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Why the White Sox must Pursue Rangers OF Joey Gallo

by Nik Gaur

The injuries to Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and Adam Engel have understandably left the White Sox without a championship-quality outfield. Andrew Vaughn has hit well while playing surprisingly adequate defense at his new position in left field, but without a defensive wizard in Robert to flank him, his defensive assignments will not get any easier. Adam Eaton has bounced back from some early defensive hiccups to provide solid right field defense to complement roughly league-average offense, but he is visibly playing through a leg injury and cannot reasonably be asked to play center field regularly. I like the Brian Goodwin signing (which you can read more about here), as he is a great depth piece, but he is far from an everyday center fielder. And, of course, while Leury Garcia and Billy Hamilton have their respective strengths as bench pieces, starting either of them every day in center field would expose their offensive flaws.

Astute readers might remember that I have long wanted the White Sox to trade for Brandon Nimmo of the Mets. Nimmo’s absurd on-base percentages and improved contact hitting since 2020, however, probably make him too expensive to acquire — not to mention, the Mets are trying to contend now and have no reason to trade him. Additionally, he is more of a corner outfielder who would not offer good defense in center field.

However, there is one other trade target I have wanted for years. In 2019, I thought there was no reason for his team to trade him, but now, he figures to be available. Assuming you’ve read the title, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I am talking about Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers.

Contract

Joey Gallo is everything the White Sox need, and then some. For starters, he is not a rental. Gallo makes $6.2 million this year and is arbitration-eligible for the 2022 season. Thus, for this year, he would serve as the regular center fielder as long as Robert remains injured. In 2022, he would slide over to right field (Adam Eaton’s contract option would be declined, barring the front office wanting to keep him as a fourth outfielder, which is unlikely at $8.5 million).


Defense

Joey Gallo, a stereotypical three-true-outcome left-handed power bat, might not appear like a center fielder. But, the 2020 Gold Glove right fielder played a very impressive center field in 2019 before his season was cut short due to a broken right hamate bone. Gallo, who also offers a very strong throwing arm, graded positively by both UZR (3.1) and DRS (2) in 309.2 center field innings in 2019. While the sample is fairly small, there is nothing to suggest that the adequately fast and overall solid defender is incapable of continuing his strong defensive performance in center field. One of the main reasons he moved to right field was because the Rangers have some higher-ceiling defensive center fielders in their system, such as Leody Taveras. Nevertheless, acquiring Gallo would achieve multiple purposes: he would slide in to center field for 2021, fill the right field void in 2022, and still offer versatility to play at either corner outfield spot, first base, or designated hitter when needed.


Offense

Joey Gallo’s offensive skillset is what I have wanted on the White Sox for several years. He is a left-handed power bat who takes many walks, hits home runs, and avoids double plays (fun fact: in 1,907 plate appearances, Gallo has grounded into only seven double plays). Frankly, I don’t care that he strikes out often given the value he provides. He currently has a .410 on-base percentage, and he hit 40+ home runs in 2017 and 2018 (his last full seasons, due to an injury-shortened 2019 and the 2020 pandemic). He could feasibly hit anywhere from second to eighth in the White Sox lineup and provide value with his power and on-base skills, and balance as a left-handed hitter in a right-handed heavy lineup. Here is an idea of what a 2021 lineup might look like with Gallo and without Robert or Jimenez:

  1. Anderson (SS)
  2. Moncada (3B)
  3. Abreu (1B)
  4. Gallo (CF)
  5. Mercedes (DH)
  6. Grandal (C)
  7. Vaughn (LF)
  8. Eaton (RF)
  9. Madrigal (2B)

Again, there really isn’t a bad order with Gallo in the lineup. The lefty/righty balance is very good and the lineup overall is stacked with power, on-base threats, and modest speed.

Since Gallo would also be signed for 2022, the lineup gets even better:

  1. Anderson (SS)
  2. Moncada (3B)
  3. Jimenez (DH)
  4. Abreu (1B)
  5. Gallo (RF)
  6. Robert (CF)
  7. Grandal (C)
  8. Vaughn (LF)
  9. Madrigal (2B)

That lineup is so good, I can hardly even think about its possible configurations because of how badly I want to see it actually happen. It doesn’t even include Yermin Mercedes, because there really isn’t anywhere to put him as of now. Needless to say, a Joey Gallo addition would make Chicago’s lineup even more powerful, patient, and balanced.


Cost

I hope that I’ve done a good job of outlining why Joey Gallo is not just a good fit, but the ideal fit for the White Sox outfield. The hard part, unfortunately, is the cost of acquiring him.

Essentially two full years (minus the progress of the current season) of any team’s franchise face never come easily. One can safely assume that the White Sox will not, even under the gravest of injury circumstances, trade Michael Kopech or Andrew Vaughn. Garrett Crochet would certainly be requested by the Rangers. Whether or not the White Sox would trade him is anybody’s guess, but a Crochet-for-Gallo swap would sting. It is possible that the price would include some of Chicago’s talented young pitching prospects instead. Jonathan Stiever, Jared Kelley, Andrew Dalquist, and Matthew Thompson are all names that would likely entice the Rangers. But, I have no idea how to gauge their value right now since the minor league season is just starting, and they didn’t get an opportunity to pitch in official games last season. Perhaps Stiever, one of Kelley/Dalquist/Thompson, and a high-ceiling position player such as Benyamin Bailey or Jose Rodriguez would get it done in lieu of Crochet as a headliner. This package, too, would hurt a bit, but Gallo has significant trade value, and the White Sox do not have much leverage. They could always take a bad contract back from the Rangers to reduce the prospect capital, but I have a hard time seeing that happen.

Regardless, the White Sox front office should at least engage with the Rangers to understand Gallo’s price. He should be available, given his contract status and their rebuild, and I’m sure they discussed him in December when Lance Lynn was traded, so perhaps they already know what it would take to acquire him. A major trade for Gallo would be quite gutsy, but I’m confident that it would be the right move for the White Sox, both for this year and next.


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Featured Photo: Texas Rangers / Twitter

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