White Sox

Could the White Sox benefit from the Dodgers signing A.J. Pollock?

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USA TODAY

Could the White Sox benefit from the Dodgers signing A.J. Pollock?

The Los Angeles Dodgers have another outfielder.

Things have gone quite nicely for the Dodgers in recent seasons, perhaps in part because their roster is full of — not just full of, bursting with — guys who can play multiple positions, both infield and outfield, and they can easily mitigate the inevitable injuries and fatigue of a baseball season.

And now they've got another one. They've reportedly signed A.J. Pollock to a multi-year contract, and while he can't play both center field and second base like half the position players on the Dodgers' roster, his arrival in L.A. creates some interesting potential ripple effects involving the White Sox.

The one that immediately comes to mind is Joc Pederson. Over the weekend, the White Sox and Dodgers were reported to be discussing a potential trade that would send Pederson to the South Side. Now that another outfielder has joined that roster and crowded the outfielder further, perhaps there's a need to get rid of one, potentially Pederson, and that could be the White Sox gain.

Any trade involving Pederson would have to be for the right price, as he's not a slam-dunk fit with the White Sox long-term plans, a free agent after the 2020 season. But he'd be an upgrade in the outfield and in the lineup and would be a nice placeholder while the White Sox wait for the likes of Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo to reach the major leagues. That price might be even more attractive now that the Dodgers have made that move and further crowded their outfield.

Or maybe the Dodgers could just hold on to Pederson and continue to rotate everyone. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported there's no trade imminent. We'll see.

And then there's the previous maneuvering the Dodgers did this offseason, trading Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp in a big trade with the Cincinnati Reds. At the time, it was speculated that might've been to better position the Dodgers for a run at Bryce Harper, the biggest fish swimming in this winter's free-agent pond. Well, Pollock is who the Dodgers ended up using that flexibility to acquire, causing for a speculative decrease in the likelihood they go after Harper, a player it's at times easy to forget the White Sox are still pursuing.

While the market for Harper has been reportedly small all winter long — it currently appears to be solely the White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals — the potential elimination of the Dodgers might aid the White Sox chances in their pursuit of bringing one of the best players in baseball to the South Side.

The Dodgers had a glut of outfielders. They eased it a bit. And now they have a glut again. Do the White Sox benefit? Either in a trade for Pederson or in a free-agent signing of Harper? Time will tell, but the possibility exists.

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White Sox scored rebuilding win in avoiding Kris Bryant style headaches

White Sox scored rebuilding win in avoiding Kris Bryant style headaches

The White Sox will never have to deal with this Kris Bryant service-time grievance business. And that's a good thing.

For a bit there, service time was all we were talking about, first with Eloy Jimenez, then with Luis Robert. Would the White Sox treat their star prospects like the Cubs treated Bryant in 2015, keeping them in the minor leagues for a few weeks at the start of their respective rookie seasons in order to ensure one more year of team control?

Certainly they could have, as the outcome of Bryant's grievance against the Cubs shows. The ruling was in the Cubs' favor, and Bryant will be a free agent after the 2021 season, instead of becoming a free agent after the upcoming 2020 campaign, as he argued he should be. However unfair to the player, the Cubs didn't break any rules. The White Sox wouldn't have, either.

But the White Sox did away with all this service-time stuff when they inked both Jimenez and Robert to big-money contract extensions that will keep them on the South Side through the 2026 and 2027 seasons, respectively.

Were those deals risky? Sure. Neither player had played in a major league game when they signed, and Robert obviously still hasn't. But if those guys live up to the hype that's accompanied them through their young pro careers, those contracts will look like a bargain.

That's one area where Rick Hahn has excelled during his rebuilding effort and an area where Theo Epstein didn't take what's now proving to be beneficial action. Of course, Bryant might not have ever signed such an extension, as players earn their right to hit the open market as free agents. Bryant's star rose immediately upon his arrival in the big leagues, giving him all the reason to believe his eventual free-agent payday would be sky high. But the Cubs, once believed to be primed for a dynastic run, are now seeing their championship window shrinking as they face franchise-altering decisions on which players to keep for the long term.

Hahn might face criticism one day down the road for not locking up Lucas Giolito or Yoan Moncada in similar fashions — deals that could certainly be attempted before those two head to free agency after the 2023 season and something already on the minds of White Sox fans — but he won't face simultaneous choices between Jimenez and Robert.

The White Sox have long had a track record of these kinds of team-friendly, long-term deals. Tim Anderson has been in the majors for four seasons and is still under team control for another five. Before him, it was team-friendly deals for Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana that allowed Hahn to acquire such massive hauls in the trio of trades that jump started the rebuild in the first place.

The contracts for Jimenez and Robert are not just the latest in that line, but they aim to keep the White Sox window propped open for as long as possible. Not only can Hahn ink Jimenez and Robert into the lineup for the better part of the next decade, but he can take advantage of these team-friendly deals to make the roster even better with outside additions, increasing the team's championship chances.

The window has to actually open first, of course. Jimenez has to leave his rookie-year growing pains behind him, and Robert needs to adjust to life in the majors. But the ceilings for these guys are so high, they're viewed as potentially the two most important pieces of the White Sox long-term puzzle.

Hahn has glued those pieces in, and he doesn't have to worry about the same kinds of things the Cubs have spent their offseason worrying about with Bryant.

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Forget a Yolmer Sanchez return to White Sox, he reportedly has deal with Giants

Forget a Yolmer Sanchez return to White Sox, he reportedly has deal with Giants

The dream many fans had of Yolmer Sanchez returning to the South Side for the 2020 season might be over.

According to reports, Sanchez has a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants. Sanchez, who won an American League Gold Glove at second base last season with the White Sox, reportedly turned down a couple major league offers to compete for the everyday second baseman's job in San Francisco.

Sanchez was a fan favorite during his tenure with the White Sox, a positive clubhouse presence who earned a reputation as a fun-loving teammate through his various on-field antics, including repeated pranks involving the dugout's Gatorade bucket. He also proved himself to be one of the game's finest defensive infielders, a valuable skill even if his offensive production rarely lived up to the same standards. Last season, as the starting second baseman, Sanchez hit .252/.318/.321 with a pair of home runs and 43 RBIs.

Even after the White Sox non-tendered him earlier this offseason, team brass spoke positively of him, an indication that the door might not be closed on a reunion. But the White Sox infield is fast filling up with long-term pieces. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada had huge seasons on the left side in 2019, and Nick Madrigal, one of the top-rated prospects in baseball, is expected to reach the major leagues in the early portions of the 2020 season. Madrigal, the White Sox first-round draft pick in 2018, had an excellent offensive season in the minors last year and carries a similar defensive reputation as Sanchez. Whether Madrigal will make the Opening Day roster remains to be seen — it sounds unlikely — but he's expected to be the team's starting second baseman for the bulk of the 2020 campaign.

Given that crunch on the infield, Sanchez, even after his Gold Glove win, seemed destined for a reserve role had he returned to the South Side. Who knows if the White Sox were one of the teams that extended a major league contract offer to Sanchez, but there didn't seem to be room for him to have a starting job with this group. He can at least compete for such a role with the Giants.

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