With much of the South Side faithful growing impatient from the lack of moves, rumors continue to swirl about potential trades.
The latest report comes from Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic who says roughly 10 clubs have been in touch with the Arizona Diamondbacks regarding at least one of their outfielders. Though specific names have not yet surfaced, the White Sox are among the teams who have apparently shown an interest.
According to sources, perhaps a third of baseball’s 30 teams have checked in on at least one of the Diamondbacks’ outfielders, with two new clubs reaching out for the first time on Tuesday. Sources say the interested teams include the Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays, Brewers, Marlins, Reds, White Sox and Yankees, among others.via Nick Piecoro – Arizona Republic
The reason for so much attention? Arizona’s general manager Mike Hazen has made it known that they’re willing to part ways with some of their outfield stockpile in order to upgrade other areas in need. In terms of who exactly might be available, the most obvious trade candidates for a win-now team would appear to be Daulton Varsho, Jake McCarthy, and Alek Thomas. Aside from being no older than 26, each of these three outfielders are under team control until at least 2027 and provide great defensive value for anyone in need of an upgrade.
Of the aforementioned names, Varsho is the most established and therefore, will come as the most expensive. After a slow start to his major league career, his offensive numbers finally began to pop a bit in 151 games in 2022. He slashed .235/.302/.443 (125-for-531) with 27 home runs, 74 RBI, 106 wRC+, and 4.6 fWAR. He also showed off some speed with 16 stolen bases and has emerged as an extremely valuable defensive outfielder, ranking towards the top of the list leaguewide.
Something that makes Varsho intriguing is that he’s also spent time behind the plate. His arm strength isn’t great, which is partly why he’s moved elsewhere, but he could probably still fill in on occasion. Otherwise, Arizona’s former No. 4 prospect possesses plenty of range thanks to his above-average wheels. In 2022, his Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) ended at +19, and his Outs Above Average (OAA) at +17. With defense an obvious area the White Sox need to improve upon, it’s not shocking for them to join the other third of the league in kicking the tires.
Set to turn 27 in July, Varsho’s estimated salary for the 2023 season sits at $2,711,303 according to Spotrac. He also comes with four years of club control, which will surely make him one of the team’s hottest commodities thanks to his overall production.
Moving down the list, McCarthy has never been as well-regarded within the team’s system. Having peaked at just No. 23 on Arizona’s prospect rankings, the lefty put together a strong 2022 with a .283/.342/.427 slash (91-for-321) that included eight home runs, 116 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR, and 23 stolen bases on 26 attempts. McCarthy notably finished fourth in this year’s NL Rookie of the Year voting after appearing in a career-high 99 games.
Though his overall tools aren’t especially eye-popping, Arizona still views him highly. He has the versatility to play all three outfield spots and has shown the ability to make adjustments at the plate. The big question that seems to linger – would the White Sox or any other team be willing to meet the D-Backs’ higher asking price?
According to Spotrac, McCarthy’s average salary sits at $702,400. He doesn’t become an unrestricted free agent until 2028, giving possible suitors several years of control.
Thomas is likely a familiar name thanks to his father, Allen, who’s served as the White Sox’ strength and conditioning coach. Ranked as a Top 50 prospect heading into 2022, Alek debuted this past May and served as the team’s primary centerfielder. His first year didn’t come without its struggles, however, as he hit .231/.275/.344 (88-for-381) with eight home runs, a 5.4% walk-rate, 71 wRC+, and 0.5 fWAR.
Putting those numbers aside, Thomas was a Gold Glove finalist among National League centerfielders and emerged as one of the best at his position defensively. His +6 DRS in centerfield was tied for fourth-best in the NL despite starting in just 102 games up the middle. Likewise, his +6 OAA was the fifth-highest total among NL centerfielders.
Like McCarthy, Thomas has yet to reach one year of MLB service time. He’s also under control until 2028, and will always have a spot in the lineup based on the glove he possesses.
In terms of how a potential trade might look, Piecoro said in his report that the Diamondbacks have some general ideas entering negotiations.
As for what the Diamondbacks could get in return, a number of possibilities remain in play. Talks are said to involve players at a variety of positions, with second base, third base, shortstop and catcher looking most likely. The club is focused primarily on right-handed hitters.
The Diamondbacks are said to have high asks on their players. They are not looking to take back prospects but rather to acquire either an established big leaguer or a major league-ready player who will serve as an upgrade or plug a hole. Hazen said the Diamondbacks are talking about deals that include just one player coming back and those that include multiple players.via Nick Piecoro – Arizona Republic
Just how high of an asking price and who Arizona is targeting in return will obviously dictate whether a deal remains realistic for the White Sox. Regardless, Rick Hahn and Co. might have a few other moves already in the works. Several rumors on Wednesday hinted at the team being in talks with free-agent outfielders Victor Reyes and Joey Gallo, so those will be some storylines to monitor over the coming days.
As more information becomes available, we will continue to provide coverage. Follow along with us @SoxOn35th!
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