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South Side Mailbag: Answering fan questions to end 2022

by Jordan Lazowski

As 2022 comes to an end, there are still a lot of questions on fans’ minds. To help work through some very popular White Sox questions, we put together this mailbag based on your fan questions!

Topics included Andrew Benintendi’s contract, the White Sox second base situation, expectations for the team and certain players in 2023, some potential blockbuster trades, and a whole lot more. Thanks for all your questions – I tried to answer all of them.

Now, let’s get into it!

@MaxNWeiss: “If you’re Rick Hahn, and you want to pull off one blockbuster trade to change the team, who would you like to see it for, and what does it look like to you structure-wise?

This a great question. I’ll consider a blockbuster to be one that changes the current “core” for the White Sox: Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Andrew Vaughn, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Tim Anderson, and Yoan Moncada all would apply here.

That said, I’d trade Tim Anderson. That’s going to be controversial, but if the White Sox believe in Colson Montgomery, he may be up by 2024. Alternatively, we’ve seen the free-agent shortstop market explode this offseason, and since no team that lost a shortstop got one of the main four, there are a lot of teams that could use a shortstop. That being said, the White Sox are one of those teams, so I’m not sure how much sense it makes. However, I don’t know if the White Sox will pay Anderson long-term either, so it may make sense to strike while the iron is hot.

Teams I think could use a shortstop in the short-term? The Cardinals, Red Sox, Angels, Mariners, and Braves all make sense. I’d add the Giants here too, since, well, you know…

But, as the final candidate, I’m going to pick the Angels here, as I think they match up the best. Could something like Anderson for Zach Neto and Logan O’Hoppe make sense? I wouldn’t hate adding in Jo Adell as a flier either, though his value is far from where it once was. But a middle infielder of the future plus a potential catcher of the future for two years of Tim Anderson to try and maximize Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout? It makes sense to me. Reid Detmers could make sense here too, but not necessarily under the same structure – that would be more of a one-for-one swap.

@GregMiller86: “Is there any chance the Sox backloaded the Benintendi contract, which still hasn’t been officially announced, in order to push more money to 2024 and beyond, thus freeing up money for the remainder of this offseason? Perhaps leaving room for another FA signing?”

I don’t think they’ll backload the contract – this isn’t something the White Sox have done a ton in recent memory. What I could see them doing, however, is giving Benintendi a lot of his 2023 salary in the form of a signing bonus.

I won’t bore you with too many details, but signing bonuses are the main difference between the number we consider to be the team’s payroll and the number that is reported as the team’s luxury tax salary – the one that gets counted against luxury tax penalties. I don’t know if or how Jerry Reinsdorf views those numbers differently – the payroll number is the one that actually represents how much money is coming out of his pockets on the year. If they do see these numbers differently, could we see the White Sox give Benintendi a $6M signing bonus that shaves $4.8M off of the payroll? Maybe.

YearBase SalarySigning BonusLuxury Tax SalaryPayroll SalaryPayroll “Saved”
2023-27$69M$6M$75M$75M+/- $0M

Would about $5M really make a difference? I’m not too sure.

In order for it to really make a difference, they’d almost have to give him a $10M signing bonus, which would shave $8M off of the team’s expected payroll number for 2023.

SeasonBase SalarySigning BonusLuxury Tax SalaryPayroll SalaryPayroll “Saved”
2023-27$65M$10M$75M$75M+/- $0M

Again, this doesn’t make a difference in terms of the actual luxury tax number, but if the White Sox are concerned strictly about the physical dollars paid out in 2023, this may be the way they do it. $8M would definitely buy them a fourth outfielder or part of a second baseman of their choosing.

What they decide to do definitely will say a lot about how this team views itself and the necessary additions still required, as well as their current budget. If there is one team who is difficult to figure out financially, it’s the White Sox.

@MillennialSox: “If the Sox are not going to sign a second baseman and go with internal options as has been reported, who do you prefer to get the first chance/most reps: Romy Gonzalez or Lenyn Sosa?”

Who I prefer and who I think are likely two different options here:

  • I think the White Sox will start with Romy Gonzalez
  • I would prefer the White Sox to give Lenyn Sosa the job

The reason I think they’ll start with Gonzalez is that he has more major-league experience – though it is far from vast. It has nothing to do with Sosa’s relatively unsuccessful stint in 2022 at the MLB level – I’m not reading much into his 36 PA from 2022, and neither should you.

What’s the differentiator for me, you ask? A couple of things, which we will discuss below. However, in terms of overall player profiles, Sosa did one thing differently in 2022 that gives him the edge for me:

Let’s start with Gonzalez. Romy Gonzalez has never been a prolific walker. Over the course of his minor league career, his highest walk rate came in 2021 with an 11.0% walk rate in 344 PA in AA. Since then, he has posted walk rates under 10%, including an anemic 1.8% walk rate in 109 MLB plate appearances in 2022.

On top of this, Gonzalez has consistently struck out a healthy amount when he’s been on the field. The lowest strikeout rate he’s posted in his career was a 25% strikeout rate in 60 AAA plate appearances in 2021. Every other year, that rate has been above 26% wherever he has gone. This boom-or-bust profile gives him the ability to have incredible stretches at the plate (.339/.356/.500 over 59 PA to start 2022) but experience the lows just as quickly (.122/.140/.184 in his final 50 PA). When hitters go through slumps at the plate, you’d like to know that they will be able to still contribute at the plate. Most hitters do this in the form of walks. Walks are a consistent form of production – that’s why they matter. In Gonzalez’s case, they haven’t been particularly present.

Lenyn Sosa, at the same time, doesn’t walk a ton. However, he made a clear change in the right direction in 2022, raising his walk rate from as low as 1.7% in AA in 2021 to a consistent 7.3% in AA and AAA during the 2022 season. This was just one signal of true maturity and change in plate approach in 2022, tapping into his power a bit more (23 HR) while simultaneously decreasing his strikeout rates (13.8% in AA, 17.4% in AAA – compared to about a 22% strikeout rate in 2021 in A+ and AA combined).

What’s also clear about Sosa throughout his career is that it takes him a bit of time to adjust to the next level he plays at. Once he adjusts, however, he is incredibly productive.

  • First 121 AA PA (2021): .214/.240/.282, 1 HR, 7 RBI
  • Next 289 AA PA (2022): .331/.384/.549, 14 HR, 48 RBI
  • First 98 AAA PA (2022): .275/.316/.407, 2 HR, 10 RBI
  • Next 149 AAA PA (2022): .311/.376/.511, 7 HR, 21 RBI

Again, all of this production comes with an average walk rate, which isn’t incredibly inspiring, but also comes with well-below-average strikeout rates. The highest strikeout rate he’s ever posted was 23.1% in those 121 PA in AA to end his 2021 season. Sosa has also produced while being 22 years old, well below the age most players are at for each level. He continues to be impressive, and if the White Sox view him as the second baseman of the future – which, he has absolutely put himself into that territory – it would benefit the team to give him the plate appearances necessary to adjust early in the season.

All this being said, I think the White Sox will choose to ease Sosa into the major leagues by letting Gonzalez and Leury Garcia handle the majority of second base early in the season. I think this could be a Tim Anderson-like situation when he originally came up in 2016 to replace Jimmy Rollins. While I’m not suggesting Sosa is the next TA, I am suggesting the White Sox have a pattern in how they treat their infield prospects.

So, I prefer Sosa, and would be pleasantly surprised if he started the year as the starting second baseman. Let’s see if he can earn it in Spring Training – unless plans completely shift and the White Sox bring in outside help.

@JohnathanNess: “Who will be the Opening Day 2B? With the Mets infield overloaded, any chance Sox can trade Hendriks and maybe someone like Ramos for McNeil? Or is Segura more likely?”

I think the Opening Day second baseman is whoever wins the Spring Training battle between Lenyn Sosa, Romy Gonzalez, and Leury Garcia. If not one of them, I think the White Sox trade for someone – I’m not sure Segura is the answer, as I really think someone currently on the roster can give the team good defense and a .700 OPS. I just don’t think it’s the best allocation of funds to spend money on a .720-ish OPS second baseman at a weak position league-wide.

I also don’t think Jeff McNeil is available – an infield of Correa, Lindor, and McNeil is stacked without any real challengers (Eduardo Escobar, Mark Vientos, and Brett Baty are all worse than the aforementioned trio). Though, if the White Sox were to trade Hendriks, they should be asking about McNeil – the Mets likely realize they are better with McNeil than they are with Hendriks and without McNeil, especially with Edwin Diaz at the back end of the bullpen already.

@Sox_mathteacher: “With limited options, would you focus on getting the best defense possible at 2B even at the sacrifice of offense or would you rather sacrifice defense for a better bat?”

With the shift ban for 2023 and beyond, defense becomes a more crucial part of the equation at a position that already doesn’t have too many offensive standouts.

To put this in perspective: only 19 players in baseball had a player with enough plate appearances to be considered a “qualified” second baseman. There are 30 MLB teams. Of those 19, 13 had a wRC+ over 100, and only six of them had a wRC+ above 110. Compare this to right field, which had 20 “qualified” players, 16 of whom had a wRC+ at or above 100. Of those 16, 12 had a wRC+ over 110. So, when people are trying to pick between upgrading second base or upgrading right field, that’s why I’ve always preferred to upgrade right field (or the outfield in general) offensively. You run the risk of falling farther behind at this position compared to the rest of the league.

So, to answer this question: prioritize defense, and see what offense can come as a result. Romy Gonzalez and Lenyn Sosa would both be completely satisfactory second basemen, assuming you trust scouting reports and historical numbers. Gonzalez posted +1 Outs Above Average (OAA) in just 74 attempts at second base in 2022, so he’s more than capable. Sosa has a strong track record in the minor leagues as well, and scouts consider his defense to be solid at second base.

@nocrackers30: “Does Yolbert Sanchez have a chance in the 2B competition during Spring Training, or is he pretty much done as a prospect seeing as how he’s not on the 40-man roster anymore?

So, correct me if I’m wrong, but Yolbert Sanchez was never on the White Sox’ 40-man roster. It was a topic of conversation last year but never transpired. Still, Sanchez has always been a defense-first prospect. His bat did struggle to keep up with his promotion to AAA, though his bat showed signs of life at the end:

  • May: .261/.337/.341
  • June: .270/.301/.303
  • July: .237/.275/.329
  • August: .304/.341/.317
  • September: .300/.330/.389

With the shift ban, there is a potential place for him on the major league roster. However, that spot is likely taken up by Leury Garcia at current. Sanchez serves as great depth for the team defensively, and could likely contribute on Opening Day if the team needed him. However, if he is struggling to post a .700 OPS in AAA, the bat will likely continue to struggle in the majors. This will be what holds him back.

While we are talking about roster designations, it should be pretty telling that Sanchez was Rule 5 Draft-eligible this offseason, but no team selected him and the White Sox felt no need to protect him. This means no one feels that confident about putting him on a roster for a full 162 games quite yet.

@DrunkPito: “What do you think about trading for Luis Rengifo?”

Rengifo would be an interesting option on the surface. He hit 17 home runs last season, though he did so with a 3.3% walk rate and 15.5% strikeout rate. He also posted an OBP below .300 (.264/.294/.429 slash line) but did slug a considerable amount for the position. He hits from both sides of the plate, so he checks a box there.

All that said, there are a lot of drawbacks here. His wOBA/xwOBA splits aren’t exactly encouraging (.314 wOBA/.296 wOBA), and his overall production at the position was pretty lackluster all things considered. He also isn’t strong defensively, posting -3 OAA in 2022 at second base. Perhaps I’m overly optimistic, but I think there is a chance the White Sox could find a .724 OPS at the position internally. I’m also cautious about putting too much stock into his 2022 performance which seems due for a bit of regression as someone who chases a ton, doesn’t walk, and doesn’t hit the ball hard (15th percentile in hard-hit rate).

So, I wouldn’t mind taking a flier, but I do fear he may be a quad-A-type player. I’m all for creating competition at the position in Spring Training.

@NicholasSelvy: “What type of season do you expect from Kopech after getting more innings under his belt?”

In many ways, Michael Kopech’s 2022 season was very similar to the 2020 version of Dylan Cease:

  • 2022 Kopech: 21.3 K%, 11.5 BB%, 3.54 ERA, 4.50 FIP
    • Final 10 starts: 18.9 K%, 11.2 BB%, 3.86 ERA, 4.68 FIP
  • 2020 Cease: 17.3 K%, 13.3 BB%, 4.01 ERA, 6.36 FIP

Now, I’m aware Kopech was battling some injuries in 2022, and thankfully, some of the advanced metrics liked Kopech’s 2022 season more than they liked Cease’s 2020 season. However, there is still a lot of work for Kopech to do on the shaping of his pitches, in particular his slider (shameless plug for a previous article I wrote here).

Unlike most people, I don’t necessarily expect Kopech to be a finished product in 2023. In my projected rotation, I always line him up either third or fourth, behind Cease, Lynn, and potentially a rebounded Giolito. He only hit 110 innings last season – and while this is exactly what the White Sox needed from him, expecting him to jumpy right up to 160 innings and perform at a high level is a tough task for any player. Essentially, I do think expectations need to be tempered a bit.

I still think highly of Kopech and his long-term future in baseball as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. That said, if Kopech had a 2023 season that resembled Dylan Cease’s 2021 season, the White Sox aren’t going to lose many games due to their starting rotation. I think we would all be pretty happy with a season that represents a clear step forward for Kopech that also casts aside any remaining doubts about his ability to stick in the rotation.

@TheCreativeJC: “Assuming the Sox are done with big additions, what’s the most realistic expectation heading into next year?

I’m assuming this question means in terms of their performance for 2023. I may be crazy, but I’m pretty optimistic overall about what this team can do in 2023. I mean, this is very much the same team that won 93 games in 2021. Sure, Jose Abreu and Carlos Rodon aren’t around, but I’d be ready to argue that not even that 2021 team was at its ceiling. I think a new voice in the dugout not only elevates that ceiling but also elevates the floor from that of an 81-win team.

I’m still most curious about what game preparation and strength/conditioning changes are made, as those tell me the most about the long-term outlook of this team. But, I think a 90-win team that takes the division in what is still a very bad (and getting worse) AL Central is a realistic expectation. From there, anything is possible, as we see every year. Get in, make some noise, and see what happens.

@Heckert1John: “Will the White Sox extend Cease? Or Giolito?”

Truthfully, I don’t think the White Sox will extend either of these players. For Cease, as a client of Scott Boras, he’s long been told about his worth. In addition, Cease is smart enough to understand his own worth and assess whether or not he’d like to take a bet on himself. At current, he could easily find himself as a $200M pitcher in a few years when free agency comes around – and unfortunately, I don’t think that is a number that the White Sox are willing to meet. Boras isn’t known for negotiating hometown discounts either.

In Giolito, Cease has an example of the risks of betting on yourself. I don’t think Giolito will look to sign an extension now for his own good, and in what is essentially a contract year, he will likely be very motivated to make up some of the lost value from a disastrous 2022 season before even entertaining an extension.

What I can hope for, however, is a good first half from Lucas Giolito and an announcement at the All-Star Break that the team has negotiated an extension with him. Only time will tell, however.

@lpickens: “Why are the White Sox not interested in Johnny Cueto?”

I’ll start by saying I have heard if the White Sox did not sign Mike Clevinger, they were likely just going to pivot and try to re-sign Johnny Cueto. Take that with a grain of salt obviously, but I’m not sure that the White Sox never had any interest in Cueto – they just seemed to prefer Clevinger. They liked Cueto a lot on the South Side.

However, it’s interesting that no team has signed Cueto yet, and I think it’s because there is a lot of concern about what his 2023 season may look like relative to the price he will command. Cueto will be a 37-year-old pitch-to-contact pitcher next season, so it’s fair to have some concerns about overall performance. After posting a 2.87 ERA and 3.88 FIP in his first 20 starts, his last four of the season came with a 6.17 ERA, though interestingly just a 3.28 FIP. So, it’s an interesting stretch of baseball to look at for Cueto – but, clearly, teams aren’t necessarily jumping at the chance to go get him just yet. I think it’s fair to have concerns about performance, and for the White Sox, when you get the performance you did from Cueto at just $3M, it’s hard to want it at any other higher price.

I could see the White Sox bringing him back if he’s willing to take a 6th man/long reliever role, however, I don’t think this is very likely. As his career comes to an end, he’s going to want to try and pitch 160-180 innings this season, and at current, the White Sox can’t guarantee that to him.

If I had to guess? He will likely head to a rebuilding team and be an awesome mentor. If he performs well, he will be traded at the deadline. If he doesn’t, he’ll ride off into the sunset on one of his horses after a solid major league career.

@GnawtyBeav: “If you’re dangling Hendriks to a contending team, which would make the most sense and possible return? (cough top flight catching prospect). Wait, I’ll answer that. The Dodgers. And then I’d make it a blockbuster, throw in TA to get a bigger return, and sign Elvis back.”

Let’s start here: I’m not willing to bet on Andrus’ six-week production to be repeatable. Andrus only hit .233/.258/.395 over his final 20 games with the team, which feels a lot more like what the White Sox should expect to get from him than the .305/.336/.526 line they got in his first 24 games with the team.

Back to the Hendriks question. At this point, either the Dodgers, Yankees, or Braves (who are now without Kenley Jansen) likely make the most sense. Their best catching prospect, Diego Cartaya, is the 9th-best prospect in all of baseball, so Hendriks wouldn’t be nearly enough of a return there. As we just saw, a top-flight catching prospect was just traded for a 6-WAR centerfielder/catcher, so I don’t think Hendriks gets that done. Players like Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot, or Gavin Stone likely make more sense.

If you’re looking for a top-flight catching prospect, Kevin Parada from the Mets might make some sense if Hendriks is the return, and we know the Mets have had an interest in Hendriks. Logan O’Hoppe from the Angels could also fit here, though the need isn’t there because of Raisel Iglesias. However, really good catching prospects are still hard to come by, and Hendriks alone isn’t a good enough of a return. Essentially, you would have to make it a blockbuster if you’re hoping to get a top catching prospect. I don’t know if Anderson is the right option in this specific scenario, but this is certainly an interesting thing to think about.

@BCurley3: “In your opinion, what would an ideal (while being realistic) finish to the offseason be? 2B, 4th OF, Pitching (SP/RP)? Any other finishing touches you’d like to see beyond the positions above?”

Let’s take this position by position:

  • 2B: probably would prefer to just handle this internally, wouldn’t hate a Jurickson Profar signing.
  • 4th OF: Adam Duvall, if only so something in my Offseason Plan can be correct. Duvall also has a connection to the current White Sox hitting coach (Jose Castro) from their time together in Atlanta.
  • SP/RP: SP depth will likely come in the form of MiLB signings at this point; no more money on RP, please.

If the White Sox can find a starting pitcher who is willing to get more of a swing-man/6th starter-type role, then I’d be happy for the team to go out and get them. However, Benintendi was likely the big-ticket item this offseason. I could see the team deciding to trade either Kendall Graveman or Joe Kelly, believing they don’t need both of them (they would be correct in that belief) while allocating that money elsewhere. However, I don’t think anything listed above would be too expensive or out of the realm of possibility.

@MLO3535: “What is Jose Ramirez’s timeline to get a call-up? He seems blocked, but a 2023 arrival makes sense if he’s his normal self in early 2023.”

I think you mean Jose Rodriguez here, though as a fan of an AL Central team, I can understand how Jose Ramirez lives rent-free in your head as he does mine.

Jose Rodriguez’s development timeline really depends on what he does in AAA. It seems likely that he will make it there in 2023 sooner rather than later, perhaps only spending some time in AA to get his feet under him after his wrist injury from late last season. However, he will also only be 22 years old next season, so there’s not necessarily a reason to rush his development. He definitely has a swing-first mentality at the plate, though his nearly 8% walk rate in 2022 was encouraging to see. Another year split between AA and AAA could probably help him refine his plate approach and continue to get some at-bats that will help promote his development. If all goes well, a late 2023 cup of coffee wouldn’t be out of the question, though 2024 is a lot more realistic.

As for being “blocked,” I wouldn’t worry about that until we are sure that Lenyn Sosa is the future at second base. If he isn’t, a spot opens for Rodriguez. If he is, that’s a good problem for the White Sox to have that they rarely do.

@brewergreg: “(1) If Lopez is high-leverage, and Velasquez is gone, who are the long guys? (2) What does Cespedes have to do to get some MLB at-bats? The White Sox need to develop guys, not stock the minors with 25-year-olds.”

(1) Likely Garrett Crochet, as Ethan Katz has mentioned he would have a similar role to the one Michael Kopech had in 2020. Also look for Davis Martin and Jimmy Lambert to get innings here, as both are starters who likely aren’t going to have much to prove by playing in the minors. The White Sox will likely give a lot of innings out of all three of these players in a long relief role in 2023.

(2) Cespedes hit .258/.332/.437 in AA last season with a 30.1% strikeout rate, which isn’t phenomenal. He could likely use some seasoning in AAA, but he likely has a pretty low ceiling overall as a player. He is very strong defensively at all outfield positions, so if the White Sox really wanted to, they could give him some innings as a fourth outfielder in 2023. However, he likely won’t command much more playing time than that, and if the White Sox are considering Oscar Colas to be Plan A in RF on Opening Day, then it would be smarter for them to have a proven veteran as his backup on the bench, just in case things don’t go as planned and Colas struggles mightily out of the gate. However, it would be nice if Cespedes could show a little bit more plate discipline at the lower levels that he should be dominating as a 25-year-old.

@michaeldurkin58: “Who’s going to be the left in the rotation?”

Well, as of right now, no one. The White Sox will have plenty of left-handed pitching in the bullpen (Garrett Crochet, Aaron Bummer, Jake Diekman), and Crochet is likely to get some starts throughout the year in a sort of flex role. However, I don’t think it’s likely that the White Sox break camp with a right-hander in their rotation. And honestly, that’s fine – I personally believe the focus on needing a lefty in the rotation is overblown unless you have a true lefty ace. A lot of really good rotations don’t feature a lefty.

If Mike Minor, Danny Duffy, or Wade Miley are willing to take MiLB deals or pitch as a 6th man/long relief man, that may be worth exploring. However, the White Sox clearly preferred Clevinger over any of their options – so we will have to see how that works out.

Speed Round!

@odell_the_juice: “Are the current White Sox closer to another rebuild or World Series contention?”

It really depends on what they do this season and into next offseason. At current, they’re way closer to a contender – and every team that makes the playoffs is a World Series contender. If things go well this year, they aren’t going to tear it down.

In addition, they wouldn’t have signed Andrew Benintendi to a five-year deal if they had any real idea of rebuilding. The first phase of this contention window will end this season, and a lot of money will come off the books while the core is still intact. Just re-tool and try again while the AL Central is still horrendous. Now is definitely not the time to rebuild, and if things really aren’t working at current, next offseason gives the perfect time to re-tool.

@thecinco_5: “How much is it to buy this team away from Jerry?”

Probably way more money than I have.

@TarynnWanderer: “Is it getting time that MLB switches to a European soccer league format since the same, big-budget teams tend to make the post-season every year?”

Truthfully, because the correlation between spending money and winning is so closely linked, more teams should consider spending more money. If you build it, they will come…

@lpn1983: “Percentage on Colas being RF starter?

I’d say 90%. I’d be shocked at this point if he didn’t start on the roster – the way they have talked about him makes it pretty clear that they view him as Plan A in my opinion.

@sam_gutterman: “Is this the season where Eloy Jimenez stays healthy?”

I sure hope so. There aren’t any nets, fences, or other players to run into as the designated hitter. I also think staying off his legs more consistently will help him.

@BrianRios9649: “Who will have the best bounce-back season: Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, or Luis Robert (bad second half)?”

In terms of overall difference from 2022, I think Grandal has the best bounce-back. Robert’s bad second half was injury-related, so I’m not reading too much into that. Giolito will 100% be better, and I think a new voice and approach with Pedro Grifol will help Yoan Moncada a ton.

I’m optimistic about all of them – however, Grandal’s season was so bad with almost no bright spots that in a world where all four of these players bounce back, Grandal is the best of all of them by default.

@MountEloy: “Do you think the White Sox will make a trade before New Year’s, and if so, for what positions?”

I think it’s the time of year when we won’t really see any movement until the new year. Carlos Correa, somehow, is still likely taking up most teams’ time – at least those who aren’t taking some time away for the holidays.

My prediction is if/when the White Sox do make a trade, it will either be for a second baseman or backup catcher.

@madler1023: “What is the Opening Day batting order and roster?”

Here’s what I would go with if I were Pedro Grifol:

  1. Tim Anderson – SS
  2. Andrew Benintendi – LF
  3. Eloy Jimenez – DH
  4. Andrew Vaughn – 1B
  5. Yoan Moncada – 3B
  6. Luis Robert – CF
  7. Yasmani Grandal – C
  8. Oscar Colas – RF
  9. Lenyn Sosa – 2B
  • Bench: Leury Garcia/Romy Gonzalez, Seby Zavala/Carlos Perez, Gavin Sheets, Yoelquis Cespedes/Victor Reyes

I bet the team still decides to add a fourth outfielder, however. This bench gets thin FAST.

As for the rotation:

  1. Dylan Cease
  2. Lance Lynn
  3. Lucas Giolito
  4. Michael Kopech
  5. Mike Clevinger

And the bullpen:

  1. Nick Avila (Rule 5)
  2. Jake Diekman
  3. Garrett Crochet
  4. Joe Kelly
  5. Kendall Graveman
  6. Aaron Bummer
  7. Reynaldo Lopez
  8. Liam Hendriks

I would expect Jimmy Lambert and Davis Martin to also get plenty of innings here throughout the year.

When you really draw it out, this team has a lot of talent.

@johnsaksa: “When will the White Sox convert Michael Kopech to a closer?

Hopefully never. I’ve seen this take a lot, and it happens a lot as flamethrowers take some time to develop.

Kopech’s development path has been hurt by Tommy John Surgery and opting out of the 2020 COVID season. If they were to convert him, it would likely happen after this season if the team determines Kopech cannot physically get to 160-180 IP while still pitching effectively. For now, however, his stuff is simply too good to relegate him to the bullpen – note the differences between Reynaldo Lopez’s stuff and Michael Kopech’s stuff if you’re looking for the right time to move someone to the bullpen.

We also had these same conversations as Dylan Cease developed, and well, we see how that turned out. Give it time.

@andrade26bc: “Will Jordan win #SoxMath?”

Can’t keep the King down forever.

@SamR33v3s: “How many relievers will Rick Hahn acquire by Opening Day?”

As many Katz Lab projects as he can get. Katz Truthers, rise up.

@GeneJenke: “Why is the White Sox front office so bad in every way possible?”

A tad drastic of a question. To answer honestly, I think some of the shortcomings of the White Sox come from: (1) a historical lack of minor-league development, and (2) a lack of analytically-inclined play on the field. Spending money is fickle, and teams like the Rays show you theoretically can win without spending. However, trying to win without spending money is like trying to run a marathon without shoes: you can do it, but it’s so much easier if you just buy running shoes. But, if you’re going to spend less than other teams, then you need to succeed on the margins in free agency and develop your internal talent well. The White Sox have improved from the Mark Teahan and Gordon Beckham days, but they’re still behind the 8-ball in both of those areas. Project Birmingham shows that they’re at least trying new things, however, so there is promise within the organization.

At the end of the day, all I know is if they hired me, the team would win the World Series every year from 2023-2027. I can’t prove it though, you’ll just have to trust me.

This was an incredibly fun exercise, so thanks to everyone who sent in their questions! We will hopefully do another one of these once the offseason comes to an end and we are getting set for the 2023 Spring Training season.

Until then, hope you enjoy what’s left of the holiday season, and I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!

Follow us @SoxOn35th for more!

Featured Image: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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Obviously, things have changed since this was posted in that Kim has potentially become available. If it didn’t create a huge hole in the rotation, I’d back a Giolito and cash trade for Kim. Values in BTV are off by only $3.5M. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Martin and Lambert are ready to take on that role. I do believe Giolito will bounce back, but I don’t believe he’ll have some CYA contender year. I see him more as solid than an ace now.

Grab some bench

No. Trading Crochet and Sosa for Chisholm is crazy. It’s almost as bad as Jordan’s trade of Anderson. No. No. No.

Nick Rahn

Sox should consider trading Crochet & Sosa to Miami for Chisholm. That would answer the 2B problem. With Lynn & Grandal coming off the books after 2023, they could look at Urias or Snell to take Crochet’s spot in the rotation in 2024.


That’s not just not in the ballpark of what it would cost to get Jazz, it’s not in the same county. I know BTV isn’t the most reliable source, but even so, they list Jazz as having $58.7M excess value, while Crochet and Sosa total $19.4M. To give you an idea of what it would take, think Montgomery, Ramos, and Sosa.

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