If I’m Rick Hahn and the Chicago White Sox and I’m jotting down a last minute wish list to Ol’ Saint Nick before Christmas the thoughts of Yoenis Cespedes have to be the first bit of ink hitting the paper. Cespedes and his recent success in October has to be hot the item on nearly every AL teams list with Cespedes having played in both leagues showing he’ll be worth a big investment. 2015’s success came conveniently on a contract year, but it’s safe to say Cespedes would work out long term for any team. The White Sox current rotation would be Melky, Eaton, Garcia from left to right. Cespedes would fit in so very nicely in center while providing even more protection for Abreu while also sharing Cuban roots. Santa has been to good to White Sox fortunes early this holiday season and Cespedes would be the nice big gift under the tree.
Yoenis Cespedes has led a couple teams now to the playoffs starting with Oakland twice in back to back years and the Mets last year. Cespedes has a .729 OPS in 94 AB’s in the postseason from only three trips, Cespedes career average is only 73 points better than his playoff average which speaks to how locked in he stays when the stakes are higher. Cespedes has a phenomenal arm as has his highlight reel will forever flourish against the Angels, but the idea of putting him with Avisail and Melky would make many fans on the Southside excited.
The White Sox did sign a bad contract in Adam LaRoche or so it would appear after the first season, but they’ve got some strong bullpen arms. Carlos Rodon is a starter right now but he and Carson Fulmer could be deadly in any postseason series out of the bullpen. The White Sox need offense desperately and Alex Gordon won’t do it. Melky Carbera is just as capable an option in left as Gordon with Eaton being the question mark for most people in nixing this deal, however in looking at the number there’s not doubting that Spanky would be missed in center with his speed and defense at the top of the lineup. A lineup that would be much a better looking with Cespedes in the heart of it than Eaton at the top.
The White Sox have three very good outfielders, there’s a game changing player at that position on the open market. The decision for fans is would they be able to replace their loyalty to Eaton making him a platoon player with the team thinking more about money. The White Sox current payroll is $110 million and the outfield portion of that is a little more than $13 million. Adding Cespedes would be roughly adding 20% of the now total payroll if you give him $22 Million like he’s roughly going to get would make the new outfield extremely costly. He would be the highest paid player on the team and not put up the highest statistics. The lineup would not be anchored around him, but rather he’d be supporting a triple crown candidate in Abreu. Cespedes has done this before with playing around Miguel Carbera and Victor Martinez in Detroit, Ortiz on Boston and Josh Donaldson in Oakland. Abreu, Cespedes and Frazier looks like a good trip to carry into any baseball game. Avisail and Melky on the perimeter of any big inning would scare opposing managers.
The infield is going to be a tough to handle with what is now projected as Tyler Saldino at shortstop. However SS has historically been a bad hitting position in favor of defense. Ozzie Smith, Omar Vizquel, and Rey Ordonez were great defensive shortstops who couldn’t hit for a high average. Tyler Saladino does come from a good school in Oral Roberts and has a 1.4DWAR in 11 games last year. If he could continue his ability of not committing errors and getting double plays of which he had two in the 11 games last year at the position that would be an ideal fit.
The White Sox probably think they can win regardless of Cespedes’ production above or below Abreu. They have Frazier, they have Melky Cabrera who’s yet to provide like he’s being paid for and the real paradox is that if they settle on Cespedes they can’t go out and pay for more SP which is what they need the most. The White Sox could be looking at all their options and they could fit Sonny Gray and his production next to Sale’s salary structure and win for the next several years. If the White Sox are not going to pay in money than they may be willing to trade in prospects. Trayce Thompson flashed but has yet to show he can be a dynamic player in baseball. The White Sox did not give up that much in terms of prospects for Frazier and could potentially land a huge piece for what they do have in their farm system. Carlos Rodon like Carson Fullmer is an unbelievable talent amd could be worth so much in a trade. The White Sox don’t want to deal these arms, they’re getting young talent to pair with the rest of their farm system in June and Tim Anderson will be on the team after the All-Star Break if all goes well in Triple-A.
The Sox need a starter more than they need a big ticket outfielder, but sometimes you have to make decisions and if you’re giving up too much in a trade and you think you can compete then you have to spend the money. If you don’t want to spend the money then you’re going to have to make a big trade.