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Could these 3 deadline trades make sense for the White Sox?

by Tommy Gross

With the MLB Trade Deadline right around the corner, I thought I would put together a couple of mock trades that I would want to happen in the coming days. Unfortunately, this year the White Sox will be sellers instead of buyers, unlike previous years.

In these mock trades, I am not doing a full-team teardown. I will just be looking to trade some pieces that have contracts that either end this year (2023) or next year (2024). So, with that being said, the names of Dylan Cease, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, and Michael Kopech are safe, for today. I am hoping this deadline can begin the “retool phase” for the Southsiders, and not another full-blow rebuild like we experienced in 2016. These trades are just meant to hopefully invigorate the farm system a bit so the club can contend with the guys listed above still on the team.

With that being said, let’s get into it!

Trade #1: SP Lucas Giolito and SS Tim Anderson to Dodgers for C Dalton Rushing and OF Josue De Paula

I am starting with my most aggressive trade and definitely the biggest of the three trades. The Dodger’s starting pitching has struggled this season with a 4.68 ERA this season. With the Dodgers’ starting SS, Gavin Lux, going down with an ACL injury in spring training as well as Miguel Rojas and Chris Taylor struggling to replace him, they look to be in need of both a starting pitcher and a middle infielder.

Bob Nightingale reported earlier this year that the White Sox won’t resign Giolito after this season, so it makes the most amount of sense to move him before his contract expires. Giolito seems to be one of the biggest names floating around not only with the White Sox but also with the league as one of a handful of starters potentially being moved in the next week. It will be tough to see Giolito go since he has been such a solid start for the White Sox in the past couple of seasons, but it must be done to help this team in the future.

For Tim Anderson, I believe his resume will speak for itself. From 2019-2022, Anderson slashed .318/.347/.474 with a 122 OPS+. He is having a tough year this year, batting .241/.281/.283 with a 57 OPS+ but has heated it up at the right time. Since the all-star break, he is batting .378/.439/.432 with a 140 OPS+. A hot couple of weeks from Anderson isn’t going to make up for his season of struggles, but his resume and his ability to possibly play second base for the Dodgers once Lux returns put his trade value in a unique spot. He also has a club option after this season which sweetens the deal a bit for the Dodgers.

Now for the fun part, the White Sox return. I think the White Sox can pull catcher Dalton Rushing in this trade package. The reason for this is due to current catcher Will Smith and #1 prospect catcher Diego Cartaya already existing within the Dodgers’ system. Will Smith has just made his first all-star game and was on the All-MLB Second Team in 2022. He isn’t a free agent until 2026, which gives time for the top prospect Cartaya to develop and take his place when Smith leaves. This leaves Rushing as the odd man out in the catching spot for the Dodgers. This doesn’t mean the Dodgers need to or really want to move on from Rushing, but gives them the option to move him knowing they have insurance behind the plate for years to come.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dalton Rushing, he was the 2022 second-round pick for the Dodgers and is currently ranked as the 47th-ranked prospect in baseball as well as the Dodgers’ third-ranked prospect. He is currently slashing .251/.429/.465 with 157 wRC+ and 9 home runs in High-A. He has a lot of pop in his bat and likes to work counts and draw walks, currently holding a 20.6% walk rate on the season. MLB.com him to be in the majors by 2025. Rushing would easily become the top-catching prospect for the White Sox and bring power and plate discipline to a team that desperately lacks it.

The other man in the trade I would like is the Dodgers’ 10th-ranked prospect, OF Josue De Paula. De Paula is an 18-year-old outfielder signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2022. De Paula has a solid frame at 6’3’, 185 pounds, and still has plenty of time to add on muscle at his young age. He is known for his hitting more than anything, as he is batting in .272/.376/.384 with a 112 wRC+ in Single-A. In the 2022 Dominican Summer League, he slashed .349/.448/.522 with a 161 wRC+ and had 5 HR. Defensively, he is solid but will more than likely move to the corner outfield spots as he develops. He is a long way from hitting the majors, but a possesses the ability to be a solid bat as he develops throughout his young career. De Paula is not just an add in the Dalton Rushing, but a seriously good prospect who has hit well in his brief minor league career.

SP Lance Lynn and RP Kendall Graveman to Texas for INF Thomas Saggese and LHP Antoine Kelly

The Rangers have reportedly been interested in trading back for SP Lance Lynn after trading him to the White Sox just two and a half years ago. The Rangers starting pitching has been good this year with a 3.75 ERA, but with the Jacob DeGrom going to the 60-day injured list, they could look to add a familiar face with a lot of experience. Their bullpen ERA is 4.74 which is 4th worst in the league so they could look to add a bullpen arm as well.

Lance Lynn has had a very up-and-down year this year. He currently has a 6.18 ERA in 20 starts this year with 139 strikeouts to only 43 walks. The ERA is uncomfortably high, but some other stats might change the perspective. His xERA is much lower at 4.81 and his SIERA (Skill Interactive ERA) is 3.99. He also currently has a 10.88 K/9 which is the highest in his career. Even at age 36, you know what you’re getting with Lynn. He is a guy who is going to eat innings and throw strikes. I believe guys like these are very valuable for a contending team especially down the stretch in September when a lot of young arms are not used to throwing 150 IP+ in a season. He gives you a nice lifeboat of someone who will always pitch around 5-6 innings per game.

I don’t have much to say about Kendall Graveman, to be honest. He is playing slightly above average this year. He has a 3.56 ERA and has struggled in certain save situations but still has been solid overall. He had a great 2021 between Houston and Seattle and a very solid 2022 with the White Sox, so I believe he still has good trade value – for a team that is struggling in the bullpen as bad as Texas has, he can definitely help them out. Lynn has an option on his contract and Graveman has another year on his, so both of these players have the potential to be more than rentals.

Now for what the Sox get. I like Texas’s 15th-ranked prospect INF Thomas Saggese and 23rd-ranked LHP Antoine Kelly. Saggese, 21, is very aggressive offensively. He is currently batting .310/.376/.509 with a 131 wRC+ in Double-A this season and batted .308/.359/.487 with a 127 wRC+ in High-A last season. He has 14 HR and 71 RBIs in 88 games this season and just goes after any baseball thrown his way. The concerning part is he has an 8.3% walk rate and a 23.2% strikeout rate. Besides that, he has great bat speed and has played all four infield positions, mostly second base. I think he can be a very solid second baseman once he starts developing some discipline at the plate.

Antoine Kelly, 23, is a very solid left-handed arm originally from the Chicago area. He pitched in the All-Star Futures Game last year and later was acquired by Texas last season in the Matt Bush trade, but struggled in the starting role in Double-A last year after the trade. Since moving to the bullpen this season, Kelly, currently has a 2.57 ERA. He has a great fastball that can touch 100 mph to go with 12.09 K/9 this season. He has also dropped his BB/9 from 9.16 to 4.89 this season. Kelly has struggled at points during his minor league career after being drafted in the second round but I think he would be an interesting arm to acquire and see what the Sox can do with him.

RP Keynan Middleton to Orioles for 3B Max Wagner

For the last trade, I have Keynan Middleton being traded for the Orioles’ 12th-ranked prospect 3B Max Wagner. Keynan Middleton has been amazing since signing with the White Sox on a minor-league deal in January of this year, posting a 3.41 ERA in 34.1 IP with 44 strikeouts to just 15 walks. The Orioles have a solid bullpen this season, but every contender needs some bullpen depth.

For the return, I like Max Wagner a lot. The Orioles have a plethora of hitting prospects and a lot of good ones, but with Middleton being a rental bullpen arm, I thought Max Wagner would be the realistic return for him. Wagner is just 22 and is hitting .236/.368/.402 with a 116 wRC+ in High-A this season. There is a lot to like about Wagner. He plays the hot corner very well and was used as a defensive sub early in his college career at Clemson. He also has a 15.4% walk rate, which is refreshing to see. He runs very well with 23 stolen bases to go with nine home runs in 70 games this season. He still has a lot of room to grow, but being 21 years old and a second round pick last year, I think he can develop into a good MLB player.

It is a shame that this season has led the Sox to be sellers instead of buyers at the deadline, but I think Hahn and Co. can still get some good returns for the guys playing well on the roster right now. I know a lot of people want those big splash prospects and to get rid of everyone of value on this team, but I think this is the best way of going about the deadline for the time being. Thanks for reading as always, and we will just have to wait and see what Hahn does in the coming days.

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Featured Image: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

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