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Robert, Eloy will be Sox biggest midsummer additions

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
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I won't say, "Forget the trade deadline."

The Chicago White Sox are World Series contenders, and World Series contenders make moves at the trade deadline. The White Sox are almost sure to make moves at the trade deadline, perhaps to bolster their bullpen, perhaps to fill the hole vacated by Nick Madrigal at second base, perhaps more.

But the biggest midseason jolts they'll be getting in the coming weeks won't come from a splashy trade.

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Luis Robert will head out on a rehab assignment later this week, joining Eloy Jiménez on the doorstep of a midsummer return from the significant injuries the duo suffered earlier this year.

It might definitively be the White Sox getting closer to full strength. But it's hard to imagine any better upgrade exists than adding the two middle-of-the-order bats back into their lineup.

The World Series aspirations the team has trumpeted since the spring always mandated the presence of these two big boppers, these two franchise cornerstones in the outfield. And while those who have filled in during their absences have done a more than admirable job keeping those championship hopes afloat, the return of Robert and Jiménez figure to take the White Sox from contenders to potential favorites.

 

"We are very happy and excited," Robert said Monday through team interpreter Billy Russo. "We know we are going to be back soon. We talk every day. We talk about the things we want to do once we come back and how important it's going to be for the team.

"It has been very important for the team and for us to see that the guys have played good baseball, the team has filled our void and has been producing and helping the team. It's good. It's a relief. And it's a motivation for us.

"We've been talking about our goal as a team, and our goal as a team is just win the World Series, reach that ring. That's our goal. I think that's the motivation for all of us. We keep talking about it because that's the real motivation for us: get to the postseason and win it all with the World Series and be champions."

Part of reaching that goal will include general manager Rick Hahn working the phones and upgrading his roster over the next two weeks. The July 30 deadline is mighty unlikely to pass without him doing just that, and there are still multiple areas that seem prime for a boost from a trade.

The White Sox bullpen has not lived up to the sky-high expectations it set for itself during the preseason. Hahn will be the first to tell you about the volatility of relief pitching, and even though the team's bullpen arms remain talented, adding to that group seems likely.

Madrigal's season-ending hamstring tear has left a hole at second base, just like the injuries to Robert and Jiménez did in the outfield. But the difference is that Madrigal isn't coming back this year, while the guys who have subbed in in left field and center field have done so with a good deal of success while waiting for the starters to work their way back. Seeking a second baseman would also make plenty of sense for Hahn at the deadline.

With Yasmani Grandal on the shelf, too — though the team's No. 1 catcher is expected back before the end of the regular season — perhaps a backup catcher is on the wish list. Perhaps Hahn doesn't rest on the promising starts of Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger and seeks some more offensive help, particularly someone who can play right field.

The bottom line is that the possibilities are myriad. The moves will happen.

But nothing will do for this team and its World Series chances what the returns of Robert and Jiménez will do.

You don't have to forget about the trade deadline. Just know that when it comes to the biggest possible additions, whatever the White Sox can do on the trade market won't receive top billing.

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