Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead Analyst) Follow @chuckbooth3024
Follow The MLB Reports On Twitter Follow @mlbreports
Chicago has finally thrown their hat into the ring for the AL Central Race. They have pulled off a trade to acquire Todd Frazier in as 3 way deal with the Reds and Dodgers.
This comes on the heels of the club picking up Brett Lawrie for 3 years worth of service for a couple of Minor Leaguers.
Before these deals, the club really only hand secured a tandem of Catchers with Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro for the offense. Now they have much more depth, and are asserting themselves with one of the better lineups in the AL Central.
If Adam LaRoche can bounce back with his usual 25 HRs and 80 RBI power, you could have 3 Infielders and the Designated Hitter all crack 20+ HRs in the 2016 campaign.
Jose Abreu also stands to benefit with bringing in a hitter like Todd Frazier. You could see a lineup that goes Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche, Frazier, Lawrie, Avisail Garcia, Avila or Navarro and Tyler Saladino. This looks a lot lengthier than a few days ago.
By the moves they made, they could also trade LaRoche to another club if they were so inclined. There is no reason to think the Avila and Navarro couldn’t see some DH action for their roles in the 2016 club.
Jose Abreu is one of three players to register 100 RBI in back to back seasons in 2014 and 2015 (Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Bautista), and one of five players to hold a consecutive 30+ HRs streak with (Bautista, Mike Trout, Edwin Encarnacion and Anthony Rizzo.
The Cuban star is well worth the money the club paid in his 6 YRs/$68 MIL (still has roughly $50 MIL on the books from 2016 – 2019) deal prior to the 2014 year, and he matches the same kind of awesome value as Starting Pitcher Chris Sale (who will make about $48 MIL over the next four years.)
Having these two guys on the Roster at the rate will let the team be competitive for the near future. Abreu has MVP caliber play in his game, and if Sale could ever avoid his dead arm period to start years, he could most easily win a Cy Young one of these campaigns.
The White Sox had a mediocre year in 2015 – with a 76 – 86 record, and despite signing a lot of Free Agents, and acquiring Jeff Samardzija. ‘The Shark’ disappointed with a 4.96 ERA in 202 Innings, and Adam LaRoche only produced a .634 OPS – with 12 HRs after being brought in to help Abreu in the middle of the lineup.
There is cause for optimism. Melky Cabrera fared a lot better past the ALL – Star Game, netting a .782 OPS after finishing the 1st half with a dismal .643 clip. It takes the guy a half a year in his new surroundings to be comfortable.
Chicago needs to have him deliver – as they are paying him $14 MIL a year over the next 2 seasons. I expect him to hit in the .280 to .290 range, and be a solid #2 batter in the lineup.
Adam Eaton also was one of the better players in the Majors in the 2nd half of the year. The 26 year old posted a 3 Slash of .335/.418/486 post the 2015 ALL Star Game, with 13 SB, 25 XBH and 52 Runs over his last 72 Games. These are numbers becoming of a great leadoff hitter.
A lot of the White Sox problems in 2015 stemmed from the back end of their lineup. Below league average numbers coming from SS/3B/2B and Catcher really hurt the club. That is the reason it was time to replace Tyler Flowers and upgrade with the Infield positions.
If it is anywhere they might be weak offensively it may be Shortstop. I think these guys might not be done in trying to find another player to fill the void.
I would see if they could enter into the market for an Ian Desmond. If they can reel him in at the $12 – $14 MIL per year, and many of the cash dollars backloaded, than maybe he could help round out the White Sox offseason on the positional players.
Mike Olt will also serve as a backup at First Base and 3rd. Olt may be on his last chance in the Majors, so his stock is not exactly high right now, but he has still cracked 16 HRs in just 350 pro ABs. If he can he mix in a little base knock ever know and then, he could become a utility player like Mark Reynolds.
2016’s Starting Rotation will still have Chris Sale, John Danks and sophomore player Carlos Rodon at the top – with Jose Quintana and Erik Johnson at the back end. With 4 Pitchers out of the 5 Left Handed, perhaps a trade with Quintana could be worked out for another suitable Right Handed Pitcher.
David Robertson still helps lockdown the late innings. His numbers weren’t as solid as he would have liked with a 3.41 ERA in 63.1 IP, but he still yielded a 6.62 SO/BB walk rate and he reeled in a 0.932 WHIP. The 7 HRs given up did a lot of damage to his bottom numbers.
They have all had success in the Majors previously, but none of them were at their best in 2015. In fact, they were not even near their career averages. Expect a better 2016 campaign for the lot.
If the Chicago club gets off to a poor start in 2016 – you have to wonder how quickly the seat will get hot for Robin Ventura. The former Sox player has had 3 losing seasons after posting a 85 – 77 mark in his 1st year as skipper back in 2012.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
I am happy to be back at the helm of the MLB Reports, after completing my record 224 Games in the MLB Trip in 2015. It was the 4th time I have seen all 30 MLB Parks since 2008.
During that time away I was fortunate to do 100 Media Interviews and be named the Baseball Blogger Alliance President.
To Subscribe and listen daily to ‘Our Lead Personality’ Sully’s 20 Minutes Daily (every day since Oct.24, 2012) Podcast click here. Guaranteed listening to the Sully Baseball Daily Podcast will be the best time you invest in online!
2016 MLB Previews: Team Salaries + SOTUs (MLB Teams State Of The Unions) Links Page here.