The draft is done, the trade deadline is on approach and the vultures are surely about to start circling the White Sox.
Whereas certain teams are still unsure about what direction they’ll head this season before the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline, the White Sox are not. They made it crystal clear to the baseball world that they would entertain selling anything that isn’t nailed down when they traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton last December. So with this week’s amateur draft finally over, general manager Rick Hahn suspects an influx of phone calls will arrive shortly for his team and any others considered to be sellers.
“Over the next few weeks you're going to see more trade activity,” Hahn said on Tuesday. “Certainly, it's been fairly quiet here leading up to the draft. I expect it to be fairly rampant here over the next several weeks, throughout the game, not necessarily just here. We're certainly looking forward to continuing to engage with clubs and see where that leads.”
Hahn will likely have to keep his phone charger handy given the White Sox have a roster full of interesting pieces. While they’re less likely to pull off a Sale or Eaton-esque blockbuster with their best chip (Jose Quintana) underperforming, the White Sox still have enough assets for Hahn to stay busy.
Key among the White Sox most attractive pieces are closer David Robertson setup man Tommy Kahnle. Robertson has struck out 12.7 batters per nine innings this season and with 40 percent of the schedule complete, he’s owed $20.2 million, including $13 million in 2018. Arbitration eligible for the first time after this season, Kahnle has been even better than Robertson. He has struck out 44 and walked six in 25 1/3 innings.
After enduring injuries for the past three seasons, free-agent-to-be Derek Holland has postseason experience and looks to be healthy again. While his FIP is 5.37, Holland has increased his strikeout rate to 19 percent and offers good depth to a team in need of rotation help.
Third baseman Todd Frazier’s bat has heated up in June, which could make the future free agent an interesting option for teams in need at the hot corner. Headed into Thursday, Frazier’s wRC+ for June was 157, 60 points above his season mark. Same as Robertson, Frazier is also owed $7.2 million.
Also a free agent after 2017, Melky Cabrera has shown improvement in June. However, opposing teams may find the $9 million Cabrera is owed prohibitive.
Pitcher Miguel Gonzalez has had a rough run in his last seven starts but could provide depth to a team in contention if he gets back on track. Veteran reliever Anthony Swarzak, a free agent like Gonzalez, has performed well in high-leverage spots and is averaging and has struck out 29 in 30 innings.
Now that he’s figured it out at the plate, Leury Garcia could be a valuable utility man, capable of playing anywhere in the outfield, shortstop and second base. A career .460 OPS before this season, Garcia, who has three years of team control left after 2017, has an .810 OPS this season, including six home runs. Yolmer Sanchez, who has a .760 OPS and can play multiple positions, also could be made available to open up a spot for the arrival of top prospect Yoan Moncada.
While Jose Abreu has proven to be dangerous again at the plate, the Cuban may hold more value to the White Sox than they’d fetch given he could potentially mentor his countrymen, Moncada and Luis Robert.
Were they to deal Quintana, who is 2-8 with a 5.30 ERA, the White Sox might have to sell low, which it’s doubtful they would, given he potentially has three years left on his current deal.
Even though they might not have as high of a chance of pulling off another blockbuster, Hahn should stay busy through the Aug. 1 deadline.
“Every team is looking to improve themselves,” Hahn said.