Josh Donaldson

Cubs free agent focus: Josh Donaldson

Cubs free agent focus: Josh Donaldson

With Hot Stove season underway, NBC Sports Chicago is taking a look at some of MLB’s top free agents and how they’d fit with the Cubs.

Former Cubs farmhand and current free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson is a hot commodity this offseason.

Following an injury-riddled 2018, Donaldson had a resurgent 2019 season with the Atlanta Braves. The 33-year-old posted a .259/.379/.521 slash line with 37 home runs and 94 RBIs. He finished seventh in MLB with 100 walks and played an excellent third base — his 15 Defensive Runs Saved were No. 2 among MLB third basemen.

Donaldson is one of the game’s best third basemen and won the 2015 AL MVP Award while playing for the Toronto Blue Jays. He’d be a valuable addition to many teams, but like fellow free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, there’s no spot for him on the Cubs roster, as currently constructed.

Kris Bryant’s positional versatility allows the Cubs to play him in the outfield — and occasionally first base when Anthony Rizzo is hurt or needs a day off. But Bryant is a third baseman first and foremost, so as long as he’s a Cub, the team isn’t going to acquire another star to man the hot corner. Doing so would mean moving Bryant to left or right field full-time, as he’s only played 25 innings in center field during his big-league career.

Kyle Schwarber (left) and Jason Heyward (right) have the Cubs corner outfield spots locked down. Now is not the time to trade Schwarber, so you can rule out dealing him to fit Bryant in left. Heyward can play center, but he’s a much better defender in right.

Therefore, adding Donaldson would only make sense if the Cubs decide to trade Bryant this winter.

The Cubs are open to shaking up their roster after a disappointing 2019 season. Bryant is a free agent after 2021, so the Cubs could look to move him if they don't foresee the 27-year-old signing an extension. The Cubs won't trade Bryant for the sake of change, especially if they aren't offered the type of return they seek.

There’s also the issue of Bryant’s service time grievance case, which would push his free agency up to next offseason, should he win. Scott Boras — Bryant’s agent — laid out at the GM Meetings why it’s unlikely we’ll see the 2016 NL MVP dealt this offseason.

Considering his age, Donaldson probably won’t be getting more than a three or four-year deal this offseason, though the annual salary will be high. Hypothetically, if the Cubs trade Bryant, they’ll have a vacancy at third base, which Donaldson could fill for a few seasons.

If these scenarios played out, the Cubs would still have an All-Star third baseman in Donaldson, all while acquiring future assets in return for Bryant. However, the Cubs wouldn’t trade Bryant without a contingency plan to replace him. They'd also lose leverage in trade talks if they acquire another third basemen while Bryant is still on the roster, thus weakening the return package for him.

Most importantly, the Cubs would be replacing Bryant — a star in his prime — with Donaldson —a veteran who had a great 2019 but will be close to 40 by the end of his next contract.

Unless the Cubs are blown out of the water by a Bryant trade proposal, it makes much more sense to keep him rather than spend big on a free agent who hopefully will be productive into his late 30s. 

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Five free agents who could reshuffle the White Sox offseason priorities

Five free agents who could reshuffle the White Sox offseason priorities

Rick Hahn laid out a pretty specific offseason to-do list for his front office: Get a right fielder, get a designated hitter, get some starting pitching.

The White Sox need to accomplish those goals this winter after seeing woeful levels of production in right and at DH, positions that appear to have no internal solutions. The rotation remains full of promising young arms, but it also remains littered with question marks.

The free-agent market contains plenty of options, of course, and pledged aggressiveness from Hahn and his front office has the potential to end in a spending spree. But that same free-agent market has some really good players who don't fit nicely into those three categories. What if the opportunity comes along to add one of those players? Would the White Sox reshuffle their priorities? Here's a look at guys who could force the South Siders to change plans on the fly this winter.

Anthony Rendon, 3B

The White Sox decidedly do not need a third baseman. Yoan Moncada transitioned to the hot corner in 2019 after an error-filled 2018 season at second base and performed very well. His bat was the more important development, with Moncada going from 217 strikeouts and a disappointing first full season in the majors in 2018 to the status of the team's best all-around hitter in 2019. Moncada slashed .315/.367/.548 with 25 homers and 79 RBIs in just 132 games, confirming that he's a cornerstone of this rebuilding process and one of the most important members of the White Sox young core.

But Moncada's emergence shouldn't prevent the White Sox from doing their due diligence on Rendon, who would provide the kind of middle-of-the-order bat the South Siders could very much use. While that core of Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal and, in all likelihood, Jose Abreu has plenty of offensive promise, adding Rendon would cement it as a potential force to be reckoned with, and soon. Rendon has somewhat quietly put up MVP-level production on an annual basis for the last several seasons and had a career year in 2019: a .319/.412/.598 slash line to go along with 34 home runs, 126 RBIs, 44 doubles, 117 runs scored and a nearly 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, with 86 strikeouts compared to 80 walks. Oh, and a World Series championship.

Rendon might play a position the White Sox have covered, but that same situation didn't stop them from chasing Manny Machado last winter. So why wouldn't they try it again in the name of adding one of the best bats in the game?

"The talent pool is a little different free agent-wise this offseason, but I'm not going to say we won't be creative in a couple elements, whether it's via trade or free agency," Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference in September. "Our roster does have a little bit of flexibility in it, and we hope in the coming years to have more flexibility built in in terms of different positions that guys can go out and play."

Rendon is the caliber of player you realign your defense for. In addition to the incredible offensive production, he plays a very good defensive third base. No easy answer springs to mind when discussing what that would mean for Moncada. He likely wouldn't return to second base, not with Madrigal's major league arrival likely to come in the early portion of the 2020 season. The outfield?

“As far as he's concerned, he said he can play center, as well,” manager Rick Renteria said of Moncada in August. “He's a tremendously athletic individual. I think he has the ability to do whatever he wants, probably, like a lot of our guys. It's a simple game, but a lot of these guys have physical skills that allow them an opportunity to do a lot of different things.”

The White Sox will cross that bridge if they come to it, which obviously would only happen if they landed Rendon, one of the two or three biggest fish on this winter's free-agent market. But maybe they should try to get there and create one of those "good problems to have."

Josh Donaldson, 3B

Everything just talked about with Rendon applies to Donaldson, as well, another heavy-hitting third baseman on the market.

Donaldson is older than Rendon; he turns 34 next month. But he's similarly productive. After taking the richest one-year contract in baseball history last offseason, he was excellent for the Atlanta Braves, finishing the regular season with a .259/.379/.521 slash line to go along with 37 home runs, 94 RBIs, 33 doubles, 96 runs scored and 100 walks.

Like Rendon, Donaldson would be an incredible addition to the middle of the White Sox batting order. Like Rendon, Donaldson plays third base and plays it very well. Both guys were Gold Glove finalists.

While Rendon is the more obvious long-term fixture, Donaldson showed in 2019 that he's not going anywhere, and bringing him aboard could certainly be worth the defensive realignment it would necessitate.

Yasmani Grandal, C

Unlike with Moncada at third base, it's not quite as easy to say that the White Sox absolutely do not need a catcher. It's very possible they don't, but it's hard to say that with nearly as much confidence, which I understand strikes as potentially bizarre considering that James McCann was an All Star in 2019. Signed last winter to be a backup catcher for a year, McCann transformed his offensive game and turned into an incredible find for Hahn's front office. After slashing .240/.288/.366 in his five seasons with the Detroit Tigers, he slashed .316/.371/.502 during the first half of 2019.

But what happened in the second half is the cause for concern: McCann slashed just .226/.281/.413 after the All-Star break. Couple that with Zack Collins' .186/.307/.349 production in just 102 major league plate appearances, and it's difficult to say exactly what the production is going to look like from those two in 2020.

It's far easier, though, to forecast what Grandal will do. A two-time All Star, he's fresh off a strong season with the Milwaukee Brewers, reaching base at a .380 clip thanks in part to 109 walks, the fourth most in the majors. He banged out a career-high 126 hits, launched a career-high 28 home runs, drove in a career-high 77 runs and scored a career-high 79 runs. He's got a reputation as a very good framer behind the plate and is a switch-hitter, which would help add some balance to a heavily right-handed White Sox lineup.

Most importantly, though, Grandal on the South Side would provide some stability at a position that while not without its internal long-term possibilities still counts those possibilities as question marks. McCann gained rave reviews for his work with pitchers, particularly staff ace Lucas Giolito, and had one fantastic half season at the plate. But what if that half season was more mirage than permanent transformation? Collins still has the faith of the organization to be a long-term piece, but the questions about his defense that have existed since he was drafted still linger, with increasingly frequent conversation about what other positions he could play so the White Sox can get his bat in the lineup more often.

Grandal, who will almost certainly get a lengthy contract after turning down a four-year deal last winter and signing up for a prove-it year with the Brewers, would take the mystery out of things. And the opportunity to do that might be an enticing one for the White Sox, who with an expanded roster starting next season could afford to also keep McCann and Collins and benefit from the positives they bring.

Catcher is certainly not a hole like right field and DH are for this team. But the opportunity to upgrade there might be too good to pass up.

Mike Moustakas, 2B/3B

Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference that ideally the White Sox would add some left-handed power this winter.

"Ideally, that would be nice," he said. "Ideally, you'd like to balance that out and that would require adding some left-handed power."

He threw the word "ideally" in there a couple times because he wanted to make sure it was known that the offseason was not going to be a Thanos-esque quest for balance and that he'd be perfectly fine adding another good right-handed hitter to the roster instead.

"We don't want to get too hung up strictly on handedness in the end and sign an inferior, say, left-handed hitter when a better right-handed hitter is available and fits. But it's a consideration, and in an ideal world we would balance it out."

There are few better free-agent sources of left-handed power, though, than Moustakas, who launched 35 home runs with the Brewers in 2019, a left-handed total eclipsed by just seven players. Moustakas, quite familiar to the White Sox from his lengthy tenure with the division-rival Kansas City Royals, hit a combined 101 home runs in the last three seasons.

But he doesn't fill a specific positional need for these White Sox. After J.D. Martinez opted to stay with the Boston Red Sox and not hit the free-agent market, Moustakas' bat seems like an ideal place to turn in Hahn's search for a designated hitter. But Moustakas has played just 35 games as a DH in his career, not exactly the professional DH that Martinez and few others are. The White Sox have had some bad recent history trying to fit players with limited DH-ing experience into the designated hitter spot, including Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche and Yonder Alonso.

Moustakas has long been a good third baseman, but he's not that Rendon-level superstar the White Sox would blow up their defensive alignment to add. He also played 47 games' worth of second base with the Brewers in 2019. Hahn has said to expect Madrigal to be the White Sox starting second baseman for the majority of the 2020 season, but that leaves some time where Madrigal won't be there.

Would the White Sox leap at the opportunity to add Moustakas' left-handed power bat and figure out how to divvy up playing time on the infield later? Would they try again to roll the dice on a DH who hasn't done much DH-ing? Moustakas swings a pretty good stick.

Howie Kendrick, 1B/2B/3B

Kendrick figures to be a popular man after his spectacular age-35 season with the Washington Nationals that saw him post a .966 OPS, hit an NLDS-winning grand slam and get a World Series ring. He's an aging veteran but one who showed he's plenty capable of producing at a high level, playing a variety of positions and playing a positive clubhouse role for a contending team.

That all sounds like something the White Sox would be interested in, but it again doesn't necessarily address any specific positional needs. Kendrick's played just three career games in right field and only 26 career games at DH. While he swung a quality bat for the Nationals in 2019, he didn't do so as an everyday player, making just 70 starts despite playing in 121 games. So any addition of Kendrick would likely be as a reserve of some kind.

But what a reserve he would be, one the White Sox might want to think about, especially if the rest of the offseason features the kinds of big-name additions that could vault the team from rebuilding mode to contending mode right away. Kendrick might be more of a title-chasing piece, but it's not impossible, depending on other moves, for the White Sox to be in that position in a few months.

Bonus bullpen bonanza! Will Smith, Will Harris, Drew Pomeranz, Daniel Hudson

This winter's free-agent market is light on closers. That's fine for the White Sox, as they don't need a closer, with Alex Colome under team control for another season. Aaron Bummer, the team's eighth-inning man who was excellent in 2019, is a potential Colome successor and is under team control for another five seasons. Affordable price tags on Evan Marshall and Jimmy Cordero and the general effectiveness of the South Side 'pen in 2019 means fortifying the relief corps isn't exactly a pressing concern.

But could the White Sox do it anyway?

Hahn forecasted further addition to the bullpen during his end-of-season press conference, repeating a point he's made often about the difficult-to-predict nature of relief pitching and the constant desire for more of it.

"All 30 teams will tell you ... that adding more bullpen pieces is an offseason priority, and we're no exception," he said. "Obviously, the way Colome and Bummer have done over the course of the year makes you feel real good about their spot going forward. A now-healthy Kelvin Herrera is the kind of guy who's probably a pretty good reliever bounce-back candidate bet, if it hasn't already happened here in terms of seeing what he's capable of doing when he's 100 percent. Cordero's been a nice find, as has been Marshall, but that's not going to stop us from continuing to potentially take guys off waivers like Cordero or minor league free agents like Marshall.

"It's going to go into this offseason continuing to be a place we want to add because relievers are tricky. You see it every year, guys go from the top of the list to the bottom and back."

So expect some new bullpen arms on the South Side next season. But adding guys via waiver claims and minor league deals is quite different from spending big on relievers in free agency. While the White Sox have the late innings seemingly spoken for, would the opportunity to add to that equation, either to strengthen the back end or provide insurance in case things go awry, be a tough one to pass up?

Smith is the only real closer on this list; he saved 34 games for the San Francisco Giants in 2019 and combined for a 2.66 ERA in the last two seasons. Harris had a pencil-thin 1.50 ERA for the Houston Astros in 2019. Pomeranz was terrific after a midseason trade to the Brewers, with a 2.39 ERA in Beer Town. Hudson, the former White Sox pitching prospect, was sensational after a midseason trade to the Nationals, with a 1.44 ERA and some time as the team's closer in the postseason.

None of those guys necessarily scream "must buy," but the opportunity to reinforce the back end of the bullpen might be an intriguing one for the White Sox.

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Who will the White Sox sign? A preliminary ranking of the top free-agent DH options

Who will the White Sox sign? A preliminary ranking of the top free-agent DH options

The White Sox need a DH. Boy, do they need a DH.

No American League team produced a lower OPS from the DH spot than the White Sox did in 2019, when their collection of players there combined for a .647 mark. Considering this is a position that allows teams to jack up the offensive production of their lineup, that type of output was, let’s say, less than ideal.

That stemmed, of course, from the failed Yonder Alonso experiment, as the former All Star came in and slumped hard in his three months in a White Sox uniform. His .178/.275/.301 slash line led to his release in early July, and the rest of the season was spent with fill-ins at the position. It should say everything about the effectiveness of those fill-ins that White Sox catchers spent more time DH-ing than those up-from-the-minors options.

It all worked out fine for Jose Abreu, who has made no secret of his dislike for being a DH. He’ll do it, team player that he is, but certainly the planned first base/DH tandem of him and Alonso, something that was supposed to keep Abreu off his feet, didn’t happen. But you still have to wonder if Abreu’s future — assuming the free agent to-be returns to the White Sox this winter — involves more and more DH-ing. Not that he’s causing any problems, defensively, at first base, and Rick Hahn’s front office certainly isn’t looking for another hole to fill this offseason, but Abreu will turn 33 in January and any new contract would figure to be more than just one year long.

Plus, the White Sox have Andrew Vaughn developing in the minor leagues. But even if the 2019 first-round pick follows a path through the minors similar to 2018 first-round pick Nick Madrigal, he likely won’t be ready for the majors until 2021 at the earliest. And then there are the questions about his long-term position. Though he swings a powerful bat, there were questions about his defense at first base on draft night. Could it be he that’s destined to be the White Sox long-term DH?

But we’re talking about this offseason and the upcoming 2020 campaign here. Hahn has already listed DH as an item on his offseason to-do list, and all signs point to Abreu being the guy at first base. So let’s take a look at who might fill that hole.

As mentioned when talking about other items on that to-do list, starting pitching and right field, it seems the most realistic route to a White Sox acquisition of significance is the free-agent market. While Hahn pulling off a trade is certainly a possibility, injuries and under-performance throughout the minor league system in 2019 has made it difficult to envision a package of prospects attractive enough to land a big-name addition. With that in mind, we’ll focus on free agents here.

One more thing: A DH can come from anywhere. That doesn’t mean one should, perhaps, with Alonso struggling last season, thrown into being a regular DH after doing so in just seven games in his nine-year big league career. Players and other baseball people frequently talk about how difficult it is to be a designated hitter, so someone with experience at the position might be a wiser way to go. That being said, there are a lot of attractive bats out there that any team would like to have in their lineup, and AL teams are fortunate to have an extra spot in their lineups in which to plug in such a bat — regardless of position.

Before getting to the actual preliminary rankings, there are a couple players worth talking about who would fill the need for a big bat in the middle of the White Sox lineup but who are decidedly not DHs. But given the opportunity to add them, a rearranging of the defensive alignment might be worth it.

Anthony Rendon, age 29
2019 stats: .319/.412/.598, 34 home runs, 126 RBIs

We’ve talked about Rendon plenty before, and for good reason: He’s going to be the best position player on the free-agent market this winter. He’s quietly put up MVP-caliber numbers on a regular basis in recent seasons, and this year marked a career year, with career bests in batting average (.319), on-base percentage (.412), slugging percentage (.598), OPS (1.010), home runs (34), RBIs (best-in-baseball 126), doubles (NL-leading 44) and runs scored (117). Rendon has also had a terrific postseason, with a .308/.400/.481 line going into Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night.

Of course, Rendon plays third base and plays it very well. The White Sox seemingly have the position covered with Yoan Moncada, who was excellent there after moving from second base last spring. But Rendon is one heck of a bat, and if the White Sox feel he’s worth what’s sure to be a massive contract, you’d figure they’d be willing to move some guys around. That would undoubtedly impact the DH spot, as someone would be the odd man out on the infield, be that Moncada, Tim Anderson, Nick Madrigal or even Abreu.

Josh Donaldson, 33
2019 stats: .259/.379/.521, 37 home runs, 94 RBIs

Donaldson took a one-year deal, the richest such deal in baseball history, last winter. It was a gamble, but it looks like it will pay off, as he had a huge year with the Atlanta Braves. After his 2017 and 2018 seasons were limited by injuries, he put up classic Donaldson-esque numbers in 2019 for the NL East champs, playing a full slate of games, returning to his regular power numbers and walking 100 times for the second time in his career.

All the stuff about Rendon’s fit on the White Sox applies to Donaldson, too. He also plays third base and plays it well, meaning the same kind of defensive reshuffling would have to occur if they wanted to bring him aboard. Both players might seem like a square peg in a round hole for the White Sox, but among the team’s biggest needs is a big bat in the middle of the lineup. And if this is the way to get that, then a defensive realignment wouldn’t be the worst thing.

All right, on to the free-agent DH candidates.

1. J.D. Martinez*, 32
2019 stats: .304/.383/.557, 36 home runs, 105 RBIs

Martinez content has not been difficult to find here at NBC Sports Chicago in October, as the White Sox have been pegged as the “most logical” suitors for his services. Of course, Martinez’s free agency isn’t exactly a sure thing, as he’ll have to opt out of the remainder of his current contract with the Boston Red Sox first. The assumption is that he will, but he’d be leaving a guaranteed three years and $62.5 million on the table to seek more money on the open market. And given a potential dearth of suitors — obviously no NL teams need an everyday DH, and only a few AL ones do — perhaps that market won’t be as robust as you’d think for a player of Martinez’s caliber.

If Martinez does reach free agency, the White Sox should have interest, considering the production he’s churned out over the past five seasons. Since the start of the 2015 campaign, Martinez has 184 home runs, 509 RBIs and a .961 OPS. Those numbers reached out-of-this-world status in 2017 (45 homers, 104 RBIs, 1.066 OPS) and 2018 (43 homers, 130 RBIs, 1.031 OPS), with Martinez taking home not one but two Silver Sluggers and finishing fourth in the MVP vote en route to a World Series championship last year.

That kind of production would obviously be a huge addition to a White Sox lineup looking for power and a new DH. But it’s the description of Martinez’s off-the-field contributions that makes him seem the perfect fit for this young team. NBC Sports Boston’s John Tomase told us on a recent White Sox Talk Podcast that Martinez served as a mentor of sorts to Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, talking hitting with them and helping them develop into two of the game’s top hitters. Sounds like the perfect addition to a clubhouse featuring Moncada, Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and eventually, Luis Robert.

2. Nicholas Castellanos, 27
2019 stats: .289/.337/.525, 27 home runs, 73 RBIs

I ranked Castellanos as the top free-agent outfielder last week, but it’s not crazy to suggest that DH might be an even better place to put him than right field if the White Sox do have interest in their former division rival. He doesn’t have the best defensive reputation, and last season’s stats back that up. He had minus-nine Defensive Runs Saved in right field. Considering Jimenez still appears to be a work in progress defensively in left field and Robert, while defensively gifted, will be getting his first taste of the majors next season, would it be wise to stick another statistically sub-optimal defensive player in right? Going with a proven defender in right doesn’t preclude a Castellanos addition, though, considering the hole at DH. He’s got limited experience, with 41 games played there in his career.

White Sox fans should be plenty familiar with Castellanos, who spent the majority of the last seven years raking with the Detroit Tigers. He’s particularly fond of hitting against the South Siders, with a .293/.343/.477 line to go along with 13 home runs, 26 doubles and 60 RBIs in 95 career games. In 2018 alone, he drove in 20 runs in 19 games against the White Sox.

Joining the Cubs for the final two months of their ill-fated playoff chase this summer, he hit 16 home runs and 21 doubles and driving in 36 runs in just 51 games. That late-season surge — perhaps aided by getting away from a home ballpark in Detroit he called “a joke” — kicked his pending free agency up a notch as teams search for a bat to stick in the middle of their lineup. Castellanos fits the bill, with 76 home runs, 140 doubles and 263 RBIs over the last three years.

3. Mike Moustakas, 31
2019 stats: .254/.329/.516, 35 home runs, 87 RBIs

Moustakas, another former division rival of the White Sox, plays some good infield defense, so he’s not exactly your stereotypical DH candidate. His experience is limited to 35 career games at the position. But he’s been putting up DH-esque power numbers in recent seasons. After setting the since-broken Kansas City Royals single-season home run record in 2017 with 38 long balls, he blasted 28 more between the Royals and Milwaukee Brewers in 2018, then smacked 35 of them this year in Beer Town. Moustakas’ .845 OPS this season was a career high.

Moustakas is worth some strong consideration when it comes to filling another White Sox need: left-handed power. Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference that ideally the team would go out and add some lefty pop but that handedness wouldn’t get in the way of them adding a player who fits. Moustakas might end up addressing multiple needs.

4. Edwin Encarnacion*, 36
2019 stats: .244/.344/.531, 34 home runs, 86 RBIs

Encarnacion will be 37 years old come Opening Day, not exactly the kind of add you’re looking to make to a young team that’s supposed to be contending for years to come. But then again, Nelson Cruz. The Minnesota Twins made one of the best acquisitions of last winter in Cruz, who ended up blasting 41 homers and leading The Bomba Squad to 100 wins in his age-38 season. If the Twins could inject the needed power into their lineup with an aging Cruz, why couldn’t the White Sox do it with an aging Encarnacion?

Encarnacion split time between the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees in 2019 and ended up with 34 home runs, the eighth consecutive season in which he topped 30 dingers. If the White Sox are concerned about doing the same thing they did with Alonso, plugging a guy with no DH-ing experience into the DH spot, then Encarnacion is the opposite of that move, a DH through and through. The Yankees would need to turn down an option in order for him to hit the free-agent market. Again, he doesn’t scream “long-term answer” at DH, but if the White Sox think that 2020 is a year they can contend for a title, then they could find worse hitters for hire than Encarnacion.

5. Brian Dozier, 32
2019 stats: .238/.340/.430, 20 home runs, 50 RBIs

Dozier’s also in the World Series with the Washington Nationals right now. His first season in the nation’s capital saw limited playing time, with only 482 trips to the plate in his 135 games. That’s way down from his time spent mashing against the White Sox for the division-rival Twins. From 2015 to 2017, Dozier hit 104 home runs and tallied 269 RBIs, putting up an .831 OPS in that span. He’s not doing that anymore, at least he didn’t for the Nationals in 2019, but the .771 OPS he put up was still the third highest of his career.

Dozier has even less DH-ing experience than Alonso did, just two games’ worth, and those came back in 2016. But he can obviously hit, with a 162-game average of 27 homers, 80 RBIs and 33 doubles over the course of his career. Dozier is a second baseman by trade and could be of service to the White Sox there, too, filling in for however long it takes for Madrigal to reach the majors.

6. Howie Kendrick, 36
2019 stats: .344/.395/.572, 17 home runs, 62 RBIs

Kendrick turned 36 midway through the 2019 season, but that number didn’t stop him from putting up all sorts of numbers for the Nationals. Quite simply, he was excellent this year, finishing the campaign with a .344/.395/.572 slash line, career highs by wide margins in all three categories. Playing in only 121 games, he fell short of qualifying status, but only eight qualifiers in baseball turned in a better OPS than Kendrick’s .966 mark.

He’s also been quite good in the postseason, with 15 hits, four doubles, the NLDS-winning homer and 10 RBIs. Playing for an NL team, Kendrick spent most of his time on the infield this season, and he hasn’t played in the AL since leaving the Los Angeles Angels after the 2014 season. He did DH in the first two games of the World Series, if that means anything. After this monster season, you’d figure plenty of teams will give Kendrick a look. As an everyday DH? We’ll see.

7. Justin Smoak, 32
2019 stats: .208/.342/.406, 22 home runs, 61 RBIs

A .208 batting average and his fewest games played since 2014 would be enough to furrow any brow when it comes to the prospect of signing up Smoak. But the dude is just two years removed from a 38-dinger, 90-RBI season in 2017, when he turned in an .808 OPS for the Toronto Blue Jays. No, his contract year did not go especially well, but he’s hit 85 homers in three seasons, or only three fewer than Abreu has since the start of 2017.

For what it’s worth, Smoak is also a Gold Glove finalist at first base in the American League. So maybe DH isn’t the best fit for him — though he started 30 games there last year — or the White Sox could give the ol’ “platoon someone and Abreu at first base and DH” thing a whirl again. Smoak’s also a switch hitter, if that tickles the White Sox fancy for a left-handed swinger.

Other guys?

No market seems to be quite as rich as the starting-pitching market this winter, and this one is no exception, even if it isn’t strictly bound by position. Other options include Hunter Pence, who was elected to start the All-Star Game and had a .910 OPS during his age-36 season. But he didn’t actually start the All-Star Game, due to injury, and he played only 83 games. Ryan Zimmerman is another aging National who’s had some pop in the past, but he only played in 52 games this year — and who knows if he’d even be interested in playing anywhere but D.C., where he’s spent his entire 15-year big league career. It’s unlikely the White Sox would be looking for reunions with the likes of Avisail Garcia or Todd Frazier, who hit 20 and 21 homers, respectively, in 2019.

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