The White Sox freed up four spaces on their 40-man roster Monday.
That’s the biggest takeaway from the list of players who were outrighted, a quartet of guys who never figured to have too great a chance to be a part of the long-term planning on the South Side. Manny Banuelos, Ryan Cordell, Ryan Goins and Matt Skole are all Charlotte Knights, ever so briefly, before they become minor league free agents at the conclusion of the World Series later this week.
Cordell is probably the highest profile name on that list. Believe it or not, he made more starts in right field this season than anyone else on the White Sox roster. Acquired during the 2017 season in the deal that sent relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers, Cordell was an outfield prospect of some promise before a pretty severe back injury wiped out much of his 2017 campaign. He had a chance to separate himself from the pack of mid-level White Sox outfield prospects, playing at the major league level over the last two seasons, but he failed to impress with the bat, slashing just .221/.290/.355 in 2018, contributing to the general lack of production that has Rick Hahn’s front office on the hunt for a new right fielder this winter.
Banuelos was supposed to be a much bigger part of the White Sox pitching staff than he ended up being in 2019. The team traded for him last offseason, acquiring the one-time prospect of note with hopes they could uncover a diamond in the rough. He was talked up as a potential member of the team's Opening Day rotation. But the injuries that kept Banuelos out of the bigs for the last several seasons yielded to a shocking amount of hits from opposing lineups, including the night he allowed ten straight knocks to the Boston Red Sox. In a little more than 50 innings, his ERA was a little south of 7.00.
Skole and Goins were up-from-the-minors fillers during the 2019 campaign. A major league veteran, Goins showed off plenty of versatility, playing six different positions in 52 games, but his bat didn’t exactly scream “lock him into a 2020 roster spot” and the White Sox will likely try to find more versatile depth the same way they did with Goins last winter -- on a minor league deal. Skole was part of the parade of plug-ins used at designated hitter after the Yonder Alonso experiment ended in an early summer release. Skole hit just .208 with only two extra-base hits in 27 games.
But, again, the big news here is four new spots on the 40-man roster, which currently stands at 35. The White Sox need a lot of room there, not just for the offseason additions Hahn’s front office is expected to make but also to protect some of their more notable prospects -- such as Dane Dunning, Blake Rutherford, Jimmy Lambert, Bernardo Flores, Zack Burdi and Yermin Mercedes -- from selection in December’s Rule 5 draft.
While it might seem easy for the White Sox to do what they did Monday and cut loose players not expected to be part of the plans in 2020 and beyond, those spots will be spoken for fast. In addition to those six prospects, injured pitchers Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon will have to join the 40-man roster. And then there’s the business of making those free-agent additions, which will require more room.
It’s something to continue to keep an eye on as offseason business nears.