White Sox

What acquisitions of Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan do for White Sox in 2018 and beyond

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USA TODAY

What acquisitions of Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan do for White Sox in 2018 and beyond

Rick Hahn is at it again.

After trading away a large chunk of the bullpen in midseason deals last summer, the White Sox general manager continued to reshape his relief corps for the 2018 season, acquiring veteran relievers Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan in a three-team trade Thursday night.

Like most of the other moves Hahn has made over the past year-plus, this trade keeps the White Sox flexible and gives them options, helping to bolster the bullpen for the upcoming campaign and to keep the door open for rebuild-advancing moves later on this year.

Adding Soria and Avila — coming over from the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively — brings some veteran experience to a bullpen short on it following last year's trades that shipped David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak and Dan Jennings away from the South Side. It will help a 'pen that by last season's end boasted Juan Minaya as its closer and saw perhaps its best closing option, Nate Jones, on the disabled list. There's a lot of youth in the returning names — Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Gregory Infante — and the two guys added earlier this offseason, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira.

While the relief unit found its footing by season's end with a 3.96 ERA over the final month of the campaign, it posted a 6.03 ERA in August, the month following those midseason trades, which ranked as the worst in baseball.

So Soria and Avilan provide track records of success. The 33-year-old Soria's been pitching in the big leagues since 2007, a two-time All Star and a familiar face to White Sox fans who saw him star with the division-rival Royals for many years. Last season, Soria posted a 3.70 ERA in 56 innings. With his 64 strikeouts, his 10.3 K/9 was his highest in a single season since 2013. Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Avilan was real good for the Dodgers, turning in a 2.93 ERA and a 10.2 K/9 in 46 innings.

But it's what these two guys could provide as the calendar turns to July and August that might end up being of more value in a season where the rebuilding White Sox aren't expected to compete. Should Soria and Avilan continue the solid performances they had in 2017, Hahn could go down the same road he did last summer and deal his relievers away for pieces that could help deepen the farm system and further the rebuild.

Hahn acquired three prospects, including Blake Rutherford and Ian Clarkin, in the trade that sent Robertson and Kahnle — along with third baseman Todd Frazier — to the New York Yankees. He acquired outfield prospect Ryan Cordell in the trade that sent Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers. He acquired first base prospect Casey Gillaspie in the trade that sent Jennings to the Tampa Bay Rays. That's a lot of talent added to the farm system midseason, even if it isn't quite the highly rated, uber-flashy kind acquired in deals featuring Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana.

Who knows what those kinds of players could end up being? No one would assume that the likes of Soria or Avilan would command a huge return package at any time of year. But acquiring any sort of talent that could pay off down the road is a big deal for a rebuilding team, and Hahn is keeping his options open — chiefly the option to improve his club for the long haul — by acquiring a pair of relievers who will also help his bullpen right now.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

White Sox add Alex Presley at Triple-A, another veteran outfielder who could factor into 2018 plans for banged-up outfield

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USA TODAY

White Sox add Alex Presley at Triple-A, another veteran outfielder who could factor into 2018 plans for banged-up outfield

Not long after the White Sox brought Michael Saunders into the organization, another outfielder with major league experience is joining Triple-A Charlotte.

Alex Presley — a 32-year-old who played 71 games last season for the Detroit Tigers and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers — is the latest addition to the Knights’ outfield. He’s a guy who could potentially be used to help the White Sox outfield, which has seen two Opening Day players go on the disabled list for extended periods of time.

Avisail Garcia is in his fifth week on the DL while dealing with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Nicky Delmonico is expected to miss the next four to six weeks while recovering from a broken bone in his hand. The White Sox might feel that the collection of Adam Engel, Trayce Thompson, Leury Garcia and Daniel Palka might be enough to get them through those injuries. But the results have not been great from that group. Engel and Thompson are both hitting under .200, while Leury Garcia and Palka have on-base percentages just above .300.

Presley, like Saunders, could be an option for a midseason promotion should he hit well in the minors. He hit .314 with a .354 on-base percentage in those 71 games with the Tigers last season. This year, he was playing in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization, where he hit .275 with a .347 on-base percentage in 26 games.

It’s possible we won’t see either veteran outfielder on the South Side this season (though having Presley here for Elvis Night would be pretty excellent), but it gives the White Sox options should the lack of production from their current crop of outfielders and the injuries to Avisail Garcia and Delmonico keep them out longer.

It’s also quite possible that none of the names mentioned to this point will have a role to play in this team’s long-term future, not an outlandish thought considering Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe are all still developing in the minor leagues.