White Sox

'Aggressive' White Sox among reported 'lead teams' for Manny Machado, making deal seem something more than just 'conceivable'

'Aggressive' White Sox among reported 'lead teams' for Manny Machado, making deal seem something more than just 'conceivable'

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It looks like the notion of the White Sox trading for Manny Machado is a little more than just "conceivable."

That's the word White Sox general manager Rick Hahn used Wednesday at the Winter Meetings when proposed with the idea that his rebuilding organization would try to pursue a player with just one year of control who could potentially be convinced to sign a lengthy contract extension. While the creatively worded question required some verbal gymnastics to avoid saying the word "Machado," that's exactly the player that was being discussed.

And now it looks like the White Sox are doing a little more than just discussing a trade with the Baltimore Orioles. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported that the White Sox are making an aggressive push — the most aggressive push of any team — to acquire the Orioles' star third baseman, one of the headliners of next offseason's monster free-agent class. USA Today's Bob Nightengale followed that up with his own report that the White Sox have made the best offer of a dozen teams to propose trades for Machado. And The Score's Bruce Levine added Thursday morning that the White Sox are indeed among the lead teams in this suddenly hot derby.

A quiet Winter Meetings for the South Siders just got cranked up to 11.

White Sox fans are sure to be ecstatic that the team is pursuing a player they've long coveted. With all the highly touted minor league talent the White Sox have built up over the past year, none of those players play third base, and Machado's pending free agency lines up with the rapidly advancing rebuild, which Hahn described Wednesday as ahead of schedule.

A move still seems shocking, though, considering the rebuilding White Sox have carefully laid plans for the future involving the likes of Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jimenez, Reynaldo Lopez, Luis Robert, Alec Hansen, Micker Adolfo and Dane Dunning. It would figure that the Orioles would expect a sizable return package for Machado, and Rosenthal's report mentioned a package built around either Kopech or Giolito.

Machado, though, is only under team control for the 2018 season. The idea of giving up either of those two highly regarded pitching prospects for just one guaranteed year of Machado seems extremely risky, and it was Hahn who said this week the White Sox are "not looking to jump up and contend for one wild card and then regress back." The White Sox, even with Machado, wouldn't figure to be a championship club in 2018. Without a guarantee that Machado would sign a contract extension with the White Sox, a trade would seem to put the much-discussed rebuild in a precarious position.

The flip side, obviously, is that Machado could be a long-term piece, a centerpiece of the White Sox future, bringing many of these prospects along with him. Hahn talked Wednesday about the benefits of having a player with the team as opposed to being a "cold" free agent when he talked about hypothetical extensions.

"Sometimes you need to be creative. Sometimes you need to perhaps take a risk," Hahn said. "I think it’s probably slightly easier after a player has been part of this organization, understand what we’re about, to extend him as opposed to meeting him cold free agent and trying to sell him on the organization. We’ve had success with both, so we’re not afraid to do either, but perhaps there is a little advantage from time to time to have a guy already be on campus when you’re talking about extending him into the future.

"You guys have heard from a many of players how much they enjoy being with us, how they want to stay here, they want to be part of this rebuild. That’s in part due to the type of guys we’ve brought in and in part due to the culture and direction we’ve created."

Machado, of course, is one of baseball's best players. The 25-year-old is already a three-time All Star. In 2017, he slashed .259/.310/.471 with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs for a last-place Orioles team that was 12 games under .500. He's extremely durable, playing in every regular-season game save 11 over the last three seasons. He's a slick fielder with a pair of Gold Gloves to his name, and he's already finished in the top 10 in American League MVP voting in just six major league seasons.

Interestingly, a report earlier this week from Rosenthal said Machado wants to play shortstop moving forward. Should the White Sox acquire Machado, it will be interesting to see what happens with Tim Anderson, who has been touted as the team's shortstop of the future. Though you figure any team would make room for a player the caliber of Machado.

Hahn will address the media one more time in Florida following the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning. Of course, any deal could still take time to play out.

Buckle up. The White Sox are officially on the hot stove.

If Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez spent 2018 in the majors, what would their production look like?

If Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez spent 2018 in the majors, what would their production look like?

It’s no secret that the White Sox and their fans are hoping to see both Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech in the big leagues in 2018. And according to one full-season projection system, it seems that the computers agree that both will be MLB contributors very soon.

FanGraphs’ Steamer600 projections forecast what MLB hitters would do over 600 plate appearances and what pitchers would do over 200 innings – and both Jimenez and Kopech are close to MLB-ready.

Jimenez, MLB.com’s 5th ranked prospect, is projected to provide a 1.9 offensive WAR and Kopech, MLB.com’s 10th ranked prospect, would account for 1.4 WAR over the course of a full season.

So what does that mean?

Here are some comparable MLB players from 2017 in offensive Wins Above Replacement for Jimenez:

Jackie Bradley Jr., BOS – 1.9 (541 PA) 

Jedd Gyorko, STL – 1.9 (481 PA)

Andrew Benintendi, BOS – 1.9 (658 PA)

Yasiel Puig, LAD – 1.9 (570 PA)

Salvador Perez, KC – 1.9 (499 PA)

Very solid company, considering those five players combined for an average OPS of .788. The Steamer600 projections peg Jimenez for a .770 OPS over 600 plate appearances.

The full forecast is as follows: a .267 batting average, an on-base percentage of .317 and a .453 slugging percentage to go along with 23 home runs.

Meanwhile, Kopech might be a bit further away from being an impact player with a projected WAR of 1.4 over 200 innings.

Here are some MLB WAR comparisons from 2017 for Kopech:

Julio Teheran, ATL – 1.6 (188.1 IP)

Lucas Giolito, CHW – 1.5 (45.1 IP)

Dellin Betances, NYY – 1.5 (59.2 IP)

Miguel Gonzalez, CHW/TEX – 1.5 (156.0 IP)

Greg Holland, COL – 1.4 (44.2 IP)

As you can see, the comparisons are not nearly as promising for Kopech as they are for Jimenez. The comparable range is mostly made up of late-inning relievers or middle-of-the-pack starting pitchers.

With a 100 mile-per-hour fastball and wipeout slider come the occasional control issues, and that is where the Steamer600 projections hurt Kopech the most, with a forecasted walk rate of 5.4 walks per 9 innings pitched.

The full forecast for Kopech includes a 4.84 ERA with 216 strikeouts over 32 starts with 32 home runs allowed. 

Whether these projections come close to reality or not, having Kopech and Jimenez on the Major League doorstep is sure to give the White Sox rebuild yet another boost in the coming season.

Don't call me Carlos: 'I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer'

Don't call me Carlos: 'I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer'

After a breakout season in 2017, don’t expect any more name changes from the man formerly known as Carlos Sanchez.

“Yolmer hit more home runs so I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer,” said Sanchez in an exclusive interview from his Arizona home. “I’m the same person, but Yolmer worked good this year, so I’ll stay with Yolmer.”

After doing away with the name Carlos, the 25-year old infielder set career-highs across the board last year, slugging 12 home runs, driving in 59 runs while posting a .732 OPS.  

He ranked third on the White Sox in Wins Above Replacement with 3.5, trailing only Jose Abreu’s 4.7 and Avisail Garcia’s 4.5. In the three seasons prior, Sanchez totaled just 0.4 WAR in 201 combined games. 

And now, 2018 provides a new opportunity. Sanchez is expected to be the everyday starting third baseman, the spot he took over following Todd Frazier’s midseason trade to the New York Yankees.

With an elevated role comes a vigorous offseason schedule. He took only 20 days off after the regular season before starting to train for the upcoming spring. 

“I don’t want to work just on one thing. I want to do everything and that’s why I start training so early,” he said. “My speed. More power. Agility. A lot of things.”

Sanchez certainly isn’t the flashiest name in a White Sox infield that includes Abreu and the middle-infield tandem of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson. But he knows his role on the team – being flashy off the field and bringing energy to the clubhouse. 

“If you go with a lot of energy to the game, a lot of things change,” said Sanchez. “That makes a lot of difference in one game. And one game can make a lot of difference during the season.”

But a 70-92 record by the White Sox certainly was not due to a lack of energy as much as a general lack of talent. That should change in 2018 – when fans can expect to see Moncada, as well as other names like Nicky Delmonico, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez play a full major league season. Not to mention prospects like Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech knocking on the door to the big leagues.

And that excites Sanchez.

“We’ve got really young players but really talented [players],” said Sanchez. “We have to get better, but I think we can do a lot of good things next year.”

Are there any young players Sanchez is specifically excited to see develop? 

“They’re all going to be really good if they keep working,” he said. “Moncada could be a superstar.” 

That’s exactly what the White Sox are hoping as well.