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Cheap White Sox Trade Targets To Consider This Offseason

by Adam Kaplan

During the offseason prior to the 2021 baseball season, the Chicago White Sox traded for veteran RHP Lance Lynn in exchange for RHP Dane Dunning and LHP Avery Weems. The Sox lost five years of cheap team control of Dunning in exchange (at the time) for a one-year, $10 million ace in Lynn. Even without the eventual extension for Lynn, acquiring a top-tier starting pitcher with a salary of $10 million was a great deal by the Sox, a franchise under Jerry Reinsdorf that is notoriously unwilling to dole out massive contracts.

While of course the team could, and should, spend money this offseason to acquire free agents without giving up any prospects or capital in return, for a team that I’m dubious will spend on big-name free agents like Marcus Semien or Max Scherzer, trading for top tier talent should be a part of Rick Hahn’s plans this offseason. Below is a list of players with one year left on their current contract, that are making $10 million or less, that I think the White Sox could realistically trade for and players I’d love to see on the South Side, and all will be unrestricted free agents (UFA) in 2023.

Before I begin, I feel that I must get some caveats out of the way. While I wouldn’t mind if the Sox traded for these players, the price needs to be right. I don’t want to give up a package of Michael Kopech and Andrew Vaughn for any of these guys. The Sox farm system is notoriously weak right now, so I don’t know if the White Sox have any players that could get these deals done, but if Hahn is able to execute a similar Dunning and Weems for Lynn type trade for any of these players on this list, that would be great. Also, all contracts listed are based on Spotrac or expected arbitration salaries from MLB Trade Rumors.

Willson Contreras, C/OF Chicago Cubs

Projected 2022 Salary: $8.7 Million

Admittedly, this feels more like a pipe dream than anything because if the Cubs were willing to trade him, why wasn’t he included in their 2021 fire sale? But that being said, the Cubs clearly are not trying to win now, and it’s not unreasonable to suggest that they should trade Contreras because the pieces they’d acquire to assist in their rebuild are more valuable than Contreras’ presence on a team that has a chance to lose 100 games next season. This is a franchise that doesn’t appear to want to have a winning season any time soon. Meanwhile, the Sox would get a second catcher which they so valuably need (and I wouldn’t shed a tear if either Seby Zavala or Zack Collins was sent over to the Cubs in this trade), and who can also play right field when Yaz catches.

Mitch Haniger, OF Seattle Mariners

Projected 2022 Salary: $8.5 Million

Mitch Haniger is the favorite of our Editor-In-Chief Jordan Lazowski, so I’d be a fool not to include him on this list. But also, Haniger would be a great addition to the Pale Hose. The righty slugger hit 39 home runs last year to go along with a 120 wRC+, and that bat would make an excellent addition for any team. That being said, the Mariners were in the playoff hunt throughout the season, and probably feel they will be in 2022. And if the M’s are out of it by the trade deadline, they can always give away Haniger then. However, if Seattle is willing to make a trade, maybe so will Hahn.

Adam Frazier, 2B San Diego Padres

Projected 2022 Salary: $7.5 Million

I have no idea what the White Sox are going to do to fill their hole at second base. Obviously, I would love it if they brought back Semien or signed someone like Trevor Story or Carlos Correa and move either them or TA to second, but that hasn’t been the Sox M.O. since Jerry has owned the team, and it’s natural to assume the Sox will go for the best, cheapest option. But since the team has stated they are not going pick up César Hernández’s $6 million option, there is not a whole lot of cheap selections of players left who I also believe will be productive. That’s why I am including Adam Frazier on my list.

I am very confident that the Sox would not be getting the Frazier that slashed .324/.388/.448 for Pittsburgh last year, but I also think they would be getting a player a tad bit better than the one who slashed .267/.327/.335 for San Diego. The Padres gave up some decent prospects to acquire Frazier and if they feel the second baseman is a sunk-cost investment, then they’re going to want too much that Hahn shouldn’t give up. But that being said, what A.J. Preller has done with the Padres has not worked out that well, and he needs to do something different. If Frazier left a sour taste in his mouth along a similar vein that seemingly Hernández did with the Sox, then maybe my dream can become reality.

Wade Miley, LHP Cincinnati Reds

Projected 2022 Salary: $10 Million

I say the following admittedly being very ignorant of the Reds organization as a whole and the direction they want to go in. From an outsider looking in, both acquiring some players to beef up the roster makes sense as well as selling off some pieces for players that could be good in a few years. Though, if Cincy does want to be a seller, it would make a lot of sense for them to trade away a pitcher that will be 35 in 2022 and on the most expensive year of his contract for prospects/young players. Wade Miley was still on the top of his game in 2021, boasting a 3.37 ERA in 28 starts, albeit without the greatest underlying numbers. But still, I would trust Miley for one year with Ethan Katz by his side. Further, Miley would be a lefty in a rotation for the Sox that might be barren of them if they’re able to trade away Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Rodón gets the hefty multi-year contract he’s looking for (and will most certainly not get from Jerry).

Oakland’s Chris Bassitt ($8M salary in 2022 and is a UFA in 2023) and former South Sider would be another good, cheap starter to target, but personally, I would never trade with Billy Beane because I would always get fleeced. Additionally, I personally think Oakland is better positioned to win in 2022 than the Reds are, and thus more unlikely to offload a cheap starter in the offseason. Though with Beane, it feels like he’s willing to trade anyone at any time for the right price, so you never know.

Regardless, a rotation in 2022 of Lynn/Giolito/Cease/Kopech with either Miley or Bassitt and ReyLo waiting in the wings feels awfully good to me.

Tyler Naquin, OF Reds; Trey Mancini, OF Orioles; Andrew Benintendi, OF Royals

Projected 2022 Salaries: Naquin ($3.5M), Mancini ($8M), Benintendi ($9.6M)

I am grouping Naquin, Mancini, and Benintendi into one because I think they’re all slightly above average bats with below-average defense, and none of these guys are super sexy options. Combine that with a team that seemingly already has a log jam with Adam Engel, Andrew Vaughn, and Gavin Sheets, AND the Sox would have to give up a prospect, and I agree reader, I am probably not off to a great start with this one. But hear me out.

You can never have enough good major league-ready players on your 26-man roster. The Sox got lucky being able to sign Brian Goodwin in 2021 and did manage to prove they had some organizational depth when major injuries struck the team, but I don’t want to test that luck again in 2022. With both Eloy Jiménez and Adam Engel feeling like injury risks waiting to happen, I’d like to have even slightly above average outfield bats on the bench that could also start for long stretches if need be. Further, in a world where signing Adam Eaton to a one-year/$8M contract makes sense, I think trading for any of these players does as well.

Obviously, Tyler Naquin is the most attractive financial option considering he’ll make less than four million dollars in 2022, and as I wrote above in regard to Wade Miley, if the Reds are going to be sellers, Rick Hahn should be on the phone with Nick Krall (and maybe can work out some comedy bits with him and John Mulaney?). Anyways, Naquin is a lefty bat who had a wRC+ of 120 against righties in 2021. I think Tyler Naquin in 2022 would be what Hahn had hoped Adam Eaton would be in 2021. However, Naquin is also the player on this list most likely to re-sign with his former team I think.

Both the Orioles and the Royals are going to be bad in 2022 and in the foreseeable future, the O’s more so than the Royals, so to me, it doesn’t make sense if either team kept their man. Trey Mancini hit 21 home runs in 2021 with a wRC+ of 105. That’s certainly not great, but he did knock 35 HRs with a wRC+ of 132 in 2019 and hit 24 HRs with a wRC+ of 116 in 2017. If he can ultimately hit 25-30 HRs, then I think the acquisition can make sense at the right price.

Andrew Benintendi is probably the worst option of the three considering he’s the most expensive, the Royals might have a high asking price considering they just sent Boston a handful of prospects to acquire him, and Benintendi’s offensive numbers aren’t anything special (I know, I’m really selling this selection, huh?), but, still, if the White Sox can acquire Benintendi without giving up too much, even if they have to eat the entire contact, I think Benintendi could still be worth it as a 4th outfielder. The Royals outfielder still had a wRC+ of 106 in 2021, and outside of the shortened covid season, has never had a wRC+ below 100. He would also be a lefty bat that the Sox appear to so desperately crave. Think of him as a slightly more expensive Brian Goodwin.

I am hopeful that Rick Hahn and the Chicago White Sox will be able to make a splash this offseason and acquire high-end talent to help this team win a World Series during this window that has now opened up for them. However, I am sadly doubtful that will occur. Still, the Sox should and will acquire new talent to add to this team, and if they do so via trade, I think all of the above would make great additions to the South Side. All of these players are cheap trade targets the White Sox should consider acquiring this offseason.

Featured Photo: White Sox (@whitesox) / Twitter

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