Featured Team of the Week: Chicago White Sox
It’s Wednesday, which means that it’s time for another featured team of the week segment! Today I wanted to look at one team I think is seriously overlooked at this point in the year, and one that I believe could be a serious threat for a postseason run if the baseball season starts up. They may still be the second best team in the Windy City, but I want to take a quick look at the Chicago White Sox, and the impressive squad that they’ve assembled heading into the 2020 season.
The White Sox have been a rather unassuming team this past decade, and were rarely taken as a threat heading into a three game series versus any team. The White Sox organization hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008, and has only one playoff game win since their World Series Championship in 2005. The team also hasn't had a winning record since 2012, which is now seven straight seasons under .500, something that no team aims to do. With that being said they look to change their recent woes with some new additions at both the pitching and hitting positions.
(Picture Credit: fishstripes.com)
The organization seized the opportunity to sign some quality players who they believe will complement their already strong young core that they have been building for years. One of the new free agent signings who I think will really help the team is 31 year old catcher Yasmani Grandal, who signed to a 4 year- $73 million deal, after spending the 2019 season with the Milwaukee Brewers. Grandal is one of the most underrated players in the game and having a strong catcher who can contribute on both the offensive and defensive side of the game will be an X-factor that the White Sox will be happy to have. One of the other signings that I really liked this off-season, was the acquisition of former Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel, who only played a half season with the Braves in 2019 will look to bring some veteran experience to a pitching rotation that is relatively young. The team also signed long time slugger Edwin Encarnacion to a one year deal worth $12 million, which also includes a club option for 2021. Deals like this are why I think the White Sox are not only going to succeed this year, but in the years to come. They’re low risk, but very quality contracts. The team isn’t going out to get guys who are at the top of the market, but rather acquiring players who they think will fit the gaps in the roster, and complement their team in the best way. If a guy like Encarnacion doesn’t workout, they can dump him after the season, and then reload that money into another player who they think will do a better job.
The young core is also very impressive and I think these veteran signings will help them develop greatly. One player to keep an eye on is former top prospect, Yoan Moncada. Moncada, who was the centerpiece in the 2016 Chris Sale deal, is finally starting to show the major leagues why he was once rated as the top prospect in the game. The 6 foot 2 inch second basemen hit .315 in 2019, along with 25 home runs and 79 runs batted in, and he is still very young as he turns only 25 as of today. Other core pieces that the team will rely on are Tim Anderson, Nomar Mazara, and evolving superstar Eloy Jimenez.
(Picture Credit: yahoosports.com)
The team also has some good rotation pieces which include veteran southpaw Gio Gonzalez, All Star Lucas Giolito, and flamethrower Michael Kopech, who will look to make the Opening Day rotation after missing the 2019 season with Tommy John surgery. The team is also complemented by some great back ended bullpen options in the likes of Kelvin Herrera, Alex Colome, and Aaron Bummer.
The centerpiece of the team is still first baseman Jose Abreu, who is heading into his seventh season with the team. Abreu, who is a former rookie of the year, 3x All Star, and 2x Silver Slugger, will look to use his veteran experience to help lead some of the other young hitters on the team.
I personally think that the White Sox are the best on-paper team in the AL Central this year, even ahead of the Twins in my opinion. There’s a major difference between assembling a good on-paper team and a team that gels together on the field, but I personally think that the White Sox have a good mix of players who will flourish whenever baseball resumes. Watch out for this team, they’ve got experience, depth, and grit. All qualities that could lead them to a deep postseason run.
- Andrew Gardner, UNH '23