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White Sox non-tender outfielders Adam Engel, Mark Payton

by Joe Binder

The White Sox are cutting ties with several familiar names ahead of Friday’s non-tender deadline.

Long-time outfielder Adam Engel is among them, as the team announced they declined to tender him a contract for next season. Engel was expected to earn roughly $2.3 million in 2023, but will now be searching elsewhere for an opportunity.

“We appreciate all that Adam and Danny did for our organization in 2022 and during prior seasons. As we have said at other times, a lot of consideration and analysis goes into the club deciding to forego the arbitration process and instead engage with players and their representatives as free agents,” said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. “Our plan is to stay in contact with all three players and evaluate their ongoing fit with our club as we move forward through this offseason.”

Engel, who turns 31 next month, is just a career .225/.280/.350 hitter with 30 home runs and 123 RBI in six seasons with the team. Though never really known for his bat, he slashed just below that mark in 2022 as he finished with a 63 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR, and 0.0 bWAR in 119 games.

In addition to Engel, the 30-year-old Payton was the other outfielder who failed to get a contract. The former Cincinnati Red showed promise with the Triple-A Knights but failed to make an impact at the major league level. In just eight games played across two stints in September, Payton slashed .143/.280/.143 (3-for-21) with one RBI.

When healthy, Engel provided some value as the team’s fourth outfielder. He was able to play all three spots thanks to his above-average defense by Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and was a nice late-game option off the bench thanks to his decent speed. While a certain section of the fanbase once fought for Engel to get his chance as the starting right fielder, this past season’s performance likely provided most with reassurance that a player with a little more consistent production would be more suitable in his role.

The decision to move on from Engel is probably for the better as the White Sox look to transform their corner outfield positions over the coming months. As it stands right now, Luis Robert is the only true starting outfielder on the 40-man roster, with Eloy Jimenez likely shifting to DH next season and Andrew Vaughn back to first base. All indications seem to point to the club looking outside the organization for help, but whether the preference is via trade or free agency remains to be seen. Internal options such as Yoelqui Cespedes and Oscar Colas could be names to watch, with the latter being the most likely option for regular playing time out of the two.

Major League Baseball’s deadline for tendering contracts to unsigned players is November 18th this year, a couple of weeks earlier than usual. Teams have to choose whether or not to extend contract offers to all players not already signed to guaranteed deals.

All remaining unsigned players on the White Sox 40-man roster have been tendered contracts for the 2023 season, per a release.

Following the moves, the White Sox’s 40-man roster decreases to 35.

For more updates throughout the offseason, be sure to follow our coverage here and on social media @SoxOn35th!

Featured Photo: © Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

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