524 OPS
A former top prospect of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Meadows was traded to the Rays in the Chris Archer deal and came into his own with Tampa Bay in 2019. After a shortened season in 2020 that really can’t be counted against anyone, he had a solid showing in 2021 before being dealt to the Tigers before the 2022 season. It was there that his career took a turn. He played just 36 games in 2022 and six games in 2023 before being non-tendered by Detroit this offseason.
Meadows has been open about his struggles with anxiety and chose to step away from the team for an extended period in each of the last two seasons. He has yet to indicate his plans for the 2024 season, but should he choose to play, he is free to sign with any team. At just 28 years old on opening day, he’s one of the younger options available and should come with a degree of upside based on his past numbers. If Meadows is ready to play, the White Sox should kick the tires on another lefty power bat.
2023 Stats: 145 GP, .272/.318/.382, 11 HR, .700 OPS
I got a little creative with this one, as Merrifield is known more as an infielder, but he’s played 300 games in the outfield in his career and 181 of them have been in right. Merrifield’s versatility is one of his more attractive qualities, as he could easily be the starting second baseman as well. At the plate, he’s not going to bring overwhelming power, though he does have double-digit homers in every full season of his career. He keeps the strikeouts down, puts the bat on the ball, and runs well, especially for a 35-year-old.
Despite this, however, he hasn’t had an above-average offensive season since 2020 and hasn’t done it in a full season since 2019. Merrifield wouldn’t be more than a stopgap at this stage in his career, but in an offseason where defense and leadership have been prioritized, he could be a fit. *Insert joke about him being a former Royal here.* It is also possible that the White Sox add Merrifield in addition to another guy on this list. Their current payroll is quite a bit lower than their 2023 mark. In Jerry’s world though, you never know.
If there’s anything you can take from the options above, it’s that this time next year, I will very likely be putting together a similar article about who the White Sox could sign to fill their right field vacancy. Maybe Oscar Colas will take a big step forward this year and that won’t be necessary. But with Chris Getz already saying that Colas will begin the year in Charlotte, a veteran stopgap should be in the cards. Any of the names above should suffice, and who knows, maybe they’ll finally catch lightning in a bottle like they’ve been trying to do for 15 years.
Follow us @SoxOn35th for more throughout the offseason!
Featured Image: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports