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Evaluating the most likely White Sox players to be traded

The White Sox have some players that other teams could use. Here's a look at which players are likely to be claimed or traded before the season is over.

Thanks for the memories.
Thanks for the memories.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

With the White Sox stumbling badly out of the gate in the second half, the direction of the team should be clear at this year's trade deadline. It's time to sell, sell, sell!

Though the Sox don't have a glut of attractive major league pieces to trade, there's going to be some roster shakeup in the coming months. Here's a look at the players that could be on the move, in descending order of how likely they are to be traded or claimed by another team before the season is over. My personal guess at the percentage chance that each player will find a new home via trade or waiver claim (assuming no injury) is in parentheses.

1. Geovany Soto (99%)

Soto has had a very successful season in limited time as the backup catcher for the White Sox, as he's clubbed a home run once for about every 20 plate appearances. It's hard to find competent catchers, and Soto is currently one of the best backups in the league. He should be an attractive trade piece that can be had for cheap.

Unlike, say, Jeff Samardzija, Soto is obviously nowhere near valuable enough to justify a qualifying offer after the season. The White Sox will therefore receive nothing for him if he departs via free agency after the year. Since the Sox are now resigned to giving up on 2015, there's no need to have a very good backup catcher hanging around for the last two months, and he should be traded for absolutely whatever the Sox can get for him. The only reason that I didn't put "100 percent" for Soto is my own personal paranoia about the lack of certainties in baseball.

2. Gordon Beckham (90%)

You may have noticed that you haven't seen much of Beckham lately, and that's because given Beckham's play, the current standings, and the presence of Tyler Saladino, he doesn't really have a purpose. Like Soto, Beckham is worthless to a team that isn't going to compete because there's no growth left in him and he's only signed for one year. The most likely scenario for Beckham is for him to clear waivers and be acquired by another team close to the August 31 deadline as a defensive replacement once rosters expand. The only real reason for him to not wind up elsewhere is if every team in contention feels that Beckham wouldn't be any notable defensive upgrade over internal options, which is unlikely. Beckham has a glove and arm that can help a team in a limited role.

3. Jeff Samardzija (85%)

The White Sox could hold onto Smarch until the end of the year and make him a qualifying offer for 2016, which Samardzija will reject. This will give the Sox one of two future benefits. One possibility is that Shark will sign elsewhere, which will give the White Sox a compensatory draft pick after the first round of next year's draft. The other possibility is that the Sox will attempt to re-sign him after he hits free agency. Unlike the White Sox, other teams bidding on Samardzija would have to forfeit a draft pick to sign him. This gives the Sox a competitive advantage in the bidding because if all teams value Samardzija equally, the White Sox should theoretically be willing to make the highest offer.

However, it's likely the return the White Sox could get by trading Samardzija would outweigh either of these benefits. In addition to the players the White Sox might receive in trade, they'd get roughly $3.3 million in salary relief (unless cash is included in the deal) by dealing him prior to July 31. The returns from pitchers on the last year of their deal traded at this point last year paint an encouraging picture:

  • Jon Lester (with Jonny Gomes and cash) returned control of Yoenis Cespedes through 2015 for the Red Sox
  • Justin Masterson returned James Ramsey for the Indians
  • Jake Peavy (and cash) returned Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree for the Red Sox
  • Brandon McCarthy (and cash) returned Vidal Nuno for the Diamondbacks
Samardzija is a lesser asset now than Lester was last July, but he's a clear cut above the other three. Heck, Masterson looked terrible prior to the Cardinals acquiring him and Ramsey slotted somewhere in the back half of the Top 10 of the Indians' middling system. If that's the return for a bad pitcher, it's reasonable to expect that a team might be willing to part with something nice to add Samardzija for a playoff push.

4. Adam LaRoche (20%)

The White Sox may explore LaRoche trade possibilities, but given his poor season, the money he's owed for this year and next presents an obstacle to obtaining much of a return. Thanks to Josh's interview with Herm Schneider, we know that LaRoche has been dealing with soreness in his hand all season long, and there's a good chance that this is at least partially responsible for his decline in power. If this is the case, LaRoche would be a better bet to produce in 2016 than the rest of 2015, as he'll have the offseason to heal up.

Contending teams, however, are looking for a guy who can help them this season, and LaRoche's current stretch of bad hitting reduces the amount of salary relief the Sox could get from another team by dealing him. There's some reason for optimism that LaRoche will bounce back next year, and retaining him might be the best way to salvage some value on his two year, $25 million contract.

5. Emilio Bonifacio (15%)

Bonifacio is a tough guy to peg because of his substantial track record and superlatively poor play in 2015.  Right now, he's hitting .160/.192/.173 and even though that's a small sample, he's never been a good hitter. For years, Bonifacio's value has been tied up in his baserunning ability and his ability to play multiple positions. While he still retains the latter, the value of positional flexibility significantly decreases once rosters expand.

In addition, the baserunning ability must seriously be questioned at this point. Bonifacio has technically stolen one base in five chances this year, but as Jim pointed out, Bonifacio was actually out on the lone success. You might cry "small sample size", but the probability that a 79 percent base stealer (Bonifacio's career rate prior to this year) gets thrown out five consecutive times is 0.04 percent. We might only have five observations, but there's enough here to believe there's a problem.

Because Bonifacio isn't a standout at hitting, defending, or baserunning, it's unclear what value he brings to a major league roster, particularly an expanded one. Given his contract, it's unlikely he'd be claimed on waivers; a team would have to pay Bonifacio about $0.5 million to claim him just for September plus his $1 million buyout for 2016. That's a lot of money to pay for a guy that might not represent any sort of improvement over the claiming team's internal options. The Sox could trade him for a smaller amount of salary relief once he clears waivers, but since this amount would likely be minimal, they might simply do Bonifacio the courtesy of releasing him instead and allowing him to sign elsewhere for the remainder of the season.

6. Alexei Ramirez (10%)

Ramirez can already forget about his $10 million club option for 2016. As one of the worst players in baseball this year, he'll be on waivers and it's unlikely anyone will bite given his $10 million salary, $1 million buyout for next year, and extremely poor play. The Sox could deal him once he clears waivers, but similar to Bonifacio, Ramirez probably wouldn't net the Sox much more than minimal salary relief. Since he's not exactly blocking anyone of note and interest is likely to be minimal, the White Sox might simply let him play out the season with the only organization he's ever known.