White Sox

What's next for White Sox after Adam LaRoche retirement?

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What's next for White Sox after Adam LaRoche retirement?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — How the White Sox will handle Adam LaRoche’s sudden retirement is yet to be determined.

But the club wouldn’t hesitate to bring in another player if it feels it can’t handle the loss of the left-handed slugger internally, general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday.

Hahn said the White Sox were mostly surprised by the announcement LaRoche made to teammates during a morning meeting Tuesday. LaRoche is expected to mull the decision for one to two more days. But if he retires, LaRoche would walk away from all of his $13 million salary, which gives the White Sox newfound financial flexibility.

“We’re not going to leave any stone unturned if we decide we need to go outside the organization to make ourselves better,” Hahn said. “We really haven’t spent a lot of time going through alternatives just yet. I do know we like the fact we have the depth we put together over the course of this camp to put us in a good position if there are no additions going forward. But this does open up the possibility in the coming weeks or the coming months leading up to the deadline that we would potentially have a little more flexibility.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Adam LaRoche informs White Sox he is considering retirement]

LaRoche informed manager Robin Ventura late Monday of his decision. But even Hahn admits he was surprised by the news and hasn’t yet had a chance to properly explore potential replacements, whether internal or external.

The additions of Jimmy Rollins and Austin Jackson since the start of camp definitely have the White Sox in a better position to absorb the loss of LaRoche, should he officially call it quits. Jackson’s signing earlier this month gives the White Sox five outfielders, including four they intend to play on a regular basis. Potentially, the White Sox could slide Melky Cabrera or Avisail Garcia over to designated hitter to fill the void.

But the White Sox already boasted a right-handed heavy lineup before the loss of LaRoche, who represented their best left-handed power. The only left-handed bats in camp who don’t currently have a roster spot secured are first baseman Travis Ishikawa and infielder Steve Lombardozzi. Matt Davidson and Jerry Sands also could benefit from LaRoche’s retirement.

But the White Sox have few options to back up first base.

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That could send Hahn to the trade market in search of a player running short on options or to the waiver wire. Potential options could include Andre Ethier, Jay Bruce or James Loney. Or perhaps the White Sox might consider free agency, where Justin Morneau is still available.

Bringing in outside help makes sense given the way the White Sox have continued to add to their roster. The team’s signings of Mat Latos, Rollins and Jackson make clear its intentions to compete this season. But Hahn plans to address it all after LaRoche finalizes his decision.

“We’ll make adjustments and move on,” Hahn said. “What it means for us going forward is we have some reinforcements already on hand. We had some flexibility built into this roster. It may well provide some more opportunity for guys that we have now or may lead to opportunities potentially down the road to make acquisitions from outside the organization, whether those happen in spring training or through the course of the season up to the trade deadline. At this point it’s simply too early to know how it’s going to play out exactly, and we’re going to take a few days and let things settle a bit and decide how we’re going to deploy our assets on hand and who we may target outside the organization as well.”

Will an arbitration raise price Yolmer Sanchez off the White Sox 2020 roster?

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USA TODAY

Will an arbitration raise price Yolmer Sanchez off the White Sox 2020 roster?

Yolmer Sanchez could win a Gold Glove in the coming weeks. He could also be looking for a new job.

That’s the tough situation the White Sox face with the guy who served as their starting second baseman during the 2019 season. He did a very, very nice job of playing second base, too. Not sure what your defensive metric of choice is, but the commonly used defensive runs saved (DRS) stat says Sanchez was the best defensive second baseman in the American League and the second best in baseball, behind only Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals.

But the offensive numbers are the offensive numbers, the only reason we’re not calling Sanchez a slam-dunk Gold Glove winner, as that award has a habit of honoring the defensively and offensively gifted instead of just the defensive aces. Sanchez slashed .252/.318/.321 in 2019 with two home runs and 43 RBIs. The 10 triples he hit in 2018 to lead the AL dropped to four in 2019, and his doubles plummeted from 34 to 20.

With hotshot prospect Nick Madrigal — who has his own reputation as a sensational defender, the newly minted winner of a minor league Gold Glove — figuring to take over at second base in the early portion of the 2020 season, Sanchez’s time was already running out as far as being an everyday major leaguer. But Madrigal’s ascent isn’t the reason the White Sox might be forced to part ways with Sanchez this winter. Money is.

Sanchez is set to receive a multi-million-dollar raise through the arbitration process, something we figured was coming for a while now. But MLB Trade Rumors put a dollar amount on that raise last week, when the site released its annual arbitration projections. Sanchez made $4.625 million in 2019. In 2020, so says MLB Trade Rumors, he’s set to make $6.2 million through the arbitration process.

And that will likely price him off the White Sox roster.

Sanchez has plenty of value to this White Sox team, to be sure. He’s a great clubhouse presence, a versatile infielder and a guy who plays great defense. Manager Rick Renteria lauded the quality of Sanchez’s at-bats at the end of the season. But $6.2 million is probably just too much to pay for a backup infielder who doesn’t do much in the way of hitting, especially with that money needed to do so much more for the White Sox during what's expected to be a busy and important offseason.

It's not like the team won't be covered. The White Sox can hang onto Leury Garcia, who MLB Trade Rumors projected is due for a $4 million payday through arbitration. Garcia not only plays all the infield positions Sanchez plays, if not as exceptionally, but can play all three outfield spots, too. Danny Mendick can stick around for a fraction of the cost and man second base until Madrigal arrives from the minor leagues, perhaps even sticking around as the backup infielder Sanchez would be after that.

It’s all part of the shifting landscape with a White Sox team looking to transition from rebuilding to contending. As many fans as Sanchez deservedly won with his fun-loving personality and Gatorade-bucket related antics during postgame celebrations, he’s an example of the kind of light-hitting player the White Sox will continue to move on from as their roster simply gets better. You can expect Sanchez to be just one of those fading figures. A contending lineup probably doesn't have much room for the Adam Engels and Ryan Cordells and Daniel Palkas and Matt Skoles, either, as the front office look to stuff the roster with young, core players like Madrigal and Luis Robert as well as bigger-name offseason additions in the coming months.

As for the rest of the arbitration-eligible White Sox the front office will have to either commit to or non-tender, most would figure to be easy decisions. James McCann is projected to receive $4.9 million, Carlos Rodon is projected to receive $4.5 million, Evan Marshall is projected to receive $1.3 million. Those are all affordable salaries for a starting catcher, a starting pitcher and a reliever coming off a strong season. Likewise, after he was used 57 times, Josh Osich could certainly return to the bullpen mix. He's projected to get $1 million.

Conversations might be had about whether Alex Colome is worth a projected $10.3 million, but he has racked up 126 saves in the last four seasons and just finished the 2019 campaign with a 2.80 ERA, his lowest since 2016. He saved 30 games in 33 attempts, one of the best conversation rates in the game, and though his 3.91 second-half ERA compares rather poorly to his 2.02 first-half ERA, he remains one of the more reliable late-inning men around. It’s a safe bet he’ll be back, considering the White Sox didn’t deal him at the trade deadline like they did with their closers in the two seasons prior — and certainly they knew an arbitration raise would be coming when they made that decision.

The only other name heretofore unaddressed is Ryan Goins, who like Garcia boasts positional versatility in both the infield and outfield. He played six positions, including designated hitter, for the White Sox in his 52 games with the big league club this season. His projection is a very affordable $900,000, but he turned in a less-than-memorable offensive season. We'll see what happens there.

Now, remember these are projections, so if the White Sox offer these guys contracts and avoid arbitration altogether, the final numbers could obviously be different. But like Avisail Garcia last offseason, perhaps Sanchez is a victim of the projected increase in salary more than any lack of desire to keep him around, a rather large element when looking to project the White Sox bench for the 2020 season.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Myths about the 1919 Black Sox 100 years later

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Myths about the 1919 Black Sox 100 years later

Chuck Garfien and Chris Kamka speak with Black Sox historian Jacob Pomrenke about the biggest myths surrounding the infamous 1919 Black Sox who fixed the World Series (2:30).

Gambling wasn't limited to the White Sox back then. Even Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker threw a game? (10:30)

The role of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson in the fix. (19:20)

Could Jackson ever get into the Hall of Fame? (27:00)

Could a World Series be fixed in today's game? (33:00)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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