WARR baseball writer Kevin Luchansky writes about the Cubs and the White Sox each week
Also, check out Kevin’s daily baseball betting picks on NorthSideWire.
For the sake of their front office and the decisions they are tasked to make over the course of the next 25 days or so, I really wish this Chicago White Sox team would make up their mind on whether they are contenders or pretenders this season.
It’s not as simple as yes or no, but hovering just below .500 in a pretty mediocre division makes this question a little bit more difficult: are the White Sox buying, selling or staying put in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline?
Coming off a series win against a solid Seattle Mariners team, sealed in a 1-0 shut-out this afternoon, the Sox continue to show encouraging traits but after every encouragement seems to come a disappointing effort, such as the team winning three of four against the Blue Jays in Toronto last weekend and then getting out-slugged in two of three games against the Angels at home earlier this week.
In other words, these last few series haven’t told us much — or enough — about which side the Sox’ front office should lean towards when it comes to being buyers and sellers. The difficult thing is that once they’ve answered that question, the work will have only just begun. Answering that question — with the exception of those few teams who decide to stay put and not make any additions or subtractions before the deadline — just leads to an additional series of questions that mainly focus around deciding who you would pursue and who you might be willing to part with from your own club and its farm-level teams.
It’s a really difficult position to be in when your team is not quite in contention but not necessarily out of it either. Fairly or unfairly, many general managers and front office staffs are judged solely upon the moves they make in July. I think its safe to say Rick Hahn has a full plate in front of him.
Viciedo Could be On Block
Ahead for the White Sox is a trip to Boston for four games against the reeling Red Sox and then to Cleveland for a three-game set that takes them into the all-star break. It’s realistic to think they can take both of those series and be in fairly good shape, but that will all depend on which team shows up for that road trip.
With the all-star break begins the serious player and trade talks between front office executives. The entirety of the White Sox hypothetical trades, good fits and best bets can’t all be broken down in this one piece, but ahead I’ll lay out two players I could see being moved potentially before the July 31st trade deadline if the right situation presents itself.
Outfielder and right-handed bat Dayan Viciedo could certainly be moved in the upcoming weeks, and there seems to be suitors. A few teams are looking for what he most easily provides — outfield help, a right-handed bat, or both. Not that just fitting the “help wanted” description is enough, but it would seem to make sense if the Sox can get something in return in the form of prospects for Viciedo, especially someone at the double A level or above that could seemingly contribute at the MLB level in 2015 or 2016.
Its no secret that the Mariners could really help from the right side of the plate, and with that team having been in town this weekend those talks may have already begun. The question then is this: do the Mariners have anything of value to Sox that they can offer in return? Their farm system ranks 17th overall in Baseball Prospectus, with many of the core talents being at the High-A level.
Its been reported the Giants also have interest in Viciedo, and perhaps their pitching-rich farm system would be more appealing to the White Sox. The Giants are stuck in a tailspin of their own lately, and might look to a guy like Viciedo to provide a bit of pop from a fourth outfielder-type role. Performance aside, Viciedo’s contract details include a $2.8 million salary this year and he won’t be a free agent until 2018, both make him fairly more attractive to contenders.
Becks Out the Back Door?
Another guy I could see being moved is second basemen Gordon Beckham. This move might be a little less realistic relative to Viciedo’s chances of being moved, but I could see Beckham going to a contender, namely the Yankees or Orioles, if the White Sox are willing to part with the former Georgia Bulldog who has been less than impressive overall for his career when you take his 2009 Rookie of the Year campaign out of the picture.
Like Viciedo, Beckham has a team-friendly contract that could make him more appealing to anyone interested, he makes a little more than $4 million this season, is arbitration eligible next season and then becomes a free agent in 2016. The Yankees desperately need infield help, so I would put the odds of him heading there as greater than a move to Baltimore, but you never know.
Both of these American Leage East contenders have pitching talent in their farm systems that Rick Hahn and the Sox may covet. These next few weeks should be interesting. If nothing else, it’d be nice if they were telling in relation to the Sox’ future.
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