The White Sox are attempting to attack their needs at second base.
The South Siders have expressed interest in acquiring Kansas City Royals infielder Nicky Lopez via trade, according to a report from The Athletic.
The report details the Royals aren't keen on trading Lopez, as they see him as a valuable depth piece and a useful utility player. Nevertheless, if the White Sox front office can package an enticing offer, they may be able to pull off a trade for the versatile infielder.
Lopez, 27, is heading into his fifth season in the majors. He's spent the first four seasons of his career with the Royals. During that time, he's played every position in the infield with the exception of first base.
In the 2021 season, Lopez recorded his best two-way year to date. He reached within the top 50 players for most hits in the league, tacking on 149 that year. He also slashed .300/.365/.378 from the plate and stole 22 bases – the 12th most in MLB that season.
Last year, Lopez had a down year, despite playing 141 games. He slashed .227/.281/.554 from the plate, while recording under 100 hits on the season and a lowly 20 RBIs. At second base, he recorded his worst defensive runs saved value, taking home a -8 value.
Yet, the White Sox have a need at second base that goes beyond Lopez' concerning 2022 season.
As of this writing, the White Sox' plan is to roll with Romy Gonzalez, Lenyn Sosa and utility man Leury Garcia in the position. But, back in early January, Rick Hahn mentioned the potential of addressing the position outside the organization.
"If, in the end, we're choosing from Romy and Lenyn, with Leury as a potential backup – that's something we certainly feel gives us an opportunity to win, but at the same time isn't going to necessarily preclude us from looking at ways to get better," Hahn said in early January.
Certainly, leaving the post to Gonzalez offers more risk than Lopez. Lopez has played over 10 times more games in the big leagues than Gonzalez and has a proven track record of success at the position.
Interestingly enough,Hahn mentioned at the cusp of the offseason he believed more of the team's offseason leg work would come via the trade market.
Yet since the beginning, they've ditched that plan with the free agent acquisitions of starting pitcher Mike Clevinger and outfielder Andrew Benintendi, the latter of who received the highest guaranteed contract in franchise history.
Hahn's prognostication of his offseason plans may not be incorrect yet, however.
The Kansas City Royals have been active in the trade market, and in the AL Central too. They traded center fielder Michael Taylor Jr. to the Minnesota Twins for pitchers Evan Sisk and Steven Cruz on Monday.
And according to separate reports, the Royals aren't finished in the trade market yet either, despite executing two in January.
Hence, the opportunity to address the White Sox' needs at second base present itself.
The necessity for roster enhancement at second base is clear, both for the benefits of defense and at the plate. A committee of Gonzalez, Lenyn Sosa and Leury Garcia might be able to hold down the fort, but without full confidence.
Lopez is a stronger, more consistent option at the position, whose résumé speaks to the level of quality he can bring to the position. What's more, he's played under current White Sox manager, Pedro Grifol, for the entirety of his major league career.
Hahn mentioned earlier this offseason he has a consistent mentality to improve the roster.
The question remains – can he form an intriguing, yet cautious, trade to acquire Lopez? Or, can he find another suitor to help address the gap at second base?
"We're always gonna look to get better," Hahn said. "It is a cliche, but, I suppose, a cliche for a reason. You're never satisfied with where your roster is. We're gonna continue to look."