White Sox

White Sox are reportedly 'in the market for a DH,' but what route makes the most sense for the rebuild?

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USA TODAY

White Sox are reportedly 'in the market for a DH,' but what route makes the most sense for the rebuild?

The hot stove remains mostly frozen, though the White Sox have been active, especially when it comes to adding relievers to the bullpen mix.

But Jon Heyman had an interesting tidbit in his most recent "Inside Baseball" roundup, saying the White Sox are in the market for a designated hitter. Heyman didn't add much to that, the only additional information being that the South Siders are not interested in Matt Kemp, who was dealt from the Atlanta Braves to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this offseason.

It makes sense that the White Sox might be looking to upgrade at that spot in their batting order. During the 2017 season, White Sox designated hitters ranked 13th out of 15 American League teams with a .226 batting average and a .288 on-base percentage.

Much of that is due to the numbers of Matt Davidson, who despite showing some pop with 26 home runs, struggled in other offensive facets, slashing just .220/.260.452. Only one AL player who had as many at-bats as Davidson, Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, had a lower on-base percentage. Davidson walked just 19 times compared to 165 strikeouts.

But Davidson is just 26 years old, and it seems to make sense for the rebuilding White Sox — who aren't expected to compete for a championship in 2018 — to continue to give Davidson more opportunity to show he can stick as a big league hitter. It could be argued he earned that opportunity with those 26 homers, the second-highest total on the team behind Jose Abreu. As the roster stands right now, you have to figure he'd be the most likely player to earn the majority of at-bats at designated hitter.

And what about giving opportunities to the likes of Casey Gillaspie and Ryan Cordell? Those two guys both came over in midseason trades last summer and could impress enough to earn a shot if the White Sox are no longer enamored with Davidson's power potential. Both spent significant time at the Triple-A level and could be ready for a taste of the big leagues.

There's also an argument to be made, though, that the ridiculously large number of available free-agent hitters means the White Sox might be able to find a bargain on a quality player who could help fuel the rebuilding effort — either as a potential piece of the future or as a potential midseason trade candidate who could fetch a prospect or two.

Because of the position and its complete lack of defense, you could assemble a mile-long list of available free agents that could slide into the DH spot. There are five guys listed under the "designated hitter" heading on MLB Trade Rumors' free-agent list: Jose Bautista, Chris Carter, Matt Holliday, Logan Morrison and Mike Napoli. Plenty of other players listed at other positions could DH, too, guys like Melky Cabrera, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gonzalez, John Jaso, Adam Lind, Trevor Plouffe, Mark Reynolds, Seth Smith and Chase Utley. And then there's the trade route, which opens up even more possibilities.

Of course, if none of those names get White Sox fans overly excited, that's kind of the point. This team is still in the thick of rebuilding. It makes little sense to fork over huge money to someone like J.D. Martinez in a year where the team isn't expected to compete, especially until the front office knows what it has in the many prospects still developing in the minor leagues. Today the White Sox might need an extra bat. But what if Eloy Jimenez hits the big leagues in a matter of months? Sticking his bat in the lineup every day solves that problem and costs nothing.

If the White Sox can find a free-agent bat to slot in at DH and flip at the deadline, that makes sense. Signing a big name? It makes far less sense.

But in this completely out-of-the-ordinary offseason, nothing should be considered impossible. Stay tuned.

As Dallas Keuchel calls out teammates' effort, White Sox response is critical

As Dallas Keuchel calls out teammates' effort, White Sox response is critical

While Rick Renteria’s decision to hold a team meeting before Monday’s game in Detroit wasn’t necessarily noteworthy, the White Sox's lackluster performance in the team's 5-1 loss to the Tigers following that meeting was significant – and concerning.

Just ask the starting pitcher.

“We just came out flat, and I feel like we just stayed flat the whole game,” Dallas Keuchel said. “We’ve got some guys coming out and taking professional at-bats, being professional on the mound and doing what it takes to win, and we’ve got some guys kind of going through the motions.”

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That’s a frustrated veteran calling out the effort of his teammates, which can be a tricky thing to do when you’ve made all of four starts in a White Sox uniform. But Keuchel was brought to Chicago for his experienced leadership and he’s been the team’s most steady performer through 17 games, giving the White Sox four chances to win in his four starts -- with only a 2-2 record to show for it.

Yes, the White Sox are banged up. Yes, they arrived in Detroit early Monday morning after a grueling loss to the Indians on national television Sunday night.

Keuchel isn’t here for the excuses.

“We got in at 2:30 in the morning. We played a tough ballgame against the Indians. That’s who we’re going to have to beat if we’re going to win this division or we get into the playoffs,” Keuchel said. “It just seemed like we were taking a night off. We can’t afford that with a young core that we have here. We’ve got to show up every day, and even if there’s no fans, we’ve got to make sure that we’re ready to go. And if we’re not ready to go, we’ve got to fake it until we make it.”

RELATED: Keuchel frustrated with "sub-par play from everybody"

Keuchel was ready. It wasn’t his sharpest outing, but he only allowed three runs in six innings, once again giving his team a chance to win the game. Instead, the offense was lifeless, and the defense was sloppy, as an Adam Engel misplay in centerfield resulted in the second inside-the-park home run allowed in five days.

And all this after Renteria tried to get the team to regroup before the game. Team meetings aren’t uncommon at the start of road trips, but this one came after the team’s second 1-4 stretch of the season.

“(We met) about everything,” Renteria said before his team lost its fifth game in six days. “How we're proceeding, staying positive, trying to learn from everything that is going on. Trying to take advantage of every opportunity that they're getting, and I think they're looking forward to trying to have a nice game today.”

That didn’t happen. Sometimes you can chalk that up to it being baseball, but Monday was different, and Keuchel clearly saw a lack of focus in his teammates as he “emptied the tank” on the mound.

“We need to clean a lot of things up,” he said. “If we want to be in this thing at the end of the season, we’re going to have to start that now. Like I mentioned to you guys before, when you have enough talent to potentially win every game, it’s very frustrating when you have games like this, and it just seems like we were out of it from the get-go.”

The White Sox needed to hear the pitcher’s critical comments, but the response from the clubhouse could determine the direction this young team heads in with 43 games to go. Will they object to a new guy calling them out in the media? Or will they respect a veteran voice who was part of a Houston Astros team that successfully pulled out of a rebuild to win the World Series? And will Keuchel’s dubious connection to that Astros team hurt his credibility at all in this situation?

These are all fair questions, but the White Sox would be wise to listen to a guy who has logged 1325.2 Major League innings, pitched in the postseason four out of the last five years and hasn’t been on a losing team since 2014.

I don’t need to remind you that the White Sox haven’t had a winning season since 2012 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2008.

“There's going to be a lot of learning curves for this team just because of the process this team has kind of been under the last 2-3 years,” Keuchel said. “And this is one of them.”

Renteria wasn’t as willing to question his team’s effort after they fell to 8-9 on the season, but he did mention a need for accountability.

“My feeling is that I think we got a lot of guys that are going to be holding each other accountable in that clubhouse,” the manager said. “I'm very confident in that.”

Just minutes later, Keuchel said what he said.

Now it's up to his teammates to respond on the field.

 

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Dallas Keuchel frustrated with White Sox' effort in loss to Tigers

Dallas Keuchel frustrated with White Sox' effort in loss to Tigers

Dallas Keuchel took his teammates to task after Monday’s uninspiring 5-1 loss at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox arrived in Detroit in the wee hours Monday morning after losing a hard-fought, extra innings, rain-delayed game vs. the Indians on Sunday, and Keuchel says the team let that carry over into Monday’s game.

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“I would’ve liked to see the team play better tonight,” Keuchel said. “We just came out flat, and I feel like we stayed flat the whole game.

“We’ve got some guys coming out and taking professional at-bats, being professional on the mound, and doing what it takes to win, and we’ve got some guys kinda going through the motions. So, we need to clean a lot of things up.

“If we wanna be in this thing at the end of the season, we’re going to have to start that now. When you have enough talent to potentially win every game it’s very frustrating when you have games like this and it just seems like we were out of it from the get go... Today was one of the first games I've seen subpar play from everybody."

While that is obviously not the assessment fans want to hear from one of the top free agents the White Sox brought in this season, it’s that leadership that the team coveted so much from Keuchel in the first place. Leading is easy during a hot streak, but it’s more important during losing skids. Keuchel seems to understand that’s what the White Sox need as they try to transition from rebuilding team to playoff contenders.

“There’s going to be a lot of learning curves for this team, just because of the process that this team has been under for the last two or three years, and this is one of them. We faced a challenge tonight and hopefully we can come out tomorrow and strap it up and play some White Sox baseball.”

Tuesday’s expected return of Tim Anderson, whose energy has been noticeably missing since he suffered a groin strain on July 31, should help the team regain that spark. As one of the Sox’ most consistent hitters he should also help the sluggish offense, which has only mustered 11 runs over the last six games.

“We have a great opportunity these next couple of games to get some wins and keep moving the wagons forward,” Keuchel said. “As frustrating as it is tonight, we could very well easily come out tomorrow and play like we’re supposed to and then win the series on Wednesday.”


RELATED: White Sox' Luis Robert not feeling pressure of Rookie of the Year hype

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