White Sox

With Giancarlo Stanton's big bat off the market, could White Sox see uptick in Jose Abreu interest?


With Giancarlo Stanton's big bat off the market, could White Sox see uptick in Jose Abreu interest?

Giancarlo Stanton is off the board. Shohei Ohtani is off the board. So where will teams looking to make a big offseason splash turn next?

Stanton's reported trade to the New York Yankees and Ohtani's decision to sign with the Los Angeles Angels seem to have officially cleared the path for offseason activity to pick up, just in time for the Winter Meetings, which begin Monday in Florida.

And while a recent report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal said that the White Sox are unlikely to trade Jose Abreu this offseason, you have to wonder if certain teams that missed out on Stanton and Ohtani might give Rick Hahn a call to inquire about the first baseman and his middle-of-the-order bat.

While all these teams aren't necessarily — or even remotely — a fit for Abreu, the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals both had trades rejected by Stanton, and the Cubs, Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners all made Ohtani's list of finalists but didn't land the Japanese import. That's a lot of teams that just got a no from one or both of baseball's biggest offseason targets — not to mention the teams that couldn't get into the running in the first place.

Now, there are a lot of bats on the free-agent market, and several of the biggest ones are first basemen, no doubt affecting the market for and the likelihood of an Abreu trade. Still out there for the taking are J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Carlos Santana, among others. All those guys cost is money, as opposed to one or multiple top prospects.

But Abreu's numbers over the past four seasons should at least attract the attention of a large number of teams. He's one of just three players ever (along with Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols, which is good company to be in) to hit 25 home runs and rack up 100 RBIs in each of his first four major league seasons. Last year, he hit 33 homers, drove in 102 runs, had a career-high 43 doubles, struck out a career-low 119 times and slashed .304/.354/.552. And Abreu is under team control for only two more seasons, meaning that any team that would trade for him wouldn't be taking on a significant amount of long-term risk in having to pay an exorbitant amount for a player moving out of his prime years.

Now, as mentioned, Rosenthal reported just a few days ago that the White Sox are likely to hang on to Abreu this offseason, citing both that aforementioned free-agent market for first basemen and a potentially high asking price. The Boston Red Sox have reportedly been interested, but the White Sox have been reportedly asking for an awful lot in return, with Hahn perhaps looking to acquire a package similar to the ones he got in deals that shipped Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana away from the South Side.

But now there are teams looking to bring in an impact bat that were hoping for Stanton or Ohtani. Without them, does desperation kick in? Does the price seem a little less unreasonable? The Red Sox are especially worth noting, as they just saw their division rivals add a guy who hit 59 home runs last season and team him with another guy who hit 52 home runs last season to create the most formidable middle of the order in baseball. That could provide some extra motivation to make a move for Abreu.

Remember, too, that should Abreu start the 2018 season with the White Sox, it doesn't mean he'll end it with the White Sox — barring a still-to-come announcement of a contract extension, of course. So all these teams that missed out on Stanton and Ohtani could possibly still be looking to add a big bat a few months down the road.

The trade of Stanton has huge implications on every team in baseball, it would seem, with the very least of those being that regular offseason business can officially get started. For the White Sox, the effects could be significantly bigger than that.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Baltimore Orioles?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Baltimore Orioles?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the Baltimore Orioles?

Perhaps a better question for White Sox fans: When’s Manny Machado coming to the South Side? (Better question from me, personally, is when Chicago might acquire Maryland's greatest creation: the crab pretzel. Had in College Park last summer. It's amazing.)

Whether that ends up happening or not is a question for next offseason, but that query is one that plenty of South Side baseball fans on social media have asked for years now. Machado, mentioned in trade rumors during the Winter Meetings in December, is most likely entering his final season as an Oriole. His contract is up at season’s end, and he’s expected to land a gargantuan deal next offseason.

The funny thing is that for all the hullabaloo over the 25-year-old infielder, he’s coming off his worst statistical campaign as a big leaguer. In 2017, he slashed .259/.310/.782, all three of those percentages seeing huge dropoffs after a sensational 2016 campaign a year prior. His power numbers stayed relatively consistent, but his run and hit totals plummeted as the O’s weren’t quite as a competitive as in years past.

Now, Machado is likely still cruising for a big contract regardless of what he does in 2018. He’s moving to shortstop, which will be interesting. But he’s young enough that even another season like last year won’t make too big a difference, considering how good he’s been throughout his career.

That’s who White Sox fans will be watching whenever their gaze falls on the Baltimore baseball club. (They won’t be alone, by the way, and some contending teams might even try to add him at the trade deadline.) But the O’s are making news for other reasons, recent reasons, in fact.

The biggest name left on the free-agent market finally signed this week, and now the Orioles have a big-time addition to their starting rotation. Unlike Jake Arrieta, it appears Alex Cobb’s waiting game paid off in the form of dollars, years and a no-trade clause. How nice for him. It’s also nice for the O’s, who get to add a guy to a low-key decent starting staff.

Cobb, who had a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season, might not be ready to rock for the start of the regular season considering he didn’t ink a deal until a week out from Opening Day — bet he’s good at staring contests, too — but the trio of Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner (another new addition) and Kevin Gausman will be ready, and all those guys are coming off a solid-enough 2017. Bundy had a couple good stretches, posting a 3.03 ERA over his first 13 starts and then a 2.00 ERA in the month of August. Gausman had a 3.31 ERA over his final 18 starts. Cashner, another free-agent signing, had a 3.40 ERA with the Texas Rangers.

So while the likes of Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and the better-than-Machado-last-year Jonathan Schoop still make the O’s an offensive threat in a hard-to-win AL East, the starting pitching might be where the magic is this time around.

2017 record: 75-87, fifth place in AL East

Offseason additions: Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Colby Rasmus, Alex Presley, Pedro Araujo, Joely Rodriguez, Nestor Cortes Jr.

Offseason departures: Welington Castillo, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Flaherty, Seth Smith, Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley

X-factor: I said it just above, and I'll say it again: Jonathan Schoop was better than Manny Machado last season. Schoop made the All-Star team and finished with 32 homers, 105 RBIs and a .293/.338/.503 slash line. His .841 OPS was one of the best 50 in the game. Should we expect Schoop to be the best middle infielder on the O's in 2018, too? Maybe that's a little extreme, but hey, good to have this guy.

Projected lineup:

1. Tim Beckham, 3B
2. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
3. Manny Machado, SS
4. Adam Jones, CF
5. Chris Davis, 1B
6. Trey Mancini, DH
7. Colby Rasmus, RF
8. Caleb Joseph, C
9. Alex Presley, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Dylan Bundy
2. Andrew Cashner
3. Kevin Gausman
4. Chris Tillman
5. Mike Wright Jr.

Prediction: Third place in AL East, no playoffs

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers

Sounds like we know how the White Sox starting rotation will line up to start the season


Sounds like we know how the White Sox starting rotation will line up to start the season

Rick Renteria's starting rotation isn't exactly official for the start of the season, but it's about as close as it can be.

Maybe "unofficially official" is the best way to go?

The South Side skipper agreed with the assessment of reporters Wednesday in Arizona, saying that an order of James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer "sounds right."

Shields was already announced as the White Sox starter for the season opener next Thursday in Kansas City. That wasn't much of a surprise considering Shields' veteran status in this rotation.

Giolito, who made seven starts at the end of last season and looked mighty good doing it, might be the best starting pitcher on the team going into the season. He posted a 2.38 ERA in those games, with many fans hoping he would have been the one to take on the Royals in the opener. It sounds like he'll likely pitch two days later in Game 2 against the Crowns.

Lopez made eight starts at the end of last season, turning in a 4.72 ERA in those starts. He's another former highly touted prospect who will get a full season to continue his development at the major league level.

Gonzalez was brought back this winter after being traded away from the South Side last summer to bring another veteran mentor type to help along these young pitchers. He had a 4.31 ERA before the trade to the Texas Rangers after a 3.73 ERA in a full season with the White Sox in 2016.

Fulmer is another young arm who will be looking to earn a spot in the crowded rotation of the future this season. He's had a rough spring — though turned in his best start of the spring earlier this week — but he'll be given every opportunity to prove he can succeed as a big league starting pitcher after showing some promise at the end of last season.

Those first three guys will face off against the Royals on the season's opening weekend. Gonzalez and Fulmer are expected to make their first starts of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays in Canada.