Now that the four top outfielders in the free agent market are gone and several lesser names are gone too, it might be time to take a look at some of the other names on the market that the White Sox might be interested in.
Of the outfielders left, Dexter Fowler is the most discussed. Last season with the Cubs, Fowler hit .250/.346/.411 while hitting 17 homers with a wRC+ of 110. For his career, he has hit .267/.363/.418 with 65 homers over eight season.
Unfortunately, Fowler has two very significant drawbacks. First, the Cubs gave him a qualified offer so the Sox would have to sacrifice the compensation pick they got for Jeff Samardzija. Second, Fowler has ranked as one of the worst defensive outfielders for his career.
|Season||Defensive Runs Saved||UZR/150|
There has been some that have suggested that a move to right field would him out (see Alex Rios). That doesn't necessarily fix some of the inherent issues with his outfield play (see also Alex Rios). While no one would normally take pride in the defensive prowess of Dayan Viciedo or Avisail Garcia, they have something that Dexter Fowler doesn't. An arm.
|UZR Outfield Arm runs above average|
* Last season is 2014 for Dayan Viciedo
Basically, moving Fowler from center field to right field minimizes his biggest asset, his speed, while emphasizing his arm, a consistent problem. Bad jumps, reads, and routes, his biggest problem, won't be fixed at all by the move to right.
A move to left field is another option for Fowler It helps to lessen the impact of Fowler's arm, but then you have to find a new place for Melky Cabrera. Right field for Melky is another bad idea. DH would work, but then Adam LaRoche is left on the bench and you still need a right fielder. In other words, we have a whole new can of worms to deal with.
Austin Jackson is the next viable free agent available. While he is free of the defensive and QO issues of Fowler, he doesn't have the offensive upside of Fowler. Jackson, who turns 29 on February 1, hit a combined .267/.311/.385 between the Mariners and Cubs last season. That's not great and his offensive numbers have been steadily declining since the 2012 season with Detroit.
With his defense, he was still worth 2.3 fWAR last season with Steamer projecting a 1.0 fWAR season for him. Again, an improvement but not much of one when compared to the big four. So, for me, it's a possibility, but the one or two wins you gain isn't going to help much.
So what other free agents are available?
David DeJesus just turned 36.
Chris Denorfia is 35.
Jonny Gomes is also 35 and is also Jonny Gomes.
Nate McLouth is only 34 but OPS'd .517 last season.
Alex Rios is also 34 and is also Alex Rios.
Marlon Bird is the elder statesman of the bunch, turning 39 in August.
Rounding out the list, we have Shane Victorino, Grady Sizemore, Ryan Raburn, Jeff Francouer, Will Venable, Drew Stubbs, David Murphy, Steve Pearce, and Corey Hart.
In other words, the old and the unwanted. I hope the trade market is better than the free agent market.